The Top 8 Elements of a Successful Go-to-Market (GTM) Plan

The Top 8 Elements of a Successful Go-to-Market (GTM) Plan

For companies in the B2B space, having a clearly defined go-to-market (GTM) plan can make all the difference in the success of a new product or service. In fact, McKinsey research has found that more than 25% of total revenue and profits come from the launch of new products, making it worthwhile to take the go-to-market phase seriously.

Despite its importance, companies routinely skip this step in getting ready for launch––only one-third of the respondents surveyed by the Product Marketing Alliance said that their company has a formally defined, consistently implemented launch process. As a result, launches that proceed without a product marketing-owned Go-To-Market plan can quickly waste a lot of money on haphazard, ineffective executions. 

Starting about six months before launch, the product marketing team should begin the process of determining the right set of investments, execution, and timing for the sales and marketing departments to follow during the GTM process. The end results are compiled into a comprehensive GTM plan, which ideally should be in place 90 days before a product or service goes generally available. 

By aligning sales and marketing functions, a good Go-To-Market plan puts all the fundamentals of a product launch in one key strategic place. Every decision can then be checked against the GTM plan to see if it fits, maximizing ROI and ensuring that the team’s efforts are not being duplicated or wasted in the lead-up to launch. 

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Clearly, there’s a lot at stake when crafting a GTM plan, and putting the time and energy into making one can seem both daunting and time-consuming. But taking the time to do it right can be the key to a successful launch

So what exactly goes into creating this essential roadmap? 

Go-To-Market Plan Essential #1: Market size and growth 

A good GTM plan should start with a thorough target market sizing and growth estimation, which can best be visualized as a target: the ideal customer profile (ICP) lies at the center, surrounded by concentric rings representing increasingly less likely sales opportunities. 

TAM and SAM 

The biggest, outermost ring of this bullseye is the total addressable market (TAM), or all of the potential market opportunities for a product or service. These are all of the opportunities you could potentially go after––but not necessarily should. Just to the inside of that is the service addressable market (SAM), or the market you can realistically reach given the limitations of your business model (e.g. geographical or specialization). 

SOM and ICP 

The smallest ring is the service obtainable market, or SOM, which is the percentage of your SAM that you can realistically capture. And finally, the ICP is at the very center of the bullseye: the ideal customer company that will realize the most value from your product and be the most likely to generate repeat business. By analyzing the size of your SOM and defining your ICP within that, you can determine what is realistic in terms of your GTM plan and who you should be targeting. 

Go-To-Market Plan Essential #2: Personas 

These days, B2B buying decisions can involve anywhere from six to ten people, so the product marketer must create personas for each of these potential decision makers within the ICP company. In order to flesh out these personas, the product marketer must conduct voice of the customer (VoC) research, including interviews, surveys, and focus groups, to find out the following: What products are your customers already using in your space? What are they missing? What can be improved? Where do they get their information? What are their pain points

Keep in mind that pain points can also represent points of opportunity, however, such as digital transformation, entering a new market, or starting a new channel partnership––all of which should be covered in the GTM plan. 

Go-To-Market Plan Essential #3: Value proposition 

Once your GTM plan has defined your target markets’ needs and pain points, you can then start to outline your value proposition: a concise statement of what your product does, how it is essential to meeting your prospects’ needs, and how it stands out from other offerings on the market. 

Your value prop will not be used externally, but rather forms a focal point for your internal teams: designers, marketing, sales enablement, etc. In this way, you save valuable marketing budget (more on that later) by making sure that your execution is consistently in line with your value proposition as well as your target personas. For this reason, research has shown that when paired with strong advertising, brands with strong value propositions had 168% growth over 10 years, making a compelling case for the power of a well-crafted value prop. 

Go-To-Market Plan Essential #4: Competitive analysis 

90% of Fortune 500 companies engage in competitive analysis, so to take a page out of their books, your GTM plan should dedicate a chapter to understanding your competition. A good GTM plan should consider the following questions with regards to the top three or four competitors in your market: 

  • How do we compete against them? 
  • What will it take for us to win? 
  • And if we lose, why? 

Make sure that your competitive analysis also covers the option of doing nothing, or staying with the status quo. Especially in the B2B space, the customer often has an existing solution in place, so how do you compel them to make a change? 

Finally, don’t just give your salespeople or marketing team high-level marketing speak when it comes to addressing the competition. Equip them with actual analytics on win-loss information and differentiators––real proof points to use when a prospect asks about your competition. 

Go-To-Market Plan Essential #5: Pricing and packaging 

Although pricing and packaging models are generally determined by product management, product marketing often gets to have an input on where to set a competitive price point. Since the product marketer has already defined the target market and where the product’s value lies within it, they can provide valuable insight on how much a consumer will be willing to pay. And, with 85% of respondents in one B2B study saying that their pricing decisions could be improved, this is a clear way to set your offering apart from the competition. A good GTM plan should equip your salespeople accordingly so that they can describe, position, and explain your pricing and packaging models for the customer. 

Go-To-Market Plan Essential #6: Routes to market 

Another essential piece to lay out in your go-to-market plan is your route to market, whether it’s direct sales or via a channel partner. Instead of having their own direct sales force, many companies rely on channel partners for sales, whether it’s in the form of a global system integrator, value-added reseller, a solution provider, or an e-commerce site. Regardless of the channel, the method by which your company generates revenue needs to be clearly delineated in your GTM plan. 

Go-To-Market Plan Essential #7: Marketing budget and calendar 

In order to maximize the ROI on your marketing efforts, a GTM plan must provide clarity and specific guidelines around budget and execution. Every time someone says, “Let’s do this big trade show, and a media buy, and oh yeah, all these paid social ads,” the GTM plan acts as a litmus test to determine whether that money will be well-spent. The goal here is to make sure you are spending money only where it will make the most difference to your sales. 

Two key elements make this clarity possible: a rock-solid marketing budget and a clear, organized marketing calendar. 

Marketing budget 

Your GTM marketing budget will lay out spending across all of your marketing actions: events, SEO, social media, demand gen, etc. Other stakeholders will each get a portion of this budget, but before they do, the product marketer will have created a plan and a budget for the allocation of those dollars. 

Inevitably there will be negotiation and horse-trading as other teams demand more than they’ve been given, but the product marketer is there to be an impartial, strategic counsel on budget to the CMO. The product marketer’s goals are to maximize ROI and revenue, drive demand, and increase overall brand awareness. In other words, the product marketer must be trusted to keep their eye on the bigger picture and determine the best allocation of dollars accordingly. 

Marketing calendar 

The other tool the product marketer uses to keep a Go-To-Market plan on point is the marketing calendar, which includes all events, campaigns, press releases, social media campaigns, and analyst briefings—every marketing effort for an entire quarter at a time. A savvy product marketer will have come up with the calendar in consultation with other stakeholders from each of the departments involved, but by the time it reaches the GTM stage, this calendar is the final deliverable that the CMO will use to engage and execute across the company. 

Go-To-Market Plan Essential #8: Sales enablement 

Another topic your GTM plan should address is how you are going to train and up-skill your sales organization in order to best position your new product or service. Reps at every level in your sales team––SDR/BDRs, inside salespeople, enterprise reps, or customer success reps––will need to be given the right tools and trainings to properly position and sell your product. These can include, but aren’t limited to: new sales playbooks and competitive battlecards, webinars or on-demand training courses, and also mentoring relationships.  

Take the time to create a winning go-to-market strategy 

Given all of the coordination and highly detailed work that goes into creating a good GTM plan, it’s not surprising that many companies skip this step when planning for a new product launch. However, if you take the time to do the research, equip your sales and marketing teams with the right information, and lay out a detailed plan of attack, you will have a go-to-market strategy that will maximize your marketing ROI and help achieve your business goals every time. 

For more tips on creating a winning GTM strategy, watch the webinar “5 GTM Slip-Ups to Avoid.” And if you’d like some expert help with your GTM plan, contact us for a free 30-minute consultation.

Written By

Sridhar Ramanathan

Sridhar Ramanathan has 20+ years of experience in technology companies – from startups to blue chip firms. As the Marketing executive for Hewlett-Packard’s Managed Services business, he was responsible for marketing worldwide and managing the portfolio of HP services’ $1.1B unit. He also held profit & loss responsibility for electronic messaging outsourcing and e-service business units. Thanks to Sridhar’s efforts, HP became the #1 ERP Outsourcer and experienced growth in the data warehouse market, now well over a $1B revenue stream. Sridhar has played interim executive roles for a number of technology firms, leading their sales and marketing functions in the high growth phase. Sridhar holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a BS in Engineering Physics from U.C. Berkeley. He is active in non-profit work as Vice Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, an organization that provides stability and hope to abused and neglected children.