164: Mastering Annual Planning: Frameworks for B2B Leaders

Episode 164 November 16, 2023 00:38:41
164: Mastering Annual Planning: Frameworks for B2B Leaders
B2B Revenue Acceleration
164: Mastering Annual Planning: Frameworks for B2B Leaders

Nov 16 2023 | 00:38:41

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Show Notes

Welcome to another episode of B2B Revenue Acceleration! 

 

Aurelien Mottier, Co-Founder and CEO of Operatix, is joined by Mark Walker, Founder at GTM Works, in a deep dive into the world of annual planning frameworks for B2B leaders.

 

In this episode, the key components of a successful business plan for 2024 are unveiled, along with fundamental elements that every B2B leader should consider. Mark sheds light on specific frameworks and methodologies businesses can leverage as a solid starting point for their 2024 Go-To-Market strategies.

 

Common pitfalls and challenges that businesses often face when executing their plans are discussed, along with strategies to overcome them. Mark shares invaluable insights into the role of historical performance in strategic planning and forecasting, emphasising the critical data and market insights B2B organisations should factor in.

 

Once the annual plan is in place, the real challenge begins – execution. The secrets to ensuring successful execution as sales leaders and business owners are unravelled. And, of course, the communication aspect – how can business leaders effectively convey the annual business plan and GTM strategy to key stakeholders, teams, and employees?

 

Metrics matter! Mark walks listeners through the key metrics and KPIs that businesses should diligently track to evaluate the success of their GTM strategy and business plan. Plus, the burning question – how often should businesses review and adapt their strategies in response to changing market conditions?

 

Tune in to this episode for a masterclass in annual planning frameworks for B2B leaders. Mark Walker shares his expertise, and by the end, listeners will be armed with the insights they need to propel their businesses forward in 2024. Subscribe now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube and any of your other favourite streaming platforms!

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: You're listening to B Two B revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executives stay on the cutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. [00:00:11] Speaker B: Hi, welcome to B Two B revenue acceleration. My name is Orania Matier and I'm here today with Mark Walker, founder of GTM Walks. How are you doing today, Mark? [00:00:21] Speaker C: I'm great, thanks, Ray. How are you? [00:00:23] Speaker B: Yeah, not bad, not bad. I had a newborn two weeks ago, so I'm extremely tired, but I'm trying to look good on the surface. If I fall asleep for nap now, it won't happen. I'm sure the chat will be exceptional. We just need to make sure we keep it a bit. [00:00:38] Speaker C: Okay, I'll do that. That's my promise. [00:00:41] Speaker B: So today we'll be talking about annual planning frameworks for B two B leaders, which I think is coming at the right time because lots of our colleagues in B two B are planning for their fiscal year. Planning is interesting this year because I think 2023 was soft for most of the people that we know. So it's going to be interesting to see what people have in term of how aggressively they will invest in 2025 in growth again. But before we get started, Mark, would you mind introducing yourself and the company you represent? GTM works. [00:01:14] Speaker C: Yeah, of course. So GTM Works is a niche consultancy which helps SaaS leaders to scale their businesses and we're really focused on helping them build a scalable, repeatable and predictable go to market engine. I'm actually wearing a second hat at the moment, so I've just recently partnered up with a co founder to start building out a product in the AI sales space. Still in stealth, but watch this space should be some exciting things ahead there. And my background is very much as a revenue leader. I've been a chief revenue officer and chief operating officer on the commercial side in a couple of really successful scale ups in the past. [00:01:57] Speaker B: Good AI is very exciting. So you're almost going to get me to derail from the conversation. I'm obsessed with AI at the moment and all the tools that we can use. I'm introducing a fair few tools to the team myself, but incredible the gain of productivity that you can gain from AI. So maybe we can take that offline and have that conversation. So at GTMS, you've got some frameworks, you work with lots of different SaaS leaders. Could you briefly explain to our audience the key components from your perspective of a successful business plan for 2004? And is there any fundamental elements that you think need to be included in that plan? [00:02:40] Speaker C: Yeah, absolutely. So I've been operating as a leader in the go to market and B, two B SaaS space for 15 years now. But last year in particular, and over the last twelve months, I've spoken to over 100 different leaders to ask them about their strategic planning process, what's worked, what hasn't. So what I'm going to talk about is off the back of both operational experience, but also doing a huge amount of research into the space as well. I think from a simple perspective, a good strategic plan needs to have four components. Three are essential. One of those is often missing and I'll get onto that in a second. So from the four fundamentals, the first piece is you really have to know what are you trying to achieve, right. And there's three areas within that which we'll dive into a bit deeper, I'm sure, but they are what are your financial or growth goals, what are your strategic goals and then what are your operational goals? I do want to dive into that a little bit more, but that's the what. What are we trying to achieve over the next twelve months? The second piece is the why. How did we arrive at these goals and why are they important to the business? What will it mean for us if we achieve them? And that's really critical to winning the buy in from the rest of the business, right. That's the rationale and the logic behind the what was then the how. Now that doesn't mean every nitty gritty bit of detail, but you've got to have the broad framework for what are the key focus areas that we believe will lead to the outcomes that we're trying to achieve. Then the fourth one, which is typically missing from almost every strategic plan that I see, is a don't do list or a no list. So these are the explicit areas that we won't be exploring for the next twelve months, despite them potentially being interesting for the business and having commit in the strategic planning cycle. So those for me are the four core components of a good strategic plan. [00:04:36] Speaker B: Okay, very interesting. Well, let's dig into the detail as well because I've been taking some notes here, but I like the why in fight is a Vietnam is missing a lot. Why do we need to grow by 30%? What does that mean? What does that mean for the. And then I think the why is interesting because you can almost use the why as to what it means for each function. What does it mean for me in sales? What does it mean for me in marketing? What does it mean for me in a leadership position, someone with other things. What does it mean for me from a product perspective? Okay. Because that could almost link the growth to culture. That's pretty interesting, I think. So something I would want to explore later, but without further ado, I'd love you to dig down a little bit into the what first and then just. I think the why makes sense, but it'd be good to get some example of where you've seen the why wrong and the why being getting people going. But let's start with the what. If you could just go through a little bit more detail on that, that would be great. [00:05:40] Speaker C: Yeah, sure. So one of the things that I've kind of uncovered, let's say, or observed over the last twelve months in particular, but I've seen it in businesses where I was operating prior to this is I'm not a big fan of OKRs. I'm just going to get it out there. I know people love OKRs as a strategic spoken to people where it works very well, but I would say the large majority of people that I speak to really struggle with them. Right. They actually almost cause as much harm as they do good. And one of the main reasons that that happens is the way. Well, there's a couple of different reasons. One is that people get obsessed with the minutiae of OKRS as a methodology, instead of just looking at what they're attempting to do, which is provide a clear understanding of what's important to the business and what's not important to the business. Right. But actually people go off piece and debate the specific terminologies of OKR frameworks. The second more important kind of reason that I've seen from a practical perspective that they don't often work, is they usually set up to be three or four or five, sometimes cross functional strategic goals for the business. However, they usually miss out what I'd call BAU, the day to day important goals of the business. And so what happens is you run into a new strategic planning cycle or a new cycle and everyone gets torn between, well, should I be focusing on the OKRs or actually, is my day to day in the BAU more important? And so what happens is it actually kind of causes confusion amongst the teams. And yeah, I've got some amazing choice quotes from many conversations around why people don't live OKRs. So what that I've come up with is just a simpler version of achieving what OKRs should achieve, right? And those three components of what are our financial and growth goals covers off a huge amount of where the go to market team is going to be focused. The second piece around what is our strategic goal will typically encompass the design, product and engineering functions who are going to be building that strategic differentiation over the next twelve months. And then the third piece, which is operational efficiency, that will generally form a large part of what finance, HR and those other support functions are working on. And so what you end up is with a cohesive set of clear goals that span all the business they encompass. BAU, but they help you reach new heights as a business over those twelve months. So it's a simplified way of getting to what OKRs are trying to achieve without running off into the complexities of trying to implement OKRs. [00:08:44] Speaker B: Yeah, that makes perfect sEnse. And I think OKRs are interesting because they make sense for some functions sometimes, but they don't make sense for all functions. And it's like trying to push a square peg in a round hole. For example, you're giving finance OKRs, maybe a little bit strange, giving OKRs to product, marketing, sales, customer success could be a little bit more of value because they can actually influence the number. You've got people that can actually influence things. Finance can influence your analysis and give you things, but they will need the doers in the business to actually go and change things. And that's very interesting. Now, in term of the strategic goals, can you give us some example of what you would see from a SaaS vendor of what would be a good strategic goal? I mean, would you have people saying we want to get acquired or we want to raise a Cereb, or we want to go IPO in two years from now? Is that a strategic goal and does that drive people? Or have you seen some strategic goals that are super smart? Because that's the one that for me is probably the Morgan links to culture and the why in a way. And I want to go into the why in a sec. Because normally you go to an organization, I mean, I'm saying normally it's not normal. We try to get away from that. And you want to chase the light at the end of the tunnel versus chasing number in an Excel spreadsheet. [00:10:10] Speaker C: Right. [00:10:11] Speaker B: But I do believe that plan in term of growth and running a culture of growth that is purely solely based on making more money and growing the revenue and growing the profitability is good up to a certain point. And when you get over 100, 200 employees, you need to find some other way to motivate people to actually get to work. And it's about achieving a greater stuff or being remembered in history. If you go very far down the spectrum. But yeah, in term of strategic goals, what are some do and don'ts, I guess, that you could share with us? [00:10:44] Speaker C: Yeah, sure. So I like to link the strategic goal to something that's going to develop significant competitive differentiation for that business in the market. And that's why often it encompasses the product design and engineering teams in particular, because it's about launching something new or buttressing your capabilities in a way that creates a moat and your competitors can't catch up with you. I think some of the strategic goals that you're talking about are completely valid, right? Trying to be acquired, trying to reach your next funding round. Those types of things are, they're very clearly strategic goals, but as you said, they don't necessarily motivate people in the way that you're talking about, and they're almost too abstract from most of the company. So it's absolutely fine to have that as an overarching kind of leadership goal and make people aware of it. But if you want people coming in every day to feel attached to the outcome in a motivated way, then I find from the strategic goals perspective, building something that gives you competitive differentiation tends to be more exciting from a staff and employer point of view. And absolutely, you want your mission and vision. So if we achieve this, we will be moving so much closer to our mission and our vision of achieving this for our clients. That's kind of the way to explain the why. That should hopefully get great product managers, great engineers, really excited about why they're working on this code base. [00:12:19] Speaker B: Yeah, I agree with you. It's almost that sort of, and I like the thing that you mentioned about creating something unique in the marketplace, because that's really motivating, I believe, for the people in the team. You want to be unique, you want to be different, you want to be at the forefront. We spoke about the rationale behind all those goals. So the why, that's also, I guess, probably linked to the strategic goal and what we just went through. Do you have some great example of why that you've seen in the market thing that have really inspired the team or people are really going and all gun blazing? I'd like to touch on that because I think this is such an important part of go to market strategy, because it's a little bit like defining the culture in a company or defining our values. I'm going to spend the weekend putting four values on paper that really matters to me, and I'm going to go on Monday and speak to Duanol and say guys, that's our value from now on, right? [00:13:15] Speaker C: Yeah. Thank you, everyone. [00:13:16] Speaker B: See you later. Let's go and make sure we respect those values. I think sometimes you've got that with go to market. I often speak to clients who come to use our services, and when I speak to them about that go to market, they are not in agreement with it fully. They may be at 80%, they may be at 90%, but you feel a bit of Nah. And that's probably because the why was not there. [00:13:39] Speaker C: Yeah. So, to give you a couple of good examples, I've been fortunate enough to work in a couple of organizations that I think have really nailed the kind of mission and vision, and that's cascaded into the why. So I was previously at Eventbrite, and I think they had a really strong culture and a really strong understanding of what they were trying to do in the market. And remember, this was nearly ten years ago now, so there's a lot more event tech platforms that have sprung up. But at the time, Eventbrite was relatively new, and they were fighting the good fight against some massive incumbents who essentially monopolized the market. And Eventbrite's why was to democratize the ability to create and sell events easily for very small event producers. And that was something that they simply couldn't do very easily. It was kind of like setting up payments before strike was trying to run an event online before Eventbrite, and a lot of people in Eventbrite were passionate about events, and they could see and knew themselves the challenge of trying to create and publish and sell events online. It was really, really hard before Eventbrite that pervaded everything that the company did. So that's one great example of why. And then I was fortunate to go on to another organization straight after, called attest and attest were, again, really passionate about how they could disrupt very old and stayed market research industry by bringing a fresh technological approach to rapid insights that would get those insights into the hands of people in organizations that could do things with them at the speed they needed to make those decisions. And again, we brought in a lot of people that had worked within market research in older incumbent organizations, and they'd seen the challenges with that, were very passionate about changing it. So that's two great examples of the why. Cascading through the organization and permeating everything that we did. [00:15:38] Speaker B: That's brilliant. [00:15:39] Speaker C: Thank you. [00:15:41] Speaker B: In term of the notes, you mentioned, the thing that you don't want to do, almost like the non negotiable, the thing that we won't do next year. Why is that important? Because, I guess, is it because the company may have projects and you want to be careful? Is it setting up, as I said, the non negotiable you mentioned when you spoke about it? My first question, it's more like kind of the area in which we won't go. I would like to get some example of that as well, because I think it's slightly different in the term of normally, you speak about what you would do in a go to market plan, not speak about what you won't do. So it'd be good for you to explain to us why you came up with that. Why do you think it's important to have the know what we won't do and how you've seen it working successfully in practice? [00:16:23] Speaker C: Yeah, absolutely. So why it's important is that as you're scaling and growing as a business, you actually become the victim of your own success, which is typically you end up with more resources, more headcount, more opportunities that start to be brought to your door, and they can be incredibly distracting. Right. It's very, very easy to say yes to this nascent opportunity. Chase that shiny object, and suddenly you're going after three, four, five different opportunities, which ultimately spreads the resources too thin, and you start to lose momentum across all those fronts. So the ability to say no to things is incredibly important. And a very famous but well worn example is from Steve Jobs. When he went back to Apple, they had dozens and dozens of different product lines and options, and he culled almost all of them down to just two or three core products. And that was really the start of Apple being the apple that they are today. Another really great example is from Mark Brandolf, who is actually the original CEO at Netflix. And he calls it the Canada Principle. I love this. There's a blog and a podcast around it, and he talks about how when he was leading Netflix, people would come to him all the time and say, hey, Netflix should be in Canada. Why are you not in Canada? It's a largely English speaking country. It's very similar currency, very similar culture. It's just across the know. It'd be so easy to do this. And then he'd remind people that, well, actually, the laws that govern Canada are quite different. You've actually got a very large area in Quebec which speak French, and so we'd have to cater to them, otherwise we'd have some cultural issues. And he runs through this list of all the reasons that on paper, it seemed like a great opportunity. But when you dig into it, it would have been a huge distraction, and they also had a huge market still to try and break within the US. So the Canada principle is a really good example of where saying no has led to greater success than saying yes. A final reason to have the no list is it gives your team a confidence and a permission to say no to things. Right. In a startup, everyone's ambitious. People want to please. Typically they want to say yes, they want to get ahead. And so what happens is you do say yes a lot. And unless you've been given that explicit permission in the company strategy that this is not an area we're going to work in, it's almost like a death by a thousand cuts. People say yes, yes, do all these small things, and again, suddenly your momentum's been stalled by just the sheer vastness of things that you're trying to achieve. [00:19:04] Speaker B: Absolutely, yeah, I get it now. Thanks for that, Mark. So all that is done. So you've got your plan. We now talk about the execution. What are the main pitfall and challenges of executing on plans that you see? Is there like any common trends? I've got a couple on top of my mind, but a few trends that you would see that would come as an order in executing the plan. Because once you put the plan, if you really bring the right function together and everybody's agreed to it, you've got your why right. You've got your no right. You'll have everybody buzing, like literally, people are jumping up and down, say, come on, come on, come the 1 January. Come on, let's go. New fiscal year. Are we ready? They're all in the starting block and everything. What can kill that? What can stop it and how do you overcome it? [00:19:57] Speaker C: Sure. So there's a number of things. One, again is distractions. Right. How often have you seen other founders and CEOs be very excited? They've brought out the strategic plan, and literally days or weeks into the new cycle, new things crop up and it starts to distract the teams and you've got to debate these new areas and it takes a ton of headspace out from the leadership team. So hopefully the no list is a good way of helping resolve some of that. It doesn't resolve all of it. There's another thing that I'll talk about in just a second that also helps to track that. Again, assuming you've got the strategic plan right, then this shouldn't happen. But sometimes there is a strategic plan and a BoU plan and they conflict. So people don't know whether to be focused on these strategic priorities or whether they should be focused on their business as usual activities. Now hopefully, if you get it right, they don't conflict. But I've seen that often start to unravel the strategic plan because Bau ultimately takes precedence and that's where people have the muscle memory. A third way that I've seen things go wrong is the team isn't fully bought into it and they don't believe in the ability to execute it. So a really important way to resolve that is through the strategic planning cycle, and I can dive into that a little bit more and how to execute the actual planning cycle if you'd like. But one key component of that is to loop in everyone within the business to make sure they have a chance to feedback and understand it and feel a part of building the plan. And therefore when it comes out, they feel a lot more bought into its achievability. And also they feel like they're part owners of that plan. So that really helps drive the execution forward as well. But I would say probably the biggest thing that I see missing is the way that businesses don't reinforce strategic plans through their day to day and weekly meetings cadences, right. And it becomes a document and the CEO rolls it out. You do the big kickoff and maybe it's just the go to market plan. You have your sales kickoff, some nice presentations, and then everyone goes back to their day to day role. Right. And so what's really, really important is in your one to ones in your team meetings, in any of those cadences that you can reinforce what the strategy is that you take that opportunity to bed it into the business and so it almost becomes culture as well. And there's three things that I found help when you're having those meetings. So the first is to clarify what is it that someone is working on and why is it aligned to those strategic goals or some of those strategic goals. Right. So you've got to clarify, what is it that people are working on that support the goals? You've then got to drive accountability. So when you catch backup with them, have they actually executed against those activities to a high standard? And then you've got a third component, which is insights. So if they've completed it to a high standard, has it achieved what they thought it was going to achieve in moving the business forward towards those goals? If yes, if not, then why not? What can we learn from this? Do we need to course correct and that really simple cadence of what are we working on and why? And is it aligned? Has it been achieved and to a high standard. And what have we learned from it? It's a really tight way to consistently reinforce what's important to the business and make sure it's flowing through all of your execution. And then just one final thought on that, which is, and I don't really see many businesses doing this either, but it's well worth keeping a track of when your team are kind of logging what they're doing, what are they trying to achieve each week, each month? How many of those are actually aligned to the strategic and how many are not? And it's okay for some not to be, right? You don't have to be super rigid, but it should be more often than not that the majority of their work aligns to that strategic plan. And if you start to see that too much activity and too many of their goals and day to day activities are not aligned, you need to raise that Amber flag and say, why is everyone working on this different thing that isn't aligned to our strategic goals? [00:24:25] Speaker B: Absolutely. It's funny because we had exactly that issue. I think we got lots of things happening this year. An acquisition was a big one, a big distraction, and now we've got the integration, which is also a distraction. It's okay, it's fun, look, it's brilliant. Everybody's really motivated. But you set goals at the beginning of the year, and I'm doing some review. I've got a review next week with one of the leader in our team. I literally was asking him yesterday because we're in the office, remind me, what were your care? What were you supposed to do? Can you send me something? So I just want to make sure I'm prepared because I don't want to go into the meetings not knowing, and I kind of know what you are working on now, but I want to know what you've done. And I lost track a little bit. And you've got this function and we lost tracks, and then we've got some other function we're really staying on top of. And the one that we are really staying on top of are probably the function that are well represented at the board, where every month we've got an update. And we were doing it from a board perspective. We will be doing from an Olens perspective moving forward to next year. We call it the North Star Matrix. So the North Star metrics is kind of our why and is what we're trying to achieve. But it's kind of a why and what because it's the why. But then what success would mean to achieve that why for next year. And then there is a little bit of what's needed for you guys. Okay, so for example, I don't know, we've got a big culture of promoting from within. So let's say I'm addressing 500 people in our team. I would say, okay, if we grow by 20%, we should have 600 people in the team, right? We should have whatever it may be. And when we have 600 people in the team, we'll need ten more managers, we will need three more salespeople. We have all those promotion from willing that will happen. And here are the function. We want to push next year and we want to do this and that. And our why is to create jobs. Our way is to develop people as the way of the business and the two businesses together. So memorable and operatics is to create job and develop people. So we want to make sure we push that with the team. But I think having almost having posters in the office of this is our North Star. Keep track of that. It's like sailing and having a map in front of you. Because you're right, it's easy to get distracted. And I want to get onto market condition in a moment because I think to a certain point, you also need to maneuver sometimes and you've got to do things that were not part of the plan. So I want to speak about what happened when it doesn't go according to plan. [00:26:51] Speaker C: And you've got to review your GTM. [00:26:54] Speaker B: But I do 100% agree with you and I think you need to be visible. And I think when you've got all ends or when you've got leadership session or when you've got board meeting, the first slide should always be a summary until people are sick of it, right? Yeah, but people know. [00:27:09] Speaker C: Exactly. [00:27:09] Speaker B: And we just repeat and repeat and repeat about what we are all being all accountable for now, speaking about the market condition. So again, we do all those things properly that something happens outside of our control. Right? COVID-19 Tough. I was listening to a podcast from the CEO of Airbnb speaking about what happened to them. Like they lost 80% of their business literally in a month. [00:27:34] Speaker C: So you have to change. [00:27:35] Speaker B: And they were about to go IPO as well. So you had to take a massive. That was their North Star. That was their why. I think one of them top of building something amazing. But in the planning, let's start with the planning before. How do you take Uturn when you. [00:27:50] Speaker C: Are actually doing it? [00:27:50] Speaker B: But in the planning right now, lots of organizations have not done their number for this year. [00:27:56] Speaker C: Right. [00:27:56] Speaker B: Let's face it, we speak with partners, we speak to clients, we work with clients, even ourselves, we've not grew as much as we wanted to grow. We technically stagnated in term of revenue, so we grow a little bit. But for us, 10% of growth is stagnation. But we've seen a lot of people losing 30, 40% of how difficult it is. And how do you manage the mindset when you are almost kind of planning your go to market in some sort of a crisis? Maybe that's extreme, but in a downturn or in an economy that is not. We win, we win, we win. [00:28:34] Speaker C: Yeah, it's an amazing question and it's really tough to set it in a crisis and or respond when there's market turmoil that you may not have anticipated. And it's come out the blue like COVID-19 so I think there's a couple of things, right. The first is every strategic plan, to an extent, no matter how well you go through the planning process and try to gather data and understanding, is to an extent a strategic bet, right? You cannot know the future. You are guessing and then working towards that future. So the first thing is you've got to really track those leading KPIs, right? So you need to have some kind of growth model that says, we want to get here. In order to do that, these things need to be true. And then often there's two or three layers even below that, right? So there's kind of these really low level activity type inputs that lead up to leading indicators, that go to lagging indicators and so on. So it's really important you stay on top of those. And clearly the vast majority of SaaS businesses are really focused on being data driven. They invest heavily in their Rev ops functions to try and track those leading KPIs. And you've just got to track and calibrate those, honestly, on a weekly basis. One week is not a disaster. Two, you've got to start looking at, okay, is this a pattern? And three or four, you are starting to see a pattern and then you might be able to say, well, look, we thought if we did, X, y would happen a month in or six weeks in, it's not happening. And that's where you can then dive in at a really granular level to start to understand more about why do we believe that that's not now happening? Where have we lost that correlation? Is it the quality hasn't been there in the execution. Maybe it hasn't been done on time, maybe everything's been done perfectly. But markets have shifted, and that no longer works in a way that it did in previous years. So the first place to start is look at those leading indicators, track them very, very closely, and then consistently have a discussion about what do we believe this means and why do we believe they're in that state. The second piece is the bigger crisis. Right. So that's something that, the first piece is just, we set our goals and actually we might have got them a little bit recent. The second piece is, oh, there's a major crisis. What do we need to do now? And that's where you have to be really quickly responsive as a leadership team, you gather as much information as you possibly can around what we believe these market conditions will lead to. And you've got to rapidly go back through your strategic planning process. So you've got to look at, well, we wanted to get here. We're here at the moment. This is the Delta. Based on the data we hAve, let's run a SWOT analysis. So what are our strengths in terms of getting there? What are our weaknesses? What other opportunities might this crisis prevent? What threats do we have? Okay, now let's dig into this. How are we going to buttress our weaknesses? And often that comes from a series of looking at operational weaknesses. So how can we improve our operational efficiency and then from the threats and opportunities? Okay, do we need to pivot our roadmap? Do we need to think about a different way to create competitive differentiation? And remember, within all crisis, there's often opportunities as well for those who are fast enough to respond. [00:32:00] Speaker B: Yeah, and that makes perfect sense. Thanks for that. Anyway, if no downturn, everything is fine. Right. The economy will come back, Mark, we're going to be all up here again. [00:32:09] Speaker C: People will be throwing money. [00:32:11] Speaker B: It's going to be great. I sound like Donald Trump when I say that it's going to be great. The question that I've got for you is when do you assess your go to marketing plan anyway? Because there is two things that you've got to be, and I think that's what you've got to be careful. So I've been falling in the trap myself where you set a go to market and you're right, a quarter can sound like ten years of your life. Right? So you've got a quarter, and then at the end of the quarter you've got some new things and the market is doing steps. So you may want to review almost every three months. And you could review, I guess you can't do that. I'm pretty sure you can't do that. I think for your go to market, you've got to have period of time. So there is a question of time frame to review and then there's a question of how much of a uturn you can take, which of course can be influenced by outside events. But if you don't have any outside events, how often would you fully review your go to market plan? Would you do it every quarter, every six months, every year? Every year and a half? Every two years. Being told that Japanese are planning for five years, for example. SO they probably have a go to market for five years and they plan for that. And I appreciate that. SAaS is different, so you may have different stages of accounts. So company coming off stealth may have to do a bit more nimble, agile. A CRB, an IPO or a Big 1 may be different. But let's say for a mid sized organization doing well, how often would you go back to the paper and say, hey, we need to review what we are doing, we need to go and find another why, we need to find another how are we going to deliver on our why, et cetera, et cetera? [00:33:50] Speaker C: Yeah, it's a great question. If we take a mid size organization in SaaS, I would say it's probably right to review your strategic go to market plan every six months. It doesn't mean you're going to change it significantly. And again, it really depends how big is the tanker? You're going to have to shift around. Right. The bigger the tanker, probably the more elongated you need to be in terms of reviewing that strategic plan. So for others, it may make sense to be annual, but the world does change at such an unbelievably rapid pace. And I think with the economy in the way it is, I think with some of the political and economic turmoil that's clearly still out there, and then with the advent of AI and the number, the sheer number, disruptive companies, I think are going to pop up across every industry. It's going to make sense to, I would suggest, a light touch review at least every quarter. Right. Do your QBR look at those leading indicators? Are they as healthy as we thought they would be? Do they align with the growth plan that we put out there? And if not, why not? Maybe we need to make some tweaks and adjustments more in the execution than the strategy, but every six months it's worthwhile doing a pretty good deep dive and looking at those key assumptions. Right? Is our ICP still our ICP? Do we still have competitive differentiation in this market? Is this product that was selling really well, still selling really well, or have we eroded to our competition? Those are the kinds of questions you'd want to ask, I would say every six months, because if the answer is, oh, it looks like this isn't working, or we do need to shift our ICP, or we do need to retrench. In this market, that can take three months to actually then go and implement, which doesn't give you a huge amount of time. If you're only doing it once a year, you might have missed the beat by six months and then you're really far behind. So I think as a general rule of thumb, every six months works not for every business, but that's probably a good baseline to start with. [00:36:01] Speaker B: Well, thanks for all that. Lots of great insight. I took a few notes. Very interesting. We are in the midst of doing it right, so I'm going to steal some of your concept, Mark, I hope you won't mind. [00:36:12] Speaker C: I'd be delighted if you do. [00:36:14] Speaker B: Yeah. And then let you know, I may send you what our go to market plan looks like so you can have a feel for it. I think it's a good way to reframe it. And what I think is interesting for us and what I'm trying to do this year, which is a slightly different flavor, it's almost to have a go to market for the company and then have a good to market their function. Right. So I've been saying to people, say, all right, you are in the people and culture team, so talent development team. Right. This is our go to market. What is your responsibility to take us to the North Star? How are you going to help us to get there? I want to go to finance and say, how are you going to help us to go to the North Star and have to sort of almost like think about it as a triangle full of little triangles. You want to make sure that we all go in the same direction. But I think it's so important, and as the way you mentioned it a few times, we spoke about it, about making sure that everybody is in it, everybody understand the why? Because I think if we do it that way in term of doing the strategy with all the leader, but then work with the team and to the individual, everybody's got almost like a scorecard. It may sound a little bit rough to have a score count, so we probably will have to create a better name. But how successful are you as an individual to have the company to achieve their GTM? Right. Yeah, that's my vision for this year. It's going to be very interesting because now we've got two companies getting together, so it's much more people. It's much more people that I don't know, I've not worked with in the past. I'm sure I'm going to find some challenges, but I really would like to achieve that. So that's going to be my closing comment. I want to thank you so much, Mark, for all the insight that you share with us today. Now if anyone would like to speak to you to carry on the conversation, because they've got question about that, go to market or they want to get more information or they may want to work with GTM works and get your services to support them in putting their plan in place. What's the best way to get hold of you? [00:38:03] Speaker C: Sure, two ways. LinkedIn so Mark Walker, GTM works. Pop that in there should come up or feel free to email me. [email protected] Happy to reply and get in touch with anyone that's interested in learning more about strategic planning or general really putting in place, more effective go to market leads. [00:38:23] Speaker B: It was a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much, Mark. [00:38:25] Speaker C: Thank you, Ray. Great to be here. [00:38:28] Speaker A: You've been listening to B Two B revenue acceleration. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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