When preparing a go-to-market framework for your B2B organization, there is much to consider. At a basic level, you need to understand market fit, market saturation, and your ideal customer profile. But successful B2B teams know that a solid strategy is often not enough.
While go-to-market (GTM) strategists take the time to uncover the playground of where fit overlaps with intent and engagement – we’re often ignoring a crucial obstacle to overcome… internal alignment and buy-in.
Experts regularly cite that 70% of change management initiatives fail because of a lack of management buy-in, combined with employee resistance.
Now that’s a stat that can’t be ignored.
Once you’ve determined who, what, and why, it’s time to get your internal team on board with the how. The guide below is designed to help B2B SaaS companies plan and adopt modern organizational change management frameworks that will help the execution of your strategy to go smoothly.
- What is Change Management?
- The B2B Go-to-Market Case for Change
- Go-to-Market Change Management Frameworks
- How to Improve Team Alignment
- How to Measure Team Alignment
- Shifting to a Go-to-Market Account-Based Experience Strategy
What is Change Management?
Before jumping into why you need to consider implementing a change management strategy alongside your go-to-market strategy, let’s dive into what we mean by change management and what that means in B2B organizations.
Organizational change management refers to a specific process or methodology a business adopts to help implement a significant change within its organization. The B2B GTM transformational process may include changes to internal processes, technology adoption, job roles, and reporting frameworks.
While go-to-market strategies put together a plan for how your team will achieve success while bringing your product to market, a change management strategy will ensure that your team members will properly execute your efforts and research.
The B2B Go-to-Market Case for Change
Change is necessary to successfully launch a product into a market, especially when moving up-market. What you’ve done in the past differs from what you need to do to grow in the future. This is especially true in today’s modern B2B landscape, where most SaaS organizations are still aligned with an outdated buyer’s journey and sales funnel.
Whether you’ve just started your GTM strategy planning or are digging into why your strategy is not working as predicted, you should take a step back to determine if you understand your market and the entire buying committee.
We’ve talked about this a lot lately, and it’s especially relevant when discussing change management and GTM strategy; the modern B2B buyer is changing significantly.
Your go-to-market strategy must reflect this modern journey – from channel selection to reporting metrics to the sales pipeline. When organizations struggle to assemble new strategies, they often try to cram new ideas into old frameworks (more on that later). This broken puzzle approach leads to constant corrections and makes teams feel like they’re getting nowhere. A team that is frustrated with lack of progress is a team that abandons your GTM strategy and falls back into old ways, leaving you wondering when you’ll start to see progress.
The core value of an account-based marketing approach to building a GTM strategy is to align data-driven insights to create personalized buying experiences for your ideal customer profile. ABM strategy helps you connect the dots between channels, metrics, and teams to develop a holistic approach that is replicable and scalable. But all this change, while good in the long run, is often subject to common ABM pitfalls, which cause a failure to launch effect when executed as a tactic instead of a strategy that affects how the organization functions.
Below we’ll discuss some of the critical considerations for building a change management framework for your team and how to approach and measure alignment – arguably the most challenging aspect of an ABM go-to-to-market strategy.
Go-to-Market Change Management Frameworks
As we discussed earlier, organizational change management aims to put together a game plan to help your team adjust to changes in process, technology, leadership, strategy, etc. These transformation frameworks are designed to be fluid, give you a framework to support, and can be instrumental in helping acclimate your team to these changes.
However, change management frameworks are not a one-size-fits-all approach. Change, as we’ve determined, takes work. But B2B organizations that can address and implement change effectively are the ones that will gain a competitive advantage in their market.
Traditional change management frameworks are a starting point for many GTM teams. These techniques can provide a template for what to consider when implementing a change.
These should be used as templates.
Organizational change management of the past is not a good fit for B2B SaaS organizations that need to move quickly and show results. The goal of this guide is to help you create a transformation plan that is tailored to the makeup of your go-to-market team.
Common change management frameworks to help build your B2B transformation plan:
- ADKAR Model: Developed by Prosci, the ADKAR model focuses on what changes an individual needs to make to enable organizational change. The acronym stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement.
- McKinsey 7 S’s: An old-school approach from the minds at McKinsey. This framework focuses on coordination to achieve effective change. The 7 S’s stand for Style, Skills, Systems, Structure, Staff, and Strategies, which lead to Shared Values.
- Kotter 8-Step Change Model: Based on observations from John Kotter, a business and management thought leader, this method looks at the common success factors of organizations that tried and successfully executed change. These success factors include Creating a Sense of Urgency, Building a Guiding Coalition, Forming a Strategic Vision, Enlisting a Volunteer Army, Enable Action by Removing Barriers, Generate Short-Term Wins, Sustain Acceleration, and Institute Change.
The commonality between the three change management methods I mentioned above stems from creating awareness of the problem and encouraging willful collaboration that creates shared value across business units. Two factors that are vital to aligning your team with your GTM strategy.
How can you start rolling out new GTM initiatives promptly and effectively?
Analyze your team and determine which learning styles work best for management, teams, and high-valued individual contributors. Once you’ve surveyed what your team needs most to be successful, align those needs with a traditional change management framework. Build off the model that feels best for your needs or combine a couple of ideas to create a custom model for rollout.
This personalized approach allows you to determine paths that will make your team’s uphill battle less challenging.
Regardless of the framework you determined is best, it is worth digging into some B2B account-based strategies to help kickstart your alignment and drive organization buy-in. The following section will explore the best ways to tackle alignment for B2B go-to-market teams.
How to Improve Team Alignment
You must achieve sales, marketing, and leadership alignment to succeed in your go-to-market strategy. Uniting these traditionally siloed business units is the greatest obstacle to overcome when trying to enact meaningful change in an organization.
Time and time again, research continues to back us up on this one.
- Sales and marketing alignment can lead to a 38% increase in win rates (Aberdeen Group).
- Companies with solid marketing and sales alignment have experienced up to a 20% annual growth rate (Aberdeen Group).
- Highly aligned sales and marketing teams are almost 3x more likely to exceed their target for net new logos (Gartner).
- Organizations with poor alignment across these business units experience an average revenue decline of 4% (Aberdeen Group).
The center of this misalignment is often created at the top. Sales and marketing leaders are, by function, focused on different results and operate in separate roles. Misalignment happens when leaders fail to collaborate on the revenue-generating efforts that ultimately help both teams reach and exceed their goals.
To help combat sales and marketing misalignment, we’ve laid out the top ways to address alignment throughout your change management process.
- Get management on board. To reduce team friction, CMOs and CSOs must share responsibility and accountability in creating meaningful transformation. Time and time again, we experience working with teams where the only initiative for change is coming from a marketing leader. Transformation is not a marketing battle; this is a necessary organizational change and requires all parties to be present and active at the table. Without buy-in from these leaders, marketing is left trying to fit a more comprehensive strategy into a dated lead-gen model.
- Build a unified GTM team. Go-to-market strategies often fall solely on marketing teams with some minor input from sales leadership. This uneven investment at the start of a planning strategy creates a power struggle within the team – often resulting in sales feeling like marketing is trying to change how they do things. Who are the key stakeholders within your teams? Bring them together to align on what they can see in their data and discuss what that means for the growth opportunities for the organization. Focus on messaging, measurement, strategy, technology, and enablement.
- Align on performance metrics. Aligning on which metrics truly drive revenue can have a significant impact on what success and alignment looks like in your team. This often means taking a hard look at what data you’ve collected in the past and determining pipeline influence from marketing through sales activities. With the shifts of the buying journey, this step often means ditching traditional KPIs and benchmarks for ones that reflect accurate pipeline movement.
- Agree on definitions. 62% of sales and marketing teams use a different description for a qualified lead. Without standardized definitions, sales and marketing will remain at odds when determining what was successful. This fuels the traditional siloed experiences and encourages teams to place blame on the other team when things are not going well. Break down your pipeline from lead to closed-won and collaborate to determine and document what each stage means for your organization.
- Establish roles and expectations. Document what each team is responsible for and what they’re expected to produce regarding the different pieces of the strategy and execution. Assuming someone will understand how to use a new piece of technology or provide regular feedback when they’re not used to this process results in unnecessary tension. Communicate what each team needs to succeed and ensure that both teams agree on tasks and participation.
- Empower, don’t mandate. No one likes being told what to do; I don’t need data to back me up on this one. Create an alignment strategy highlighting the benefits of each role and give them a say in how to execute and improve on the expectations set for them. Encourage conversations that allow team members to move outside those roles if it gets them more involved in the overall strategy.
- Create an open but structured feedback loop. It may sound oversimplified and rudimentary, but establishing a modern feedback loop across teams and especially leadership, is a great way to reinforce alignment throughout execution. Schedule regular cross-team check-ins (think GTM office hours) to discuss wins, what went wrong, and opportunities for improvement. Everyone has a seat at the GTM table, and by removing traditional siloed communications, you can create an open dialogue between team members.
- Communicate early and often. Research shows that, on average, only 15% of employees understand their leaders’ rationale for changing strategy. So do whatever it takes to build a solid foundation of knowledge for your newly aligned team without sugarcoating or setting unrealistic goals and timelines. Then keep the whole team in that feedback loop detailed above.
How to Measure Team Alignment
You’ve built your framework, and you’re ready to put it into place. As with any GTM strategy, especially ABM, you need to make sure that you create an environment that is consistently learning, reporting, and improving.
This boils down to looking at team alignment as a non-traditional metric for measuring overall team performance. If our team is aligned, we should see results in not only our pipeline growth, but through other qualitative metrics that examine the overall coordination and transparency of the business units.
Similarly, suppose we do not see success in our GTM strategy. This measurement template can help us pinpoint where the breakdown occurs and help B2B teams to quickly identify and address breaks in the execution.
Ways to measure team alignment:
- Pipeline progression. We already discussed how one of the core ways to realign a winning GTM team is by aligning on revenue-generating metrics. Look at your data. Can we show pipeline progression on target accounts that both sales and marketing are working? That’s a sign of alignment. The example below (Figure 1) shows how collaboration between sales and marketing led to positive pipeline movement for one of our clients. Bringing in deal maps for “wins” is a great way to demonstrate this alignment and inspire the team to continue to work together.
- Feedback loop effectiveness. How are these check-ins going? Benchmark from your initial engagement across teams to determine how comfortable they are with the strategy and each other. Are they asking the right questions? Do they have valuable insight that will improve overall performance? Have any of the original communication barriers been broken down? These questions can help you determine how aligned your GTM team is.
- Messaging check. Especially when it comes to ABM campaigns, it’s easy to determine how aligned a team is just by looking at the messaging coming from each business unit. An aligned team will have a unified messaging approach from the initial digital touchpoint to live a demo and beyond. Determining where the messaging starts to break down can help you identify which teams are not aligned and vice-versa.
These aren’t the only way to measure team alignment’s effectiveness, but they are an excellent place to start. Use these as part of your framework and agree upon who will manage and measure the benchmarks you’ve set across teams.
Measuring multiple benchmarks together will give you the best picture of how well your team is working toward alignment. To best manage this, we recommend having sales and marketing leadership sit down and assemble an Alignment Health Check report.
Examples of predictive metrics to measure:
- Journey Stage Progression
- Values and Metrics
- ABM Influenced Pipeline
- Shared Understanding
- Team Participation
- Technology Usage
- Messaging Alignment
- Managed Dependencies
Shifting to a GTM Account-Based Experience Strategy
It’s important to remember that while alignment is the goal, it is not a linear path. It is a continuous path to improvement.
As you build your go-to-market strategy and signs of alignment show across business units, you become more agile and adapt to new ways that add to your accomplishments. The progress of your sales and marketing team alignment lends itself to adjusting the focus to more effective go-to-market approaches, such as an account-based experience (ABX) strategy.
An account-based experience GTM strategy allows a team to transform into a customer-centric organization by expanding your alignment from sales and marketing to customer service teams. This reduces friction throughout the buying journey and improves customer loyalty in the long run, using data and insights across teams to improve personalization and engagement to your best-fit accounts.
ABX further ramps your GTM strategy by emphasizing the customer’s needs and creating trust, empathy, and relevancy at every buyer journey stage. It reflects the modern buyer journey, and businesses that have executed ABX strategy well have experienced 40% faster revenue growth, improved customer retention by 70% and lifetime value by 1.6x.
As more data becomes available and teams evolve, your GTM strategy will continue to grow. This is why it is vital to establish a working change management framework to help weather the ongoing change necessary to foster growth.
Revamp your 2023 Go-to-Market Strategy
B2B SaaS organizations are facing numerous hurdles in 2023; shifts in the modern buying journey, economic uncertainty, and reduced budgets and teams. All these factors create additional tension in teams that have been traditionally siloed.
To truly make an impact in your go-to-market strategy, it’s not enough to establish a good plan – winning teams must use this volatile time to create a change management framework that will enable their team to execute successfully.
Feeling overwhelmed by what’s needed to make an impact? RenderTribe’s consultants and strategists are here to provide additional support and personalized guidance as you build your GTM strategy and team. Reach out to our team of experts today and learn how an account-based marketing agency can influence and help orchestrate your go-to-market strategy.