“If you don’t do GTM strategy properly then it’s a disaster because then there's no product adoption.” Scalewise Scale Expert Valentina Marastoni-Bieser
According to our recent research report, 71% of experienced founders and revenue leaders think it’s impossible to raise a Series B with a partial or unrefined go-to-market (GTM) strategy, noting that a mature GTM was required to drive repeatable revenue after Series A.
While successful GTM strategies differ according to market and product, our report also found that effective GTMs all contain a focus on three core elements: data, ICP and messaging.
Adopt a data-led approach
When it comes to GTM, Series A is the time to bin ‘gut instinct’ and focus on data. From looking at the profiles and issues of your best customers to analysing last quarter’s sales for insights and trends, a data-driven approach helps companies understand what works and what to replicate. Whether this information is taken from a small subset (i.e. shared characteristics among your last 10 deals) or found externally through consultants, market reports or simply using the internet, it will help inform your future actions.
And that’s the nub. Data should inform not dictate future decisions. No data is perfect, especially in relation to a scaling company, and post-Series A leaders should set up a process to routinely gather data, regularly review the opportunities and frequently put that analysis to the test. For example, companies could review the success rate of demos each month and make tweaks to improve sales pitches the following month.
“What is critical here is having the right systems and processes to gather this data, even if in the early days this is just a weekly meeting about your opportunities and a regular post-mortem on what you won and lost to identify similarities.” Ben Miller, Scalewise Scale Expert
Focus on your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)
What customers should you be going after? Defining and updating your ICPs is crucial to a successful GTM strategy as it not only establishes who buys your product, but also how, when and why. Given customers are more interested in product outcomes than product features, CEO-Founders therefore need to work out their ideal customer’s pain points, what benefits your product brings them and then articulate that value.
However, defining your ICP is not as simple as looking at current customers or even aspirational targets. Firstly, ICPs should be realistic to your growth. The characteristics of your early-stage customers might not be relevant for scaling to Series B, but neither is going after the five biggest customers in the market (one of the most common GTM problems is trying to go for enterprise too early). Secondly, the ICP must be scalable. If it isn’t possible to attract more of them as you grow then it’s not your ICP. Thirdly, ICPs change. The personas of your ideal customers evolve over time and ICP definitions need to be continuously reviewed and updated to match your current trajectory.
“Customers don’t give a sh*t about your product and they don’t give a sh*t about your features. What they want is an outcome. And this requires understanding customer value and taking a customer-centric approach.” Phil Guest, Scalewise Scale Expert
Fine-tune your messaging
Well thought-out messaging helps companies attract their ICP – and also entices potential hires, focuses existing staff and aligns investors – but how you articulate your product’s value varies depending on what part of the funnel you are targeting. For example, top of the funnel targets might require more visionary messaging (how your product will help in the future), while bottom of the funnel targets need to understand how your product solves their specific pain points today.
However, finding the balance between telling a story, teaching people about your product and getting them excited is tough, especially when the company and product has evolved a lot since inception. To avoid going around in circles to perfect the messaging, leveraging an external perspective can achieve cut-through cost-effectively as they are unburdened by ‘company baggage’ and can deliver an objective opinion.
“Proposition and messaging…is very hard for anybody to get right. It can take days of being locked into a room to perfect and even then it will probably change later.” Katherine Torrence, Scalewise Scale Expert
“We would have been a few more steps ahead in our growth if we had invested more in our GTM engine sooner.” Scalewise Scale Expert Will Yarbrough
According to VP of Sales Will Yarbrough, it’s not just about getting GTM right post Series A, but getting GTM right early.
So what are you waiting for? For more advice on GTM strategy, download our research report: How to get from A to B with the benefit of hindsight.