Rethinking Your Go-to-Market (GTM) Technology Stack in a Converged Growth Approach
ANNUITAS has presented a series of posts outlining both ‘why’ and ‘how’ organizations can evolve their go-to-market approach to adopt what we refer to as a Converged Growth model. This approach represents both a new organizational model and a new operational approach to go-to-market for B2B go-to-market teams – one that we believe could make-or-break your 2023 and beyond.
“B2B organizations that unify commercial strategies and leverage multithreaded commercial engagements will realize revenue growth that outperforms their competition by 50%,” according to Gartner.
The core of a Converged Growth approach is to operationalize go-to-market activities around customer lifecycle in a way that better orchestrates engagement, that prioritizes customer journey stewardship and that optimizes sustainable client growth.
At an organizational level, this results in blended teams, organized around stewardship of customer journey phases. We also believe a key implication is for a converged approach to leadership – vested in a Chief Growth Officer or ‘Office of’ the Chief Growth Officer.
This approach has similar implications for our Go-to-market (GTM) Technology stack. It challenges conventional approaches to the charter and role of our marketing, sales and customer success systems and data and to how we integrate and configure them.
So how should you ‘re-think’ your GTM Technology Stack to support a Converged Growth approach to go-to-market?
GTM Technology Stack Charter
Orienting our technology stack starts with defining a clear charter. What role does the Go-to-market Technology Stack play in enabling a Converged Growth organization?
Since the core of a Converged Growth approach is end-to-end stewardship of the Customer Journey – both pre-sale and post-sale – we must frame our GTM technology components in terms of how they enable this approach.
An effective GTM Technology Stack must address:
- Customer telemetry: Continuous tracking both of customer state – e.g., what buying stage, what lead/opportunity qualification state, current CLV, etc. – and of intermediary customer interactions – e.g., channel engagements, content views, form fills, event attendance, etc.
- Customer orchestration: Based on continuous customer telemetry, an effective GTM Technology Stack must be able to decode customer state and actions to address the continuous question: What’s next? Meaning, based on his/her last interaction, identifying and serving up the next best Content Offer, site personalization, event invite or sales/success team member call. This also means rationalizing digital vs. live interactions, but also ensuring they don’t conflict.
- Customer continuity: As various team members and programs across a Converged Growth organization engage with a customer, there must be ‘one’ end-to-end conversation with that customer. Not disjointed random acts of marketing, sales and customer success. Telemetry and orchestration must be working together to drive a continuous and building series of interactions that Engage, Nurture and Convert during pre-sale and that see the customer Succeed, Develop and Grow post-sale. This means systems maintain continuous alignment of both customer data (without contact data fragmentation) and system actions (working together, not conflicting). This also means getting to one, federated and continuously-updated view of the ‘customer’ – both at an individual and organizational level (which we explain later in this piece as a “Customer Data Value Chain” approach).
Go-to-market strategy must drive and align the interactions of a Converged Growth organization and its perpetual programs; however, it is the GTM Technology Stack whose charter is to ensure the telemetry, orchestration and continuity to support this conversation and stewardship.
GTM Technology Stack Architecture — Evolution not Revolution
Developing GTM Technology Stack architecture is typically not about adding any ‘new’ pieces to the stack (though there might be a few added, depending on the previous maturity and approach to go-to-market technology). We do understand that martech proliferation is an issue, but think of it more as evolving how these technology pieces are utilized and positioned. Typically, it is about (re-) positioning systems to operate in a more strategic, end-to-end mode – and less as tactical elements, supporting siloed programs.
A key outcome of moving to a Converged Growth organizational model is dismantling silos across pre- and post-sale teams and programs. Our technology architecture, thus, should break down silos, not make them more entrenched.
The good news is that the components for a successful GTM Technology Stack supporting a Converged Growth approach typically already exist inside the enterprise today. Common building blocks include:
- Web content management system (CMS)
- Marketing automation platform (MAP)
- Sales force automation (SFA) / customer relationship management (CRM)
- Chat and other multi-channel engagement/CX tools
- Customer success automation
- Customer data + analytics tools and systems
A typical gap analysis of ‘as-is’ deployments have these systems both a.) highly aligned to specific stages and teams in the end-to-end customer journey and b.) not fully integrated and orchestrated. Thus, our ‘random acts’ of marketing, sales and customer success are clear when you see the gaps and lack of end-to-end utilization of key platforms.
A great example is marketing automation, which is perhaps the most misunderstood system in our GTM Technology Stack. Too often it is associated with lead scoring and email drip Nurture, or simply sending “batch and blast” outbound emails to large prospect segments – positioned as a tactical system before sales engagement. Unfortunately, this taps a fraction of the capabilities of a marketing automation platform – which is the only system in our stack that is capable of tracking customer telemetry in real time and triggering customer interactions – which is why marketing automation must be a core system leveraged end-to-end in the customer journey, both pre- and post-sale.
You can see how marketing automation and other key components pivot and engage in a strategic and end-to-end fashion when we pivot to a Converged Growth model.
The goal is to foster an end-to-end approach to engaging the customer, supported at every stage by integrated, automated GTM technology components.
Key Inputs to System Architecture
Integrating and configuring a GTM Technology Stack does not occur in a vacuum. What are the key inputs to overall system architecture and underlying configuration?
As noted earlier, the core of a Converged Growth approach to go-to-market is end-to-end stewardship of the Customer Journey – both pre-sale and post-sale. The GTM Technology Stack thus plays the role of ‘powering’ this stewardship, but the technology itself is not a solution; it needs to enable a solution.
The building blocks for go-to-market strategy — and the core inputs for go-to-market system architecture — are a Conversation Track Architecture and a Demand Process Model.
- A Conversation Track Architecture is the foundational framework for operationalizing go-to-market around customer journey — providing a central organizing structure for orchestrating people, process, content, technology and data interactions with customers throughout their entire lifecycle. An effective Conversation Track Architecture serves as both the starting point to ensure all customer journey stages and customer segments are ‘covered’ and the basis for defining programmatic alignment of marketing, sales and service teams with customer journey. It also defines the most scalable approach to segmenting audiences by customer journey stage. This is why Conversation Track Architecture is a critical input to go-to-market system architecture.
- Demand Process builds on the Conversation Track Architecture and provides a model to integrate all elements of people, process, content, technology and data around the customer journey. Ultimately, the goal of Demand Process is to orchestrate all sales and marketing interactions, ensuring every touchpoint is right place, right time, as much as possible while moving the customer through his/her journey. This provides the ‘logic’ and the rationalization for how technology components are integrated and configured. Many organizations have world-class people, content, and technology, but they don’t have the framework to operationalize and bring these elements together. They have all the ingredients, but no recipe … no secret sauce. Demand Process is this recipe and is the model that your GTM Technology Stack should be enabling.
Potential Gaps in Process Automation
Shifting to a Converged Growth approach go-to-market represents a move from tactical, random acts of sales, marketing and customer success to a strategic, holistic approach – one that puts customer journey at the center. This shift means moving from siloed “batch and blast” campaigns which provide only temporary single-instance lift, towards orchestrated, continuous and perpetual programs – centered around a Conversation Track Architecture and underpinned by a Demand Process.
Unfortunately, many GTM Technology Stack components are not positioned to support this type of strategic, holistic approach; thus, one element that may need to be added to existing sales and marketing technologies is an overarching process automation layer. While many GTM technology products are built around a campaign process, and even have dynamic journey management, their automation abilities only exist inside the application and can only be applied to ‘marketing’ portions of the journey.
In truth, only a handful of enterprise-grade marketing automation platforms can play this role in a GTM Technology Stack.
(Note: For our most recent ANNUITAS|research evaluation of these platforms, follow this link.) And most CRM platforms require significant development of ‘triggers’ to adapt to and support an active GTM process.
A Converged Growth approach to go-to-market thus requires end-to-end, and often cross-departmental process automation. So, a third-party business process management tool may be needed if your current marketing automation or CRM platform and related applications are not fully workflow enabled to meet the requirements of a strategic process.
GTM Technology and the Customer Data Value Chain
Data and Integration of customer data between applications and databases is always a concern for any business. The typical challenge in legacy architectures is around two points: 1.) a one-direction flow of data, where a customer action upstream ultimately gets singularly tied to a closed opportunity and revenue stream downstream and 2.) an over-simplification of the customer journey that led to this outcome.
The result is a fragmented view of customer journey, often duplication of interactions and contact data and an ultimate inability to orchestrate multiple, recursive interactions.
Such a legacy model looks something like this:
This is incredibly simplified; however it speaks to the main issues of this approach.
The counter is to adopt what we refer to as a Customer Data Value Chain approach – i.e., this idea that customer data exists in a federated state across multiple systems at once. Thus a GTM Technology Stack must be integrated in a way where it can both govern this mass of data and also composite it into a singular (but segmentable) customer picture.
A GTM Technology Stack that is built on a principle of a Customer Data Value Chain looks something more like this:
Functional elements/applications are no longer silos, but rather feed functions into a more holistic, end-to-end Customer Data Value Chain.
When you take a Converged Growth approach, it is about leveraging data from every milestone in the customer journey to drive more aligned engagement at every stage of the journey.
Footnote: Configuration vs Customization
When re-orienting your GTM Technology Stack for a Converged Growth approach, keep in mind that most modern cloud tools should have the ability to make a good portion of the required changes as configurations to existing products. That means not getting into code-level customizations that can affect the upgradability and maintenance complexity of existing systems.
Moreover, as you add later post-sale stages of the customer journey to your Perpetual Growth Engine, a lot of these processes and elements in the post-sale arc are highly analogous to data types, process flows and application configurations in the pre-sale arc. By analyzing existing technology configurations, you can potentially re-use a lot of existing configurations and simply apply them to post-sale process flows and tasks. Again, it is not about ‘rip and replace’ or ‘reinventing the wheel’ – it also is not about a complete turnover in your core systems – but rather a phased, logical and intentional approach to evolving your organization, processes and underlying systems and data towards a more strategic process and model.
Driving Change? Start with an Audit.
Transforming your existing GTM Technology Stack into one that supports the full customer journey starts with a good audit of your go-to-market programs, processes, systems, data and KPIs.
You might be surprised by what you find in an audit. A recent Gartner study revealed CMOs and CIOs have discovered a lot of shelfware issues remain even in the SaaS age. But rather than simply hunting for underused solutions and applications, a tech audit under a Converged Growth lens should be more about functions and process capabilities to support the orchestration of the customer journey end-to-end.
It can seem daunting, but the amount of clarity one can achieve just from a thorough go-to-market audit can provide valuable prioritization of next steps. Many ANNUITAS clients who have undergone a Go-to-market Assessment can attest to the efficacy of a thorough analysis of the tech stack.
Following the audit, the organization can then start to draw up a strategy that balances optimization of existing solutions with any potential net new technology additions. Often, additional technology is not always needed, and in fact, sometimes organizations can actually reduce a lot of single-use technology pieces in the process. But the goal is to create a phased, ongoing-win approach that allows for a highly digestible transformation plan by both IT and business leaders (and of course the everyday users of the technology!).