How do you control your go to market program?
Going to market is a pretty tricky part of your overall business operation. While the details of your approach are very situation-dependent, the overall management of the program can be viewed in terms of a few key issues. In particular, at different stages of company growth and operation, projections associated with sales and marketing are used to make decisions about inventory, personnel, and many other aspects of the overall business. Without these projections being used and making sense, you either:
The question then arises of how you do what sorts of projections with what precision and accuracy, how you measure to generate and adapt those projections, how often you do this, and perhaps most importantly, how you use real data in conjunction with these projections to adapt your efforts and meet your sales objectives.
Let's start with the stage
I will use these definitions of business stage for this discussion:
Based on the maturity, the information collected, time frames, and related matters are reasonably well understood.
In essence, certainty about projections comes to companies at the Managed level of operation. This can be reasonably reliable for as much as a 1-year time frame once you have enough experience to compensate for things like seasonality, larger economic cycles, market saturation, entering new markets, and competition.
If you are not certain you are likely at a lower maturity level. And at the same time, if you are reasonably certain you will NOT reach your objectives, you must also be at least at the Defined level of maturity, because at lower levels, you cannot reliably predict very far into the future.
How do you know?
As an executive, the way you know whether you will make your numbers or not is by the feedback you get from measurements. Of course the question then goes to what you measure. Generally, there are different things measured at different levels of maturity.
|Optimizing||Details||We measure every aspect of our Go To Market program against all the objectives we set out for it.|
|Defined/Managed||Outcomes||We measure outcomes of our Go To Market program against defined goals.|
|Repeatable+||Activities||We measure activities performed against those planned.|
|Initial+||Numbers||We measure total sales against those planned.|
|Initial-Repeatable||Talk||We discuss these issues with our Go To Market team periodically.|
|None||Nothing||We don't do anything to measure our Go To Market processes.|
There are too many potential aspects of a go to market strategy and execution to completely measure all aspects of a large complex entity, but a startup can pretty much measure every aspect of its go to market in terms of reaching out to investors and granting agencies. This is typically done by a very small team, from one to perhaps 5 people will be involved at the core of the activity, and some number of peripheral players will have to meet deadlines for minor contributions or be left out.
On the other hand, outcomes can be measured as long as they are well defined, while activities can be measured even at the Repeatable level of maturity. The simple measurement of sales against planned sales is indeed simple to do and hard to use to adapt. Generally, more than just the simple numbers are required in order to adapt at even the Repeatable maturity level. And of course when you are just starting out, you usually start with discussions with the relevant people in order to create your initial attempts at sales.
How often do you measure it?
Very few companies can measure all of the aspects of their marketing and sales in real-time, and really none can fully and automatically adapt in real-time. And of course the human aspects of the field remain far slower, but in the case of a startup with a CEO in charge of all activities and personally executing on fundraising, continuous personal measurement is actually common, and of course necessary. It is, after all, the CEO who is actually communicating with the potential investors most of the time.
|Continuously||We continuously measure everything and adapt our approaches in real time.|
|Daily||We measure daily against expectations and adapt when not met.|
|Weekly||We measure weekly against expectations and adapt when not met.|
|Monthly||We measure monthly against expectations and adapt when not met.|
|Quarterly||We measure quarterly against expectations and adapt when not met.|
|Ad hoc||When we notice things are not going well, we check it out and adapt.|
Ad hoc measurement is really purely reactive, and as such, only works for those counting on luck. But "luck favors the prepared mind" [Louis Pasteur] and of course the prepared company as well.
At the top executive level, for growing or leading companies, very few things in marketing and sales are meaningfully measured on any less than a monthly basis. The reason for this is that others are in charge of tracking such things, while top executives are typically working on more strategic issues. Certainly every quarter, they will have to track and update financials and activities of the company, and perhaps they will do it monthly for aspects that are of vital importance.
Stable company CEOs may track sales and marketing on a daily basis, but it is rare when this will make a major difference in this time frame. Of course things like just in time supply chain issues may require embedding of daily orders, but this is usually not handled by the CEO once the company has a few tens of employees. It is more likely that weekly activities are checked, and monthly review of sales and marketing from a standpoint of predictability will come into play. Of course big orders will be known when they happen, but every sales person and every transmission of information to every potential customer would be a rarity reserved for companies with a relatively small number of relatively large sales.
A call to action
So this is pretty complicated, I know, but it is systematic, and based on a feedback system for running the company as a whole and the sales and marketing process at multiple levels of management and execution hierarchy. If you want help developing your marketing and sales, the best first step is to start measuring it, and to do that, you...
Controlling your marketing and sales program is fundamental to accelerating your sales. But it's not a simple matter.
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