An article, blog post or Whitepaper generally gets a lot of views or is popular for one of two main reasons. (1) It’s controversial or on a topic that is “charged” in some way, or (2) the content resonates with readers on some level (e.g., intellectually, emotionally, etc.) and they find value in consuming it.
Over the last few years, one of the most popular pieces on the Symmetrics Group website has been this Whitepaper – a go-to-market strategy primer. It’s a topic that many companies struggle with, and it requires both quantitative justification and qualitative ‘color’ to be actionable.
When it comes to go-to-market related questions, we often hear the following:
- Should I start up or expand my inside sales team?
- Does my indirect sales channel actually cost less than my direct team?
- How do our customers want to interact with us – through which channel, device, etc.?
- Overall, how can I increase my sales productivity, while also lowering my cost of sales?
These questions and many more help to get at some of the challenges with developing a go-to-market strategy. The questions are highly strategic and not easy to answer, and they require some market research and customer input. A go to market strategy that is not informed by the voice of the customer or some market insight is incomplete.
There is a lot of talk these days about the confluence of an omni-channel approach and driving an optimal customer experience. The former is all about integrating the various channels-to-market with any device or form factor, while the latter is about creating an integrative approach to managing all customer touchpoints in a way to optimize the customer experience. They are both part of the overall go-to-market model.
The go-to-market model, per our Whitepaper, centers on what products and services you choose to offer, through which channels, and to what customer segments. The model is undergirded by the customized value propositions you advance given how your customers want to buy. For example, the value proposition for an online channel that can be accessed via various devices is much different than the proposition that is utilized by a direct seller who jointly crafts a one-of-a-kind solution with the customer.
The quantitative justification mentioned above is all about ensuring that the channel economics make sense – does the product or service fit the channel? You wouldn’t sell paper clips using an expensive direct sales force nor would you sell customized system integration services via a website. The economics need to make sense given some sort of cost, volume, and profit equation.
The qualitative color is all about getting feedback from your prospective and current customers on how they would like to buy and engage with you. Do they want a ‘partner’ to help them solve complex problems and introduce new, innovative solutions, or do they want a simple and efficient way to re-order MRO (maintenance, repair, operations) type supplies?
You can also potentially ‘shape’ how the customer engages with you (e.g., Delta airlines has a fee for booking a ticket via the phone vs. online) by way of rewards and dis-incentives, but that’s a deeper topic for another blog post.
In closing, a key question you should ask is how you are viewed by your customers on the continuum of undifferentiated vendor to strategic partner, and is it a perspective you can change? If not, do you embrace it and design your go-to-market model accordingly?