Market-leading CEOs know that the secret to flawless GTM execution is solid leadership across the commercial functions. However, when the bottom line does not reflect the team's effort and capabilities, they don't call into question their qualifications or abilities. Instead, the time has come to look at the plan and evaluate if it is even relevant anymore.
In today's economic conditions, a dynamic revenue plan has become a necessity as businesses navigate through the COVID-spurred recession. While SBI has published countless blogs, tools, and research over the years to help CEOs construct an agile GTM strategy, building an annual plan in this environment is unequivocally challenging. This article will explore best practices to not only execute your strategy but also how to keep it adaptable and relevant to market demands.
SBI has created the Dynamic Revenue Planning Tool that incorporates agile best practices to help the organization think beyond just "annual planning" to make the number this year.
Identify What Poor Strategic Planning Looks Like
For many companies, the beginning of 2020 started out promising. Coming down from a motivating SKO, reflecting the previous year's earnings and projections for the rest of the year, and diving headfirst into execution for the first quarter was going seamlessly—the end of this Q1 story has soon become redundant.
One event managed to impact every commercial function, from declining customer satisfaction and pipeline to the insurmountable increase in CAC. Even under normal circumstances, these factors could be detrimental to the year's productivity.
Usually, executive teams build out their GTM strategy with little input from all functions, including marketing, finance, or product, and are shelved until further notice. There is little margin for error and does not account for big "what if" events that could devastate the economy.
This type of poor planning spends much of the time focusing on simply the awareness of offerings instead of strategically reinforcing the brand position and optimizing and protecting market share among competitors. Now more than ever, the GTM plan needs to be well executed in order to reduce costs and maximize profitability.
Failing to address the following only ensures your GTM strategy collects dust up on the shelf:
- Targeting the wrong audience based on price points
- Failing to distinguish the brand from new competition
- Not prioritizing the best markets by size, profitability, or competition
- Failure to seek out and understand customer feedback and insights
- Inconsistent customer experience through different buying channels
CEOs are laser-focused on not just making a number but evaluating every scenario in how that will be achieved, whether it be on pure profit, margins, EBITDA, or a combination of others. Every decision made throughout the year contributes to what is reflected in the bottom line. Expenses, budgets, investment in an acquisition, investment in R&D on a new product, opening a new office, and extending into a new market are big decisions with potentially large (and costly) impacts and must be considered strategically.
These decisions ultimately should not all rest on the shoulders of the CEO. Market leaders know that the most effective strategy requires input from the cross-functional organization. This ensures that leadership understands and owns its stake in the plan and are expected to deliver desired results. With more involvement from these functions, when environments change, they are not dependent on actions or inactions, and the GTM strategy can pivot based on challenges without disrupting other teams.
The question remains, what can a CEO do to ensure that a strategic plan is put into place, and it's agile enough to respond to the market and corporate environmental changes?
Discipline and Data Are the Keys to Success
On January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs announced the release of the first iPhone at the Macworld convention. On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone was released to the public. Since then, we have seen this one phone evolve and ultimately redefine how we think about using a mobile device. Apple's offerings have shifted dramatically since the inception of the first iPhone with over 20 versions in 13 years. Because Apple has listened to the market, watched the competition, and analyzed data, they have been able to establish incredible brand loyalty. All of these elements were critical to Apple's ongoing GTM strategy:
- Listen to the Market: Use data to identify trends, buying behaviors, and decipher what customers and prospects are saying and how to delight them. Determine how to segment customers and target prospects and identify any gaps. Additionally, use this information internally to collect feedback from sales and marketing organizations.
- Watch the Competition: It may be cliché to mention the idiom, "keep an eye on the competition," but it is critical for an agile GTM strategy. Market-leading CEOs recognize how their competition responds to the execution of their plan in order to control their position in the market and respond accordingly, whether it'd be adjusting pricing or gaining or losing market share.
- Analyze the Metrics that Matter: Having clarity on everything from CAC to sales cycle length and the impact on the forecast allows the GTM plan to adjust as needed and, more importantly, stay relevant.
When acquiring, reviewing, and responding to data, the cadence will be critical to its success. Visiting this information on a consistent basis will allow CEOs to address any red flags and evolve the strategy as needed. Additionally, identify any "wins" that should be analyzed to determine how to monetize at scale.
Building a Plan to Withstand the Test of Time
Just like with any well-constructed building, the structure allows for constriction and expansion for years, decades, or even centuries to come. Why shouldn't an annual plan have the same flexibility? Ultimately when it comes to creating a world-class GTM annual planning strategy, CEOs need to adhere to 3 simple steps:
2020 was anything but predictable, and 2021 gives CEOs the opportunity for a reset. To help start the year off strong, SBI has created the Dynamic Planning Tool to establish a clear path forward and assign ownership across the commercial function.
Over the last several months, SBI has created several resources for CEOs as they rethink their GTM strategy for 2021 and beyond. For more information, explore our insights here or reach out to us, and an expert will get back to you within 24-hours.