Go-to-Market Strategy 101: Your Complete Guide

Growth is the dream of every business owner. The prospect of growth is never more exciting or uncertain than when your company is executing a go-to-market strategy.

So many moving parts demand a comprehensive strategy flexible enough to respond to challenges but strong enough to keep its shape in the face of innumerable pressures.

Our guide today will give you the 101 on go-to-market strategies and some actionable tips to create your own GTM plan.

What is a Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy?

At its core, a go-to-market strategy is the methods and practices your company employs to introduce a new revenue stream. This could mean a product launch, a new feature, or an expansion into a new market.

Go-to-Market Strategy vs. Marketing Strategy

Your GTM strategy is not the same as your marketing strategy.

You can think of a GTM plan as the transition phase between creating a new revenue source and the act of turning that source on. Perhaps more accurately, it’s the plan to turn that source of revenue on.

This is in contrast to a marketing plan that is more narrowly focused on promoting the product and generating demand for it.

What’s in a GTM Strategy?

Any good GTM strategy should have these three aspects.

1. Flexibility

Your GTM process needs to remain efficient and flexible in the face of any challenge. Your leaders should be competent and in synch with the grand strategy to execute the vision without the need for inefficient chains of command. Lower-level workers need to understand the vision just as well, so they can adapt to challenges and call for necessary support before problems become unmanageable.

2. Repeatability and Scalability

Go-to-market is a process that directly feeds the growth of your business. In essence, it is growth because it involves expanding revenue channels and generating demand for brand-new products or features.

This is a process your company has to optimize over time because there are far too many moving parts and unique variables for any one strategy to ever be considered perfect.

A GTM strategy, therefore, needs to be repeatable and iterative. Each new version of go-to-market should build on the ones that came before it, incorporating new perspectives and data on performance.

Since GTM is fundamentally a growth strategy, it needs to be scalable. If your GTM isn’t scaling, then you aren’t growing.

3. A Unifying Perspective

Your first GTM strategy meeting is the time to lay out goals and expectations. More than this, it’s a time to get everyone on board with the vision your leaders have crafted.

All stakeholders need to understand their roles and how they stand to gain from the success of the plan and the company. This kind of unifying vision is what brings people together and forms a cohesive team. It builds motivation and understanding, and leads to a productive strategy.

Examples of Go-to-Market Strategy for Startups and Large Businesses

Go-to-market channels, or strategies, are best understood as sets of goals and how you plan to achieve them. For simplicity, we’ve organized this list into three types of GTM, defined by their primary mode of demand generation.

However, you could also look at these from the perspective of execution and build a plan with those ideas as the foundation.

Inbound Led

An inbound-led campaign is the bread and butter of many B2B GTM operations.

It involves generating and capturing demand via content marketing. Content should be marketed through multiple channels to ensure maximum lead capture. Data should be enriched on the back end before being qualified and fed to sales, which focuses on high-quality leads and conversions.

In an inbound-led campaign, your growth is tied to the ability of marketing and sales to work together to drive conversions. The more efficiently they can carry out this task, the more you’ll grow.

Product Led

Sometimes a product can speak for itself.

A product-led GTM strategy is right for SaaS companies that can roll out features and expansions at a minimal initial cost. The strength of the product means that users will uncover new features and adopt new products organically. Upselling, deals, checkout, and scaling can all be managed from within the product.

In a product-led GTM, growth is tied to the ability of the product to deliver value and promise even more through added features.

Category Led

An idea can transform a marketplace.

If your company has a revolutionary idea or technology, you can focus on becoming a category leader. This will be based on your ability to assume an authoritative position in your marketplace, either through thought leadership or culmination around a revolutionary product.

For category-led GTM, your growth is tied to your ability to build a movement and spearhead a new marketplace for your developing product or idea.

How Do You Create a Go-to-Market Plan?

Any go-to-market example will involve many moving parts and must be uniquely designed for your company and revenue stream.

Here are three principles you should follow when forming a new GTM plan.

1. Put Together a Strong Team

A go-to-market team needs representatives from marketing, sales, product, technology, customer service, and senior leadership. This is a complex team with many moving parts, so pick leadership candidates based on their ability to understand and articulate a strong vision while allowing for employee flexibility and enabling problem-solving.

2. Identify Your Motion

You’ll need to determine what motion your company will be executing. A motion is defined by the steps your company takes to add and nurture the new revenue stream that’s going to market.

The actions needed for each of these motions are unique, so each one will need a different team with distinct responsibilities.

The three motions identified by GTM partners are:

  • A new buyer persona: A new idealized buyer that your company needs to cater to. You’ll likely need new marketing materials, sales strategies, onboarding, and content.
  • A new product or service: You may now have new competitors, a new marketplace, and new requirements on educational content and industry knowledge.
  • A new geographic location: You may need new sales, marketing, onboarding, and resource strategies to equal or surpass growth in other locations.

3. Follow the M.O.V.E Framework

GTM partners developed the M.O.V.E. framework as a strategic process designed to simplify planning and streamline thought processes. If you’re unsure how to begin planning, these steps are a great place to start.

M.O.V.E. stands for:

  • Market: Who to market to?
  • Operations: What do we need to perform efficiently?
  • Velocity: When and how can we scale?
  • Expansion: Where will we grow the most?

M.O.V.E. stands for four questions that your leadership and key team members will all need to agree on answers to before implementing your plan.

Go-to-Market Must Be Constantly Reiterated

It’s crucial to understand that go-to-market is not a singular strategy or action. It can’t be encompassed by a single department or goal other than “for the success of the company.”

The point of acknowledging this is to understand that every GTM plan or strategy needs to be created with the goal of efficiency, flexibility, and a unified vision.

Read more about go-to-market strategies and how to optimize your newest revenue stream as quickly and efficiently as possible in “The Comprehensive Guide to Go-to-Market” ebook.

How to Build a Go-to-Market Team

The stakes are never higher than when forming a new go-to-market (GTM) team in advance of a product launch. Often, it’s a process where failure isn’t an option. Go-to-market strategies work best when they’re based on a strong vision and informed by competent advisors.

Ultimately, your success with your go-to-market will be based on your ability to select the best people for the job.

Today’s blog is an introduction to the go-to-market team structure. We’ll explain the typical job roles and how they can be flexibly implemented into any go-to-market strategy. Then, we’ll give you some tips for forming and cultivating a productive go-to-market team.

What is a Go-to-Market Team?

A go-to-market team is a group of leaders, workers, and individual contributors from several arms of your organization who come together to create and implement a go-to-market strategy.

They’re key representatives of revenue, marketing, sales, and other leadership roles who have demonstrated an ability to understand big ideas, contextualize them to their role, and act efficiently in the interests of the grand strategy. This strategy will in part be decided by them based on their input, meaning ownership and accountability should also be part of that plan.

Ultimately, it’s this flexibility that will separate a good go-to-market team from a great one.

A Typical Go-to-Market Team Structure

To keep this guide relevant to businesses of all sizes, we’ve chosen the five most important go-to-market team roles that each team should have.

Go-to-Market Manager

Your GTM manager needs to be a leader who understands how to articulate and enforce a strong vision while supporting the flexibility needed to run an efficient system. Their focus should be on team cohesion, efficiency, and long-term goals.

Your go-to-market lead job description should make it clear that final accountability will lie with the GTM manager. This understanding should lead to a greater emphasis on thorough planning and preparation, as well as constant reassurance that each member of the team understands their responsibilities.

A crucial responsibility of the go-to-market manager is to remain impartial. There may be inefficiencies caused by too many cooks in the kitchen, and GTM managers need to be ready and willing to streamline tasks and reduce or expand personnel as needed.

Marketing Manager

You’ll want a strong strategic vision for your go-to-market team. The marketing manager should be in charge of developing that strategy in tandem with the GTM manager.

While the GTM manager is focused on the overall team cohesion, the marketing manager will handle the oversight of strategy implementation among the marketing team. This will include tasks like performing market research, creating content strategies, and demand generation.

Marketing Team

The marketing team, led by the marketing manager, will be tasked with producing strategic content, marketing the content, and producing leads for sales to work with. Marketing teams should be in calibration with sales teams at all times to ensure consistent messaging, expectation setting, and mutual goals.

Sales Manager

While marketing is focused on how to tell people about the product, the sales manager will work with the GTM, revenue, and product departments to figure out how to best sell it. This includes developing a sales strategy, projecting sales goals, and managing sales personnel to keep them on track and in line with expectations.

Sales Team

The sales team’s job is to bring in revenue while setting customer expectations. Overpromising and under-delivering is a risk whenever a new GTM strategy is implemented, and it’s the sales team’s job to fairly and positively represent the product and the realistic ways in which it will improve the lives of customers.

Additional Roles

If you’re running a larger operation, these roles may be necessary to keep tasks streamlined and efficient:

  • Product Manager: Your product department should be represented, especially in conferences with sales and marketing teams.
  • Truth Source: Your truth source should be someone who can impartially gather information from different departments to form an accurate picture of performance.
  • Customer Experience Manager: Ideally someone from the marketing department who can ensure a smooth and consistent customer experience that fits with the wider GTM strategy.

5 Tips for a Productive Go-to-Market Team

Selecting the right people for the job is the most important piece of the puzzle. Once you’ve got your team together, it’s time to form a cohesive unit that is aligned, motivated, and productive.

How can you carry out this task? Here are five tips for supporting a productive go-to-market team.

1. Support Flexibility Through Cohesion

A strong GTM plan bends and doesn’t break. This is because there are overarching goals that each stakeholder understands. Moreover, they understand their role within that wider vision and never lose sight of it.

A strong plan is therefore flexible because it doesn’t rely on micromanaging or inefficient chains of command. Instead, it instills an understanding of primary goals, then tasks each individual with figuring out how to best achieve them.

2. Focus on Buyer Personas

It’s no secret that we love idealized buyers. They’re your best customers by far, the most loyal, they make the biggest purchases, and they’re always the first in line to buy a new product. Remember that the specificity of this fictional buyer is bound to elicit emotional responses from real buyers who see themselves in the challenges you’ve uncovered thanks to the persona.

3. Establish Goals and Metrics

Take time during the planning stage to get everyone on board with what success looks like. There should be no questions about what everyone is expected to deliver, how performance will be measured, and who will take responsibility for each aspect of the plan.

4. Gather Data and Refine

Even during the execution of a go-to-market strategy, you should be capable of gathering data and reacting based on key metrics that your team identified in advance.

5. Always Seek the Truth

When it comes to a strategy that involves many moving parts and department representatives, there are bound to be accountability shortfalls and communication mishaps.

There will be blame shifted for failures and numbers massaged to tell softer stories. During these times, it’s important to remember the bigger picture and reprioritize. It may help to assign a specific person to track metrics and figure out the facts surrounding the performance of the plan.

Not Just a Strategy, But a Process

Your go-to-market strategy won’t be perfect when you first create it. No matter how well you think you can plan, there will always be some variable you didn’t account for.

This reality is the driver behind our philosophy that your go-to-market process should be flexible and proactive. It should be capable of reacting to challenges and squashing them before they become unmanageable. Ideally, this should be possible without the need for micromanaging, allowing senior leaders to focus on long-term vision and steering the ship.

To learn more about go-to-market strategy and theory, check out our free 39-page Go-to-Market guide.