The Essential Go-to-Market Plan for Startups

According to Fortune, it’s estimated that 100,000 technology startups develop a business idea that has attracted angel investors (including friends and family members) but fewer than 10% (about 4,000) can secure a first round of institutional capital.

Even with customers, revenue and product potential, to reach the next milestone you’ll need to demonstrate an ability to acquire new customers at a predictable rate with a sustainable revenue stream to reinvest in product development and build a team.

Unfortunately, many tech startups get stuck at this stage because they can’t quite figure out a scalable way to go to market. Often, this is because they’ve been founded by technologists, and sales is not an area of expertise. Or perhaps it’s because the only person who is passionate enough to sell the product is the person who developed it. Or people may believe their invention is good enough to sell itself. So sales doesn’t become a focus of attention until cash starts to burn.

Typically, you’re acquiring customers through outbound tactics but this doesn’t scale. Most startups don’t invest in their marketing infrastructure and can’t reach their next investment hurdle.

What do you invest in and how much is necessary at this early stage?

Step 1: IDENTIFY Goals

Your goals are to Invest in foundational research, processes and technology that will ensure your startup meets its revenue targets and has the ability to scale quickly. They include:

  1. Developing a go-to-market plan that will provide clear directives for sales and marketing teams.

  2. Identifying tactics that will support customer acquisition goals.

  3. Building an inbound lead gen engine that will build awareness (educate the buyer) and increase sales velocity (shorten the sales cycle). 

  4. Building a technical foundation that will automate and measure the buying process for revenue predictability.

STEP 2: SET YOUR Objectives

Based on the assumptions of current demand, you can reverse engineer the numbers to determine the lead volume required. Here’s an example:

  • Acquire 90 customers/month through Q1’19

  • Average ARR $24,375K

  • $2,193,750 revenue / $24,375 revenue per order or closed deal = 90 converting leads

  • 2 month average sales velocity (16 customers acquired over 9 months)

Industry average conversion rates indicate the need for lead volume which requires awareness. Current outbound tactics with targeted lists convert at the same rate but at a lower velocity because of low awareness. Objective = employ both inbound and outbound tactics to increase velocity and pipeline revenue potential.

Industry average conversion rates indicate the need for lead volume which requires awareness. Current outbound tactics with targeted lists convert at the same rate but at a lower velocity because of low awareness. Objective = employ both inbound and outbound tactics to increase velocity and pipeline revenue potential.

3. IDENTIFY THE Development Areas

There are 5 areas that require development for any organization whether it’s starting out or a mature enterprise. This will never change. The difference here is that you get to establish a foundation that will scale quickly because you’re working from the ground floor up.

MO functions.png
  1. Customer Insights: know who the buyer is and resonate with a brand that they can identify with and advocate for.

    • Branding (brand which includes emotional corporate image, identity which includes the visual aspects that support the brand and logo which represents the business in its simplest form via icon)

    • Competitive analysis SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)

    • ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)

    • Buyer personas + messaging

  2. Messaging + Content Strategy: create content to attract the right buyers and deliver content at each stage of the buying process to increase sales velocity.

    • Map content to support the buying cycle

    • Create a content/editorial calendar to support the blog and social channel promotion

    • Develop key offers for lead gen to support the buying process for TOFU (top of funnel) and MOFU (Middle of Funnel) 

  3. Engagement Tactics: invest in marketing and sales channels that are most likely to close.
    • Optimize current website for branding, messaging and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)

    • Create a blog for organic search ranking potential

    • Organic search program (keyword research, on page website optimization, blog configuration) 

    • Add a chat bot to the website for lead engagement + qualification 

    • Explore opportunities for press to build awareness

    • Plan/budget for paid advertising in search and LinkedIn

    • Identify events for 2019 participation + booth branding (limited)

    • Develop a basic customer referral program

  4. Technology: automate the marketing and sales process so the team can focus on content creation and sales interactions.
    • Marketing Automation

    • CRM

    • SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

    • Analytics

    • Event Management

    • ABM (Account Based Marketing)

    • Data Intelligence

  5. Data Sourcing + Reporting: identify metrics that provide insights into what’s working and what’s not.
    • Inbound Lead Gen Performance Metrics

    • Pipeline Metrics

    • Quarterly Review

    • Forecasting (as needed)

Once you’ve taken these steps, you can begin to identify the deliverables and timeline needed along with resource allocation. Here’s an example":

go-to-market-deliverables.png

Figuring out an approach for going to market is one of the toughest things for a startup to do. But without understanding what the necessary elements are, it’s almost impossible to get right.