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A company’s go-to-market (GTM) strategy is one of the most important levers to improve key business outcomes. I had also sent the company a note via a web form and tried a chat session, but neither of them seemed to fix my problem.
I had called the company six times, submitted a web form, engaged in one chat session, spoke with two managers, and I still had to wait ten days for my money to be returned to my account. Most for-profit companies want to maximize their revenues and minimize their costs and risks, all the while providing a delightful customer experience. The majority of companies are not there yet, however, especially not on a consistent basis. With that backdrop, a company’s go-to-market (GTM) strategy is one of the most important levers to improve key business outcomes.
This Whitepaper will provide you with a basic overview of the strategic questions above, while arming you with questions and ideas to start the most critical of discussions – how your GTM strategy should be structured. An integrated, or holistic, GTM strategy includes a methodical analysis of markets, customer segments, channel economics, offerings, value propositions and a host of other enabling factors that are involved in formulating an integrated strategy. The front-office triad of marketing, sales and service, which is part and parcel of a company’s GTM strategy, can account for 20-30% of a company’s cost structure (3), and is the key revenue generator and engine for top-line growth. In essence, there are many more markets that you can profitably pursue, so you have to crisply define where your offerings and messages most resonate and differentiate you from the competition (5).
As many strategists know, strategy is all about trade-offs and often what you don’t do – markets and customers you don’t pursue, offerings you don’t launch, or channels that you don’t build-out.
There are a number of adages around the importance of customers, which may seem trite but are often good reminders of their centrality to a business. A GTM strategy should be no different – if you don’t consistently capture voice of the customer data, you will almost certainly miss the mark with regards to your GTM performance and ongoing strategy (6).
At a minimum, there are three kinds of customer information that you should collect, regardless of method. A needs assessment is a typical occurrence in seller, offering or project discovery sessions (7). The needs should be both broadened and narrowed – the former by asking about the bigger picture; the latter by decomposing the needs into their constituent elements.
For example, if you think of a budget as a way to weight needs, a software integration project that captures 30% of the discretionary budget is probably a more important need than a 2% budget line item to train all the marketers on project management methods. The quick question is what sort of experience or relationships do customers want to have with your company, if any. The goal of customer experience management (CEM) is to not only satisfy your customers but to have them become advocates or raving fans of your company, brand, and offerings.
Witness the rise of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software in the ‘90’s as a way to measure, monitor, and track customer relationships. In summary then, CRM and CEM are complementary and should be integrated and aligned to ensure a match of internal (CRM) and external (CEM) perspectives. As many sales professionals know today, the average customer is much more informed than they were ten years ago. In the last five or so years, there has been much more focus on aligning the sales process to the buying process. Buying behavior is both macro and micro – there is the channel level and process or pipeline level. How do customers (would stratify by segment) currently interact with your company, and what is their satisfaction level? This could be a small customer who wants more personalized, face-to-face service or a large, global customer who is very demanding and has significant negotiating power. Most of us have traversed numerous channels over the course of our lives buying different products and services. A lot of frustration occurs when channels don’t “talk” to each other, as explicitly referenced in the story at the beginning of this Whitepaper. This situation is sometimes referred to as channel conflict, and rather than being an issue, per se, it can be quite insightful. Figure 4 is a high-level illustration of the general cost per interaction for each channel and whether the channel is high or low touch. How do your current and future customers want to interact with you – what are their channel preferences? One of the first rules of developing your GTM strategy is ensuring your offerings fit your channels. The aforementioned examples seem a bit silly, but they engender some feelings that can be quite insightful.
As we’ve written elsewhere (16), although value is often in the eye of the beholder, there are some standard methods around determining what is valuable. For a B2B situation, the seller may be calling on a CEO and VP of Marketing, and they will want to customize their value proposition accordingly. The lesson is that you must engage your customers in a dialogue to understand what they over and under-weight and what truly resonates with them.
Like many endeavors, it helps to use a test and iteration approach with real targets and messages to improve the language and delivery of your value proposition. Figure 6 graphically depicts the value proposition elements and the critical feedback loop to test, iterate and improve them with customer targets.

Having witnessed and created many GTM strategies and variants, there are numerous lessons learned that are both insightful and instructive. View channel conflict as an opportunity to exploit the inherent need and demand of the market and your channels vs. There is no avoiding the use of metrics or analytics in almost anything you do in business today, as shown by the significant growth in business intelligence and analytics applications in recent years, as well as the M&A premiums that acquirers have paid to get into the market space (19).
Figure 7 includes some metrics or potential key performance indicators (20) that you could use to measure, monitor, and track your GTM performance. Companies that acquire another company and position their new holistic value and solutions, but have separate phone numbers to call or web sites to visit for each brand or solution.
In closing, the bad news is that there is no Silver Bullet for fixing many GTM problems – not unlike most strategic and multi-faceted business issues. As an example, in keeping with the story at the beginning of this Whitepaper, online banking and call centers account for 55% of banking transactions today, and online is growing at almost three times any other channel. 1 In folklore, the Silver Bullet is understood to be the only kind of bullet that is effective against a werewolf, witch, or other monsters. 4 Business-to-consumer (B2C) segmentation is often much richer and nuanced in its segmentation bases than B2B – it might include psychographics, need drivers, persona development, behavioral signatures, etc.
5 One caveat to this statement is the idea of a disruptive innovation (see Clayton Christensen’s work) , which may appear to be an inferior market or offering at first glance, but grows to overtake its rivals as some “marginal” or new segment will value it in a way that is not easily predicted. 13 Customer lifetime value (abbreviated as CLV, LCV or LTV) is the net present value of the cash flows that would be attributed to the life of a customer relationship.
18 A weasel word – an informal term for words or phrases that are designed to create an impression that something meaningful has been said, but in fact, only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated. 19 According to Gartner (2011), business intelligence spending has far surpassed IT budget growth. At its core, a GTM strategy is the way a company aligns to the evolving needs of its customers – it is the interface at which the company sells to and serves its customer base and interacts with new prospects. All I wanted was to rectify a mistake the bank made when they debited my checking account twice for a credit card payment. They also tried to up-sell me after my experience had gone sour, which was after my third call to them.
If you try to sell large, complex system integration projects to small businesses, you aren’t going to be successful regardless of the channel utilized. Taking anywhere from 12-24 months to successfully implement, a new GTM strategy should not be seen as a quick-fix prescription for a current quarter shortfall but rather as a long-term strategy to increase revenues, decrease go-to-market costs, and improve the customer experience.
A better-optimized GTM strategy can add 10-15% to the bottom line by improving market selection, customer alignment, and channel productivity. Also, if you have different competitors in a specific segment, you are in a distinct market and it should be pursued as such. Market selection then is a balancing of trade-offs and expected return on investment, with a sprinkle of timing and luck. There are numerous ways to collect information about your customers – focus groups, web surveys, one-to-one interviews, advisory boards, and various other methods. You can also look at how customers spend their time and what problems take up the most energy and effort – this is how you better understand implied needs. Some customers would prefer quick-and-easy interactions, while others would prefer a much deeper relationship.
From a GTM strategy standpoint, CEM should be an integral part in terms of measuring and managing a customer’s cross-channel interactions to improve and optimize their experience.
CRM initially gained strong traction in verticals that wanted to stop the inexorable trend to commoditization, namely, high tech, financial services, and telecommunications.
There is a plethora of free and helpful content on the web, including a proliferation of micro-targeted blogs and wikis and an increasing number of user-generated vendor and product reviews that are often unfiltered and candid. A buyer-aligned sales process is more likely to engender strong resonance with a buyer as you are lock-step with their needs and purpose.
For example, there are some customers who are currently unprofitable or have a negative lifetime value (13) and may want more services and resources from you in the future. Figure 3 depicts a typical view of the different channels-to-market that could be built-out or utilized by your company.
A classic example for a B2B sales professional is when they meet with one of their customers and are not aware that their inside sales team has also been calling on their account, as well as one of their business partners.
There is a reason that Delta Air Lines charges a fee to buy an airplane ticket via their call center vs.
There are offerings where the person selling them is very important, particularly professional services but also products that are expensive or that have a long life. The CEO may over-weight stock price impact but under-weight a new onboarding process, while a VP of Marketing may over-weight a new product or market launch but under-weight earnings per share growth. Also, it should be crisp (no long-winded prose) and include some quantitative proof points that can be verified and supported.
Given the holistic nature of a GTM strategy, there is no single metric that will meet all of your needs. You need only look at your experiences as a consumer and buyer to get a feel for the situation. Their sellers call on you separately each selling their specific product slice – the one they get compensated for vs.

The good news is that in the pursuit of a comprehensive GTM strategy, you can learn a tremendous amount about your company and markets, which can have a material impact on your results across a broad spectrum of business outcomes – financial, customer, and process. In terms of results, some large regional banks have created over a quarter of a billion dollars in incremental revenue via a consistent multichannel experience (21). The connotation for business is that there is a single thing you can do that will solve all of your problems. Some B2B companies are becoming more advanced in their segmentation, but it’s more the exception than the rule. Witness the consumerization of IT – some studies show that 95% (IDC study) of employees have purchased at least one device and use it at work. I had called one number for my credit card and another number for my checking account, and they still kept passing me back-and-forth. Lastly, they admitted that they were culpable for the mistake after quite a bit of prodding on my part, but nothing could be done to shorten the waiting period.
A lot of companies are continually refining and optimizing their key business outcomes and often looking for a Silver Bullet (1) or at least trying to identify the key levers to pull or dials to turn to improve their results.
In the past, the financial services market was attractive to many new entrants and upstarts given their high margins and growth story, but that market is a bit less bright today. Sam Walton is said to have remarked that if you are ever confused, go talk to your customer. Figure 2 outlines some types of experiences that customers may want and some examples of companies that orient themselves, to some degree, to that experience.
In a 2010 Forrester Research study, 90% of the executives surveyed said that customer experience was very important or critical to their firm’s strategy, while 80% said they wanted to use it as a form of differentiation (9). Each of these verticals shifted to a more customer-centric strategy and often compensated their sales professionals on customer satisfaction and loyalty metrics, which has some empirical foundations. The buyer also has more ways to interact with a company – internet, chat, social media, contact centers, direct sales professionals, and partners, among others.
If the customer is still at a discovery and learning stage, and you are trying to close them, you will be misaligned, and their experience will be dissatisfying.
In other words, which channels do they select and prefer, and how do they behave within a channel, such as working with a field sales professional or a call center representative.
From the customer’s perspective, this disconnect is also frustrating in that the vendor does not appear coordinated, and it can be confusing as to who they should work with – field sales, inside sales, or a partner. There are still situations where it makes sense for the seller and buyer to be in the same room, but that seems to be shrinking.
This net value is then compared (could be formal or informal) to other uses of time, resources and capital. On the B2C side, some customers will pay a premium for more features and functionality, whereas others want the product as simple as possible>. Business metrics and financials are such a common short-hand because they cut through the “weasel words”(18) and ambiguous messages that are so common in buzzword-laden marketing materials. Similar to customers, they should be created and refined after some test and iteration cycles with each constituency for maximum impact. An integrated dashboard that includes market, customer, channel, and offering performance is needed to make targeted GTM adjustments and changes.
Learning about your markets, customers, channels and how you create and communicate value is not to be overlooked.
Both B2C and B2B buyers have more content sources and devices to access and navigate buying options. On top of this, one of the call center representatives tried to sell me on an upgrade to my checking account. Figure 1 depicts the key elements of a GTM strategy (2), which will be discussed in more detail later in the Whitepaper. In the end, as important as markets are, it’s the prospects and customers in those markets who make the ultimate buying decisions. Customer satisfaction has been shown to be positively related to increases in shareholder value, revenue, and return on equity (11).
Keeping aligned with the buyer as they freely navigate myriad channels and content sources is more-and-more challenging and important (12). It’s imperative to focus on customers with the highest potential in terms of repeat purchases and larger average deal sizes. An internet interaction costs them pennies – the infrastructure is already built-out and is scalable – while a call center transaction may cost them from twenty-five cents to a few dollars, depending on whether it’s on- or off-shore or more integrated voice response (IVR: the classic phone trees we all enjoy) oriented.
The key point to explore with customers is what’s important to the person you are proposing to and how do they weight specific benefits and costs. In another B2C example, the all-in cost to acquire a new consumer banking account is 15% to 45% lower through the internet than a branch or call center (15).

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