blog post

4 Industry Experts Admit the Top Avoidable Mistakes on the Path to GTM Efficiency

Madhu Puranik
Madhu Puranik
December 15, 2023
8 min read

All SaaS firms need a robust monetization strategy to turn their products into revenue-generating machines. However, when we got in touch with a few ecosystem experts, we were reminded that building such a monetization strategy is complicated. And here, I am specifically referring to go-to-market (GTM) strategy. 

A good GTM strategy lays the foundation for how a firm engages customers and convinces them to buy your offering.

Building a sound GTM strategy isn’t rocket science. Yet, if your GTM launch is failing. Either you are building the wrong things or need to seriously work on your GTM efficiency. 

We spoke to 4 ecosystem experts who have mastered the GTM game by learning from their mistakes. They shared some unique insights that got us thinking. 

We relied on the experiences shared by these experts.  

Let’s dive deeper into this. 

Challenges Faced on the Path to GTM Success

  • Onboarding Issues
    Most SaaS platforms have a lot of in-product learning and need specific technical knowledge. In such cases, a poorly designed onboarding process can lead to churn, lost revenue, and damaged reputation, thereby pulling down the GTM efficiency.
    In fact, poor onboarding is among the top 3 leading causes of churn.
    Julia Draghici, the co-founder and CEO of CPV Lab, shares that the multitude of configurations makes it tough to create a seamless experience for users.
    She further emphasizes prioritizing a well-designed onboarding process by using SaaS onboarding tools to boost user proficiency and reduce churn.
  • Poor Data Quality
    Failure to address a bad data situation has far-reaching implications for GTM success. A recent study from Harvard Business Review found that 63% of marketers agree that data and analytics are influential on their B2B activities. 55% of the respondents ranked it as the top priority when it comes to achieving GTM success.
    In fact, Nida Mohsin, VP, Growth and Marketing at Clearout, shares that poor data quality is a huge challenge for her team.
    Poor data often leads to inaccurate assumptions. And since GTM goals are targeted towards boosting revenue, data dysfunction proves costly.
  • Procuring Unicorn Talent
    Spotting unicorn talent that perfectly fits with amazingly relevant work experience, is every firm's dream come true. However, hiring statistics reveal that 63% of recruiters find a lack of talent a huge challenge.
    Achieving GTM success hugely relies on talent that's brimming with applicable skills and with a quest for knowledge that positively impacts the company's vision. Many GTM operations are unique and peculiar, making it critical to find the right talent that's more than 'one size fits all.'
    Julia shares her concern about finding talent that has a customer success mindset.
    Chirayu Akotiya, the Global Head of Marketing at Leena.ai, shares that the excitement of growing fast is high, but matching this speed of growth with hiring and getting them to warm up is tough.
    GTM success needs skill sets that are specific and diverse. Moreover, digital transformation has made it imperative to attract high-performing individuals. Unicorn talent has a big role in taking a firm's GTM efficiency to the next level. However, firms need to find effective ways to spot and nurture them.
  • Budget Crunch
    Often, during challenging times, CEOs and boards look to scale down their GTM efforts, looking at sales to provide the 'air cover.' This often leaves the marketing in a defensive stance. This negatively impacts the GTM outcomes.
    Anna Kocsis, the Founder at Ungate, shares how budget crunch has a huge influence that hits GTM success hard.
    The budget crunch has been a big hurdle for firms striving to achieve GTM efficiency.
    • Raising money from traditional investors isn't easy. This puts pressure on the amount of funding available for new businesses.
    • The economic downturn has further made it tough for SaaS firms to find customers willing to pay.
    • Companies have reduced their ad budget during the uncertainty period.

    Anna shares that the best way to manage such a situation is to implement Agile Scrum.

Common Mistakes in the Path to SaaS GTM Efficiency

Successfully planning and implementing a go-to-market strategy is clearly important for a project. The Product Marketing Alliance 2022 State of Go-to-Market Report throws light on the mission-critical nature of a structured GTM strategy. Companies focusing on executing a well-defined launch strategy have a 10% higher success rate and 3X higher median revenue growth rate than those who didn’t. 

Yet, businesses notoriously suck at implementing a sound GTM strategy. 

We spoke to our SaaS experts about the top mistakes they committed when aiming to achieve GTM success. Here are their confessions and how they worked around them. 

  1. Not Ensuring Marketing and Sales Alignment Early
    Both sales and marketing are customer-facing functions directly impacting GTM efficiency. It not only increases the pipeline but also boosts pipeline velocity.
    In today's era, data overlap across these customer-facing teams is huge. Plus, we see a constant rise in new data sources. Here, misalignment can lead to operational risks associated with siloed data and negative business outcomes.
    Chirayu admits that such misalignment weakens the team's capacity and readiness to handle the growing sales pipeline.
    He recollects how their product was garnering an abundance of interest. But they weren't fully prepared to cater to that level of influx.
    Misalignment is the prime reason your -
    • The sales team isn't getting results from MQLs
    • The marketing team is unable to prove ROI for their efforts
    • Teams are operating in siloed workflows
    • The GTM strategy is out of sync
    • Sales cycles are long and complex

    Thus, the cost of sales and marketing misalignment slows the organization down and wastes the budget.
  2. Having a Complex Onboarding for Your SaaS
    An effective SaaS onboarding is more than merely guiding users through the platform. Businesses need to orchestrate the buyer journey while addressing customer needs at all levels.
    A sound onboarding process,
    • Articulates product value
    • Hooks new users to this value
    • Allows them to create habits around that value

    Most successful SaaS firms aim for a time to value (TTV) of 5 minutes. Once the user signs up for the platform, the onboarding process should be smooth enough to help them realize the value within this timeframe.
    In short, the value realization moment or the 'aha moment' should arrive quickly.
    In SaaS, once you have convinced your customer to sign up for a demo or free trial, you have little time to show value before they churn. Customers do not want to spend a lot of time or effort learning about the platform or setting it up unless they see value.
    Plus, according to Julia, SaaS platforms need to factor in the amount of integrations and configurations they need to work around.
    Nida from Clearout confesses that during the initial weeks, her team missed this aspect.
    A few onboarding strategies Nida spoke to us about were -
    • Offering ongoing training, not merely commencing with the onboarding process.
    • Personalizing the process to build client-specific solutions.
    • Emphasizing (and re-emphasizing) the value your product brings to the table.
    • Maintaining a strong presence on various channels.
    • Tracking onboarding success.
    • Reviewing and adjusting onboarding strategies as per the evolving customer needs.
  3. Lack of Communication
    The marketing team drives revenue by generating high-quality leads that the sales team can convert. The customer success team drives revenue by guiding the existing customers in using the product.
    Besides, the product, technology, C-suite, and other teams contribute in some way to drive customer acquisition/ retention and revenue.
    Failing to draw a connection between your GTM teams can be fatal to the reason why these teams are ganging up - achieving GTM success. Right from getting buy-in for the product to aligning them to the GTM goals, communication is central to GTM efficiency.
    Julia admits that poor communication was the prime reason their product struggled in the early weeks. However, they quickly adopted corrective measures that boosted customer satisfaction and fostered a sense of community around their SaaS platform.
    The responsibility of building a robust GTM strategy involves every department. Clear communication combines the efforts of these teams into one cohesive strategy, allowing the organization to effectively attract new customers while retaining existing ones.
  1. Not Keeping the User in Mind
    In the SaaS world, we often see seasoned founders and growth consultants casually throw terms like sales-led, marketing-led, or product-led that are confusing to grasp. Firms are often in a dilemma to determine what's best for GTM success.
    In the early years, startups need to pick one path. After speaking to our experts, we realized the safest bet to set your firm on the path to achieving GTM efficiency is to be user-centric.
    Anna points out that user-centricity is critical to understanding the user's needs and challenges. Their feedback is a compass that guides product development, campaigns, and overall business strategy.
    Anna shares that user-centricity has helped them achieve customer satisfaction, retention, and positive word-of-mouth. All these have helped the Ungate team to achieve sustained growth in the competitive SaaS landscape.
    Your product, marketing, sales, and customer success teams can deliver much more if the business goals and journey mapping are based on what adds the most value to the customer at each stage.
    Nida re-emphasizes how keeping customers at the center of our marketing strategies of critical to GTM success.
    Ultimately, GTM success boils down to creating amazing user experiences that eventually loop back to building a user-centric product. Build processes that put your customers at the forefront.
    However, Anna Kocsis reminds us to push back when needed. Feedback is good, but marketers must avoid acting on all ideas and build all of them into the GTM strategy.
  2. Keeping Content for Later
    Without a doubt, inbound leads are easier to convert versus outbound leads. The cost of acquiring them is low, too. That's because inbound leads are educated enough on their problem and how the product will help them.
    Therefore, sharing content that generates inbound interest early is critical.
    Julia shares that most firms keep content for the later stage. Even if they share content, it's haphazard. They fail to have a clear strategy, often leading to inconsistent messaging that confuses the audience.
    A targeted content marketing strategy that involves sharing content through blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, and social campaigns is critical to engage potential customers and build brand awareness. Start early!
  3. Not Creating a Clear Product Value Proposition
    Sharing a clear product value proposition is central to converting prospects into paying customers. It is what differentiates your product from the competition and makes demand and lead generation effortless.
    So, failing to have a clear product value proposition in place can make it tough for your GTM teams to attract and retain customers. This puts a toll on your efficiency and revenue outcomes.
    Nida shares how businesses aren't clear about what product value proposition is. Most often, their value proposition is misaligned due to unspecific language around features or over-technical or salesy phrasing. She suggests that businesses should first invest their time and effort into crafting a strong value proposition - a reason to believe.
    Chirayu shares that navigating GTM efficiency is a multifaceted challenge. Hence, it needs a holistic approach. At Leena.ai, he has been at the forefront of aligning marketing strategies with company goals to clearly set across a clear value proposition.
    Your value proposition should communicate how the SaaS product addresses customer pain points and stands out from competitors. Failing to articulate a fitting value proposition can result in confused prospects and lost revenue opportunities.

Way Forward - Advice from Our Experts 

    • Knowing your audience is the first, and probably the most important, step of an efficient GTM motion. You want to get into the mind space of your target audience. What keeps them up at night? What solutions are they searching for? That's how your product will emerge as an answer to their questions.
      There is no GTM without having this information at your fingertips.

    • - Chirayu Akotiya
    • Concentrate on a super-specific niche initially and aim to offer a solid solution for it. Give your full attention to that tiny niche to turn them into your supporters. You can gradually broaden your focus.

    • - Julia Draghici
    • Launch quickly, experiment often, and fail fast. By launching early and learning continuously, you will reduce the chance of business-ending failure. It's better to have smaller hiccups sooner than to spend too much time, money, and effort on something that will fail big.

    • - Anna Kocsis
    • Prioritize understanding the needs and problems of your users. GTM journey is a continuous process of learning, adapting, and growing. Stay committed to your audience and never hesitate to iterate and refine your strategies as you progress.

    • - Nida Mohsin
    • Do not underestimate the value great content can bring to your GTM strategy. If I were to start a new business today, I'd begin with content creation and maintaining consistent communication with customers.

    • - Julia Draghici
    • Experiment and iterate often. Feedback is crucial in getting things right and continuously optimizing funnels. Be sure to run frequent - and well-monitored - experiments and improve your GTM efforts with the learnings.

    • - Anna Kocsis
    • Automation is central to driving GTM efficiency. We have leveraged it for research automation to arm our sales development representatives (SDRs) with powerful insights into customer pain points before making initial discovery calls.
      Relying on automation has significantly improved the efficiency and relevance of our outreach efforts.

    • - Chirayu Akotiya
    • Leverage data to inform your decisions and strategy. Data cannot fail you, provided you pay attention to data quality and use it effectively to draw insights.

    • - Nida Mohsin
    • Bring in early adopters by offering lifetime packages. This will not only bring in immediate cash but also build a long-term partnership, provided you stay connected with them closely.

    • - Julia Draghici

Those were the confessions and learnings of our experts on their GTM journey. We hope you benefitted from these conversations and will use these learnings to improve your firm’s GTM efficiency. 

We would like to thank our experts for sharing valuable insights on achieving GTM efficiency. These learnings will surely help us evaluate our GTM strategy when launching a new product or moving into a new market.

For more such expert-led content, visit our revenue-led blog or LinkedIn page

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