What is Go-to-Market Strategy

The term Go-to-Market or Go-to-Market Strategy is used frequently by a diverse group of people with a meaning that spans a wide range. What is even more confusing it that marketing strategy and go-to-market strategy are used interchangeable when they are actually very different concepts.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing strategy is usually focused on who to sell to and what to sell. The boundaries of marketing strategy run across functional lines inside an organization but marketing primarily interacts with two other functions in a company. First, marketing interacts with development via product marketing to convey market requirements and to provide content for communications and sales tools for selling. Marketing also interacts with sales to build pipeline and assist in closing opportunity more quickly.

Go-to-Market Strategy DiagramGo-to-Market Strategy

Go-to-Market Strategy is focused on how the organization will put offerings into the market to reach market penetration, revenue and profitability expectations. This charter is a superset of marketing strategy as it impacts all functions within an organization with the goal of preparing the entire company for market success.  Another key point to stress is that G0-to-Market Strategy is not an event, i.e., a product launch. GTM strategy is focused on the entire product lifecycle—from concept to grave.

The Go-to-Market Strategy can be overwhelming if not managed properly. The key is not to try to do everything but to focus on the core issues and to nail them. For example, here is a checklist that one company used:

Go-to-Market Strategy Checklist

Solve a compelling business problem in a differentiated manner that demands a premium

  • Determine the market opportunity.
  • Decide upon the beach head target for initial market penetration.
  • Understand the buying process: Identify the decision makers, approvers, recommenders, influencers and snipers.
  • Understand the business issues for decision makers and develop a value proposition that resonates with them. Tie them to a compelling event.
  • Establish a differentiated position from substitutes and alternatives.
  • Prepare a product road and complete product life cycle.
  • Document the distribution strategy and corresponding sales process.
  • Create an integrated demand creation plan to create qualified opportunity.
  • Develop a comprehensive and methodical demand management plan to follow-up on qualified opportunities.
  • Prepare an implementation plan to ensure the offering is set-up to perform properly.
  • Train the support organization to handle implementation and end user inquiries.
  • Identify partners for creating awareness, interest, consideration, purchases, implementations and supporting customers.

Go-to-Market Strategy- Product Roadmap

Once you have identified the business needs you will address in the market, it is critical to have a product roadmap that highlights the evolution of a product, product extensions and the entrance into new markets. Organizations may use a planning horizon of 1 year (for start-ups) to 5 years (for the largest enterprises). These roadmaps should be reviewed and updated each quarter. When an offering is added to the roadmap it should be accompanied by a market backgrounder—a two page document that covers the most pertinent information about the offering like price, competition, positioning, market focus, anticipated revenue, compatibility information, etc. As time progresses, a market requirements document should be created, followed by a product requirements document, a feature requirements document and finally a product introduction plan.

Who Are You Selling To

A big question that needs to be addressed and well thought out is who will you sell to. This is a loaded question as it implies the fundamental business problem is understood, a unique and differentiated solution to that problem has been developed, a compelling value proposition that resonates has been created, a path to access the decision maker is known and the story to communicate to the decision maker has been crafted that results in action. All of this information should exist in various forms of completion as this is the exact information that should have been used to initiate a development effort.

Go-to-Market Strategy – Sales

Sales is obviously a critical component of any GTM strategy. There should be a standard, repeatable sales process that is communicated, understood and followed.

In a B2B complex sale there might be a technical and business component to the sale.  There may also be attention placed on titles or roles and the concerns, issues or challenges that each face. It’s a good practice to document and overlay the buying process on top of the sales process as well for a comprehensive view of customer acquisition and revenue generation. Finally, detailing the specific sales activities at each phase is a best practice that ensures each at bat was exhausted to generate a potential sale.

Go-to-Market Distribution Strategy DiagramWhat is the Distribution Strategy

Will your organization be responsible for 100% of all sales? If so, will the offering be sold through a direct sales force, an inside sales force, an ecommerce site or some combination of the three? Or will indirect sales channels be leveraged. The more sales channels that are used the more thought that needs to given to the market coverage model, sales strategy, compensation plans, sales training, sales tools and channel conflict. Outlining a distribution model, like the one you are viewing, will help you think through issues and opportunities and serves to get everyone on the same page.

Indirect Sales Channels

Some organizations choose to leverage channel partners as part of their distribution strategy. If you choose to leverage partners, it is critical to understand and communicate why that choice was made. Specifically, partners may be identified and categorized into enabling and delivery partners. Enabling partners are focused on complementing or supplementing your offering while delivery partners gravitate towards successfully implementing and / or supporting the offering. Understanding your distribution strategy, how they will contribute to your success and communicating inside and outside the organization why partnering choice has been made and is a must.

A detailed Go-toMarket Strategy template has been created that includes 30 PPT slides that are built around a proven process, are graphically compelling and are accompanied with sample content. For a copy of the planning template, please visit

8 Responses to “What is Go-to-Market Strategy”

  1. Hi,

    Read your explanation about Marketing Strategy and Go-To-Market strategy. I agree with the differentiation – there are two different concepts. However, I was wondering where the Business Development Plan fits in?


    • The business development plan is usually included in the partner or strategic alliances portion of the plan. Ideally, there will be strategy, distribution model, technical, marketing and day to day operations details in the business development plan. In short, it is a subset of the go to market plan.

  2. Thank you peter for your contribution and the article helps me very much.

    • You are welcome. The goal is to help everyone who is developing and executing go-to-market strategies so I am glad you found the post valuable. Please view the free downloads too.

  3. Donald Willie Etim October 8, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Peter,
    Thank you very much for pointing me at this blog post. It’s just given me such clarity that I can immediately begin to see the applicability of both concepts. I think Marketing professionals can used good insight like this to cut out a lot of fat in the planning processes.
    Many thanks.

  4. I liked the bit about where BD fits – I think this could use some further expansion. I’m see people confuse BD with GTM and also not provide a partners angle to BD.

  5. Thank you Peter for your valuable fundamentals of GTM, Marketing strategy and Business Development.

  6. It is really helpful and clear to me
    Thank you

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