Ingredients for Great GTM
Smarter GTM 08.03.2023

Ingredients for Great GTM

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, host Jordan Saucedo interviews Marshall Hamilton, an expert in go-to-market strategy and customer profiling with over 10 years of experience. They discuss his current projects and initiatives at Sprout Social, how AI is impacting business execution, program management, internal tech stack, data governance policies, and creating operational effectiveness. Marshall shares strategies for scaling the business by looking at factors such as sales territories, customer density, segmentation, and resource reallocation. He also provides insights into having clarity around the direction of the business and how to provide it, as well as strategies for effective territory planning and understanding customer profiles. They also cover key metrics to prioritize when targeting customers such as firmographic data. Additionally, they discuss methods for maintaining data quality in a CRM system such as data governance policies and reaching out to thought leaders. Finally, they offer advice on how businesses can make during the current downturn such as cost optimization and adjusting pricing strategies.

About the Guest

Marshall Hamilton is a seasoned expert in go-to-market strategy and customer profiling, with a passion for helping companies optimize their sales and marketing efforts. With over 10 years of experience in the field, Marshall has developed a keen understanding of the intricacies involved in identifying and targeting the right customers across numerous organizations.  

Coming from a sales background, both as a seller and leader of sales functions, Marshall has practical experience in guiding businesses to align their sales and marketing activities to maximize revenue growth and customer acquisition.

Connect with Marshall Hamilton

Key Takeaways 

  • Go-to-market strategy and customer profiling are essential for optimizing sales and marketing efforts.
  • The impact of AI on social media management and the democratization of data query are significant trends to consider.
  • Territory planning requires aligning talent with opportunities and providing clarity to stakeholders.
  • Regularly updating the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is crucial to adapt to market changes and prioritize metrics effectively.
  • Scaling a business involves strategic planning, including program management, internal tech stack, and go-to-market strategies for maximum effectiveness.
  • Focusing solely on customers who already buy from you can limit your ability to identify potential customers outside that group.
  • It’s important to regularly revisit and refresh your ideal customer profile based on changes in business metrics and market dynamics.
  • Sales metrics evolve, with different stages requiring different measurements, such as deal size, conversion rate, and opportunity flows.
  • Firmographic data, including industry variables and site metrics, can provide valuable insights for targeting specific verticals.
  • Continuous improvement is key in devising a go-to-market strategy, involving feedback loops, postmortems, and learning from other companies’ sales operations.
  • Processes and steps can be similar across different roles and industries, fostering growth and change.
  • Seeking different perspectives through postmortems, interviews, and external resources sparks creativity and prevents stagnation.
  • Collaboration and alignment with stakeholders are crucial for a successful go-to-market plan.
  • Validating strategies and incorporating feedback enhances effectiveness and alignment.
  • Establishing data governance, utilizing tools and vendors, and embracing continuous improvement ensure data quality in CRM.


 “Quick wins are great, but playing the long game and having that long-term strategy and execution is vital.”  – Marshall Hamilton

Highlights from the Episode

Can you share some insights into the exciting projects and initiatives you’re currently working on at Sprout Social?

Marshall shared that Sprout Social is a social media management software company, and they work with a wide variety of customers, from SMBs to high-level enterprises. He mentioned that their focus is on sales strategy, program management, internal tech stack, and go-to-market strategy. He also mentioned that they are currently working on projects related to data governance policies, the impact of AI on teams and workflows, and creating operational effectiveness within the business.

How is AI impacting your approach to go-to-market and influencing your business?

Marshall discussed the impact of AI on their business and mentioned that one significant change is the democratization of data queries. With the advent of AI, non-technical individuals can now use natural language to query data sets and perform exploratory analysis without requiring expertise in SQL or Python. He emphasized that this democratization of technical abilities will be game-changing in the coming years and can lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness in workflows.

What are some key factors and considerations involved in successfully scaling a business and planning for expansion?

Marshall highlighted several key factors and considerations for successfully scaling a business and planning for expansion. He mentioned the importance of optimizing sales territories, considering factors like geographic coverage, customer density, and market potential. He also discussed the need to analyze customer segmentation, sales reps’ capacity, and the development of new strategies and focus areas. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of providing clarity and aligning the vision of the business with other teams and stakeholders. Collaborative planning, setting company-level objectives, and thinking about the broader picture were also key aspects he mentioned.

What are some strategies or best practices for territory planning in sales?

Marshall explained that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and it depends on the size, strategy, and stage of the business. He mentioned that early-stage businesses might have more generalist territories, while as the business grows, considerations for retention and international expansion come into play. He highlighted the importance of equitability and matching talent to opportunities, as well as clearly defining go-to-market territories to ensure effective support from other teams and organizations. He also emphasized the need to strike a balance between specialization and scalability, avoiding hyper-specialization that the business may struggle to support.

How important is it to regularly update your ICP as your audience evolves, and what key metrics should be used to prioritize and analyze firmographic data?

Marshall explains that regularly updating the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is crucial as business priorities and market dynamics change. He emphasizes the need to align the ICP with key metrics that reflect business goals. For example, if customer acquisition is a priority, metrics like conversion rate and customer acquisition costs should be considered. As the focus shifts to long-term revenue, metrics related to retention and expansion become important. Marshall suggests partnering with a data provider to access a wide range of firmographic metrics and conducting tests to identify correlations with business outcomes. He also highlights the importance of avoiding overly specific metrics that may limit the available market and advises considering the overall macro view of the customer profile.

How often should a company revisit and refresh its ICP criteria?

Marshall recommends revisiting and refreshing the ICP criteria whenever there is a significant shift in the metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) that the business is being evaluated against. This could occur when business priorities change, and it’s important to realign the ICP accordingly. Continuous monitoring of the effectiveness of sales efforts within the profile is essential, as well as considering new segments that may emerge due to evolving market dynamics. While minor adjustments may be made over time, a complete overhaul of the ICP should happen when there is a fundamental change in business metrics.

What factors should be considered when defining metrics for measuring success, and how do these metrics evolve as a business grows and adapts?

Marshall explains that the factors to consider when defining metrics for measuring success depend on the growth stage of the business. In the early stages, metrics related to customer acquisition, such as deal size and conversion rate, are important. As the business evolves, metrics for mid to low-funnel activities, like opportunity flow and win rates, come into play. Monitoring churn and assessing market penetration becomes crucial as the business focuses on long-term revenue and sustainability. The introduction of new metrics and the unification of metrics across the business help drive growth and inform decision-making. These metrics evolve as the business adapts to market changes, aiming to maximize growth, profitability, and sustainability.

How can sales teams effectively utilize firmographic data to drive success, and could you provide examples of its usage?

Marshall highlights the value of leveraging firmographic data to enhance sales strategies. While commonly considered firmographic data includes location, company size, and industry, he emphasizes the importance of exploring additional metrics from data providers. These can include metrics like a web presence, budget by department, and hiring trends. By analyzing these metrics, sales teams can gain insights into potential customers who align with their business. Correlation analysis can help identify metrics that indicate higher spending potential or better long-term value. This allows businesses to identify new opportunities, refine their marketing campaigns, and align sales efforts with prospects who have a higher likelihood of conversion and retention.

How do you narrow down on verticals and what considerations guide the decision-making process?

Marshall mentioned several strategies for narrowing down on verticals. One approach is to optimize and build on existing success by focusing on top-performing industries or segments. Another strategy is to analyze metrics such as win rate, deal size, and sales cycle length to identify high-growth opportunities. Marshall emphasized the importance of capturing both large, complex deals and smaller, faster deals to cover a wider range of revenue. He also highlighted the significance of verticalization and specialization plays in capturing specific market segments and increasing deal sizes.

What key steps and best practices should be considered when devising a go-to-market strategy?

Marshall outlined several key steps and best practices for devising a go-to-market strategy. He emphasized the importance of creating a well-documented project plan that involves all relevant stakeholders and goes through feedback and improvement cycles. Marshall mentioned the value of conducting postmortems to gather authoritative feedback and identify areas for growth and change. He also highlighted the benefit of interviewing sales operations of other companies to learn best practices, network, and brainstorm solutions. Additionally, Marshall emphasized the importance of aligning the go-to-market strategy with the overall goals of the business and regularly seeking feedback and input from stakeholders.

How do you ensure data quality and consistency in the CRM?

Marshall explained that ensuring data quality in the CRM is an evolving process that requires specific policies and practices. He emphasized the need for designated individuals responsible for data governance and cleansing. Marshall mentioned the use of data vendors, data orchestration solutions, and automated data capture and validation checks to maintain data accuracy and consistency. He highlighted the importance of stakeholder feedback in identifying areas for improvement and standardization. Marshall also emphasized the significance of continuous improvement and policy development, as well as assigning ownership of data quality within the CRM to ensure accountability. Finally, he mentioned the legal aspects of data governance, such as data retention and cleansing requirements.

What are some practices that you followed to assure the validity of the data and what steps do you take to recover and learn from experiences when the data turns out to be incorrect?

Marshall emphasized the importance of having evaluation criteria and defining what data is needed before investing in a data provider. Sampling the data and understanding vendor reputation and methodologies are crucial. Ongoing evaluation and periodic retesting of the data are necessary. In case of incorrect data, the root cause should be identified, lessons should be learned, and corrective actions should be taken to prevent future errors.

How do you prioritize the validity of the data when you have multiple vendors and the data may not be the same from one provider to the next?

Marshall advised setting up criteria to prioritize data validity when dealing with multiple vendors. Establishing trust in a particular vendor and communicating that trust to stakeholders can help prevent conflicts of interest. Defining policies for handling conflicting data, such as deciding which number to trust more, is essential to avoid confusion and excessive requests.

What should businesses do to mitigate the challenges posed by the current economic downturn?

Marshall suggested that businesses should focus on cost optimization and adjust pricing strategies to mitigate the challenges of the economic downturn. Diversifying revenue streams and tailoring customer attention is important to reduce dependence on a single market and meet evolving needs. Open communication with customers and partners is crucial for understanding concerns and making informed decisions. By maintaining strong relationships and mutual respect, businesses can navigate the economic environment successfully. Marshall emphasized the need for scenario planning and staying ahead of potential issues. Prioritizing cost effectiveness, diversification, customer focus, and open communication are key strategies for businesses to overcome challenges during a downturn.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?



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