You’ve spoken with your co-founders and board.
Someone helped you come up with a go to market strategy that gives you the clarity you were looking for.
You have a plan.
You know what to do, but how do you align the company around the go to market strategy?
I frequently speak to CEOs about how to do this and I wanted to share some secrets with you.
Let me walk you through scenarios that will align the following functional groups (feel free the jump to a section that interests you):
The guidance below typically comes after speaking with the key leaders in the organization and any relevant stakeholders.
It goes without saying that a prerequisite for this alignment is trust at the C-Level. For scale to occur we’ll need to create trust in the decision making from the people at levels below the C-Level.
Not shipping fast enough? Or worse, not shipping anything the customer wants? You will want to begin by implementing objective decision making throughout the product development process that provides a default decision for each step. Employees should feel transparency for the rationale behind all decision making. This will create trust. Leadership can trust that the team has all of the direction they need to keep moving. With well-documented processes and training, your business will onboard new team members to scale the product and engineering team easier than before.
Three things the product team can do immediately
- Implement an end-to-end product development process based on objective decision making methodologies
- Determine the current team’s ability to master these three critical artifacts:
- job statements
- user stories, and
- business object models
- Note: Assess whether additional team members are required
3. Find an initial project that you can focus on implementing the process so you can move faster than implementing across the board. The project must also tolerate the timeline for being executed fully according to this new process.
This is critical if you are considering product-led growth. More on PLG another time.
Generating demand is a common theme I find. Marketing must own the Get Ready Assets. These assets must be relayed to the other teams as living documents that are constantly being evaluated/improved. Input and questions must be gathered and addressed. People look to marketing to have a clear sense of who the customer is (Ideal Customer Profile), how the customer buys (Buyer's Journey), and what parts of the market the business is focused on (New Logo Acquisition Framework).
Three things the marketing team can do immediately
- Socialize the Get Ready Assets across the company
- You will likely have a need for a data driven, analytical, rapid experimentation performance marketer who can hypothesize, test, learn and iterate to drive efficient levels of demand. Often I believe there is low hanging fruit your business is not going after.
- If such a person does exist, Implement a growth cadence for the marketing team. Define and populate a weekly growth operating model to summarize business progress. The vision here is to build a growth machine that is scalable, predictable and repeatable. The question we hope all team members are always asking is, “Why is the result I am looking to achieve?” We want to support creating a culture of encouragement and enablement of brainstorming and hypothesis creation. This will result in constant experimentation to deliver faster learning and increased demand generation output.
- For now, I believe the growth function can focus on Acquisition for the immediate future. This will support demand generation results the business desires.
Sales can be a management issue or a structural issue. If you're at a company doing $50MM ARR or more and you're struggling with your growth more often than not the answer is a leadership one: hire a Chief Revenue Officer.
If you're <$50MM then it is likely a structural problem. Examples include:
- Sales people have inbound and outbound appointments.
- It's difficult to keep morale high if there isn't enough for the sales team to do (See Finance below).
- If you're bundling everything together, or attacking too many segments with too few people it's hard to see where to put the energy. Growth just doesn't happen proportionately.
- Insufficient training via daily call review (yes, daily)
- Lack of sales playbook that combines, in order Discovery then Presentation
- Sales people are scattered across too many segments, or too many demand generation channels
- Poorly created commission plans
Three things sales team can do immediately
- If you have a large organization hire a Chief Revenue Officer
- Run call reviews daily to understand where the bottlenecks are and train accordingly.
- Build and iterate the Discovery Call Guide and the Presentation Guide.
On the path to growth I believe it is critical that companies first check the box on customer success before pursuing scale. With this in mind I believe your company will benefit from energy focused on your customer base. I’ve written about this in detail in my framework for growing a business.
Three things customer success team can do immediately
- Determine metric(s) that could be potentially used to define success. These could include, but are not limited to calls completed, product setup, product usage, NPS.
- Ex: At 2 months here’s where clients are, at 6 months here’s where clients are
2. Instrument monitoring this around a leading indicator for customer success
- When I speak with Customer Success leaders they will eventually share a product they are using or about to implement. My guidance is to set up an internal perspective on what success looks like so the tool you decide on does the work you want. It can be easy to take on the perspective of a tool and find the solution limiting for the needs of your business. Also, you don’t necessarily want to take on the perspective of the people building the tool. That would be like buying Salesforce and using it how it comes out of the box.
3. Measure each month
This slide illustrates a chart organizing the leading indicator by customer cohort. This approach enables you to verify that newly acquired customer cohorts are not degrading from a customer value and product/market fit perspective. The chart essentially serves as a speedometer, informing you whether the organization is scaling too quickly or too slowly. (Reference: Mark Roberge)
Simply start by doing these two things.
- Devise a bottoms up go to market plan. Using an operating model template will give you a clear understanding of assumptions and drive alignment to the revenue target.
- Align the compensation plans of every individual around new cadence. Often when reviewing compensation plans I find they work for where the business is today, not where it wants to go.
While strategy is important, without alignment you will be spinning your wheels for a long time and feeling like you're so far from figuring things out, when in reality you are likely really close. Most CEOs I speak with know what they should do, but fall short of making the decision. I hope this essay gets you one step closer to your desired outcome.