The go to marketing strategy a SaaS executive needs to follow
02 January 2018
GTM strategies, also known as go-to-market, represent a set of actions that businesses should follow in order to gain a competitive advantage. Reaching target customers can be a complex task if the proper action plan is not adopted. A go-to-market strategy is supposed to dictate how a product will be delivered to the customers while analyzing all the factors that might influence the outcome. GTM strategies are not the same as business plans since they are less broad. They focus on one particular target only, while business plans cover all business goals.
It is important to define a marketing strategy before getting into detail regarding GTM. A marketing strategy is supposed to help companies decide what to sell and to whom. There are some boundaries that need to be respected in this sense so that the organization reaches the goals that were previously set.
Marketing deals with developing a product, communicating with suppliers and customers, and using the proper tools for selling, as a web app. Check out the TMS website if you need any help setting up a web application.
Table of contents
- Defining go to market strategies
- The purpose of GTMs
- Developing a GTM – steps and components
- Where you can use GTM strategies?
- Building a go-to-market plan from scratch
- Product timeline in GTM strategies
- Selecting an audience
- A go-to-market strategy template you should analyze
- Outlining the distribution model
- Go to market models to keep an eye on
Defining go to market strategies
Depending on each business’ goals, GTM strategies can be molded accordingly. Because they are strategic action plans, they contain clear steps that must be followed in a certain direction. The direction differs from one company to another, based on what the owner desires to achieve. The most popular directions are entering the market, launching products or services, or bringing a forgotten company to life.
A go-to-market strategy framework is similar to regular marketing plans, but it covers only one specific purpose (e.g. product, market, relaunching, etc.). Normal marketing plans refer to the business’ overall profitability.
The purpose of GTMs
The companies that select go to market strategy usually want to launch new products while having a competitive advantage on their side. When competition is strong, targeting the audience correctly and following the proper steps to successfully launch a product is paramount. Well, GTM covers exactly these two goals to establish their products on a new market. Common companies that devise go-to-market strategies are the ones working in cloud services or service-oriented businesses in general.
Developing a GTM – steps and components
As mentioned before, GTM strategies are narrower, which means that research is mandatory to clearly define a market. In order to launch a very specific product or service, one must know what customers desire. This is the first step in launching a GTM strategy. Detecting sales prospects and targeting potential customers for the product represent the initial phases of a GTM strategy. Defining the ideal buyer for the respective product or service is the next step of developing a go-to-market plan.
Next, GTM strategies analyze what benefits the company will receive once the business goals are met. If everything goes as expected and the targeted potential customers turn out to be real customers, the strategy reached its purpose. Before that, go-to-market plans must include a very clear pricing strategy for each step involved.
The pricing strategy can be quite difficult to set, considering that products or services can change in time or economic events can occur. GTM strategies that involve subscription-based pricing are usually the first choice of businesses.
Where you can use GTM strategies?
The characteristics of a GTM strategy vary from one state to another. Some regions can be trickier when it comes to applying a go-to-market strategy, as there might be a delay in aligning to a certain market. Some states involve dedicated approaches that can only be used in that region (e.g. Germany, Spain).
There are certain industries that definitely require go-to-market strategies. In several cases, pro-users can select GTMs for their products, as well as bigger enterprises. It is a scalable strategy that can apply to multiple segments and markets.
Building a go to market plan from scratch
In order to build a good go-to-market plan, one must analyze what approaches can be applied. The four main approaches can be described as follows:
By choosing this approach, companies focus on increasing the quantities sold to an existent market. It involves almost no risks, because the product is already launched, and the market is already contoured and researched.
This approach involves more risks because it is focused on an entirely new market. To make an existent product or service reach success on a new market, you must analyze it from all points of view and calculate each step of the go-to-market plan.
In this situation, you already know your existing market well, but you want to innovate what you are selling. This approach involves launching a new product in a market you already know very well.
This is the riskiest approach of them all, but it can also turn out to be the most profitable one. The aggressive approach involves selling an entirely new product on a new market that you don’t know much about at the moment. In order to guarantee success for this approach, one must understand both the pains and gains of the market and the values of the product launched.
Product timeline in GTM strategies
Once you’ve selected the approach and analyzed the situation of your business properly, you should come up with a complex timeline that is constituted of the evolution stages of a product or service. Depending on the development stage of your business (ranging from startup to big enterprise), the timeline will differ. The lowest period of time dedicated to planning a product is 1 year, and the maximum one is 5 years.
The timelines can suffer changes during each quarter of the financial year. When this timeline suffers changes, documentation and argumentation must be provided in this sense. The documentation includes information such as the price desired for the product, how many competitors have the same product, where is the product positioned in terms of competition, market focus, desired revenue coming from the product, and so on. The documentation should end with a project introduction plan that will later be implemented.
Selecting an audience
Selecting an audience is a task that needs to be assessed very early in the marketing process. Learning who are the people you are going to sell your products to is not that easy either. Understanding the situation of your business and finding differentiated ways to push your product to the market is essential at this point. Communicating your product proposition to people must be done wisely, after a careful analysis of the targeted audience.
A go to market strategy template you should analyze
In this template, you will learn what is the best method to create a GTM strategy that will work great for your company. This is a generic template that can be adopted by companies working in any domain, but it should be noted that subjectivity will always alter the final go to the market template. Whenever changes are required in the GTM strategy, they should be immediately implemented to solve issues that may appear in the future.
Gathering and analyzing data
There are multiple stages in finding the necessary information related to the company, market, and products. The first stage is represented by product definition. During this stage, one must identify any problems that may occur when launching a product, along with the appropriate solutions for these problems. The second stage consists of setting several objectives for a specified timeframe, ranging from 6 months to a few years. The process continues with identifying the target audience and defining the new or existing market. During this stage, numbers are very useful to determine to buy power and the behavior of the supposed target market.
Next, one must identify the trends in a market, assessing the competition. This stage is also known as competitive intelligence and it refers to analyzing the competitive landscape. One should also predict how the competition will react to a new launch. The last two stages consist of finding the distribution options that suit the project the best and testing the market in order to obtain the first feedback in this sense.
Creating the GTM strategy
The components of a go-to-market strategy can vary, but most GTMs are created following a series of steps. First of all, entrepreneurs must answer two paramount questions: what the purpose of the market strategy is and what results are expected after implementing it. After these questions are answered, the market strategy can be defined in terms of strategic objectives, which were previously set. This stage involves making a value proposition, positioning the product among other choices, selecting the message that needs to be delivered, and choosing a sales model.
Next, one should decide on a pricing strategy that fits the research. Then, the sales tools, the client acquisition approach, and the support for selling the product should be defined. The process continues with determining all the service support details. A Customer Relationship Management system should be either bought or created to encourage customer communication. The appropriate support should be offered to clients, as they might not know how to use the product or service you are offering.
In order to engage clients in buying and to gain their loyalty, an approach needs to be selected in terms of nurturing and strengthening customer relations. Finally, the satisfaction of the customers should be tracked during the whole process.
The product timeline or roadmap has to be created based on developing queue support and selecting an effective feedback system so that future upgrades can rapidly be communicated to all customers. The next stage involves external marketing. The recommended approaches are branding, lead generation, creating quality content, link building, a responsive website, and organizing events.
For advertising and Public Relationships, good external communication should be established, while assessing the resources dedicated to this sector. Internal marketing has to do with constantly updating employees regarding the newly launched product. KPIs and other metrics should be used for tracking the progress of this marketing strategy.
Outlining the distribution model
When selling a product entirely on yourself, you have to choose the appropriate option to do it. You can choose between direct sales, inside sales, and e-commerce websites. A hybrid approach between the three is also valid. Leveraging sales is a good option for some businesses. The main point is that the more channels are used for selling, the better the numbers will look.
Besides choosing the sales option, one must determine the compensation plans, the training for all employees according to the strategy selected, and resolving any conflict that may appear between the sale channels. A good distribution model should not involve any mistakes when it comes to selling.
Most companies choose indirect sales because it’s much easier to leverage them through a third-party company. Delivering partners may raise some issues as well, but if communicating the purpose of your business and the goals of your marketing strategy, everything should go as planned. The delivery partner should be notified about all details related to the distribution strategy selected.
Go to market models to keep an eye on
Getting customers hooked through free trials is a good modality to engage them into buying premium services in the future. Offering to clients the basic features of a product for free and requiring a purchase for premium ones such as personalization or more storage is one of the best lead sources. All transactions should be processed via credit cards and communication must be efficient at this point.
Once customers start to be interested in your products, you can take advantage of your website and go further with the Freemium strategy. In this sense, clients can opt for added features that will be paid extra. This can be an automated feature that doesn’t require much effort. For instance, you can grant clients access to extra features through memberships.
Online sales usually raise a lot of questions, so you must be prepared to answer them. Set up a live chat and an FAQ section so that clients can get easily informed about the products you are offering. The more trustful your brand looks, the higher the chances to gain more customers. Live chats and messaging are more recommended than inbound phone calls.
Inside sales – inbound-centric & outbound-centric
Assistance is very important as sales start to intensify. When clients reach out, they should be able to discuss with a person that knows everything about the products. Account executives and sales development managers should answer messages and calls based on their communication skills. This is an inbound-centric method.
Outbound-centric sales are based on CRM programs and sales engagement tools. This is a good choice if you are selling for the first time in the online environment. Kickstarting sales is – in most cases – based on software platforms, so your team might need training.
If you decide to use CRM or ERP platforms, you can use the field sales force. This involves database integration. Whenever salespersons need to access information about stocks or the product, they can do it by using these platforms. Technology will help to keep track of the customers as well – their preferences, their purchase history, and so on. Account-based sales are more exact, meaning that you will get to notice a pattern in the way customers buy from you and use that pattern to encourage new sales.
A local sales force depends on the capacity of your salesmen to establish strong relationships with the customers in a specific area. This is a very costly approach, but it also has the biggest rewards of them all. Yet this strategy should only be applied if the business is already successful, very profitable, and has plenty of experience in the industry. For startups, the other strategies listed here might be more suitable.
Ending thoughts on the go-to market strategy
After understanding the steps of developing go-to-market strategies, you should start planning your next product launch. With all the tips listed here, you can’t go wrong. Keep in mind that you need to thoroughly analyze the market, the conditions of the industry you work in, and the changes that occur in the economy. Revising the strategy before applying it is a must, as well as being prepared for unexpected changes in the near future.
If you enjoyed reading this article about the go-to-market strategy, you should check out this one about SaaS metrics.