What is a surefire way to stall or reverse growth? A stale GTM plan. Outdated planning combined with great execution can yield poor results. Agile planning and great execution yield optimal outcomes.

As a CEO, you know that solid execution is critical to success. That is why you built a strong leadership team and entrusted them to execute. But what happens when your bottom line isn’t reflecting what you would expect? Do you question your leader’s execution plan? Do you question your leader’s abilities? Are you starting to question your own leadership abilities? Before you go to extremes, ask yourself this question, “Is our GTM Plan still relevant?”


SBI has shared many articles about how to build good agile plans. This article specifically discusses how CEO’s are to build a strategic annual plan. However, it’s one thing to build a plan, the other is to execute against a relevant plan.


Download the LTV:CAC Tool to increase the likelihood of making your number this year. This tool provides you with an objective view into markets, segments, verticals, etc. for the best ROI. Use the tool and watch your productivity per sales head increase.


What Does Poor Strategic Planning Look Like?


It’s six months before the next fiscal year and you are ahead of schedule. Your leadership team has agreed to a corporate strategy. You, your team and the board have agreed to next year’s numbers. It’s all coming together. Your product believes that the current GTM plan just needs some tweaks. You agree. All is good.


Fast forward to the beginning of Q3 and sales are declining. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time low. Pipelines are a fraction of what they used to be. Customer Acquisition Costs are rising. Lifetime Values are declining.  The Board wants answers and a plan. Your leaders are running around putting out fires. Your staff is panicked. Sound familiar? You are not alone.


What Happened?


  • GTM strategies cannot be built and put on a shelf
  • GTM strategies cannot be “tweaked” and put back on a shelf
  • GTM strategies require input from all functions in your organization: sales, marketing, branding, finance, product, etc.


Poor planning can have devasting effects on your business. A GTM strategy focuses on awareness of your offerings, whether product or service. It reinforces your brand position and looks to optimize and protect your market share with competitors. A well-executed strategy reduces costs and maximizes profitability.


How Stale Plans Can Lead to Poor Results


Do any of these sound familiar? These are real examples of companies that executed against an outdated GTM strategy:


  • Targeting the wrong audience based on price points
  • Not differentiating yourself from new competition
  • Not prioritizing your best markets by size, profitability or competition
  • Failure to seek out and understand customer feedback and insights
  • Inconsistent customer experience through different buying channels


Other Impacts Due to Poor Planning


As the CEO, your focus is on achieving a number. It may be on pure profit, margins, EBITDA, or a combination of others. Every leader knows that every decision can impact that number. Expenses. Budgets. Investment in an acquisition. Investment in R&D on a new product. Opening a new office. Extending into a new market. These are big decisions with potentially large impacts and must be considered strategically.


Likewise, a cross-functional GTM strategy requires decisions and input from the cross-functional organization. They own their stake in the strategy and are expected to achieve the desired results. When environments change, and the strategy does not, your internal teams may find themselves in precarious situations. Internal strife can arise creating additional challenges that require you to invest time refereeing. Time you simply do not have.


What Does Good Strategic Planning Look Like?


SBI’s research of 4300+ Executives found that GTM strategic planning is important to their business. Leaders know that planning is critical but acknowledge that they have been deficient in the process of strategic planning. So, what can a CEO do to ensure that 1) a strategic plan is put into place and 2) it’s agile to respond to market and corporate environmental changes?


Discipline and Data Are the Keys to Success


On January 29, 2007, Steve Jobs announced the release of the first iPhone at the Macworld convention. On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone was released to the public. September 12, 2018, marked the date that the newest iPhone was introduced to the market, the iPhone XS. The XS marks the 19th version of the iPhone since inception. 19 versions in 11 years. Listening to the market, watching the competition and analyze data were critical to Apple’s ongoing GTM strategy.


What you need to do to be agile:


  • Listen to the market. Data is your best friend. What trends are you seeing? Buying behaviors? What are your prospects and customers saying? Are you delighting them? Where are you selling and where are you not selling? What feedback are you hearing from your sales and marketing organizations? How can you segment your customers and target prospects? Do you see gaps?
  • Watch your competition. How are they responding to your execution? Are they surprised? Can you control your position? Are you responding? Are you gaining or losing market share? Is your pricing appropriate?
  • Analyze, analyze and analyze some more. Are you meeting expectations? Why or why not? Has your CAC increased or decreased? Why? Has your sales cycle increased or decreased? Does that impact the forecast negatively or positively?


The cadence to how you acquire, review and respond to the data is essential. The agile strategy is anything but stagnant, it’s constantly evolving. Your cross-functional team has ownership for both input and output to this cadence. Any red flags must be addressed immediately. Any “wins” should be analyzed to determine the how and why, and how to monetize at scale.


Bottom-line: Build a strategic plan. Execute against the strategic plan. Review data and feedback at consistent intervals. Adjust as needed. Repeat.


Download the LTV:CAC Tool to increase the likelihood of making your number this year. This tool provides you with an objective view into markets, segments, verticals, etc. for the best ROI. Use the tool and watch your productivity per sales head increase.



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