The B2B landscape is challenging. Teams are stretched, budgets are shrinking, and everyone is searching for the quickest way to prove growth. This pressure has many B2B organizations rethinking their go-to-market (GTM) strategies to help weather the storm's effects on their bottom line. And while returning to the drawing board is a good idea, the solution relies heavily upon the team you bring to that table.
Now, more than ever, building a strong, unified GTM team is critical to separating those who will see growth in 2023 vs. those who will fall short.
The State of B2B GTM Strategy in 2023
In 2023, B2B teams have not only experienced the stress of the current economic climate but have also been required to adapt to a shift in the buyer’s journey. B2B buyers have dramatically changed how they look for vendors and solutions, partly because of changes to the makeup of their buying committees and partly due to the vast amount of information the digital landscape provides to someone in-market.
Buyers used to rely heavily on sales teams for information, willing to work through a traditional sales process to gather what they needed on multiple calls and emails. The modern buyer doesn’t have the time or patience for something so linear, and they don’t have to. Salespeople are no longer the single source of information in a digitally-driven buying journey. And when a buyer finally does engage with a salesperson, they don’t want to be filtered through a traditional discovery call – they want pricing and an actionable demo.
GTM teams need to consider that these changes to the buyer journey mean that the role of both sales and marketing teams has changed dramatically. How and when buyers engage with marketing and sales means adjusting how we measure performance. Metrics once considered revenue drivers for marketing, such as the number of leads, are now replaced with metrics categorized by quality. This change in buyer engagement also requires us to think about how these once-siloed business units need to adjust how they work together to create value over competitors and improve down-funnel movement.
GTM Team Building Blocks
GTM strategy has often relied on CMOs to establish and push agendas, but that’s not enough anymore. When considering what makes a good go-to-market team, think of the saying, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” If your team isn’t working towards one goal using a shared strategy approach, you’re setting yourself up to fail. It sounds harsh, but it’s true, and time (and data) continues to prove that teams that are aligned are more sustainable and successful than those that aren’t.
Alignment is no longer “nice to have”; it is critical to creating a team that fosters and develops a winning strategy. Studies show that the company wins when sales and marketing teams are aligned. Adobe has attributed team alignment to an increase in closed leads by 67%, while strategists from Gartner have cited that highly aligned teams are almost 3x more likely to exceed their target for net new logos.
So, what can you do to avoid mistakes of the failed GTM attempts? Start with building a better go-to-market team – from leadership down with these three tips.
1. Join Customer-Facing Stakeholders
Avoid the power struggle and start discussions with stakeholders from every customer-facing business unit, emphasizing sales and marketing leaders. Modern CMOs, CSOs, and CROs must share responsibility in the strategy and be focused on revenue-generating activities to drive change.
Without buy-in and agreement at the leadership level, the teams implementing marketing tactics and driving the growth of the sales pipeline are unlikely to execute the strategy correctly because there is no accountability. Teams are not incentivized to execute a strategy that doesn’t align with how their performance is being measured, nor are they likely to take on the burden of fighting for what changes need to happen on top of their exhausted workload.
Bringing in your C-suite team to drive accountability ensures that alignment is prioritized throughout all teams.
2. Align Performance Metrics
The first goal of your newly formed GTM team is to establish how you will align your performance metrics with your strategy. Winning GTM teams in 2023 are required to shift performance metrics to align with quality over quantity. This means shifting the focus from top-of-funnel metrics to those more closely aligned with revenue, such as account progression.
It isn’t easy. According to Bombora, “The biggest challenge businesses face when adopting ABM is pressure to prioritize quick wins over the long-term investment, followed by an inability to report on effectiveness.”
An excellent way to start is to compare movement through your pipeline at different revenue stages. This means referencing your MQL to SQL, SQL to Opportunity, etc., as positive performance metrics. When reporting on ABM campaigns, we consider these conversion metrics to reflect the quality of the lead and help us understand which set of activities (not one individual channel) drives closed-won deals.
If you’re still focused on evaluating your monthly leads by channel without looking at the conversion metrics through the funnel, you haven’t aligned your reporting to your strategy.
Once agreed upon, these goals and targets must be shared across teams to create a unified approach that can be measured, adapted, and improved upon.
3. Drive Consistent Communication
Communication is vital to any winning team, but with a GTM strategy, it is a must. And communication starts with understanding. Enter the discussions around what an MQL is, what an SQL is, and what each team needs to succeed at their jobs.
By working through these critical definitions, you can ensure the team understands each other and works towards a shared goal. A good start is digging into the changing landscape of what a qualified lead looks like– bringing in signal data and how marketing can assist sales with providing an omnichannel profile of a lead to establish an MQL.
Teams must also communicate consistently throughout execution to reiterate what’s necessary to move qualified accounts to closed-won. Encourage teams to share what’s working and what’s not – this is especially important when creating a winning messaging strategy and moving opportunities faster through the funnel.
How to Use Data as a Communication Bridge for GTM Teams
Data can be an asset when building and aligning a GTM team, starting on day one. By relying on data as a driver to ignite conversions, set strategy, and align pipeline goals – you set up your team to establish common ground based on numbers rather than assumptions.
Establish Target Accounts Lists Based on CRM Data: Prepare your GTM team by using current CRM data to drive the conversation rather than intuition. This data is especially important when establishing target account lists and the corresponding buying committees. GTM teams can analyze this data manually by pulling and pivoting your current customers based on specific data points, or it can be done within a platform like RollWorks, which helps you determine your ideal customer profile by using predictive analytics based on customer data. Even if the data isn’t 100% accurate, this opens a dialogue across teams and allows sales teams to add situational and qualitative data based on their experiences and industry knowledge. Use this time to document your findings and schedule time to revisit with all parties as activity picks up in your campaigns.
Prioritize Efforts Based on Intent Data: Determining where to place your efforts is especially important when teams feel stretched. Intent data allows GTM teams to pre-qualify accounts based on third-party data and then prioritize activity to those in-market accounts. Access to this kind of data also arms your team with insights into which type of messaging might work best to activate accounts rather than relying on inferring from general knowledge.
Leverage Signal Data to Create Dialogue: As we learned above, activity drives opportunity in today’s multi-touch buying journey. While intent data gives you access to third-party data on what an account may be interested in, account buying signal data combines first-party activities across a company’s buying committees to infer where that account is within the buying journey. Marketing teams can use tools to capture these account buying signals to determine which accounts, or segments, are in-market for their solution and communicate that data to sales teams so that they can customize messaging and prioritize efforts against those accounts. This data allows teams to work together to engage an account based on which ones are most likely to close – aligning the team on revenue-generating activities.
Data as an Alignment Tool Example
In one of our most recent ABM campaigns for a client, RenderTribe used RollWorks’ account-level data to identify and communicate the best time for sales to engage with a target account.
By using surging intent topics and on-page engagement, marketing provided the sales team with messaging and insight to improve the personalization of the teams' outbound efforts. These coordinated efforts resulted in a demo booked within one business day and a current open opportunity.
GTM Communication Timeline: Layered client activity and RollWorks data with journey stages.
The alignment of the teams, combined with a clear understanding of what this data means, allowed the account to be identified and moved quickly through the pipeline. This type of pipeline efficiency is only possible with a unified GTM team.
Fostering Growth Through Change
Leaders must acknowledge that more than a single tool or strategy is needed to move the needle in 2023. What is the best way to improve your GTM team? Create a plan for meaningful change.
Breaking down the silos between go-to-market teams will continue to be an obstacle until sales and marketing leaders get on the same page. This doesn’t mean that both teams need to see eye-to-eye on everything, and they won’t, but there needs to be alignment across core business activities that drive revenue outcomes.
Start by bringing everyone to the table when establishing a GTM team. This will ensure that all voices are heard and that all teams have understanding and accountability. Continue reinforcing this alignment by relying on data as a bridge to better communication and, ultimately, better ABM strategy execution.
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