What if the GTM Results are Underwhelming?

We all have experienced board meetings where the company’s GTM results are underwhelming or confusing.

After an extensive review of the GTM metrics, the board usually has a vigorous discussion. The team highlights selected GTM anecdotes to support their get well plan, and the VC board members highlight GTM experiences from other companies to support their GTM ideas. Basically, everyone is merely sharing their opinions.

The challenge is to transform the GTM strategy discussion from merely sharing opinions to analyzing the actual GTM data itself — to understand the “why” behind the company’s GTM numbers.

For me, developing the right GTM strategy starts with everyone visualizing the same GTM data. Sounds trivial, but highly effective. Smart people generally reach the same conclusions when they see the same data.

Then, use the GTM data to start answering the 4 key GTM questions: (1) identifying the right Ideal Customer Profile and (2) making the right sales playbook, and then (3) pursuing the right lead sources for the ICP and (4) hiring the right sales reps to execute the playbook.

To answer these questions, I prefer to use data instead of intuition. But a data driven analysis requires an easy way to visualize the data.

GTM Data Visualization

The table below shows an effective way to organize and visualize the GTM data:

*The factors relate to the pain and use case or a product feature.

Ideally, happy customers and wins can be grouped to visualize patterns of success, and churned customers and losses can be grouped to visualize patterns of failure.

Example of Applying GTM Data Visualization

The potential patterns are grouped in colored boxes. Solid boxes reflect patterns of success, and dashed boxes reflect patterns of failure.

Question 1: Right Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?

What Title and Function (Red)? The GTM Data Visualization suggests the title of Director or VP of “X” over other functions (eg Y or Z).

Which Industry (Red)? The GTM Data Visualization suggests Industry A over Industries B, C, D or E.

Why Now? What creates the urgency (Red)? Customers in Industry A need the company’s product to drive their revenues. Every CEO with underwhelming or confusing GTM results can empathize with this particular urgency. In contrast, someone in the other industries (Industries B, C, D and E) believes in the product (or more likely, the vision), but the product is only considered “good practice” today. That someone is a classic very early adopter or has a close relationship with the team.

What does the ICP really want from the company (Blue)? They want factor 1 (ie, a particular product feature for a specific use case/pain). It becomes important to understand how factor 1 connects to the customer’s urgency and makes Dir/VP of X into a hero within the customer.

Who are Fast Movers (Red)? The fast sales days also shows the urgency of customers in Industry A. Usually, inbound customers move faster than outbound customers, because the inbound customer has already identified their problem and is looking for a solution.

How did the ICP discover the company (Yellow)? From SEO, a blog, a community or a friend with a similar problem. What search terms did they use?

Question 2: Right Sales Playbook?

Qualifying the Customer. This is just applying the Ideal Customer Profile.

Creating the Champion at the Customer (Red and Purple)? Based on prior successes, potential champions are Dir/VP of X. They became a champion after seeing Report 1 — the Wow event. As a side note, the Wow event is that something that converts the person (at the customer) into an internal champion for the seller. It can be a screen shot, demo or report.

Winning the Deal? Why Win/Lose (Blue). Working with your champion to win the deal by emphasizing factor 1 and de-emphasizing factor 3. The GTM Data Visualization suggests that the company wins customers who care a lot about factor 1, but loses customers who care a lot about factor 3 (especially to competitor x)

Creating the Urgency (Red and Blue)? Working with the champion to show how the company’s product (especially factor 1) drives revenue for the champion’s company.

Documenting the playbook. This drives consistency. It also allows A/B testing of variations in the playbook to further improve the playbook.

Question 3: Right Sales Rep to Execute the Playbook?

Rep A is clearly doing better than Rep B.

But why? Learning from Sales Rep A. Rep A may be particularly adept in qualifying the customer quickly (intuitively decided to focus on Industry A) or has discovered the wow. Or, Rep A may have just grabbed all the inbound leads, while Rep B just worked hard to find customers anywhere (ie, using outbound to reach companies in industries C, D and E.

Improving Sales Rep B with learnings from Sales Rep A.

Creating profile for successful sales rep.

Question 4: Right Lead Sourcing more ICP’s?

Lead sourcing without a ICP can feel like boiling the ocean (because it is!). Below are three suggestions for productive lead sourcing. It all starts with the ICP.

Build passionate champion base. At this point, the most important asset is the champions — the real believers in the company. It is critical to build and support their passion for the company, product and more importantly the vision. These passionate champions can generate their own leads through referrals, virality and public testimonials. They can also assist the company’s lead generation/nurturing activities, such as joint webinars, case studies for the website and reference calls. Ultimately, potential customers want to learn from the current passionate customers. The early champions also appreciate the industry recognition as early adopters of a great new product.

Double down on successful Inbound. Understanding the specific discovery journey of each successful inbound customer can provide many critical insights. They most likely serve as a template for future inbound customer journeys.

Focus Outbound on the exact Ideal Customer Profile (and Champion Profile). Future outbound should be very effective, since the company now knows the exact Ideal Customer Profile (including the champion profile), the critical buying factor and the wow — and how to create the urgency. In our example, the company targets potential individuals with Dir/VP of X title in Industry A by (i) showing report 1 (the wow) to illustrate buyer factor 1 (the pain/use case/feature), and (ii) emphasizing how their comparable companies (reference customers) have increased revenues by doing this (the urgency).

Suggestions for using the GTM Data Visualization

No Cherry-picking Data

It is extremely important to show all deals and customers meeting a predetermined filter.

Run GTM Experiments

But, these experiments must be tracked. The GTM Data Visualization is a great way to track and visualize experiments. It allows for easy A/B testing of GTM ideas.As a Whiteboard

Display on a Whiteboard

Some companies have the GTM Data Visualization on a whiteboard among the sales people. This provides an easy way to share information and track new data. It also influences behavior organically.

Storm Ventures
Venture Capital