You build a great product and what’s next?

By Suresh Madhuvarsu

Many founders, product managers and product marketing managers say, “we built a great product and now it’s all about sales”. But historical information shows that many products struggle to gain traction from users for several reasons such as users are not defined, product is not useful, users find the product not usable, pricing is too high or sales can’t find the right users. If launching a product and winning the hearts of the users is so hard, how can the go to market teams increase the chance of success?

Go to market (GTM) is the way for a company to bring a product or a solution to the market. It is a mix of strategic and tactical sequence of steps that determines product success in the market. GTM includes defining the business plan, opportunity definition, target audience, marketing plan, pricing and sales strategy. To put it simply, every team responsible for GTM and launching products should be ready with the below checklist. 

  • Identify and define the right customer segments with personas and their problems.
  • Define the user pain points and map the feature value.
  • Define and document the buyer journey – understand the buyers, users, influencers.
  • Define the right value or your product relative to your competition. 
  • Align the value created to the customer with the right pricing strategy.
  • How to create awareness, interest and bring customers and users to play with the product? Is it a marketing heavy or sales heavy? Why?
  • Pick a sales strategy for the specific customer segment – inside sales, field sales, self-service or partner models
  • Do customers already know that they have a specific problem? Or do you need to educate the customer segment about their problems?

Based on the size of the organization, maturity and industry, several individuals are responsible for go to market strategy such as founders, product managers, product marketing managers and others. Whoever may be responsible for go to market strategy, they need to make sure all the teams – internal and external stakeholders have the same understanding. So, once you define and describe the above checklist, the team should focus on a 5 step process to get ready for product launch. 

Step 1: Analyze your GTM Strategy

While there may be a person or a team responsible for devising a GTM strategy, successful companies take inputs from multiple cross functional teams such as Product Development, Product Management, Customer Success, Sales, Marketing. Formulating GTM strategy is a thorough exercise and time consuming process and never done a week before the product launch. Be data oriented when defining the GTM strategy – anecdotal evidence is not enough to devise a strategy. 

Step 2: Create GTM Documents

Different parts of the organization may need different facts on the Opportunity, Market Potential, Competitor analysis and ultimately the launch material. Documents like Persona, Competitive Analysis, Launch Plan, Positioning and Solution Briefs are important documents to demonstrate the right amount of market and customer understanding internally. 

Step 3: Share and review documents with right stakeholders

Oftentimes the right set of inputs comes from the teams that are taking the product to the market. This means, all involved in this process should have a clear understanding of what is being messaged to customers. All stakeholders must get a chance to review the documents, add in their comments and provide their feedback. 

Step 4: Approve/Finalize documents and distribute

Once the GTM owning team receives the feedback from the stakeholders, it is important to have a collaborative process to understand the feedback before finalizing the documents. Traditionally, we have seen the documents going around in the emails or messaging apps and not knowing which is the latest version. Thus, it is important to find a single source of truth where documents are finalized, or revision controlled. 

Step 5: Continuous Updates

GTM evolves over time and this means the teams need to be prepared to have continuous improvements on the GTM strategy and then document them for the rest of the organization, most importantly for the customers. 

We realize that every company is unique and GTM means different things to different people. In the early stages of your company or product launch, we highly recommend that your organization has a baseline on what GTM means for each of the executive team. This helps to navigate the product launch process and increase the frustrations along the way, most importantly, increase the chance of your product success.