Transforming Your Go-to-Market Team: Building a “Converged Growth” B2B Organization

Is your go-to-market team still trying to achieve sales and marketing alignment?

B2B organizations have for decades attempted to achieve so-called sales and marketing alignment – fueled by countless business books, analyst reports, strategic frameworks and consulting engagements – all well-meaning.

We’ve been on a search for the ‘silver bullet’ – including whether optimized lead-pass and the role of inside sales/lead development teams could be the perfect marketing-to-sales bridge. But there is no silver bullet.

A recent Harvard Business Review article frames the fundamental issue facing legacy B2B sales and marketing views – and our struggle with alignment:

What do shifting buying behaviors have to do with organizational structure? Everything.

While once a relatively accurate proxy for the underlying buying behavior it was meant to approximate, the serial commercial engine is hopelessly out of date — and dangerously out of sync — with how today’s B2B buyers buy. In today’s B2B buying journey, there is no single “handoff” from digital to in-person (or, for that matter, from marketing to sales). …

[S]imply “aligning” sales to marketing to ensure a seamless “handoff” as a deal “progresses” along a linear buying “process” represents a woefully inadequate solution to a radically new buying reality (similar to a taxi driver hanging an air freshener in the back of their cab and hoping they’ve somehow “fixed” an otherwise deeply flawed rider experience).

Thus, the dirty little secret: Sales and marketing alignment is … actually … unattainable.

In light of these “shifting buying behaviors” and a classic B2B sales and marketing model that is “hopelessly out of date,” our only recourse is to fundamentally re-think the entire go-to-market organization. But that first requires overcoming two fundamental challenges:

  • The Problem with Identity: By the mere fact that we persist in identifying some team members as ‘marketers’ and others as ‘sellers’ – we maintain inherent, organizational division – and contribute to the ‘random acts’ and disparate, legacy processes, systems and teams that lead to our constant go-to-market inefficiency. Our new go-to-market organization must transcend these identities; it must seek to form a new, singular identity.
  • The Problem with Alignment: Because of divergent identities, we maintain divergent objectives. Marketers continue to drive impressions and leads. Sellers continue to drive pipeline and sales. No one pays enough attention to customers after they are ‘Closed Won’ – leading to turnover of as much as 2/3 of our customer base. Thus, our new go-to-market organization also must drive singular alignment in its objectives – i.e., it must operate as ‘one organization’ with one, customer lifetime value outcome as its objective.

Converged + Growth

So, what does this new go-to-market organization look like? At ANNUITAS we call this a “Converged Growth” B2B organization.

What does this mean? Let’s break down the two concepts – “Converged” and “Growth” – and what they mean.

Converged: We need a go-to-market organization that is ‘converged’ in two ways.

  1.  It must be converged around a singular, end-to-end customer journey. This convergence must be around customer journey — i.e., we must go to market ‘outside-in.’ It cannot be defined by tactical, product-led, inside-out motions and time-bound ‘campaigns.’ This journey must cover not only pre-sale motions, but also those occurring post-sale … especially customer onboarding and success.
  2.  It must be converged in terms of role and identity. We cannot have separate marketing and sales and customer success teams; rather, we need continuous stewards of the customer journey – blended teams, working together in orchestration and separated only by journey stage. (E.g., sellers, field marketers, market researchers and commercial operations specialists working together to tackle key account growth.)

Growth: We need a go-to-market organization whose core mission is to drive growth. By this we mean strategic, sustainable growth – not the ‘growth hacking’ mindset of the past. A sustainable growth focus is imperative to successful go-to-market operations – which translates into significant returns. “Growth leaders generate 80 percent more shareholder value than their peers over a ten-year period,” notes McKinsey. There are four elements of a strategic ‘growth’ charter:

  1.  Customer-centered. Growth must revolve around the end-to-end customer journey and lifecycle — and differential customer needs at different stages. It is not merely about pushing more product; rather, it’s about being in tune to what the customer needs at key moments in his/her lifecycle and being ready to ‘get found’ and to deliver in that moment — anticipatory go-to-market. McKinsey notes, “70% [of growth leaders] build an understanding of customers’ needs through formal and informal methods (ethnography, surveys, in-store visits, etc.).” The mindset of these growth leaders is “I know my customer as a person.”
  2.  Actionable. An organization must have a clear and repeatable formula – a commercial engine for demand, conversion and retention — that can predictably drive growth. And this formula and engine must be rooted in actionable data – leading to outcome-oriented KPIs that enable accurate tuning of the model. Often organizations claim to be ‘data driven,’ but there is no linkage between the activity data collected and the steps that must be taken to optimize go-to-market motions.
  3.  Operationalizable. An organization must be able to clearly translate this formula into a staffing, programmatic and systems architecture to deliver and optimize this formula over time. It must place customer journey at the center of the model – versus ‘inside-out’ campaigning – and provide constant customer lifecycle stewardship at every level.
  4.  Net lift. Go-to-market motions must not merely sustain an organization; rather, they must drive net lift both to the top and bottom line of an organization. This must be the continuous focus of go-to-market activities.

A Converged Growth B2B Go-To-Market Organization

How can you transform your legacy sales and marketing teams into a Converged Growth B2B go-to-market organization?

At ANNUITAS we have developed a diagnostic model – the ANNUITAS Converged Growth™ Model – which breaks down the functional elements required to achieve Converged Growth. This model follows below.

The ‘x-axis’ orients the model – ensuring our go-to-market model considers all elements across all stages of the end-to-end customer lifecycle. This lifecycle starts with Engagement of a customer, and then leads to Conversion of the customer at the moment where they are ready to invest in a solution to address their needs; this constitutes the pre-sales arc. Then the focus is on helping a customer Succeed and Grow – where the provision of additional solutions are an integral part of this journey for both customer and B2B organization. Ultimately, a Growth organization must be organized around customer journey stewardship. This view forces us to consider our complete blend of people, processes, content, technology and data at every stage of the customer lifecycle – ensuring there are no gaps.

The ‘y-axis’ breaks down the functional interactions across the customer lifecycle, including:

  • Orchestrated team interactions + channel engagement: The automated and live touch points with customers – working together in chorus, so that a customer is unaware of whether it was a sales or marketing touch and instead sees ‘one’ company/brand experience.
  • Continuous (marketing) content + (sales) enablement: The basis of end-to-end customer dialogue – the content pieces and the training and enablement that supports the conversation delivered via automated and live touch points. Everything must work together as part of a coherent Conversation Track – with no gaps and no discontinuities.
  • Converged systems, operations + governance: A singular view of a go-to-market technology stack and of ‘operations’ teams supporting and governing these systems and the processes they enable. This means breaking down the sales, marketing and customer success islands that prevail.
  • Customer data value chain: A singular view of the customer – not dissected across various systems but thoughtfully built in such a way that systems and interactions build towards – and federate around – a more complete customer view over time.

How does this translate into transformation of sales and marketing teams? First, we must shed the mantle of traditional sales and/or marketing descriptors. Second, we must focus on roles aligned to customer journey stewardship – and articulate these roles functionally so that we can drive better organizational design. The goal is to blend teams around stage movement and to ensure there are no customer journey gaps.

You can see this played out in the reference architecture, below, which depicts team (re-) alignment in a Converged Growth B2B organization. The blue boxes below the x-axis describe converged functions required to enable customer journey and to maximize customer lifecycle value. For example, the “Growth Operations + Governance” capability represents the convergence of teams formerly labeled, “marketing operations,” “revenue operations,” “sales operations,” etc. into one “Growth Operations” team.

Transforming Your Go-To-Market Organization

How can you take the next step in your transformation towards a Converged Growth B2B go-to-market organization?

Here are several, key content pieces that address different elements of growth strategy and go-to-market transformation that will help you think through your approach:

The Inconvenient Truth About Driving Sustainable Corporate Growth

A Framework for Sustainable Growth: ANNUITAS Demand Process™

Demand Marketing Transformation: The Path to Strategic Demand Marketing

Making The Critical Shift from Tactical Demand Generation to Strategic Demand Marketing

Adopting a Self-Service Sales Model in Your Organization

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