Eighteen years ago we wrote a bestselling book on Go-to-Market strategy. Almost everything in that book is now totally obsolete.
The Channel Advantage (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999) outlined how to build and manage multiple sales channels from field sales to inside sales to channel partners to e-commerce. It was — and unfortunately still is — used by business schools and corporations as a primer on multi-channel Sale & Marketing.
Push vs. Pull
Why is the old definition of GTM strategy obsolete? In a nutshell, we all were trained that in B2B markets it’s all about pushing your offerings to customers through mass media advertising, direct marketing, and aggressive sales channels. But here is what’s happened over the last 5 years:
- Traditional advertising has lost effectiveness – Facebook, Google, etc. have gobbled up the spend
- Direct marketing response rates are declining – everyone can blast emails
- Inside sales “calls per connect” are doubling – buyers are swamped with BDA emails and phone calls
- Field sales reps and channel partners have difficulty getting meetings – unless they are bringing experts to the table
So what is the new definition of GTM strategy? Today, multichannel and omnichannel go-to-market strategies are standard operating procedure. Clearly the shift toward online buying — whether just buyer research or actual purchase — now accounts for >70% of all buying time. This includes not only e-commerce but also search, social media, webinars, etc. — in other words, the “human middleman” is being cut out of much of the buying process.
We will be exploring this in a series of blogs in the next few months, but let’s start with a simple statement: GTM strategy now requires the pulling of prospects into considering your company as their preferred vendor. Prospects are self-educating and down-selecting potential, vendors online. If you can’t differentiate and solve their needs through compelling “digital channels”, you have very little chance of being in the consideration set, let alone winning a deal.
The New Fuel for “Pull” GTM Strategies – Data and Content
First, let’s be clear that traditional sales channels are not going away. Rather, they will just be engaged later in the purchase process after prospects have significantly narrowed their vendor consideration set to just a few players. But, one core axiom of the now obsolete Channel Advantage book has survived:
Channels don’t choose customers, customers choose channels.
Choosing which channels are used to sell what products to what customers – the old GTM approach — misses the critical question. Customers will now tell you where, how, and what they will buy; the real question is “How can our GTM strategy intercept buying activity through customer lifecycle and across any channel to emerge as the preferred vendor?’
Second, to become the preferred vendor and ultimately win more deals, GTM strategies must be built on a deep foundation of data and content that targets, intercepts, and tailors both messaging and offers to specific prospects. GTM strategies built solely around human channels must be enhanced by customer data and digital content that recognizes a new GTM axiom:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) + Human Intelligence (HI) = Maximum Customer Lifetime Revenues
Finally, those data insights on customer behavior and signals combined with the right content at the right time to engage your buyers must be combined into scalable and repeatable GTM programs. Those programs include new demand generation marketing efforts, lead nurturing campaigns, sales enablement playbooks for field, partner and inside sales, and ABM cross-sell plays just to name a few. This “last mile” of GTM is where customer engagement occurs, and where deals are won or lost.
Redefining Go-to-Market Strategy requires a new focus and discipline on creating a systematic “engine” for bringing AI + HI together to reach, engage, convert, and expand new customers. Data and content are the fuel for that engine, but building that engine is now the requirement for creating the new “channel advantage” for 2019 and beyond.
Future blogs will go into much more detail with some great case examples. But as a teaser, just think about the successful companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix, and their like – they are “channel agnostic” but have built growth engines on an unbelievable foundation of customer data and digital content.
Stay tuned for future content in the following areas:
- How to Build a Comprehensive GTM Data Strategy: We will discuss how to find buying signals early by tapping into customers web activity, purchase history, product usage (e.g. IoT), customer service inquiries, etc.
- How to Build a Comprehensive GTM Content Strategy: We will show where and how to use different types of content – blogs, videos, white papers, sales materials, etc. at different stages of the buyer journey.
- How to Activate Analytics and AI in your Customer Engagement Channels: We will outline the biggest barriers to data-driven and content-driven GTM strategies including actually landing data and content into existing GTM platforms like CRM, marketing automation, websites, e-commerce, and partner portals.
To get a glimpse of our Go-to-Market engine that fuels more efficient and effective cross-selling, check out Episode 6 of our Killer Slide Series on Building a Scalable Cross-sell Intelligence Platform.