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CMO turned CEO | Best Selling Author | Co-founder at GTM Partners
Having a well-crafted go to market strategy is essential for any business because it enables them to identify their target market and effectively communicate their value proposition to potential customers. Without a proper strategy in place, a business may struggle to reach its intended audience or fail to differentiate itself from competitors.
But creating a successful strategy isn’t a straightforward process. Which motion and marketing strategy do you choose? Can you pursue more than one? Which will be best for your specific business and its goals?
Join Insightly CMO Chip House and Sangram Vajre on this episode of Closing Time to learn Sangram’s 7 types of go-to-market strategies (Inbound, Outbound, Product, Channel, Ecosystem, Community, and Event), and the growth lever and execution of each.
Businesses often wonder if there’s only one effective way to go to market or if they can try multiple strategies at once. As an analyst firm, we aim to help companies determine which go to market motions would work best for them.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s a common misconception that there’s a single “silver bullet” approach that solves all problems.
Our research has shown that successful companies usually employ at least two, if not three, different go to market strategies simultaneously.
Many people assume that PLG is all about the product, but that’s not entirely true. Companies that use PLG also have a complete go to market strategy that includes upselling, cross-selling, retention, and expansion. The same principles apply, but the execution is different.
Instead of relying solely on sales reps and for example, them updating the CRM, automation is often used to monitor usage and identify opportunities for new products or sales.
However, it’s important to note that PLG isn’t the right fit for every company. It’s crucial to consider a variety of factors, such as the type of product or service being offered, the target market, and the resources available.
Channel-led go to market strategy involves leveraging resellers, agencies, and certified partners to generate revenue. For some companies, this strategy can be very effective. It allows them to avoid hiring a large sales force and instead focus on building relationships with agencies that act as revenue channels for them.
Building a channel is a great way to engage new companies with your brand and story as they become advocates and help spread the word in the market.
Ecosystem-led strategies are go-to-market approaches that leverage third-party developers and partners to build and promote a broader ecosystem of complementary products and services around a core product or platform.
These strategies often involve creating open APIs, developer communities, and app marketplaces to encourage third-party development and innovation.
Companies that successfully implement ecosystem-led strategies can create a network effect, where each new partner or developer that joins the ecosystem brings additional value to the overall platform, ultimately creating a self-reinforcing cycle of growth and adoption.
However, ecosystem-led strategies are not suitable for every company, and success often depends on factors such as market share, product maturity, and the availability of a vibrant developer community.
One of the most challenging and potentially impactful go-to-market strategies is the community-led approach, formerly known as the category-led approach.
This approach requires companies to establish thought leadership and create a new category, which was successfully executed by early players like Gainsight and Terminus. What these companies have in common is that they led a community that ultimately challenged the status quo and disrupted their respective markets. They encouraged their community to take action and embrace a new way of thinking and operating, leading to increased adoption of their products or services.
While it may seem like only a select few companies can successfully create a new category, the key is to focus on building a strong community around your brand. By doing so, you can challenge the status quo, define a new picture of success, and ultimately win your category.
The community-led approach is less about creating a new category and more about creating a loyal community that shares your vision and values. This approach empowers your customers to take ownership of your brand, evangelize it, and drive growth.
What type of go to market is right for your teams? We’re going to talk about six types in today’s episode of Closing Time. Hey, everyone. My name is Chip House. I’m CMO here at Insightly. And welcome to Closing Time. Today, I’m super excited because I’m joined by Sangram Vajre, and Sangam is somebody I’ve known for a long time. He’s a three time author. He’s the founder of Terminus. And the recent co-founder of GTM Partners. Welcome, Sangram. Thank you so much, Chip. Let’s talk about this, go to market motion. Yeah, I’m pumped to talk about it. So, you know, in the research that you’ve done and the writings you’ve done, you’ve broken down the different types of go to market and you have six different types And, you know, it’s interesting because you and I chatted before, and is there really just one go to market motion that somebody can have or can they have all six or how do they how do they shape together? Well, so this is a great question. We get this all the time.. As an analyst firm, our job is to really help companies figure out what go to market motions would work for them. And this is a gold, this is a question, which is, what is the one thing? What is the one silver bullet that will solve all the pain and everybody knows the answer is, no, there is no silver bullet.. To just quickly go through them, Now, we have added one more go to market, so there are about seven now. So we inbound, outbound, product, channel, event, community and ecosystem. So those are the seven different go to market motions. And we added that as part of our research, lately. Most companies, in our research shows, that they have at least two, if not three, go to market motions working at the same time. And that might mean one is really, really good, but as a company that wants to excel in 2023, got to experiment with at least one or more of go to market motions. It’s never one. Yeah. So I know just at our own company, at Insightly, Sangram, we have inbound, we have outbound, we have events we have PLG because we have you know self-service product and you know probably others that we’re still building out. In fact, you know events for us because we’re kind of come off of COVID is somewhat nascent. But we had some great events last year and tons of awesome virtual events. So, you know, if I’m new to this concept, right, where do I start to think about you know, what’s my best go to market motion and what should I prioritize? Now, that’s a great question, Chip, because most companies are either listening to this might say, OK, hey, Chip has four go to market motions. We need to have four too, and that’s when it goes wrong. Like, that’s not the way to model this. They way to model is that as a company, what are you really good at? So events is not something every company is good at. Salesforce is exceptionally good at that thing. That’s what they really, really,. Marc Benioff is a marketer, you know, so they’re exceptionally good at it and they have perfected that model. That doesn’t mean every company has to grow through that. A really, on the curveball example is a community led go to market. Maybe what companies should think about right now more than ever is how do you build communities.. And you and I are part of so many communities that have now turned into real communities. As a matter of fact Outreach acquired Sales Hacker, like they acquired a whole community because they wanted to be a community led go to market motion so we have to take a moment and look at it like what are our strengths? Where are we really, really good at? And more importantly, where can we find the best customers? So as a marketer, if you’re selling to marketing, maybe events is a good way to go because marketers typically attend events. But if you are doing maybe developer maybe, maybe it’s a more online thing, maybe they want to do it differently than how a marketing might want to engage. So we got to look at our buyer persona at the same time, what our skill set, what is our our superpower as a company that we can do really, really well. That’s where you start excelling it instead of trying to say, Well, let me check all the boxes on the go to market motion slide. So diving in a little bit deeper here. Sangram, So looking at your what you’ve written about these different channels. So inbound-led I think is probably going to be most familiar to a lot of people, you know, that are watching today. So marketing harvest demand via paid organic social email to qualify and route leads to sales, super common motion for B2B right? And the second one, outbound as well. I think that’s kind of the legacy sales motion. Right. And you helped evolve the world, by the way, with your approach to ABM and helped sales and marketing teams work together PLG, product led growth, has emerged in this, you know, really popular with some companies. Let’s drill into that one a little bit. Because I’m curious to get your take.. In what situations is PLG appropriate? Because I think for a lot of organizations, they’re leading hard into inbound and they’re leaning, you know, hard into outbound or some ABM coordination with the two teams. But talk to me about PLG. I’m so glad you asked that, Chip, because we had Atlassian as our last go to market roadshow event speaking, and we spend time with them now, since then. What’s interesting and what I’m learning about the PLG, because I didn’t grow up doing PLG like, you know, inbound, outbound, that’s what we did the last 20 years. This is new for me too, and I’m looking at how companies have been doing it. And what’s interesting is most people think PLG is all about product and what I learned from Atlassian and learn from a lot of the companies that are doing PLGs is that, no, their looking product, maybe the starting point for it, but they have a whole go to market motion around the PLG, for upsell, cross sell, retention, expansion, going around it. So you still have the same exact principles. You’re just doing it differently. You may not be using a full on sales rep to do every single thing. Now you’re using automation to do the exact same thing or you’re monitoring that information much better. So now you know what the usage looks like in order to figure out what new products to create and what to sell. So it’s the same exact mindset. So I feel better about myself. I’m like, Man,. I don’t know anything about this. And then when I go in and look at all the things Atlassian does. I’m like, Oh, so you’re just automating the same exact concepts to make it easier, better, faster for both the customer and you as a team. Oh, got it. But it’s not only about the product, it is the process around it that actually makes it interesting. Yeah. And marketing might even have a bigger role there because the product experience becomes even more important. And what kind of tools, tips and tags and journeys do you put people on inside of your application and what kind of communications do you send them? And how do I personalize those communications for the different levels or the distance they are through their journey with your product. Are they brand new or have they been on it for a while and they’re just about to make a purchase or they’ve you know, downgraded or they’ve sat on it for months, you know, and so you have to think through all of those different situations and it could be a heavy lift. Well, it’s also in some ways, marketing has now the most insight. You know, typically in a B2B when you are dependent on sales reps to update the Salesforce field with like why did we lose this deal or where is it going? Well, you don’t have to worry about that. You actually can look at the data and say,. Oh, I see these three accounts are dropping in usage. So that’s a red flag. We need to have our team figure out what’s happening with those accounts. So I think you just have more data when you go product led and it’s beautiful. But here’s something to think about. Not every company should go PLG, not every single company should go PLG. There might be a time where it happens, but not every, just like ABM, we talked about, not every single company should do ABM because if you can’t focus and take the time to curate and if it’s not at least $50,000 deal and there are not many people in the buying process, you don’t need to do ABM. You need to just do better way to get in front of the right accounts very different. So PLG what I’m learning is everybody’s jumping on it, but it’s not necessarily the best thing for every company. Right. Has to be the right product, the right price point and you have to be planful while you’re building it to even allow for that. So so anyway, we digress but let’s, let’s hit the other one, so channel-led. So I think it’s super common for companies have a channel of resellers but you kind of define it as enablement focus to educate, support resellers, agencies and certified partners and should every company have a channel strategy? Yeah, HubSpot when we look at it, 60% of their revenue actually comes from all these agencies. So they turn these agencies as a revenue channel for them. So it made perfect sense. I remember this conversation with Brian Halligan and Dharmesh the, the founders of HubSpot, when they were investors in Terminus, my other company. So we had been chatting and thinking they’re like,. Oh, you remind us of our inbound movement. The ABM movement.. So we had a lot of fun on that. But what was really interesting when I dug into the data and asked more questions, they’re like, Well, they had to make a decision at one point, and it’s a go to market decision. Should we hire a lot more salespeople or can we train a few agencies? Because all of a sudden they started to see some agencies trying to do it. Should we spend more time over there or should we have a lot more CS and sales reps? And at that time they decided they’re going to do a lot more agency work and see what happens and they will still work on sales team, but they started to test those go to market, both outbound, sales rep driven as well as agency driven. And they found that almost 60% of the revenue globally comes from agencies. So they continue to build on that. That’s why, what you and I just talked about, experimenting with different go to market motions is pivotal in 2023. Yeah the cool thing about building a channel is you’re basically finding a lot of new companies that become engaged in your story, in your brand, and they help you tell that story in the marketplace, which is pretty exciting. So similarly talk to me about ecosystem-led, so using things like App Exchanges,. API-driven co-marketing, things like that. So you know how do I know if I should pursue that? Great example of it, simply Apple, where we all are using Apple products in some way, shape or form and it forces us to use that particular platform where I have seen it work really bad is when people are compelling people to do it without actually having a market share. So where ecosystem doesn’t work is when you don’t really own the majority of the market share, it just won’t work because you’re like, Why would I do this? This doesn’t make any sense. Now, if you’re a company as a category you are actually owning at least 50, 60% of that category, even if it’s new. But you’re owning that, then ecosystem makes a perfect thing. I would never go with that as a, as a way to jump in it, but if you own it, 60, 70% might as well start actually leveraging this whole ecosystem for yourself. So you said category there. Sangram, so that’s maybe a good segue to the last and maybe most daunting type of go to market motion which is category-led because now you have to lean into thought leadership to truly try to carve out your own brand new category, which I think you did a bit at Terminus. Right? I mean, you were an early player in ABM space. Yeah. So talk about category-led. Well, so we are rephrasing it and calling it more community-led now more than category because everybody is talking about category. And unfortunately, just like anything else, it just oh, only a few people can do it. True. We think about the few categories that have been created. You think about Salesforce created a category. You talk about HubSpot created a category with inbound, you’ve think about Gainsight creating a category with Pulse and customer success. You think about Terminus, as you said, for ABM. What’s common in all of these categories is community. That’s what’s common. Each one of them led a community. They created a community that drove people to take an action and say, you know what, we say no to status quo. And we going to go to this bat.. Salesforce, we say no to this thing, and now we’re going to go, instead of on-prem we’re going to go to SaaS model.. Inbound, we’re going to say no to sales reps, we’re going to go inbound model.. ABM, we’re going to say no to leads and we’re going to go accounts, right? So every one of them is literally saying, well, what is our new picture of success and let’s challenge the status quo. So category-led we would distinguish that and say, well, maybe it’s more community-led. What’s common in every good category is someone who is leading the community that’s ultimately would end up if they do the right way, they’re going to end up winning that category. Makes sense. And what’s your final kind of takeaway here? When I think through this, you know, you lay these out there and nobody can or should be an expert at all of these go to market motions because as you said, they’re just not right for some companies. But what you know, what do I do next with this information? If I’m a sales or marketing or customer success leader? Well, the first thing I would do,. Chip, is get your go to market team. Your marketing, sales, CS, product, rev ops, bring those team members together and say, hey, let’s look at this. What do we think we are really, really good at? Something that would be something that we as a company do really good at. And you’ll get some honest feedback if your marketing is good and inbound or outbound and you will get honest feedback. That is a number one thing. Here’s what I say all the time. Being intentional is more important than being brilliant. So don’t be brilliant. Don’t be saying, Well, let’s go to PLG. Like, no, it doesn’t have to be.. Be intentional. If you can get your go to market team and say, we all care about and we are really good at outbound, then do outbound go against the grain. Don’t go PLG, do that. Because if you do that well and better than most people, you’re actually going to win in the marketplace. Most people are not intentional.. They try to be brilliant. And I think the advice that I have for everyone is do the opposite. That’s great advice, Sangram, and thanks so much. What an amazing discussion. And really, really great to have you today. Yeah, thanks for having me. You bet. And thanks to all of you for joining us on this episode of Closing Time. Hope you enjoyed yourself and we’ll see you at the next one.