The 'Easy Button' for Go-to-Market
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any marketing or sales teams.
Companies would build products with perfect product-market-fit and continuously stay ahead of their customers’ evolving needs. Customers would discover, purchase, and evangelize your solutions faster than you could spin up new instances.
In reality, Marketing and Sales bridge the gap between a science project and a business.
Product-Market-Fit is typically the largest obstacle to a company’s success, and the responsibility of keeping the Product and Sales focus on-target largely belongs to Marketing leadership. This is why most startups hire a VP Marketing before a VP Sales.
The process is both an art and a science, and rarely do companies get it just right. Even companies with proven success and strong forecasts have no guarantee of meeting the shifting needs and requirements of their customers.
Getting Go-To-Market Wrong
In the early 2000’s, Nokia was the global leader in mobile technology, with a $200B market cap, but failed to attach themselves to the convergence of hardware and software in the smartphone industry. While Nokia was attempting to compete with new features, Apple and Android swept the market with platforms that enabled incredible exchanges between developers and consumers, forever transforming the industry. By 2014, Nokia’s market cap dropped to $30B and they had sold their Devices & Services division to Microsoft for just $7.2B.
While this is an extreme example, think about the release cycles of modern software companies and how much faster transformations take place today. Marketing leaders have to constantly study the market and lead the company down the right path. But more often than not, they're stuck studying an echo chamber of information sponsored by other vendors. They consume reports directly or indirectly sponsored by vendors, read reviews coordinated by vendors, and interview tech practitioners with biases towards vendors in settings superseded by sales obligations.
The information from these exercises generate Go-to-Market Strategies that are misaligned with the real world. Sales cycles are long and qualified opportunities don’t convert.
The process of creating, validating, and iterating your Go-to-Market Strategy requires constant access to data from credible sources to influence each piece of your strategy. The greatest limitations to enterprise software companies today are:
A Lack of Credible Information
A Reliance on Stale Information
Let’s dig into what this information looks like, where it can be applied, and how it can be obtained.
G0-T0-Market is a System
An Engineered System is defined as: “a combination of components that work in synergy to collectively perform a useful function.” If one component is flawed, the system doesn’t work.
Go-To-Market Strategies are no different.
The 'useful function' is to sell software or services. The core components can be distilled into Industry Analysis, Buyer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, and Product Validation.
This is about understanding your market(s) and answering questions like:
Why does our market exist today?
How is our market described and perceived?
How big is our market? What’s the growth rate?
Who plays in our market? (No competition = no market)
What are the problems our market is attempting to solve? Which problems are still unaddressed?
What are the key features of products in our market?
How is our market shifting? What will it look like in 3 years?
Analyst reports & inquiries, along with attending the right events, are extremely effective. A massive amount of 3rd party effort goes into industry analysis for large and/or growing categories, and the information is easily accessible if you have the cash.
The gap tends to be access to information that isn’t available to the general public that will give you a competitive advantage. This information comes from deeper conversations, specific to your unique business, with senior folks who work in the buy-side of your industry.
Sure, you have easy access to your existing customers, but what about the rest of the world that you haven’t managed to win over? Are you able to have these conversations at a meaningful volume?
The importance of knowing your buyer(s) is well understood by sales-driven organizations. Buyer Analysis allows you to build products & features specifically for the people that matter most to your business. It allows you to optimize your marketing and sales efforts by targeting the right people with personalized messaging that resonates. The cost of getting this wrong is enormous.
Buyer analysis provides a clear understanding of:
Will ultimately sign the order
Makes the technical influence & decision
Will be your champion throughout the process
Are the actual end-users of the product
Are each of these people’s unique pain points
Key messages will resonate with each buyer
Is the organizational & personal value of solving these pain points
Is the cost of doing nothing
Do they like to buy
Participating in sales meetings and conducting case studies & surveys with existing customers are some of the most effective opportunities to nail your buyer analysis. You can tap into your sales pipeline and existing customer base to study their identifiers, priorities, preferences, and more.
However, how do you study the buyers you haven’t won over and don’t necessarily understand? Your buyers might vary across company size, company age, regions, verticals, and most importantly, shift over time.
When a sales rep says they don’t have any competition, there should be concern. When a marketer says they don’t have any competition, it might be too late for that company.
Competitive Analysis plays a major role in a company's Go-To-Market Strategy. Understanding the competition in-depth allows you to build collateral and messaging that highlights your differentiation, handle inevitable sales objections, and fine-tune your product roadmap. In crowded markets, competition tends to change faster than your marketing team can react.
Competitive Analysis involves the process of understanding areas like:
Who is your competition? Who are the leaders vs. incumbents?
How does each competitor compare across:
- Market traction & Industry Focus (Use Cases, Verticals, Buyers)
- Product Capabilities (feature/functionality)
- Product Value (Time-to-Value, Ease-of-Use, ROI)
- Cost (Cost-of-Ownership, Licensing Strategy, Flexibility)
Why did specific customers choose a competitor over yours and vice-versa?
Marketers use a wide variety of methods & tools to access competitive information. Some of these methods include:
Vendor Content: Website, Documentation, Data Sheets, White Papers, Blogs, Webinars
Analysts: Inquiries and Reports
Trade Shows: Attend competitors’ sessions and interact with their customers
The looming challenge is keeping up with the technical differentiation (and the perceived value of that differentiation) across your competitive landscape.
Available information is biased, generic, and static. Realistically, the desired intelligence only exists with people who have built the tool or have evaluated/operated the tool and an in-depth conversation is required to get information of value.
Product Validation Testing
Whether you are building a new product, expanding into a new market, or refining an existing product’s roadmap, real feedback from target users is the evidence needed to justify decisions.
With access to the right users, you can ask powerful questions to uncover feedback around concepts, features, workflows, how it’s demoed and explained, and much more. There are so many possible questions to ask, many of which are specific to the product in mind, so I’ll spare the attempt.
Most software vendors today leverage existing customers for justifying product decisions. Incorporating your existing customer feedback into your product is an absolute must, but what are you missing out on by not putting in the effort to study other users or markets who haven’t gravitated toward your solution thus far? Including feedback from a wider variety of professionals into your product strategy can open doors to new opportunities you didn’t know existed.
So how can you arrange these in-depth conversations, with highly-qualified and relevant professionals, at speed and at a meaningful volume?
Sagetap Gives you Proof
Whether you’re struggling with Industry Analysis, Buyer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Product Validation, or all of the above, the best steps you can take are to get your team in front of the right people for in-depth conversations. Better yet, get in front of a LOT of them, and fast.
The best people to speak with should check the list:
Have a strong expertise in your area of focus
Currently work at an organization that would be an ideal customer
Are completely unbiased to vendors in your space/Totally neutral and objective/No hidden incentives
Are not engaged with your sales team
But how do you access them?
Aside from the challenge and cycles required to identify, contact, and get these experts to agree to speak with you, you’ll find that the conversations still don't yield the results you’re looking for unless there is a very close friend on the other end of the line. Why? Because enterprise technology practitioners are well aware that every software vendor wants to sell to them and that their words will be used against them to influence them to make a purchase. Even if you communicate that you have no intention of selling, you won't find the authenticity and level of depth you need.
Fortunately, there is a much better approach. Sagetap is a network of enterprise cloud practitioners who are willing to connect to exchange their knowledge and perspectives on the latest technologies and trends. With a strict non-solicitation policy and no vendor kickbacks, each exchange is highly consultative and honest.
To hit the easy-button on your Go-to-Market, submit request to Sagetap and we’ll put you in touch with a variety of experts who match your criteria across technical skill-sets, experience with particular tools, involvement in the evaluation or buying process, verticals, geographies, and more.
Sound interesting? Well, the proof is in the pudding.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started