People.ai

Requiring great foresight and preparation, a go-to-market strategy helps establish a company’s foundation. From seamlessly integrating sales, marketing and operations to coaching effectively to leveraging the power of AI, here’s how to set a tone and generate organizational norms that will potentially buoy your team for years — or perhaps forever.

Every company does its best to ensure long-term sustainability, which begins in practice with a great go-to-market strategy. This step establishes a foundation that the entire organization can build upon, including the sales teams, who ultimately hold the keys to company success. 

So “futureproofing” your go-to-market strategy is a must, and People.ai is here to help. We recently produced a webinar, “Futureproof Your Go-To-Market Strategy: What Sellers Need to Stay Ahead,” moderated by Justin Shriber, CMO at People.ai. 

The conversation featured three guest sales experts and generated a series of action items that emergent leaders will want to adopt if they wish to secure long-term company sustainability, via desired sales outcomes. Here are just three of them:

Integrate Sales, Marketing, and Operations

Clay Blanchard, VP of Sales Operations at Collibra, observed that every organization experiences some tension between sales and marketing teams. 

“Increasingly though, I’ve observed a convergence happening,” Blanchard said. “The companies that have the strongest go-to-market efforts are figuring out ways to integrate these functions in a more seamless way, not just sales and marketing, but customer success as well.”

Dysfunction between these parties tends to begin with misaligned goals and discrepancies in what each group is measuring, he observed. Coverage models can be problematic, Blanchard said, with sales teams “oriented against the market opportunity in one way, and then your marketing resources may be mapped in a completely different way.”

His advice? Start a dialogue. 

Leaders across departments should surface where the misalignments are and create constructive ways to bring the teams together. This can be achieved, Blanchard said, through the refined use of common language, metrics, forums, and routines. 

It may take a while for all team members across departments to get comfortable with these developments. However, with patience, due diligence, a team-first approach, and positive energy, lasting norms that everyone is on board with will be formulated.

Coach Effectively

“If there are any levers that a manager can pull to drive productivity, coaching is probably one of the most powerful,” Shriber surmised. In support, Christine Gilroy, VP of Sales at Splunk, cued a video of NBA head coach Steve Kerr interacting with superstar player Steph Curry during a game.

In this particular contest, Curry wasn’t scoring much, but Kerr showed him other stats that proved he was contributing to his team in other ways, and urged him to carry on with his play. The clip served as a metaphor for sales leaders looking into rep data and analytics, not just for areas of improvement, but their strengths. 

Sales leaders focusing solely on areas of improvement can be “demotivating” for team members, Gilroy said. Leaders who are new to coaching must not to confuse the practice with “constructive feedback.”

“We’re here to inspire first,” Gilroy said. The feedback that can help them reach their goals comes later.

Leveraging their strengths will help team members become the best versions of themselves, Gilroy added. Leaders should also avoid merely giving sales reps the answer to their problems, and instead guide them toward more favorable outcomes through “showing” rather than “telling.” 

Integrate the Power of AI

Jill Brown, VP of Sales, West at People.ai, has a history of AI integration in her leadership roles, and when Blanchard expressed “skeptical energy” toward the technology, she appreciated his wariness of it. However, she perceives the power of AI a little differently than Blanchard does. 

He believes AI could compromise relationship-building. In response, Brown compared the technology to the dashboard of a car. It may tell drivers when gas tanks or tire pressure is low, and alert them when other cars are approaching blinds spots, but the driver is still the one in control of the wheel.

AI is simply an information tool. It helps Brown enter one-on-one conversations with reps with facts and insights that help her draw conclusions. With certain data, she can see how they’re performing against leading indicators, for example, and help her locate flags in the sales funnel.

“Then I have a conversation with the team around What’s the development plan?” Brown said. 

Perhaps she’ll discover a messaging problem and then partner with enablement to come up with new coaching approaches to help the team member more effectively interact with a certain type of persona. 

This path toward sales success started with AI, but ended with the building of more sound relationships — both in-house and with potential partners.

“But I do think it’s important to democratize the data,” Brown added, advising organizations to “create a culture and process around it, so that it empowers each individual to come in and make their own decision.”
To learn more about the steps your company can take to futureproof its go-to-market strategy, watch the entire webinar on demand.