Most companies just don’t get it.

The most successful companies are built on strong go-to-market teams. It’s time to stop assuming it’s a marketing problem and get to the root: Your CEO owning go-to-market. And our guest today is courageous enough to walk us through it with insight from his new book.

Rowan Noronha, VP Product Marketing and Founder at Product Marketing Community, Megan Heuer, VP Strategic Initiatives at Winning by Design, Sangram Vajre, Chief Evangelist at Terminus, discuss the questions and stages every company should be aware of in regards to their go-to-market strategy.

Understanding why great companies fail

Most assume the more revenue a business brings in, the more successful and secure it is. But it’s not always the case. Think of it like a sinking ship: Before you start scooping the water out, and especially before you bring more people aboard, you have to patch the holes that are causing the problem in the first place.

Sangram shares that less than 0.04% of companies make it to 10 million in revenue; and the closer a company gets to that 10, the less chance there is of success. Feels the opposite of how it should be, right? Despite companies believing more revenue means more security, the range between 10 to 50 million is known as the valley of death. So, what are companies getting wrong?

Two of the most common fallacies that companies think hold weight are that an exceptional vision and hiring great people will keep a company afloat and prospering. The unsexy reality — if a company’s go-to-market isn’t mature, it won’t matter how great the vision or employees are. Your ship will take on water quicker than you can remove it.

”The company is never mature in their go-to-market process. And that is why companies get into the valley of death and why I wrote the book.” — Sangram Vajre

The 3 P’s framework

If the valley of death is something every company has to go through, how can a company know what stage it’s in so that it can appropriately respond? By using the 3 P’s framework outlined by Sangram:

  1. Problem market fit: You have fast top line growth, but poor retention.
  1. Product market fit: You have a repeatable use case that works.
  1. Platform market fit: You have to expand your product and market due to competitors.

Recognize that your company is at its most vulnerable when you’re transitioning between these stages. Knowing when the changes are taking place is the best defense against sudden failure.

As you find your fit within the 3 stages, don’t make the mistake of thinking any of these steps only apply to early or established companies. A company with 20 million in revenue can still have problem market fit.

The MOVE framework and its 4 questions

When Sangram and his team began research for his book, they asked around 50 questions to market leaders. After a while, they realized of all the questions, it boiled down to just 4 that ultimately made up the framework:

  • Who should you market to?
  • What do you need to operate effectively?
  • When can you scale your business?
  • Where can you grow the most?

In relation to the 3 P’s framework, you can ask these 4 questions at any of the 3 stages. The answers, however, will change depending on where you’re at.

”The answers keep changing, but the questions remain the same.” — Sangram Vajre

Asking these questions can help keep your company out of the valley of death. But, then, who should be asking these questions within an organization?

Knowing who owns go-to-market

It was a big ask from Sangram and his team: Who ultimately owns go-to-market? Is it one person or the entire company? After interviewing over 50 people, the answer was shocking and unanimous — The CEO.

When go-to-market requires the horizontal vision and power to facilitate what’s needed to make the strategy successful, lower stakeholders can help, but, at the end of the day, it’s the CEO who has to take control.

”No one else has a view and authority to make those big decisions other than the CEO.” — Sangram Vajre

A key takeaway

The first step for any company to get going with their go-to-market strategy, according to Sangram, is to communicate these stages mentioned and align on the metrics that will define success for you.

This should give your company the clarity to define what stage of business you’re at and help build momentum towards your go-to-market goals.

Check out this additional resource mentioned during the episode: