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How to Conduct a Go-To-Market Strategy Workshop

November 14, 2019 | JT Bricker | No Comments |

Setting the right Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy for your business is not an easy task. In fact, quite the contrary. The process for identifying and implementing the best GTM strategy for your company is pivotal to your success and that isn’t just common sense. Our recent research on sales and marketing alignment found that teams who strategically plan together, increase revenues by over 200%. See those findings here. Yet, few companies know how to get to this destination. After working with hundreds of companies on setting their GTM strategies, we’ve found that holding a strategy workshop built specifically for this purpose is the ideal way to get you there.

Here’s how to conduct this type of workshop for best results.

Preparation for the Workshop 

Pre-requisites before the strategy workshop

Review the following, to evaluate whether your company is prepared for a GTM strategy workshop:

  • Are you familiar with your Total Addressable Market (TAM)?
  • Have you created Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)?
  • Have you completed market research?
  • Have you conducted competitive research?

If you can answer with a resounding, “YES!” to all of these questions, you have the necessary inputs and context to effectively conduct such a workshop. If not (and this is almost always the case), spend time addressing each of these areas fully. You simply cannot set the right GTM strategy without all of these foundational layers in place.

Further, we often hear from certain, typically executive-level, folks in the organization that these items are nailed down, only to later find confusion or disagreement among different teams. For your TAM and ICP, ensure there is clarity and explicit definition well-established throughout your organization before checking it off the list.

The meetings before workshop

When bringing such a group together it can be daunting to ensure that everyone is heard, on task and has context to what is trying to be accomplished. The best way, we’ve found, to accomplish this, is to have completed discovery sessions with each of the contributing members of the workshop audience ahead of the workshop. In those sessions each team member will have the opportunity to share their perspective free of the distraction the larger meeting presents and those insights will have a profound impact on the effectiveness of the workshop. It is also very important that nobody shows up in the workshop not knowing what is expected of them and what the team is looking to accomplish.

Who should attend?

When you’re ready to start planning the meeting, you’ll need to know who receives an invitation. The right people for your GTM strategy workshop will differ based on the structure of your organization, but there are some general guidelines we recommend.

First, you’ll need executive input. This strategy workshop – and your GTM strategy – are tethered to your organization’s larger objectives. So your CEO must be involved, especially at the beginning of the workshop, in order to clarify and reiterate organizational objectives.

Second, consider who else should participate. Here are our suggestions, by department:

Sales 

  • Your head of sales, whether that’s a CRO or VP of Sales
  • Someone from your second line of sales management (depending on the size of your company)
  • Sales reps (for certain parts of the workshop)

The reasoning behind including salespeople in some strategy workshop sections is twofold: 1) Hearing the perspective of the field is important in your GTM assessment, and 2) Making sure they feel like they’ve contributed will go a long way in furthering their adoption of the forthcoming strategy.

Marketing

  • CMO
  • Departmental head(s)
  • Practitioners (for certain parts of the workshop)

The same reasons mentioned above in favor of including sales reps in the workshop apply to marketing practitioners too. And with both departments, it’s also important to have representation from professionals who aren’t in leadership so you can get a clear and accurate picture.

This is because there’s a tendency for sales and marketing leaders to either paint a rosy picture because they feel threatened by the GTM process, or to swing the other way and think of the workshop as their one opportunity to make sweeping changes (in which case, they may make problems seem worse than they really are). Having other positions within marketing and sales represented will ensure you have a 360-degree view of what’s really going on in these areas.

The prep meetings will also help ensure everyone maintains a balanced position and all points of view are heard.

Product

  • If you have a highly involved product team, it can be beneficial to have your chief product officer or department head in the workshop. These individuals usually have keen insights into the market that can be very useful when planning your GTM strategy.

Customer Success

  • If your customer success or customer service teams aren’t part of your sales team, be sure to include some representatives from those departments as well.

Operations

  • Invite at least one person who wears an operational hat to this workshop. You need to ensure the GTM strategy is realistic and can be operationalized.

Finance

  • You don’t have to bring someone with a financial purview in on this meeting, but you will need to share the GTM strategy with them afterward so they understand what expenses may be coming and how it may impact the revenue side of the house. If possible, we recommend having a chief financial officer explain financial workings and how the organization makes money in the first part of the workshop, since that helps give important context to the GTM discussions. But they can – and should – duck out when the tactical sections begin.

Who will facilitate?

While it might be tempting to throw this workshop together yourself, remember the outcome of the process should be your business’ GTM strategy. Everything else your company does will be built around this; it’s enormously important. If you don’t have true GTM and strategy experts in-house (which few companies do), it’s a best practice to partner with an external firm to conduct this (yes, like LeadMD).

Even if you do have people on your staff who have a decent understanding of these areas, working with a third-party provider to hold this workshop is still optimal. Here’s why:

  1. If you work with someone like LeadMD to conduct a GTM strategy workshop, we’ve been there and done that. You won’t have to spend your time planning and agonizing over how to do it. You’ll save considerable time and effort by benefiting from our hard-fought lessons learned.
  2. A third-party organization can help you get the right group together. Without the added audience, it’s all too easy to put off the workshop or for key individuals to fail to attend.
  3. Experts who understand strategy from all possible angles can really broaden your perspective. They will bring unique hypotheses to the situation that your internal group may not, and mitigate much of the confirmation bias that people often have. Their insights into the market and best practices can be invaluable to developing a GTM strategy that works.
  4. Finally, meetings with as much at stake as GTM workshops can get a little divisive. Everyone has different ideas and opinions, and it’s all too easy to end up in conflict, a stalemate or completely off-track. Having a neutral, third-party firm walk you through the process helps cut through any BS, poke at things that might be uncomfortable (but are necessary), see things objectively and facilitate in a way to extract the right insights from the right place.

Managing the Workshop

How to structure a strategy workshop

The workshop itself will need to be segmented into key sections. Here, we’ll provide an overview of what these are and how much time you can expect to spend on each. This example is using the one-day workshop approach. In some cases, particularly when the pre-requisites are under-developed, this could very well be two full days.

Development of Objectives & KPIs

The first hour to 90 minutes of your workshop should be spent talking through corporate objectives, through the lens of a waterfall approach. Your corporate objectives are at the top, and your departmental objectives will flow from them accordingly. Once you break these down, you can then further break down each department’s objectives to ensure they’re contributing in a meaningful way.

For example, let’s say one of your organizational objectives is to increase the wallet share you have with current customers. You would then look at the objectives that marketing, sales, customer success and so on need to work toward in order to drive those forward. Marketing might need to focus on upselling campaigns, so then you would dig into the specifics around that. Repeat the process for all departments. Now, you should have a grid of your corporate objectives and departmental objectives to use as a baseline. I detail more insights on this impact of this exercise here.

Alignment around Prerequisites

Next comes an alignment exercise around your TAM, ICPs, market research and competitive research. Discussion around these subjects will likely take you two+ hours. You’ll look at how you’re doing in terms of penetration. For example, is your penetration against your TAM and ICP high? If so, you might need to expand your GTM strategy. Is it low? Then your GTM strategy should focus more on customer acquisition.

Most importantly in this phase, you should be intentional about aligning around your buyers. Who are they, and how do they buy? Where do they find their information? Review your buyer journey and consider how all of these factors may impact your GTM strategy.

Deciding how you’ll Go to Market and Next Steps

The final phase of your agenda should take you the remaining four or so hours you have left. You’ll need to chunk the market into segments, based on the discovery you’ve done and then figure out how you should go to market.

You’ll also want to take into account what resources you’ll need to accomplish this, and what you’ve learned from the past. Review the wins, losses and challenges you’ve had with your existing strategy, so you can make informed changes and improve for the future. Then, with all of this information in hand, begin developing your GTM plan accordingly.

Keeping it productive

One important note: Having your GTM workshop agenda owned and orchestrated by a third-party will help you stay on task. An impartial person from an external agency can be the voice of reason (and the proverbial “bad cop,” when people need to be reined in and things need to be kept moving along).

Also, make sure your workshop agenda is built in such a way that you have the right people in the right sessions. Everyone in each session should be vital for that particular session. If you have the wrong people in there, they’ll inevitably end up on their laptops, completely distracted – thereby distracting others and deflating the process. Only keep those present who are crucial and engaged, and you’ll get a lot further faster.

Lastly, be deliberate about identifying items that are on topic and useful, while still capturing other matters that come up in conversation. We recommend the idea of a “parking lot,” where you jot down ideas or issues brought up by attendees that aren’t exactly pertinent – and make a plan to revisit them the next day. This allows everyone to know like their ideas are valued, while not allowing the entire workshop to get derailed by tangents.

Post-Workshop

After the workshop, your work isn’t finished. If you call it a day after going through this process, your GTM strategy will disappear into the ether, never to be seen again. Instead, you must be intentional about timely follow-through.

Implementation 

Set another meeting for a few days after the workshop. This should be a review session, in which you present your finalized plans to the same group with whom you workshopped them. Keep the setting collaborative, but instructive. We like to call this an activation meeting, because it’s the appropriate time to delegate and put accountability measures in place to be sure the GTM strategy is properly activated (implemented and embraced).

So there you have it; all you need to run a GTM strategy workshop. It is extensive, but that’s why there are people like us who thrive on setting strategies and can facilitate your workshop for you. Just give us a call.

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