Competing for Go-To Market Resources in Your Firm: 6 Tips on How to Play Fair and Gain an Advantage

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The frustration was visible, “I just don’t get it,” she said, face flushed and jaw clenched.  “We worked nights and weekends for the last 18 months getting this ready. And now not to see any orders in the pipeline? It’s too much.”

I had three conversations with executives in the last 10 days – all with essentially the same question:  “I’ve built this new offering for a market niche that we found using the tools you’ve shared with us. But now when I need the go-to market team to step up, we are getting nowhere.  How can I break the log jam?”

There is a near universal omission made by growth teams, that if they can build it, and there is a customer demand, that the go-to market team will be equally motivated to help them get it.  This isn’t to say that our brethren in distribution are not helpful. Rather, it’s that the need to develop sustainable momentum for the sales teams typically isn’t on the work plan of technical or manufacturing firms.

You will here things in the hallway like, “I can’t believe I need to work with the sales prevention department…I had that one sold already.”

When you’ve spent a lot of time with the new customers that really want what you have put together, you can be lulled into a sense of security that getting the go-to market team on board will be easy (why this solution sells itself!) But the truth is that go-to market teams are coin-operated (read commission), and your new offering hasn’t proven its mettle yet.  Take the view of your account team for a moment: their plans are fixed and usually set at a high level of expectation.  In this role, you depend on making the same numbers month by month to feed your family.  Now imagine you have a choice: put an hour into selling what you know and are comfortable with, or an hour on the “new stuff.” Which would you choose?

You have done the work and know more about the niche, product and application than the team does at the outset.  So what do you need to do to bridge the trust gap and get the orders flowing?

These five items will go a long way toward earning you some wins:

  1. White-hot value proposition.  You need to have done your homework so that when the sales team shows up with your value proposition, they win.  You’ve done the homework, built the whole solution and now it’s on you to make sure that when you get a shot to pitch, your team wins.  Have simple and compelling collateral –  beta tests, case studies dripping with benefits and great client recommendations, as well.
  2. Train the team by helping the right people win.  Every firm has its account managers and partners who thrive on being the early adopters.  Find them, accompany them in the field and help them win.  There is nothing that builds momentum more at the sales meeting than a revered account leader sharing how they blew away their quota with your help.  (corollary – do the absolute minimum amount of formal training at sales meetings because it doesn’t stick and really annoys the group).
  3. Keep the roll out tight – either by quantity or geography.  There are always glitches when you scale, and it can quickly zap your momentum if you can’t quickly address them.  I’m a big fan of time-bound checkpoints as you release the offering to more distribution.  If you set clear milestones for scale up, it helps your factory and back office team too.  It’s much better to have pent up demand than be dealing with field issues.
  4. You are running a new business – act like it.  You need to be better connected than the established businesses and simply out hustle them.  Good news needs to be spread quickly through all available tools and bad news needs to have immediate (as in: go get on the plane to fix it) response.  Let your close personal relationships know you’ll be burning the midnight oil and that you’ll be taking a nice trip once the ship is moving.
  5. Manage the whole stakeholder mix – including your team and the rest of the firm.  You will inevitably need the big dog P&L owner to help you at some point, so keep them up to date.  Let them know where you are having success, and give lots of credit to members of their team who are helping you out.
  6. Go and see. The last place you need to spend time right now is in your office.  You need to be in the field for the first few installs, side by side with new partners and sales teams when they are pitching, and at the product and trade shows in the region.  Strategic use of travel will allow you to make internal meetings hugely valuable, because you’ll bring fresh news from the front line – which is always the most interesting.

When it comes to account and channel resources, in many cases you are in a zero sum game.  What this means in plain English, is that time spent on your new product is time not spent on the other teams’ products.  If your product even hints of being hard to sell or problematic, it will not get the attention you are hoping for.  The truth is that water seeks the easiest path, and this resource will naturally optimize to meet their quotas.  If that mean sidelining your product or service, so be it.

By using the above tips, you’ll get momentum on your side.  There are lots of more subtle and hidden effects we could talk over.  If you’d like to have a chat, please reach out via email, give me a call at 847-651-1014, or click here to set up a no strings attached, 20-minute phone call.

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