What Is Go-to-Market (GTM)? And Why Does It Need Transforming? — Part 1

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February 13, 2023

4 mins read

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What Is Go-to-Market (GTM)? And Why Does It Need Transforming? — Part 1

Our mission, at Demandbase, is to transform the way B2B companies go to market. I love the simplicity and power of that statement, and it gives me a sense of purpose every day. But perhaps you’re wondering why B2B go-to-market needs transforming. Maybe you’re even wondering what the heck we mean by “go-to-market.” Let’s break it down in today’s post. Then be on the lookout for my next blog, where I’ll talk about what a transformed GTM looks like. 

What does go-to-market mean? 

We asked that very question in a recent C-Suite survey conducted by DemandGen Report, and here’s what the market had to say.

How do you define GTM blog image

With no single definition garnering a majority of the votes, clearly there’s confusion about what the term means. That’s why I’m taking a moment to define it. 

At Demandbase, GTM refers quite simply to all the strategies and activities having to do with generating revenue. It encompasses all the definitions above, but aligns most closely to the second option, “All customer-facing activities, including marketing, sales, account retention, and growth.” 

Now, why does B2B GTM need transformation?

So glad you asked. I see two primary reasons.

1. The shift to digital

B2B GTM has always been more challenging than B2C. There are more people involved in each buying decision, more complex solutions that require more consideration, and more initiatives vying for the same budget dollars. But the level of complexity has escalated in modern times with the digital revolution. And that’s been amplified since the start of the pandemic, when much of the workforce shifted to remote work. 

According to industry experts, as much as 95% of the buyer journey is carried out without engaging your sales reps. In other words, the journey is conducted almost entirely online, and is mostly hidden from the marketers and sellers who need to engage these prospective buyers. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, with multiple stakeholders involved in every purchase decision, you’ve got a network of activity happening that resembles a soccer match more than a single-threaded relay race, where there would be a clear handoff between marketing and sales. 

As in soccer, where the ball moves forwards, backwards, and sideways, passing from offense to defense and back again until eventually a goal is scored, in today’s go-to-market, sales needs to jump in early, marketing needs to stay in the game all the way until a deal closes, and customer success comes in from the sidelines if the sale involves an existing customer. With the entire revenue organization on the field, alignment is not only nice, it’s essential. These teams must work as one, targeting the same accounts and decision-makers, sharing the same goals, working from the same data — say goodbye to siloed data — and they need to be working from the same playbook. That’s the transformation that needs to take place.

And because most of the buyer journey is hidden from view, and buyers don’t raise their hands until the journey’s almost over, intent data is now an imperative. Think of it this way, intent is the new lead — the only way to effectively identify the right accounts and decision-makers to target and the right time to engage. Without intent, you’re simply relying on guesswork and hunches, wasting precious time and money chasing prospects who will never buy from you.

2. The escalating rate of change

What started out as gradual change has grown into perpetual motion. Technology, the economy, and the world as a whole are changing faster, and so too must companies as they adapt to these shifting landscapes. They’ve been adjusting to the great resignation since mid-pandemic, followed more recently by layoffs across many industries. The result is a shrinking workforce, now working harder, more stressed and distracted, and having less time to think about purchase decisions.

A tightened economy is causing companies to rethink priorities, to curtail budgets, and scrutinize every dollar spent, putting more pressure on revenue teams marketing and selling to them.

As well, technology continues to evolve. With more tech options, companies being more risk averse, and scrutinizing budgets more carefully, more stakeholders are getting involved in buying decisions. And so the complexity spiral continues.

Finally, much of this change is happening covertly. Your contact at an account is suddenly gone, new execs are hired, initiatives shift behind the scenes, while marketers and salespeople often miss it, thinking they can rely on current relationships and previous knowledge to drive more business with current customers. Meanwhile competitors see opportunity in these changes and move in to exploit it. 

Never before has there been such a need for data and insight to guide our GTM decisions and actions. And that’s why B2B GTM needs to be transformed.

Check in next month to learn what a transformed GTM looks like. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. What would you like me to write about? Send your ideas to gabeGTM@demandbase.com.

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Gabe Rogol

CEO, Demandbase

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