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It’s the day of a new product launch. You’ve got butterflies, your team is excited and you know your customers are going to be impressed. 

Launching a new product stirs excitement for any company, regardless of size. Introducing each new solution is a milestone for a brand’s continuous growth and success.

And for that launch’s success, it’s crucial to set goals, plan future steps, and obtain a competitive advantage. Traditionally, marketing plans lay out these steps, but we need to dig a little deeper. 

This is where a go-to-market (GTM) strategy comes in. GTM strategies help specifically with expanding a brand’s new product or services. 

With a quality data-driven strategy you can  identify exactly how to approach target buyers.

What is a Go-to-Market Strategy?

A GTM strategy outlines necessary steps for putting a product, service, or solution on the map. Without it your solution might not reach target buyers, or even no buyers at all.

To be successful, you need a GTM strategy that is comprehensive enough for others to easily understand its value. It also puts focus on customer issues and how your solution applies to them, with easy access to continuous feedback. 

After all, your solution or service’s purpose (new or old) is to improve the customer experience.

Graphic about the various aspects of GTM strategy: 1) external market pressures 2) competitive landscape 3) company and 4) customer

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GTM strategies also help with maximizing customer lifetime value (CLV). Obtaining new customers is already costly, so implementing a plan to maintain and support them from the outset could save you in the long run. 

On the flip side, existing customers that may have had value in the past could be putting a dent in your budget. 

Evaluating the resources used on customers (old and new) within marketing and product development teams will help with overall GTM execution.


Why Do You Need a Go-to-Market Strategy?

Because B2B organizations often mistake go-to-market strategies as being a new launch. This undermines the extensive use cases sound GTM motions provide organizations for ongoing, sustained success. Case in point: 40% of CMO Council members agree that improving GTM processes are top priority.

As mentioned, GTM strategies serve a multitude of purposes for any company goal including:

  • New Products or Services: The aforementioned playbook an organization develops for introducing new or expanded feature sets to its existing target market.
  • New Markets: A GTM plan for testing known and unknown untapped markets. Believe it or not, this GTM motion is applicable either within or outside a customer base, especially within unengaged buying units in enterprise customers.
  • Existing Markets: Products that are currently offered need to adapt to evolving markets. Creating a GTM strategy gives time to evaluate what makes your product successful (and unsuccessful).
  • Cross and Up-selling: Retaining current customers is great for your revenue stream. You can maximize their value by re-evaluating their relationship in numbers.

Using specific motions within GTM playbooks, modern businesses are more likely to save efficiency costs and realize gains in effectiveness, including: 

  • Clear directions and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all stakeholders
  • Modular GTM development that decreases the time to launch future plans to market
  • Reduction of sunk and opportunity costs associated with failed GTM plans 
  • Ability to capture, convert, and capitalize on customer needs and pain points

What Does a Go-to-Market Strategy Look Like?

To survive today’s market you need to know how to find your customers, put your product or service out there, and measure success. A GTM strategy outlines these key areas ensuring that you have:

Comprehensible Segmentation: Segmentation involves finding specific behaviors within buyers most likely respond to your brand’s messaging. By using quality contact data, assigning scores to segmented buyers based on certain criteria defines how they apply to the market.

Clear Product Offerings: What value does your product or service bring to the market? And how does it differ from your competitors? While clarifying your product’s offerings, working on a value proposition will expand its story and how it connects to customers.

Plans for RTM and Distribution: You can’t sell a product if it doesn’t get to your customers. Organizing a route-to-marketing (RTM) plan that also defines distribution makes it easier to get your product or service into the market and into customers’ hands (physical or virtual). 

Measurements of Success: Tracking success with agreed metrics (between sales and marketing) steers the course for current and future marketing strategies. To keep sales and marketing alignment intact, implementing key performance indicators (KPIs) is important with room for future development. 

How Do You Build A GTM Strategy?

While creating a go-to-market strategy, it’s important to keep in mind who your potential customers are and what they need. Each step further solidifies the relationship between market demand, customer pain points, and brand offerings. 

1. Find Your Buyer Personas

Finding and organizing buyer personas is a way to define characteristics of different potential customers. Though no two buyers are exactly the same, they can be grouped into similar behaviors. This grouping helps with targeting, approach, and overall selling strategy.

With the right data and tools, buyer personas can be quantified, allowing automation and integration into tools like CRMs.

2. Define Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Though similar to a buyer persona, an ideal customer profile (ICP) centers on company characteristics. ICPs focus on which accounts are most likely to purchase based on quantitative criteria.

An ideal ICP quickly identifies a quality prospect based on what is feasible for a seller. Poorly executed ICPs result in buyers that are not fit to purchase your solution. 

In simpler terms, it’s like dating someone who wants to live in Ohio when you’re positive you’ll be settling down in California. The match was never going to work.

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3. Align Sales and Marketing 

Sales teams generally serve as a support service and have direct connections to customers. By aligning sales and marketing teams, sales reps have more of an idea of how to sell a product or service in a way that echoes the current company approach. 

As part of your go-to-market strategy, an outlined process lays out exactly how a product should be sold, where customers can purchase, and which channels to utilize.

4. Develop a Sales and Marketing Playbook

Converting a potential buyer into an actual customer requires sales and marketing alignment. Throughout the buyer’s journey, these two primary functions need to partner and communicate shared expectations. Cross-departmental agreements like this are not easy to implement. Key processes include embracing the following terms and concepts:

Lead-to-Revenue Management (L2RM)

L2RM describes the entire process of lead management. What defines a lead? What agreed action items are required upon creation of a lead from both sales and marketing? What strategies are in place to nurture, convert, qualify and close leads? What are the technologies and workflows that aid in the execution of these strategies? And how is success measured. From inception to close, optimal L2RM is achieved when sales and marketing are aligned, completely in sync. 

Sales Funnel

Through a combination of signals that indicate thresholds across qualification, timing, budget and fit, GTM teams can establish a reliable sales funnel. While every customer — and thus every potential business opportunity — is unique, establishing road rules for transitioning prospects to move further down the funnel, based on its likelihood to close, helps support forecasting models, and thus organizes customer acquisition in a systematic way.

Furthermore, sales funnels can trigger GTM motions using a stage-based approach to tailor messaging toward various stages, like Awareness, Interest, and Consideration. Finally as part of L2RM, sales funnels can keep sales and marketing teams aligned through the use of service level agreements (or SLAs) to precisely lay out who does what when. 

As the foundation of governance and accountability, SLAs enable B2B organizations to agree on what good looks like, both from a process and results perspective. The binding contracts coordinate L2RM responsibilities and processes, and shared KPIs between sales and marketing teams, depending on where a prospect currently is in their buyer’s journey.

5. Organize Lead Sources and Channels

Implementing lead generation campaigns is crucial to overall company success. Depending on industry, company size, and solution type, certain channels could work better than others for lead gen. After finding out where leads come from, shifting focus to that lead source can optimize your pipeline.

Steps to Building a Data-Driven GTM Strategy

Making your GTM strategy data-driven encourages you to pinpoint more target buyers. 

A quality data provider helps you understand what motivates decision makers — this can further legitimize your GTM strategy. 

Locating and organizing this intel looks like this: 

1. Acquiring Quality Data

To procure data that drives sales and marketing success it’s all about quality over quantity. In fact, 83% of organizations see data as an integral part of forming a business strategy, so it’s important that your data is up-to-date and accurate.

Market intelligence is for gaining overall market insights, and quality intelligence of this kind keeps up with current trends in real-time. For customer insights and prospecting, there is sales intelligence. These data types are what’s needed for GTM strategies.

2. Quantify Buyer Personas

As part of segmentation, placing values on buyer personas further develops targeting, engagement, and selling plans.

How many prospects are in each persona? What kind of value does each have? Each persona needs to be approached differently and a one-size-fits-all approach to selling could turn people away. Would you rather buy a product from a brand that knows who you are and works around that? Or from a company that takes a stab in the dark?

3. Find Customer Pain Points

You need to appeal to prospects’ needs and wants based on pain points. You can find these in areas like:

  • Finance: Where are your customers wasting money? How can their budget be optimized with your solution?
  • Productivity: How can your solution save them time and maximize efficiency?
  • Support: Which of their operations needs assistance? How can your solution further drive their success?

Using sales and marketing data will uncover these vulnerabilities and can be applied to targeting strategies.

Key Results Achieved with a Data-Driven Strategy

A data-driven strategy puts a specific value on company and customer characteristics to understand and track more easily. 

By implementing a data-driven strategy, identifying target buyers becomes streamlined. Engaging with them is also easier because you have a much better idea of what they want and, even, what they need from a solution. 

Importance of GTM Strategy for Overall Success

A go-to-market strategy paves the way for product success, whether it is new or existing. Your brand is exposed to the world with a new solution launch, and without a solid strategy it won’t sell.

Making your GTM strategy data-driven further helps pinpoint target audiences who will most likely buy your solution. The more data-driven your GTM strategy is, the easier it is to track success.



FAQs on Go-to-Market Strategy

Here is a roundup of some of the most frequently asked questions about go-to-market strategies. 

What is included in a Go-to-Market Strategy?

As previously stated, every GTM strategy is inherently unique. Yet each plan to successfully penetrate prospective buyers should include the following characteristics:

  • Product offerings: Differentiated value proposition and market need: Before introducing a product to the market, companies should establish its potential for viable demand.To do so, four primary questions need to be answered:
    1. Who would potentially use the solution?
    2. How essential is the value the solution provides?
    3. Moreover, does this value proposition already exist in the marketplace?
    4. If so, does the product in question provide enough differentiation to the potential customer base to displace existing competition?
  • Market segmentation: Refers to understanding and organizing a customer base’s specific needs.  While every customer is unique, segmentation allows you to group customers based on shared characteristics, thus streamlining the personalization process.

Omni-channel marketing: The process of testing messaging and placement through awareness campaigns across the spectrum of engagement channels specific buyers are most likely to respond to, including digital (search engine marketing, display advertising, content marketing), trade show and event marketing, direct mail, and more.

  • Distribution: Even after assessing demand and optimizing engagement, a sustainable GTM strategy must also consider distribution.How a product is delivered, implemented, and on-boarded to new customers will help ensure its ongoing success. After all, the first step to optimal market penetration is finding proof of concept through customer satisfaction. And that goal is only achieved if a product delivers on the value that the initial GTM strategy promotes.
  • Measurement and Key Performance Indicators: GTM strategies should aim to inform immediate and future strategic decision making. Mapping GTM KPIs related to pre and post-launch activity fosters accountability and visibility into benchmarks that highlight what’s working and what’s not.As such, KPIs should span as granular and broad as needed. Both company-wide and department-specific objectives should be transparent to key stakeholders. If done correctly, cross-departmental collaboration is usually enhanced.

What are some of the biggest pain points a Go-To-Market strategy should solve?

Finding your potential customers’ problems — or pain points — are important to GTM strategy messaging. These messages resonate more when identifying and communicating what uniquely relates to them. With collected and analyzed customer data you can find the following types of pain points:

  • Finances and Budget: Customers spend resources on their products and services and are always looking to reduce costs. Internet sales-driven companies have a significant reliance on marketing, with 65% of the median company’s customer acquisition cost (CAC) budget devoted to marketing.
  • Production: Customers want a solution to improve efficiency and optimize their budget. Production improvement can be implemented on various scales; from the individual to the entire enterprise.

Support: Customers that go through the buyer’s journey with little or no support lose confidence in business relationships. Giving continuous support to customers, potential or current, strengthens these relationships and guarantees value for all parties.

Should Go-To-Market Strategies Change by Company Size?

For smaller companies looking to quickly grow its customer base, reaching out to prospects without any form of segmentation is a fool’s errand.

That said, there are pros and cons of pursuing enterprise companies versus mid-market or SMBs.

First and foremost, targeting enterprise companies usually equates to larger deal sizes. On the other hand, enterprise companies often have more governance (“red tape”) around procurement and vendor management, resulting in longer sales cycles.

Meanwhile, smaller companies may come to decision about investing in new solutions for their business. However, in most cases, the cross-sell and up-sell possibilities are limited compared to enterprise organizations. Another catch 22 is whether SMBs and mid-market companies will churn, as budgetary resources are usually at a premium.

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About the author

Rayana Barnes

Rayana Barnes is the Creative Content Specialist at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact database and sales intelligence solution for go-to-market teams.

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