Our Perspective Matters: From GoToMarket to GoToCustomer – by Tamara Schenk

As a sales enablement practitioner, you are often faced with GoToMarket discussions. Sometimes, they amuse me…sometimes, they confuse me…

You often find several senior executives in the same organization who claim the company’s GoToMarket responsibility. That’s the amusing part of the story. But regardless of the fact that “GoToMarket“ seems to be everybody’s responsibility, confusing for me is, when people talk about “people buy from people,“ customer-centricity and how value-oriented their approach would be…I then normally respond, “Your customer-centricity sounds great, but maybe I didn’t get you right, would you please explain to me what you mean by GoToMarket approach?”

A simple question, but you get all kind of information from products, regions, markets, fancy innovations, selling approaches, branding and so forth. What’s missing is a clear design point!

Let’s have a look at Lawrence G. Friedman’s work:
“The success of every go-to-market decision you make, indeed your ability to make smart go-to-market decisions at all, depends on how well you understand your customers. Their specific needs must shape and define your products and services.”
Let’s rephrase it: If the purpose of a GoToMarket strategy is to understand customer needs, to create customer experience and so forth, then let’s ask ourselves: Why don’t we call it what it should be? A GoToCustomer strategy?

Let’s have a look when GoToMarket approaches were invented and where they come from. They were invented last century, originally in the consumer industry. Let’s look at their main characteristics: Do you remember the old four P’s? Product, Place, Promotion, Price. What do all these four have in common? They are vendor-centric, not customer-centric, they are inside-out.

The world has changed. Our customers have changed – fundamentally. The transformation from to the conceptual age, where meaning is everything, is happening right now. The entire foundation changed.

GoToMarket models are not useless! But we have to be pretty clear about their real purpose. GoToMarket models are about an organization’s unique capabilities, services and products. They are designed to solve generic customer challenges in different markets. A GoToMarket view is a macro view, focused on how to define, standardize and package services and products for different markets to meet generic customer needs. Macro messages are created for a broad audience to address their generic challenges. Your GoToMarket approach creates a framework, a generic view for the value an organization can create in different markets to their customers.

But let’s not mistake a GoToMarket model for any kind of selling approach! This is what happens too often…Unfortunately!

I truly believe that we need a GoToCustomer approach: GoToCustomer means to change the perspective – to work backwards from the customer, to work outside-in. We build on the corner stones of the GoToMarket model, but we need to translate the macro messages into a GoToCustomer perspective, into micro messages. It means to translate the old marketing 4P’s from what a product IS and DOES, to what it MEANS for the customer’s desired outcomes, along the customer’s journey.

First phase of value creation is to get the foot into the door:
Focus on a specific customer problem or challenge, a certain buyer role is responsible for and has to solve it. This is your homework. Then, challenge the way this customer is currently thinking about the problem. Communicate value by sharing insights; success stories how to master the problem from a different perspective to achieve their desired outcome.

Second phase of value creation is to establish an agreement network:
Identify all impacted stakeholder roles and their different challenges, needs and how they measure success. Share value by addressing these different roles with tailored value messages regarding their problem solving process and from their point of view.

Third phase of value creation is to build a shared vision of success:
Based on the different stakeholders’ view points and the desired outcomes, a shared vision of success has to be built – and most important, step-by-step approaches how to get there. Especially in complex selling situations, the translation between technology and business is mission critical and all the impacted stakeholder need to develop trust in a certain approach.

Fourth phase of value creation is to prove what it MEANS in terms of a business case:
Prove that the value makes sense in terms of a business case. Help your customers to sell the project internally, to build a story how the phased approach will produce the desired outcome in a joint, collaborative approach.

Let’s use GoToMarket approaches for their specific purpose and let’s create GoToCustomer approaches along the customer’s journey to define the specific way we want to create value with and for our customers.

It’s our perspective, which makes all the difference.


Tamara Schenk serves as VP of Sales Enablement for T-Systems International GmbH, a Germany based ICT service provider. She is a highly experienced sales enablement executive, a well known thought leader, speaker and a passionate writer – have a look at her blog Sales Enablement Perspectives.

Tamara’s special focus is to bridge between business strategy and execution, to connect the dots between portfolio-oriented GoToMarket models and more seller- and buyer-relevant GoToCustomer frameworks. Her sales enablement vision is a strategic and collaborative approach covering the entire selling system, designed backwards from the customer, with a special focus on the people within the system to drive the transformation to the intangible economy.

Her mission is to change views from inside-out to outside-in, to change mind sets from “I have to sell a product“ to “I love to solve customer problems“ based on a stable, effective and social selling system, in order to create more value for customers as a foundation to drive a vendor’s business strategy.

More on Tamara’s professional experience: LinkedIn.
Follow Tamara: Twitter.


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