In the late 90s, it was common for sales and marketing teams to work in silos, maybe bump into each other during a tradeshow or a customer event, but that was it. Fast-forward to today, alignment between sales and marketing is an absolute necessity. In today’s always-on digital world, thousands of touchpoints exist that determine a customer’s journey in using a product or service.
It is of key importance to make decisions based on data to better evaluate who is buying your products and services and what motivates their decision making. This is where a data-driven GTM (go-to-market Strategy) is critical for an organisation’s overall growth and success, as it helps an organisation identify its core competencies, develop market and buyer definitions, position and packaging appropriately.
In a recently concluded roundtable organised by BW Businessworld with some of the world’s leading C-suite leaders associated with the data-driven business industry, a wide range of topics were discussed, including challenges of a growing organisation, the ways to keep the customer at the centre, aligning GTM strategy with sales and marketing teams, relying on buyer insights, and identifying new markets.
Building a buyer first mindset:
Abhai Singh, India Sales Head & Scaled Customer Business Lead – APAC at LinkedIn underlined the importance of putting the customer in front. He said, “As per a LinkedIn State of Sales 2021 report, in which both the buyers and the sellers were surveyed, 77 per cent of the B2B sellers in India said they always put their customers in front. However, only 41 per cent of the buyers agreed to the same which is a huge gap,”
Singh further commented, “At LinkedIn, we look at Buyers First philosophy which is very close to our heart. And we look at it from five principles – active listening, how transparent are you with your customers, are you solving a problem or are you just pushing and selling something, delivering value at every engagement to make sure your attention span goes up, and earning trust over a long-term period. Acquiring trust becomes the number one metric that organisations are looking at.”
Singh factored that while partnering with an organisation, qualifying the data source is of key importance. He mentioned, “Time and time again in LinkedIn, what we’ve seen is, when we go back to the organisations that we partner with, we’ve always heard that we have this data source with us, how do you qualify it further so that it is relevant for us?”
“And therefore, the real-time data and the authenticity of the data becomes so critical, and for planning, it is the most important element because if you rely on the data source that is available to you which is not trusted, you will not even go in that direction,” added Singh.
The significance of keeping the GTM strategy in sync with the sales and marketing teams:
Saurabh Saxena, COO at InterviewBit & Scaler highlighted that technology has made life easier for them.
Saxena said, “LinkedIn through its campaign managers provides us valuable insights on our ad campaigns, similar insights are provided by Google/YouTube. Thankfully we have managed to put all of it together and understand where we stand in ROI terms,”
Saxena pointed out that Scaler believes in Marketing + Sales led GTM. He commented, “Our GTM teams are the marketing and sales teams; we do not think that in our context there can be a separate strategy team which can sit outside these functions.”
“It is a joint effort taken together by our CMO and Head of Sales who stitch-up our GTM strategies, including areas to focus, geographies to go after, and user groups which would be most excited about the product,” added Saxena.
Technology is also helping in conducting campaigns alongside influencers. Saxena highlighted, “We are now able to target those influencers who have a better sync with our community, and can provide better ROI,”
Vinod Kumar, CEO at Subex stated that they have two major segments, including large telecommunication customers and a wider SaaS segment.
Kumar said, “In the SaaS subscription-based business, we have taken several measurements right across the end to end GTM – product usage, usage of materials – everything is measured,”
There is no place for silos in the SaaS subscription-based business. Kumar pointed out, “Silos are almost non-existent as product teams and marketing teams work in tandem. Data is probably leading the way about what the next step should be and where we have to scale, and all other changes that need to take place,”
“To summarise, in the SaaS-based businesses, data is becoming a leveller for all kinds of disagreements and is probably arbitrary,” he added.
Vishal Parekh, Head – South Asia & Southeast Asia at Thomson Reuters, underlined that every segment in the organisation has a fixed role.
Parekh said, “The BDR (Business Development Resource) does the lead generation, relationship managers have enterprise discussions with CIOs, CFOs, and the marketing team focuses on the target market segment,”
“Between all of this, there are meetings where notes and lists are shared about the ongoing operations, we have a good CRM system and we continuously strive to improve it further,” he added.
Parekh mentioned that by peeling the onion layer by layer, one realises that more things need to be fixed.
He said, “We would ideally like to achieve a stage where I can send out a playbook which is used by everyone, right from the accounts teams, relationship managers to the marketing teams and prioritise each of our customer segments,”
“When we achieve that one playbook which determines how much marketing dollar should be spent on which segment, then we will have a lot better ROI in place, and that is where we are trying to move towards,” added Parekh.
Samir Vyas, Country General Manager at Agilent said, “The transformation which we see from demand generation to the revenue marketing would not have been possible without aligning our go to market strategy as per the changing customer buying preferences; this has been the key enabler for Agilent,”
“Those customers who would like to do e-commerce, or those who would like to have an enterprise-level business with us, – our ability to offer the necessary omnichannel has been a key enabler in order to correctly rightly align with the customers buying preferences and journey which is constantly changing,” he added.
Vyas Samir pointed out that the most important enabler is avoiding the silos. He commented, “Killing Eliminating the silos amongst functions is of foremost importance, today’s date the in these times marketing and sales work in close collaboration which is also the need of the hour.”
Keeping the customer at the centre:
Sachin Duggal, Chief Wizard and Co-Founder at Builde.ai said, “Everything which is done in our business is about putting the customer at the centre of our core principles,”
Duggal highlighted that they have centred their platform on some key disciplines. He mentioned, “Removing human variance from the sale and delivery side of the customer journey is important so that our customers get a consistent experience irrespective of which one of our humans they speak to,”
“It is important for us to put ourselves in the feet of the customer and make decisions from that vantage point. Sometimes this may mean we disagree with a customer,” added Duggal.
Duggal also underlined the importance of harnessing data to drive collective insights to propel a fundamental shift in empowering customers to make better decisions about the software they are making.
Customers demand greater interaction:
Annapurna Vishwanathan, CIO at Cummins India suggested that technologies in the world are constantly changing.
Vishwanathan said, “Between 2020 and now, we have seen an era of rapid digitalisation.
Earlier, the ERP systems and technologies provided us with customer insights to support our planning. Now the customers demand more and are ready for greater interaction and engagement. They are willing to provide us with richer data. Therefore, this is an era of transformation for us.”
Vishwanathan pointed out that there is a new array of challenges that they are facing.
She commented, “The challenge in front of us is that while we keep our backbone systems perfectly intact, how we change the front-end systems in a way that we can interact better with the customers and receive insights on the go. How do we take the new data and marry it with our native intelligence to make it a much richer source of information,”
Breaking into new markets:
Nilesh Patel, CEO at Leadsquared highlighted the importance of making salespeople write notes. Patel said, “I am a big believer of making salespeople write notes and I read all those notes, the notes also go to their respective sales managers- who supervise them,”
“As salespeople are in touch with customers daily, and if you are talking to the customers every day, just by putting in a little information pipe to get hold of that information, there will be a lot of information in your hand,” he added.
This information which one gets through salespeople can be used in various ways.
Patel commented, “We have tens of thousands of sales notes in our systems ranging back to several years, you just need to run a simple query, and you get all the information which people are seeking,”
Vaibhav Jain, CEO at Hubilo highlighted, “Going after the entire market spreads resources too thinly. Our strategy is to prioritise the areas where we are most successful and use our bandwidth strategically in those areas,”
“As an organisation, we have cultivated a deep understanding of where our customers are, what type of customers we want and quantified how much value we can deliver. Everything is documented, and we keep revisiting that regularly, when we see an opening in the new market, we rely a lot on the market data, analyst data that we get from multiple reports,” added Jain.
Jain suggested that one should be careful while finding a market partner.
He mentioned, “We look for partners that share our deep commitment to customer experience and with demonstrated success with our target clientele. After our partners are on board, we see how customers respond to that partner for three months and if the relationship is successful, we will then invest more with our marketing resources,”
The panellists concluded the discussion by concluding that going after the right set of customers is of key importance and there is an enormous amount of opportunities in the market waiting to be tapped into.