Moving From ‘Go-To-Market’ to ‘Go-To-Customer’

April 25, 2012 by Vanessa 

Just substituting the word ‘customer’ for the word ‘marketing’ could seem to be a superficial move, but in fact it is a fundamental change in strategy as was highlighted at the Forrester Technology Sales Enablement Forum 2012.  Remember ‘One To One’ marketing?  The idea of GTC isn’t new – Don Peppers and Martha Rogers coined their term in their 1995 book, The One to One Future.

What’s different now is that we have a less siloed perspective — ‘a selling system’– not just sales or marketing or training.  Our analytics are better and of course our customers are creating demand for this change to help them deal with business uncertainly, improve profits and to reduce risk.

The shift to Go-To-Customer (GTC) including the change to an ‘outside-in’ view changes the perception from a market segment to an individual company, and potentially to a specific role.  With this solid understanding of the customer, companies are able to create more relevant offerings, marketing and selling models to meet the needs of the customer. But how do you make these changes in a difficult and extremely unpredictable business environment?

Consider these imperatives:

-
Customer Knowledge: Change is constant, the rate unprecedented and it takes longer than you think to understand your customer. And the process has to be on-going with built in continuous improvement.

- Business Strategy Integration:
To be effective, this deep customer insight and the resulting business strategy has to be to be integrated within your overall organization.

-
Value Creation: Customers ONLY care about the value you bring to them. They REALLY do not care about your products. They want to know: how do you and your offerings create a better business advantage for them?  This will be your competitive advantage.

Customer  Knowledge: Change is constant, the rate unprecedented and it takes a long time to understand your customer.  And the process is on-going.
Ellen Daly, Managing Director, Technology Industry Client Group, Forrester, cites an IBM study, which says that in 5 years 80% of global CEO’s expect the world to change in unprecedented ways – these CEO’s expect the world to be ‘structurally different in all aspects from financial systems to centers of world power’.  Thus it is very hard to predict AND keep up with the pace of change.  They, interestingly, are most ‘freaked out’ (Ellen’s phrase) by their customers.  Their customer is not as brand loyal, is digitally native and 86% of the time sources their buying information from someplace other than the salesperson!

Given the new level of change and complexity, it is helpful to frame the issue with the new 4 P’s from Scott Santucci, Principal Analyst and Research Director, Forrester: Problem, Pattern, Path and Proof.  You may remember that the old 4 P’s are Product, Place, Price and Promotion.  Here
they are mapped to a more customer-centric view.

  1. Product Problem: the business need as expressed by the customer
  2. Place – Pattern: common ways that customers solve these problems
  3. Price – Path : best practice path for solving their complex problems
  4. PromotionProof: given the expanded number of people involved in the buying decision, help the customer to internally sell the recommended solution.

Business Strategy Integration: To be effective, this deep customer understanding and the resulting business strategy has to be to be integrated within your overall organization.
This includes your offerings, tiering, compensation, partnerships, acquisitions, selling models, etc.  Essentially this is ‘running sales enablement as a business within a business’ to quote Scott, Carol Sustala, Senior Director, Global Sales Force Enablement, Symantec and Daniel West, VP, Education and Enablement, Informatica.  What value do you bring to your customer, and how is that value generated by each employee – how is each motivated and incented to think and then behave in ways that support the business value for your customer? And how is this value provided even as your customer’s world (and yours!) is changing at an unprecedented rate?

Value Creation: Customers ONLY care about the value you bring to them.  They REALLY do not care about your products. They want to know: how do you and your offerings create a better business advantage for them?  This will be your competitive advantage.
How do you provide value despite this unpredictable change and churn?  Ellen and Scott say: ‘inject a little customer DNA in your organization’.   Not surprisingly, it takes time, recognition of the issue, focus and a push from the top. 

Mitch Little, VP Worldwide Sales and Applications, brought the 3 imperatives: customer knowledge, business strategy integration and value creation, to life at Microchip Technology.  At the Forum he shared how the competitive threat posed by Google search impacted his rapidly commoditized business.  He realized he needed to really understand his customer and budgeted a month for this project.

Turned out to be 18 months!  This is not a knock against Mitch, but more the realization that knowing your customer isn’t a short term proposition.  Mitch was able to maintain the focus across many quarters and reap excellent results – not everyone is that skilled!

Armed with their new knowledge, Microchip aligned their tiering model, sales engagement and market strategy for each customer/customer segment with the new business strategies. In order to make this a reality, Microchip determined HOW their customers:

  • Made decisions, and the processes they used
  • Wanted their services delivered

Most customers wanted self-service. Microchip built them a ‘seamless’ website to quickly buy what they wanted, when they needed it.  This self-service model freed up resources for those who required a more hand-on approach.

Microchip was then able to deliver the knowledge and insight from across their company – their added value – to these customers tailored specifically to them.  Microchip’s success was measured by the value they brought to their customer, as well in the increase in profitable sales, particularly during the downturn!

Customer focus as demonstrated by Microchip – the ‘outside-in’ view across the organization – is a significant change and requires executive level management to stay the course over the long term.  This brings up two critical aspects to consider as you build your Go-To-Customer strategy within your company:

  1. ‘Understanding the customer’ is an ongoingprocess – how do you make it sustainable over many quarters?
  2. How does your company stay nimble enough to respond, and proactive to provide the right value in this tumultuous economic environment?

Your value isn’t about sharing information your products; your prospects already know this.  Your value is based upon the knowledge and insight developed of having done 100’s of installations, 1,000’s of deployments across many industries and/or engaging with luminaries in the field.  If this knowledge is able to be instilled in the conversation your sales people have with their prospects built upon a foundation of how their business operates, it will be clear how your company can help them succeed in creating a better business advantage.

I don’t know THE answer; it will be different for every company depending on the industry, offerings and customers.  But whatever the change, it needs to be institutionalized within the overall company in order to have a lasting effect on the long term profitability of the company.

Summing up, Mitch Little quotes General Eric Shinseki, Retired Chief of Staff, U.S. Army:

If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less.’

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Comments

3 Responses to “Moving From ‘Go-To-Market’ to ‘Go-To-Customer’”

  1. http://tinyurl.com/supekenny38343 on February 6th, 2013 5:26 pm

    You really put together a lot of good tips in your article, “Moving From ‘Go-To-Market’ to
    ‘Go-To-Customer’ | Partners in Productivity”.
    I am going to remain coming to your web page before long.
    Many thanks ,Sylvia

  2. Vanessa on April 10th, 2013 9:49 am

    Sylvia, Sorry about the delay in my response was having technical difficulties…thanks appreciate your comments, and hope my posts were/are helpful in your business…

  3. Vanessa on June 18th, 2013 5:54 am

    Hi Tanesa, Thanks for your thoughts….any sales enablement stories you would like to share?

    Best, Vanessa

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