You’ve established product market fit. Your customers are happy and hopefully buying more from you, and you think it is time to step on the gas your business. An imperative question to ask yourself at this point is: Do we have a scalable go-to-market strategy?
Just because a go-to-market strategy is good doesn’t mean it’s scalable.
We faced this challenge/opportunity at my company oDesk (now UpWork). At the time of our cross roads, our go-to-market was leveraging telesales to acquire customers successfully. We had quickly hired five sales reps and had a high close rate with 70 percent of conversations resulting in a sale. Given this success, my first inclination was to ramp our sales team and continue our strategy with more resources. Yet after a careful strategic review, we went with a completely opposite approach, transitioning to a transactional, no-touch process and product with focused efforts and resources on marketing instead of sales.
Why we would abandon a plan that was not only working but working really well?
We realized that we had a go-to-market that wasn’t going to scale in a manner that set our company up for long term success. It wasn’t that the cost to acquire and lifetime value metrics were out of line at that time. Yet with this strategy, we would have needed a lot more money and time to scale our business in a high touch way. We needed another approach to cost effectively reach customers quickly.
Every situation is different but here are three elements to consider when devising your go-to-market strategy:
Architecture – This element will answer the question of how to structure of your go-to-market strategy. Should you sell via high touch enterprise sales or low to medium touch telesales? Maybe channel partners will give you more leverage? Or should you reach customers via marketing and try to convert them via your website or product? A good architecture will best leverage your resources (people, time, and money) in a way that will enable you to capture as much market as you can in a scalable way. Also, it is critical to validate that something works by A/B testing incrementally before going full throttle. It is far better to have a few reps successful than adding dozens at one time before the strategy is proven.
Process – The process establishes the repeatable use-case that can be used by your organization to execute in a scalable way. The sales playbook arms and aims your resources in the right direction and also becomes the training materials for new hires. The process should reflect a clear understanding of your customer funnel along with the metrics to measure success across all stages. Typically, the more evolved an organization, the more structured and codified the process
Execution – This element represents how effectively your team sells. Even with the best process and architecture, you still need to actually execute. Success here is a function of hiring the right people and then ensuring that these resources have good frequency and competency. That is, they know what to say to whom (competency) and they do a lot of that activity (frequency).
The order in which you tackle these elements will vary. In the earlier stages, execution is the most important thing. Selling your product and ensuring the success of your customers will cure a lot of ills. Building the play book will be easier with some pattern recognition. Architecture becomes more important as you begin to explore the addition of resources.
So are you ready to scale? If so, that means you have executed well to this point. But as you look at the road ahead, be sure to get your vehicle in order before stepping on the gas. Because what worked at 50 mph might not do so well at 80 mph. And it’s a long road so pursue a strategy that is sustainable so you don’t run out of fuel too soon. And don’t forget to enjoy the ride.
This post appeared originally at LinkedIn Pulse on September 28, 2015