Is your Go to Market Plan opportunistic or account based? Many organizations choose to execute one or even both approaches — but often the execution is not aligned to the actual go-to-market strategy. The good news is that by doing a simple “back of a napkin” calculation it’s possible to highlight the best approach to support the go to market plan.
Go to Market Plan – Opportunistic
An opportunistic demand creation plan is a reactive plan – i.e. it requires an individual to react to a stimulus (a demand creation program) and usually supports a generic go to market plan. Once a prospect’s hand is raised, then the process to score, route, follow-up, nurture or starburst the lead. Opportunistic demand creation programs typically treat all accounts as equal. Once there is activity, sales and marketing then have to determine when and how to follow up, relative to all other opportunities. An opportunistic approach is characterized by promoting horizontal or generic programs to contacts at companies that:
- Exist in the salesforce automation system
- Were purchased or rented from a third party
- Were captured organically through a download or registration form
Next, horizontal or global programs such as outbound email campaigns are set in motion. These campaigns include offers of pertinent digital assets as well as follow-up calls by sales development reps. Recipients that do respond receive points through the scoring system, and additional marketing and sales development resources are applied to connect with these respondents. The goal is to set up a meeting with a direct field sales person.
Some of the issues with an opportunistic approach are:
- If the company is not in the prospecting database or if all relevant contacts are not included (with full contact information), then there is little chance of a connection.
- If the sales team has rated the accounts in the served-market and prioritized a subset of these accounts as “Most Wanted” then marketing resources are being diluted.
- The demand creation effort may not be synchronized with the sales effort in terms of the quality and quantity of qualified sales opportunities.
- The digital assets or offers may be too generic or not deigned to be part of a sales play.
Go to Market Plan – Account Based
A demand creation plan aligned with the sales team to penetrate a set of accounts should focus first and foremost on the specific companies and the specific contacts within those companies that are part of the buying process. It’s important that these companies and contacts find the solution’s use case of great interest as it provides a tangible and highly desired business outcome. Either the solution is:
- A proven approach to an existing problem
- A new approach to an existing problem that has not yet been considered,
- A reframing of the problem in a unique way and provides a compelling business outcome that can’t be ignored
The key to solving the go to market plan puzzle is understanding the buying process. The prerequisite though are subject matter experts that know the industry, the business problems they face and the challenges in solving the problems. Either a subject matter expert has worked within a specific industry for quite some time or there is a process to tap into this network to stay current on the industry, business challenges and opportunities that arise each year. While problems will be similar regardless of company size and location; the approach an organization takes to solve these problems or take advantage of opportunities will vary from in-house solutions, consulting partners, point products, or turn-key solutions. Further, the number of opportunities and corresponding price points for a solution will vary in each market.
Once the industry subject matter experts identify a specific use case that the solution has a high probability of solving successfully, the account team needs to document the actual buying process to effectively support your go to market plan. This is so the people and the process used to acquire technology is fully understood. Specific questions to ask are:
- What positive business outcomes does the organization derive from the solution?
- What positive business outcomes do the specific groups involved in using and providing the technology expect to realize?
- What is the cost to the organization of not purchasing?
- What are the value statements that both technical and business people need to hear at the strategic and operational levels?
- How can these value statements be best communicated?
Once the groups and individuals involved in the purchase process are highlighted then the personas can be developed and examined in depth to accelerate the execution of your go to market plan. This process will help define the demand creation strategy that will outline how to reach, approach, engage and motivate each persona to drive the go-to-market plan. Specific messages must be aligned with specific content to engage with a persona. And, more often than not, the first contact is not about the technology, company or product. The goal is to engage, enlighten, empower and motivate as many functions and individuals in the buying process as possible (as most decisions are consensus based.)
If an organization is focused on a smaller number of deals with a larger purchase price, then an opportunistic demand creation strategy is probably not the right approach. This is because there is no control over who raises their hand or when. A more successful strategy will be one that focuses on:
- A database full of all the targeted companies with a high propensity to purchase (based on a mutually agreed set of criteria that sales and marketing have developed)
- Acquiring all contacts (technical, business, strategic and operational) with current contact information
- Account intelligence about the company and its priorities – gained from public and private sources
- Research into the key people assumed to be in the buying process to learn how to approach them – i.e. (personal or business) and what to say (how to message their interests into a business topic that one’s technology could be used to derive benefit) and how to motivate them
- Connections – leveraging all employees’ connections to all potential contacts to determine if there is any connection based on personal, education, professional, geographical, social, political, athletic, hobbies, groups or family information
- The development and execution of a play or series of plays that orchestrate all the sales and marketing resources around the most specific use case that consistently provides positive outcomes for the company being targeted
Go to Market Plan – Opportunistic or Account Based
Account Based marketing is not traditional marketing. It is not focused on cost per lead. It is not focused on developing a one-sized fits all campaign to be spread across the prospect database evenly. It’s not click-based. It is about 1:1 marketing. It is about knowing the company that one is selling to, understanding the people in it, what they need to do and how one will provide value to them. It requires sales, subject matter experts, product marketing, demand creation, sales enablement and sales development to create a “most wanted” list of prospects. Finally, it requires systematically attacking each account with the goal of setting up a meeting. Or, to learn that the prospect is building their own solution, has selected a consulting partner or competitor or can’t fund such an initiative.
Fishing in the ocean with a big net is sometimes a good demand creation strategy. However, if there is a finite set of accounts that are being targeted it will be more effective to fish in a barrel.
Additional Go to Market Resources Available From Four Quadrant