How to craft a foolproof go-to-market strategy (+ examples)

With a go-to-market strategy, you can turn your product concepts into tangible goods without chaos or confusion.

By Donny Kelwig, Contributing Writer

Published February 16, 2022
Last updated March 8, 2022

When you really think about it, launching a new product is terrifying. You’re taking what you believe is a unique selling proposition and telling the entire world about it in hopes that people will give you money for your idea. It’s bold entrepreneurship whether you’re a huge company or a tiny startup—and it’s scary. With fear, anticipation, and deadlines running you ragged, product launches can spiral downhill faster than you can say your elevator pitch. That’s why you need a go-to-market strategy.

We’ll take you from product conception to launch, with the expert tips and tricks you need to develop a foolproof go-to-market strategy and framework that fits your sales methodology.

What is a go-to-market strategy?

A go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a detailed, step-by-step sales and marketing plan for launching a new product or bringing an existing product to a new market. A good GTM strategy provides your team with a realistic timeline and specific steps to take to achieve actionable goals. It includes tactics related to pricing, sales, buyer personas, distribution, and branding.

Ideally, GTM strategies are also repeatable—with small adjustments, of course. Your products may change over time, but your general audience, teams, and target demographics should stay in the same ballpark as your business grows.

Why do you need a go-to-market strategy?

Building a roadmap for a product launch is critical to success.

According to the Harvard Business School, over 30,000 new products are launched every year, and about 95 percent of them fail. This high failure rate is extremely daunting. But data shows that marketers who proactively plan projects are 356 percent more likely to report success. Not only that, but a documented strategy improves success rates by another 313 percent.

Data shows that marketers who proactively plan projects are 356% more likely to report success.

Creating and documenting your plan will help ensure that you don’t miss any steps and that you avoid costly errors. With the right GTM strategy, you can increase your chances of success and establish a foundation for future product launches.

GTM strategy framework

All GTM strategies are based on the three Cs:

  1. Customers: What problems do your customers have?
  2. Company: How does your company aim to solve those problems?
  3. Competition: What is the competition doing to solve those problems, and how is your company different?

These Cs inform every decision you make while developing your GTM strategy. You can break down each C with a Who, What, When, Where, and Why for a more detailed approach.

For example, let’s examine the Customer category for an office supply store that conducts B2B and B2C sales. Say the store is launching a back-to-work bundle for people who started working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic but are now returning to the office.

Who: B2C customers who previously worked in an office and are now being asked to return after two years of working from home. And B2B customers who need to revamp an office space that hasn’t been used in two years.

What: The back-to-work bundle is a customizable and discounted set of products. It includes basic desk supplies (pencils, pens, stapler, etc.), a desk planner, a whiteboard or pushpin board, a desk organizer, file folders, and a large selection of decor. Customers can choose up to three products.

When: Customers can preorder the bundle starting two months before its release. The official launch/ship date is March 15, 2022.

Where: The bundle is available nationwide. Standard shipping costs apply for B2C customers, while bulk shipping is available for B2B customers.

Why: Workers already spent an unexpected amount of money creating home offices and shouldn’t be expected to set themselves up again, especially if their office has moved to a new building. In a show of solidarity, we want to provide our customers with an affordable, customizable option that can be shipped directly to their office.

With this knowledge, you’re ready to figure out how to approach and build your strategy.

GTM strategy example

We’ll get back to our office supply store in a moment, but first, let’s take a look at the GTM strategies often used by businesses today.

The 4 GTM strategies

There are four commonly used go-to-market strategies:

  1. Inbound
    Inbound GTM strategies primarily focus on attracting the right customers at the right time through inbound marketing tactics—SEO, social media, conversational marketing, and so on. With this strategy, you’re relying on the credibility of your brand to generate interest in your product.

    An inbound strategy is fantastic because if done successfully, it doesn’t require a lot of upkeep in the long term. Brand credibility is easy to maintain with consistency, and you don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every product launch.

  2. Sales enablement
    Sales enablement GTM strategies take the attention away from the customer and put it on the sales team. This is a great strategy if you’re a newer company or if you’re launching a product with a lot of competition. Customers aren’t going to come to you if they already see solutions to their problems on the market. Instead, you need trained and talented sales reps who are ready to guide customers through the pipeline with strong positioning statements.
  3. ABM
    Typically used by channel sales companies, ABM (account-based marketing) GTM strategies specifically target high-profile clients. Rather than gearing a product toward the general populace, these companies develop a product with high-value customers in mind. There’s nothing wrong with this strategy, but you need to know your biggest clients pretty well to make it work.
  4. Demand generation
    As the name suggests, this GTM strategy is all about creating reliable demand for your new product. Demand generation usually leverages outbound marketing techniques such as cold calling, email marketing, and advertising. If you have a unique product with a very specific niche, this strategy can put you in the public eye much faster than other tactics.

GTM example

Now, let’s return to the office supply store. The best GTM strategy for this business would likely be inbound.

Current customers are probably already following the store’s social media pages or subscribing to its newsletter. Meanwhile, the store has existing customers’ contact information for an informative email campaign. Additionally, customers may visit the store in person to pick up supplies, so in-store marketing can potentially sway them when they walk through the door.

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Some aspects of the other strategies may be useful, but for a product built to reward customer loyalty and boost retention, an inbound GTM strategy is the way to go.

How to build a go-to-market strategy

When you craft your GTM plan, you must consider four things:

  1. Target market: Whom are you selling to? Geographically? Demographically? What problems are they experiencing?
  2. Product-market fit: Is your product new? What problem does it solve? Who is your competition?
  3. Pricing: What are people willing to pay for your product? How much do you need to charge to offset your production costs?
  4. Distribution: What resources do you have in place to distribute your product to consumers? How fast is your production, and how much product can you sell/pre-sell to keep up with your production line?

Go-to-market strategy for startups

When creating a GTM strategy, startups must concentrate on figuring out where they sit in the market. The highest five-year survival rate for a new business is 51.3 percent—in other words, about half of startups will fail within their first five years. This means launch strategies are life or death for startup companies.

If this is your first product launch and your first GTM strategy, start small. You’re not going to wedge out the Fortune 500 companies with your initial product, but you can make a name for yourself in the smaller markets and slowly work your way up. Take advantage of the fact that you’re a new business, and find specific markets that you can reach through affordable social media campaigns and personalized sales.

SaaS GTM strategy

SaaS sales teams benefit from following a basic GTM strategy, but they must also take into account that software products evolve at a faster rate than tangible products. So when SaaS companies release a new product or product update, they need to focus even more on the purpose of the product. Aside from solving customer problems, a good SaaS product needs to have several additional capabilities.

SaaS customers don’t want to deal with a million programs. Products that offer multiple features and integrate with other tools are more likely to make an impact than products that add yet another icon to the home screen.

GTM strategy best practices

Ultimately, only you can know what GTM strategy is appropriate for your business and your products. But there are some best practices that every company should keep in mind when bringing a new product to market.

Pick your KPIs before the launch

You can’t assess the success of your strategy if you don’t know exactly what you’re measuring. When you start tracking your metrics from the very beginning with sales funnel software, it’s easier to pinpoint any problems and find solutions. A few KPI suggestions:

  • Number of visits to your product page
  • Number of inbound interactions
  • Revenue per customer
  • Cash burn rate
  • Customer satisfaction score
  • Number of ad clicks
  • Number of outbound interactions

Set realistic goals

Setting goals is a great way to motivate your team. But if you don’t have the resources to create the number of products you want to sell, you’re going to be disappointed. Even if you need to start smaller than you’d like, make sure it’s possible to hit the goals you set with your current resource allocations.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

If you’ve used a GTM strategy in the past and it worked, consider using it again. Consistency isn’t just beneficial for your company; it’s also beneficial for your customers—they feel secure when they know what to expect from you. A huge shift in tactics can sometimes backfire and eliminate consumer trust.

Establish clear deadlines for each step of the launch

Nothing feels worse than announcing a product launch for May and then still being stuck in brainstorming meetings in April. Setting deadlines keeps your team on track and ensures your product gets released when it’s supposed to.

Prepare your customer service team

No one wants to think about product issues during a launch, but the fact is that new products always come with a new onslaught of customer questions and complaints. Take the time to brief your customer service team on the new products, and warn them of any possible shortcomings.

Treat your new product like any other product in your sales forecasting

A common mistake is to assume a new product will be a revenue-generating gamechanger. When you do that, you end up spending more on marketing and production than you should and risk not breaking even. Always assume your new product won’t generate more money than your other products. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised than deeply disappointed.

Use a CRM to propel your product to the market

A powerful sales and marketing CRM, like Zendesk Sell, is crucial to your GTM success.

With Zendesk Sell, your entire team can track customer histories and sales funnels, which allows them to create specific marketing materials for different types of customers. You can also segment your audience for a more personalized approach. Remember, if you’re dealing with repeat customers, you’ve already solved their initial problems. You now need to focus on solving new problems they didn’t know they had.

Zendesk Sell also integrates with hundreds of other software tools and includes everything you’ll need in a CRM—from customer data collection to automation to KPI tracking.

Request a demo of Zendesk Sell today. Our CRM makes customer communication and marketing seamless, so you can spend less time scrambling and more time strategizing.

Improve your sales process

A good sales process is the foundation of any successful sales organization. Learn how to improve your sales process and close more deals.

Improve your sales process

A good sales process is the foundation of any successful sales organization. Learn how to improve your sales process and close more deals.

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