If you are wondering what a GTM Operating System is and why you should pay attention, you are in great company.
For starters, smart leaders across companies are just starting to ask the very question and you are in the right place at the right time.
But before we dive knee deep into the world of GTM OS a little backstory:
For the good part of the last two decades, companies and teams have significantly evolved in the way they operate and at every turn, there is some kind of technological revolution.
It started in the late 90’s when Marc Benioff built Salesforce, setting the stage for a SaaS revolution - all of a sudden software was no longer clunky, tough to deploy, or cost a fortune.
Salesforce paved the way for an ecosystem that would level the playing field - the small business owner now had access to the same tech stack as their bigger competitors with ginormous war chest.
Why was this disruptive?
For the first time, every business irrespective of its size or revenue could think about scaling and growth at a truly global level.
As the industry matured at breakneck speed, the stage was now set for the next wave of disruption.
With thousands of new applications cropping up, the focus shifted to figuring out a way to connect these disparate applications in a way that would allow you to send/receive data between them which set off an API boom.
The likes of Twilio, Segment, and Postman leading the pack - just the perfect springboard for accelerating growth.
You could now build even the most complex workflows that automatically executes multiple tasks across tools based on predefined logic - saving hundreds of hours and bandwidth in the process.
Fast forward to today, we have these powerful, interconnected tech stacks generating colossal volumes of data - the very data that will help you dig into insights and make important business decisions for your company.
But it continues to remain an herculean task to make the most out of this data. In fact, we asked GTM professionals what their biggest challenge was when it came to data analysis, and this is what they said:
Think about it for a minute: The biggest movers of growth at your organization: Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams, all operating far below their capabilities simply because of the inherent flaws in the landscape that is riddled with inefficiencies, inaccuracies, and an everlasting air of ambiguity.
Yet, that is what teams and leaders have had to settle for across companies - until now.
When we tried to address this at Dataflo, what started off as frustration turned out to be something substantial - an opportunity to address the problems that plague Growth teams in companies irrespective of their size or markets they operate.
Here's why the current GTM workflows are set up for operational inefficiency
Imagine this scenario:
Your team size just crossed 50. You’re excited about finally finding the Product-Market fit. If all goes well, you’d end up doubling your team in the next 12 months. Sure, you've had your ups and down but there's nothing that can halt the momentum as you gear up to scale.
But as the teams and functions grow, you start noticing little cracks in the very system that served you well: It begins with the MoM growth numbers pegged back to its earlier levels sharply dipping from your explosive Product Hunt launch. The sales team bemoans about poor quality leads creeping into the pipeline holding the marketing team accountable. Your churn rate is still hovering around 6.5% - a notch higher than the standards for your space.
As alarming as it all sounds, the truth is we just described the journey of pretty much every startup that is just about to shift gears in scaling.
The question is who is your biggest ally as you rally your teams forward with one eye on putting out the fire and another on keeping the foot on the accelerator?
Data! Lot and lots of data that will help you eke out insights from a deluge of tables and numbers. But it’s easier said than done.
You have your Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams prepare weekly/monthly reports scourging 4-5 different tools:
For example, the marketing team might make use of a tech stack like this that gets a 360° view of their efforts for the week:
Likewise, the sales and customer success teams will have their own tools that paint a picture of their performance - each function prepares their own set of reports: more often than not, it is a bunch of spreadsheets or a visualization tool for a fancier view.
But this is where things take a nerve-wracking turn:
The whole process of analyzing data, getting insights, and making decisions is just inherently flawed the way things are set up now.
Several hours wasted on data analysis
The biggest problem when analysing data is the sheer amount of time wasted on pulling and consolidating data from multiple sources - this is not even taking into account the time it takes to dig through the numbers and arrive at meaningful conclusions.
While big companies often have a dedicated resource just for data analysis, this takes up a significant amount of time in smaller growing teams who don’t have the same luxury.
A big part of the drudgery is the countless hours put into data analysis and the sheer repetitive nature of the task - the fact that every time you pull up data from different tools, it ends up being stale in the next few hours means you have to continuously do it week and week out which is a huge waste of time.
Lack of clarity on what to measure (The Problem of Measuring Everything)
One of the biggest misconceptions about data analysis is that there is not sufficient data to help you make the right decision, when it is the exact opposite in most cases - the bigger problem is too many data points that buries what you actually need to measure; or worse, data that paints a false picture that everything is smooth.
This is particularly hard to recognize when people pull up manual reports where there is an approach of ‘more the better’ until the data tells the story you want to tell.
Ambiguity in decision making
One of the more subtle problems around data analysis is that given the nature of the task - a lot of manual work with endless rows of numbers means there is always an air of uncertainty around whatever reports you prepare even when you are on the right course.
The ambiguity is not helpful when making important decisions that could impact teams across the board.
Setting up a GTM Operating System
What is a GTM OS?
A GTM Operating System is a data-driven approach to align the goals and efforts of the Go-to-Market teams (Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success) in your company. It is the natural evolution to how the Growth function operates in modern companies where you realize value by combining the strategic decision making of the Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams.
It helps you streamline internal processes, facilitates smooth hand-offs, and ensures that the customer-facing functions in your organization are on the same page at all times.
It is THE hub for leaders to understand:
-> How their efforts impact the overall company goals
-> Whether the relevant KPIs are met by individual team members
-> If the team is on track to meet the objectives set at the beginning of the quarter
A well-oiled GTM Operating System acts as the single source of truth across the three teams setting up a successful Growth Flywheel.
GTM: Functional Goals & Team Roles
Building a great GTM team is both challenging and rewarding.
You get it right and it sets your team up for effective cross-functional collaboration and bringing the best out of every team member. A small misstep however, could easily snowball into bigger problems like misalignment toward key goals, siloed functions, and so on.
That is why it is crucial to pay close attention to how your Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams are set up.
There are two key pieces in setting up a great GTM team:
Understanding the goals & objectives of each function
Understanding the roles & responsibilities under those functions
For you to be successful across functions, it comes down to each of the members owning their respective numbers:
Marketing -Lead generation
Customer Success -Net Dollar Retention
Marketing - Lead generation
Lead generation is the process of identifying and nurturing potential buyers and until they are ready to buy your product - once the marketing team feels that a lead is qualified, then it is handed off to the sales team to close the booking.
To help accelerate the lead generation process, there are several sub-functions within the marketing to help you get there:
Content marketing is one of the most popular and effective lead generation strategies for B2B businesses that focuses on creating and distributing useful content to bring in leads to your website and ultimately get them to take the desired action.
Content marketers are specialists who create education content like blogs, ebooks, videos etc. that answer specific questions in your product niche.
What does a typical week look like for Content marketers?
Content marketing is a long-term game and the only way to succeed is to create as much content as possible which your target audience will find informational - that means about 80% of a content marketer’s time is spent on writing blogs.
The blogs typically focus on the top of the funnel content that help land visitors land onto your website from where they are nurtured to either sign up for the product or subscribe to blogs, or download a lead magnet depending on their level of interest.
Apart from blogs, content marketers might also be tasked with writing the occasional eBook or whitepaper as well as building out new landing pages for the website.
A content marketer’s career progression depends on their skillsets, the organization, and the markets in which you are serving among other variables - for example, a common path is content marketers evolving into product marketers.
SEO specialists are digital marketing experts who help improve the visibility of your website on search engines that increases the number of website visitors and ultimately help bring in more leads for your company.
An SEO specialist works closely with content marketers at every step of the way to ensure that any content created checks off the list of best practices to get the webpage to rank on search engines.
Some of the responsibilities of an SEO specialist include:
An SEO specialist will do keyword research on your industry to determine how popular a topic is, the chances of getting it ranked on the first page, relevance and hands it over to the content marketers so they can create the best possible content around any particular topic.
In addition to your own content on your website, Google determines the quality of your content by factoring in which other websites have referenced your webpage on their site - a part of the job for SEO specialists is to be on the lookout for other websites who will link back to your content.
As you churn out new content regularly, it is important to measure their success and make tweaks accordingly - SEO specialists regularly check website analytics using a tool like Google Analytics to see how websites, landing pages and keywords are performing.
Product marketing is a cross-function that sits at the intersection of Marketing, Sales, and Product and is responsible for taking a product to market and nailing down its positioning through powerful product narratives.
Product marketers act as a liaison between customers and internal stakeholders and are in-charge of translating the product capabilities in a language that the user understands - this could range from something as small as writing in-app messages or as big as throwing an industry-wide webinar.
The product marketer constantly switches between 50,000 ft. and 5ft. when it comes to their responsibilities - given the complexity that comes with the role, their place in the organizational chart might also vary between organizations.
Typically, a product marketer falls under one of the Marketing or Product teams depending on factors like product maturity, target markets, and the skillsets they bring to the table.
Demand Gen Specialists
Demand generation refers to activities that are aimed at creating awareness and interest in your product or service and ultimately set up your sales team for a healthy sales pipeline.
They include a series of both marketing and sales initiatives that might include every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey - from the first contact to all the way to upselling customers.
Some of the responsibilities of a Demand Gen professional include:
Owning lead generation, tracking, and optimisation the marketing efforts
Identifying & Building quality lead generation channels for the business
Accelerating the sales pipeline - minimizing the time it takes to convert a prospect into a customer
Demand gen specialists work closely with Product marketers on distributing content as well as SDRs to help build a predictable demand engine.
Depending on the company and the product maturity, the role could evolve into a RevOps role where the sole responsibility of the team is to identify gaps in the existing processes and do everything to accelerate revenue.
Paid marketing refers to marketing strategies where you target potential customers based on their interests, intent or previous interactions with your product or service.
Paid Marketing can take different forms like advertisements on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram or even within other webpages.
Paid Marketers are specialists who understand paid marketing channels and strategize and execute campaigns based on your marketing strategy.
The importance of Brand Marketing has evolved a lot in the recent years thanks to an ever-growing need for companies to stand out and establish their voices in their niches.
This is where Brand marketers come in, executing promotional activities that highlight your brand presence.
Brand marketers are responsible for rolling out marketing activities that communicate your brand ethos to your target audience.
Channel marketing refers to marketing activities that help set up or improve your distribution in markets where you have little or no presence by partnering with local distributors, resellers, or other third-party agents.
Channel Marketers are responsible for increasing the bottom line for your product by building and nurturing the relationships with partners and equipping them with the resources they need to successfully sell your product.
Here are some of the other roles & responsibilities of Channel Marketers:
Provide product training for partners
Create and distribute marketing collaterals for the partners
Identify and qualify potential partners for lead generation.
Support partner events and manage partner marketing communications.
Evaluate the marketing performance of partners and recommend improvements.
Sales - Closing Deals
Account Executives are salespeople responsible for getting deals over the line - they engage and build relationships with prospects and try to get them to make a purchase(these prospects are also called MQLs).
AEs usually operate with a sales quota expected to close a certain number of deals every month and own the sales pipeline for the company - depending on the size of the business, this could be a single person or many salespersons.
Given their responsibilities, a vast majority of their time is spent on talking to potential customers or giving demos.
This calendar from Saleshacker neatly sums up how a week looks like for an Account Executive in a typical B2B business.
The responsibilities of an Account executive depends on the company size, what market you are operating in, and how your sales function is set up.
For example, in a large company there will be business development reps to assist the AEs in research, prospecting, and cold calling leads. In smaller companies, the AEs might themselves do this.
Pre-sales Engineers are solutioning experts who help salespeople in closing deals facilitating a smooth transition by liaising between the product team and the potential customers
Pre-sales engineers work closely with a cross-functional team of developers and architects to provide a solution that exactly fits the needs and objectives of the potential customers.
They act as a champion for the customer within their own company, ensuring that the product requirements are met by the product offering. This might include problem-solving key technical issues, building relationships, demonstrating product capabilities specific to the user needs.
Customer Success - Net Dollar Retention
Onboarding is one of the most important phases of a user journey - it is the first interaction that the user has with a product and if it is anything less than perfect, they wouldn’t think twice about jumping ships to a competitor.
Onboarding specialists are product experts responsible for training the new users to get the most out of the product at the shortest interval possible.
A typical day for an onboarding specialist includes giving a product walkthrough, setting up custom workflows depending on the customer use cases, and answering FAQs.
Onboarding Specialists are measured on KPIs like product adoption and user retention.
For small teams, there may not be a separate role and onboarding might be taken care of by the customer support team itself.
Typically the support teams do not fall under the customer success function but rather in the product team- however, for the latter to be successful, they have to rely on data that rests with the former.
For example, the support team is in-charge of troubleshooting and clearing roadblocks for users on a daily basis - while the customer success team need not be on top of every ticket, it should understand the pulse of every customer and this is where the two teams collaborate.
Customer support agents are primarily measured on KPIs such as # support tickets, tickets resolving time, and Net Promoter Score.
Key Account Managers
Key Accounts are essentially a company’s most valuable customers who represent a large chunk of your revenue and Key Account Managers are relationship managers whose sole responsibility is to keep these top accounts happy.
A typical day for an account manager involves building strong customer relationships, proactively identifying and solving challenges, and exploring cross-sell or upsell opportunities.
In smaller organizations, rather than a dedicated account manager this job might be taken care of between the account executives and customer support personnel.
Account Managers will be measured on KPIs like Customer Lifetime Value, Net Promoter Score, and Cross-selling & Upselling revenue.
How does a GTM Operating System help increase operational efficiency?
When you look at the organizational chart for a GTM Operating System, you may realize that you already have some of the roles in your organization - so how does bringing all these Go-to-Market teams under an umbrella suddenly fix all the inefficiencies?
The answer lies in building a GTM flywheel for the long haul.
While having these teams in silos might work for you today, in the long term having them be all on the same page, taking a single-minded approach every activity rolled out significantly improves the speed and agility at which you make decisions - after all, they are the only three functions responsible for growth in your organization.
In the current setup, the friction between sales and marketing is well-documented while customer success has been more about putting out fires rather than being an integral cog to your company’s growth which they should be.
Make no mistake, this is not a radical suggestion to completely revamp your org structure and put together three (very) different groups of people into the same team, working on the same activities. Rather, it is a subtle yet powerful switch in narrative where you eliminate silos within these teams and remind them that they are all working to improve the same number - your company’s growth.
But more importantly, making changes to your org structure is just one half of the equation in fixing the data analysis problem.
The other half is what we call the ‘workflows problem’.
For far too long, GTM teams have had to settle for a below par workflow that is doomed to fail - multiple spreadsheets, toggling between tools, outdated static reports. The list is one too many.
As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over.”
So how can we fix this?
This is where the technological evolution we talked about earlier might just be a game-changer.
What if GTM teams no longer had to make do with ten different applications, pour hundreds of hours every year, or scratch their heads around when it comes to analysing data and arriving at insights?
What if there was an ‘out-of-the-box’ way to get it all done?
That is exactly what a dedicated GTM Operating System would bring to the table - a total level-up to the way Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams operate.
Ready to set up your team's GTM OS?
As teams and functions mature, GTM Operating System is the next step of evolution in the way teams are set up - if you are wondering where to start, you're at the right place. At Dataflo we are building a dedicated GTM OS™ platform where you will get end-to-end visibility on your Growth teams' activities that will help you take data-driven strategic decisions.