In a recent LinkedIn poll, I asked my followers whether they think of go-to-market (GTM) as a marketing and sales-only endeavor. An overwhelming 78% of respondents said that they think GTM is beyond the scope of the two functions.
I agree that many people don’t fully understand the true meaning of GTM. A successful go to market engine is more than just a marketing and sales machine. It’s a cross-functional collaboration that involves all aspects of the business, from product development to customer success.
In this blog post, I discuss what I call the “Modern GTM Flywheel” and how it can help businesses achieve their growth goals through a full-fledged go to market strategy.
Let us first give credit where it’s due
One of the thought leaders who is doing a great job when it comes to GTM is Sangram Vajre and his company GTM Partners (we mostly know him as the Co-founder of Terminus and the host of the Peak Community).
The company has published a comprehensive guide to GTM which covers GTM from a business standpoint and gives a whole new flavor to it.
The GTM flywheel I am presenting in this article is an adapted but more simplified version of the GTM model proposed in the guide. However, I have made many changes to it and added my own thoughts over and above what’s discussed there.
So join me for an interesting read on GTM.
What is GTM or go to market?
I don’t know if there is a textbook definition of GTM. But in essence, GTM or Go-To-Market is the collection of all activities that launch, deliver, and continuously enhance a product or solution with the aim of growing a business.
Go to market is not the same as a product launch
Many misunderstand GTM for product or solution launch – a one-time activity that is done and forgotten. But in reality, GTM is a continuous process. It’s a FLYWHEEL that should run tirelessly like a non-stop engine. In fact, GTM should be the driving force behind your business’s growth. The go to market strategy lives for as long as the product or solution exists.
The GTM flywheel for new-age B2B businesses
A flywheel not only has to keep rotating but also has to store excess energy for intermittent use. The GTM flywheel for modern B2B businesses serves the same purpose. It extends the scope of GTM beyond sales and marketing to:
- Product/service delivery (customer success)
- Leadership and management
- Revenue operations
The following figure illustrates the new GTM flywheel:
Given below are the 12 components of the flywheel:
- Research and analysis
- Goal and KPI setting
- Targeting, positioning, and messaging
- Demand gen and demand capture engine
- Content marketing funnel
- Tools and technology
- Product/service delivery
- Customer retention and expansion
- Data unification and reporting
- The GTM team
- The feedback loop
Let us break down each of these.
1. Research and analysis
This is your first step. This is where you do research about:
- Market dynamics – TAM (Total Addressable Market), SAM (Serviceable Available Market), SOM (Serviceable Obtainable Market), CAGR, etc.
- Competitive analysis: list of competitors, competing products/solutions, and competitors’ GTM strategy.
- Customer interviews: for validating the product/solution idea and assessing market fit. They also help in crafting the right product features or solution capabilities.
In this step, you would also analyze and audit your own business. This could involve:
- A SWOT analysis (specific to your solution)
- Marketing analysis (channels, metrics, partnerships. etc)
Essentially, the research and analysis stage is where you collect all the necessary information you need for the GTM flywheel to keep rotating.
2. Goal and KPI setting
Without a destination, you don’t have a direction. Goal setting is what gives the GTM vehicle direction. At this stage, you need to define your goals in terms of:
- The revenue and pipeline you aim to hit with the new solution over a period (first quarter, second quarter, year 1, year 2, and so on)
- Market penetration or market share you wish to achieve
- Number of customers and average deal size (you can divide these targets into various segments if you wish – like enterprise, mid-market, SMB, etc.)
- Customer retention (or churn rate)
- Burn multiple (for the new product or solution): this is relevant if you are a startup or in the early stages of the company’s growth
- CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)
Depending on the nature of your business and the growth aspirations, goals and KPIs might change. But you get the point here. Your GTM strategy has to align with these goals. And you can’t deviate from them at any cost.
3. Targeting, positioning, and messaging
This needs less explanation.
Targeting is about defining your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile). Here is a small template that you can use to clearly define the TG (Target Group) you want to go after.
Positioning is something where many tend to go wrong. We assume that our solution should be capable of changing the world for us to have a strong positioning statement. Your positioning can be based on either:
- a unique feature that none of your competitors can offer
- or a combination of multiple strengths when offered together gives you a competitive edge
Messaging helps you turn positioning into words. Messaging should reflect across your content marketing funnel. Some of the most important of them include product/solution landing pages, meta titles and meta descriptions of all relevant landing pages, ad copies, social media posts, emails, and videos.
4. Demand gen and demand capture engine
In the context of GTM, it means that you need to have a system to consistently generate demand for the new solution. The demand capture engine should be effective in capturing the generated demand without any lead leakage.
Given below is a sample demand generation + demand capture engine:
- Demand gen: podcasts, organic social, live events (online and offline), speaking gigs, etc.
- Demand capture: website & SEO, paid search & paid social, third-party ads, emails, etc.
5. Content marketing funnel – the backbone of your content marketing strategy
Designing a content marketing funnel helps you align your content pieces along the different stages of the customer journey.
Given below is a simplistic representation of a content marketing funnel:
Now, the specific content types you need to focus on will depend on the industry you are in and the ideal customer profile. When it comes to your GTM efforts, you can also attempt to align your content along the following stages:
- Product/solution launch
Visualizing the content marketing funnel along these stages sometimes helps to simplify the content creation process.
In the GTM flywheel, I feel enablement is one of the areas that is overlooked. Enablement is not just about creating content required to support the sales process. It has got multiple dimensions to it such as:
- Forming incentive structures for different stakeholders involved in GTM
- Facilitating training not just for sales but for all the teams that are part of the GTM motion
- Setting up the right tech infrastructure required to run the GTM engine (tools & tech are discussed as a separate component of the flywheel)
- Planning for ramping up the ‘GTM force’ when the product or solution is ready for scaling (this is one area where a CPO would come in)
Simply put, enablement is about helping the core GTM team sustain and survive.
7. Tools and technology
As discussed already, GTM touches upon multiple facets of a business. However, most of the tech infrastructure involved in the initial phases of a GTM cycle is around sales and marketing.
Here is a sample GTM tech stack (with a key focus on sales and marketing). I have outlined the categories and given examples of tools and platforms you could use against each.
8. Product/service delivery
The modern GTM flywheel focuses on not just customer acquisition but retention as well. This is where product delivery/service delivery/customer success comes into play.
Characteristics of a well-oiled customer success engine focused on GTM include:
- Frictionless customer onboarding
- Seamless customer support (chat, email, call)
- Smooth project/product delivery by meeting promised SLAs (Service Level Agreements)
- Effective collaboration between delivery, account management, and technical teams
This is an important stage in the GTM cycle because this is where the real output is delivered. Whether you are selling a subscription-based software product or offering data analytics services, this is where your customers really ‘feel’ you.
9. Customer retention and expansion – a go to market strategy for growth
This is a continuation of the previous step. This is one of the stages where marketing, sales, and delivery have to work hand in hand. Some of the key elements and tactics of this GTM flywheel component include:
- Account-based marketing efforts (1 to many, 1 to few, and 1 to 1)
- Relationship management
- Identifying upsell opportunities
- Collecting regular feedback
- Dedicated workshops and webinars
- Sales and customer playbooks
If you have customer retention or churn rate defined as one of the KPIs, this step requires special attention. If you are a large enough firm that can afford to have a dedicated customer marketing team, go for it.
10. Data unification and reporting
This is pretty straightforward. Depending on the KPIs you have defined, have the right reporting mechanisms in place for each and every stakeholder to view the progress of GTM activities. Types of data you would want to report include:
- Business KPIs: revenue (ARR, MRR), pipeline, deal velocity, average deal size, etc.
- Team-level KPIs: for instance, for marketing, it could be the number of SQLs, MQLs, etc.
- GTM activity tracking
- Revenue/lead attribution
If required, separate dashboards can be created for the executive/leadership team and individual teams.
11. The GTM team
By this time, you would have gotten a sense of who constitutes a GTM team. Broadly speaking, following are the teams/people involved in a company’s GTM activities:
- CEO/Founding team
- Revenue operations (CRO, RevOps Manager)
- Sales (CSO, VP of Sales)
- Marketing (CMO, VP of Marketing)
- Customer Success (Head/VP of Customer Success)
- Enablement (Head/VP of Enablement)
- HR (CPO/Head of HR)
Now tie this back to each of the other flywheel components (including the next one). You will then be able to draw a complete picture of who fits in and where in the flywheel.
12. The feedback loop
This is one of the fundamental traits of the GTM flywheel. If you need to make continuous enhancements to your product/solution, its positioning, messaging, value proposition, content marketing funnel, or anything else that concerns the GTM engine, you need to be taking consistent feedback from internal as well as external sources.
- Internal sources: C-suite and key leaders, board of directors, and SMEs.
- External sources: customers/prospects, analysts, online forums, and consultants.
To collect the information, you can use surveys, interviews, feedback from technical forums, questions you get during demos and sales conversations, etc.
The key is to consolidate the feedback and apply it to each component of the flywheel. This is why the CEO (or the Business Unit Head) should be the owner of a GTM program. He/she should act as the anchor that connects and brings multiple people, processes, and technology together to make improvements to all GTM activities.
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About the author
Naseef KPO is the Founder and CEO of Skalegrow. He comes with rich experience across multiple areas of B2B marketing including content marketing, demand generation, SEO, account-based marketing, marketing analytics, revenue attribution, marketing technology, etc. He writes thought-provoking and relevant articles on The Skalegrow Blog and his weekly LinkedIn newsletter Elevate Your Marketing.
Prior to starting Skalegrow, Naseef led large marketing teams in multi-million dollar B2B organizations where he made significant contributions to the topline growth of the business. He has also appeared on numerous podcasts where he shared his thoughts on trending marketing topics such as the application of AI in marketing, startup marketing, ABM, and B2B content marketing, just to name a few. Being the founder of Skalegrow, he is currently focusing on helping its clients stay ahead of their competition by using innovative yet practical marketing tactics.
You can connect with Naseef KPO on LinkedIn.