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Everything You Need To Execute a Winning B2B SaaS GTM Strategy

By
Anna garrison
Nov 11, 2023

The B2B SaaS market is saturated and competitive. Having a strong go-to-market (GTM) strategy is critical for hitting organizational goals and surviving uncertain economic climates.

If you read our last guide, Implement These 7 Building Blocks for a Strong GTM Foundation, you’re ready to start crafting your GTM strategy.

The goal of your GTM strategy is to get your ideal customer’s interest. But there are many factors that determine who your ideal customer is and why they should buy from you.

Let’s dive into the research, strategy, design and execution of your GTM strategy. Here, we’ll cover key questions to help you understand your B2B SaaS business:

  • What is our product or service?
  • Who is our target audience?
  • How do we differ from our competition?
  • What makes us unique?

Then, we’ll provide our recommendations for digital marketing tactics to implement as part of your GTM campaigns. 

How To Build a Winning GTM Strategy

Determine Your Business Stage

The first step in properly aligning your GTM strategy is answering the question, “What is our product or service?”

This is more than just stating, “We provide HR software.” Your goal is to remove your own preconceived notions about how your product is used. This allows you to approach the market in an unbiased way. Your team may think you sell provide software, but if your market doesn’t agree, all your GTM effort is for nothing. Because let’s face it: The customer doesn’t want what you sell. Instead, they want their problem solved. So, “providing HR software” may be enough to make the customer interested, but not likely, because it doesn’t describe anything about who buys your software or how it helps them.

If you’re trying to understand whether customers currently find value in your solution, take time to determine your current business stage:

Problem-market Fit

You have leads, but you aren’t turning them into closed sales fast enough to reach your revenue goals. In this scenario, ask yourself: “Does the problem you’re ‘fixing’ resonate with the market?”

Product-market Fit

You have repeatable customer acquisition, but few of those customers renew their contracts. In this stage, you’ve identified what your customers want and have increased your customer count as well as the data available to make decisions. At this point, a vertical of customers across a certain industry or price point may emerge to help refine your GTM. Ask yourself: “Which type of customer will spend more money with us and will stay?”

Platform-market Fit

You’re finally able to retain customers, but they may only be using one part of your platform. You’d like to upsell them to adopt another part or all of your available platforms and solutions. Ask yourself: “How can we further refine our best-fit customers across various verticals and build stronger partnerships with them?”

It’s okay if you’re not at the platform-market stage yet. The next sections will help you define your audience, messaging, and competition so you understand where you can best serve your ideal customers.

Define Your Target Account List

Next, it’s time to answer this question: “Who is our target audience?” This is when your new data hygiene best practices come in handy. Review your CRM data from the past few years. Determine which accounts generated the most revenue, stayed the longest and were most enjoyable to work with. This is the best representation of who you want to prospect in your GTM strategy.

Then, build your target account list from there. Set qualifications for your ideal client profile (ICP), including revenue range, employee size, industry, sub-industries and locations. At the end of this exercise, you should have a clear, somewhat detailed idea of your ideal buyer. For example, “We work best with companies in the B2B financial services industry who are located in the Midwest, have between 1 and 10 employees, generate between $10MM – $50MM in annual revenue, use Salesforce, don’t have a Salesforce admin, and specialize in selling accounting services to SMBs.”

Yes, your target account list can get as detailed as what software they use and what job titles they have. The more you hone in on those minute details, the more targeted your value propositions can be.

Profile Your Buying Committee

Next, determine which job titles at your target accounts will make the buying decision. Take your time to profile your entire buying system. Gartner data shows that the typical B2B buying group for a complex sale includes six to 10 decision-makers. Of this group, most will have spent significant time independently researching online and offline. Not only must the group analyze everyone’s own research and opinions, but they are also being served new information on your competitor’s products, services and technology daily. 

Though you’ll come across many roles within your buying committee, you’ll likely have a few core buyer types. An easy way to categorize your buyer types is to use the Miller Heiman Strategic Selling sales methodology, which defines buyer types as the economic buyer, technical buyer, user buyer and coach. Understanding each buyer type’s needs is imperative for navigating your marketing and sales GTM approach:

  • Economic buyer: The person within the buying committee who has the ultimate check-writing power. They care about how your product will impact their bottom line.
  • Technical buyer: The person who has strong technical knowledge of your industry, technology or service who will be measuring your value based on how well your product fits with their day-to-day processes.
  • User buyer: The person who will actually be using your product or platform. They want to know — have to buy into — how your product makes their job easier or improves their performance.
  • Coach: Someone who is not part of the decision-making buying committee, but who acts as a helper to provide additional information or support your product within the prospective account.

As a data hygiene best practice, you may want to consider adding “buyer type” as a field within your CRM. This will help your sales team more easily navigate the buying committee.

Conduct Market Research

Let’s humanize your buyers for a second. Though we label them “coaches” and “economic buyers” to understand their role in a sale, we must first understand that they’re real people with feelings, goals and responsibilities. 

When creating your GTM strategy, put yourself in each buyer’s shoes. Seek to understand their individual, team, company and industry-wide challenges. What’s happening in the world — and in their worlds — that may impact the sale of your product? What market-related pain points are your customers experiencing that your product can solve? 

Going back to our HR software example, this could sound like: “The accounting companies in our ICP are struggling with finding new employees. They’re also seeing reduced customer flow because SMBs are trying to cut costs.”

Based on these factors, how can you use tone and various tactics to appropriately build awareness while being sensitive to the big picture? Ultimately, ask yourself: “What does my buying audience care about? And how can I help them get there faster and easier?”

Create a Competitive Matrix & Define Your Niche

We get it — your market is large, and there are likely multiple different types of customers and companies that would benefit from your product. However, you don’t have the internal resources to service every customer you could work with.

This is one area where you can implement your “work smarter” mindset. Look at your niche within a competitive matrix. Your competitors may have a larger market share, snazzy UX and more brand awareness. But there’s likely something they don’t provide that you do. This is your competitive advantage. 

Maybe your software is more expensive, but you provide excellent customer service, or offer a white-glove approach where you’ll design custom buildouts of your platform.

Wherever you fall, know the difference between your total addressable marketing (TAM) and your total relevant market (TEM). When picking GTM acquisition channels, choose a combination that offers both brand awareness to your TAM and funnel outcomes for your TEM. 

Formalize Your Value Proposition

Once you know your business stage, target accounts, buying committee, market pain points and competition, it’s time to communicate your competitive advantage. Gather your content team and formalize your buyer personas, encouraging them to focus on each role’s needs for that moment in time. This information, combined with your solutions to those problems, forms the value proposition that you’ll take to market across your GTM channels.

A value proposition is a short statement that summarizes what you offer to your customers and how it will benefit them. It isn’t a tagline, a slogan or a mission statement. Examples of noteworthy value propositions include:

  • State-of-the-art Living Experience (LG)
  • Manage Your Home Deliveries (FedEx)
  • All The TV You Love (Hulu)

In our HR software example, the CFO may be involved in the decision-making process. Their needs for financial savings are likely different from the HR executive who wants streamlined dashboards for hiring, onboarding and training. You’ll also be up against multiple competing software solutions, so defining why your platform is better, why your customer service is more supportive or why you offer long-term cost savings will be important as you build brand awareness. 

Map the Customer Journey to Customer Experience

Forrester describes our business era as “The Age of the Customer.” This means that compared to your product, distribution capabilities or technology, the most important component of business growth today is your customer experience. 

Qualitrics data shows that B2B companies who have transformed their customer experience have higher client-satisfaction ratings, better employee satisfaction, increased revenue and reductions in client costs to serve. Also, McKinsey reports that 82% of B2B buyers expect the same treatment in business purchases as they do when making personal ones.

Map your customer journey — including messaging and media by channel — so your customer experience is consistent. This is called creating a full-funnel digital customer experience that’s based on your buying audience’s changing needs. Map the customer journey throughout every interaction a prospect has with your teams throughout the sales cycle and beyond. Ask yourself: “How can we better understand our top customers, provide exceptional service and grow with them?”

Build an Impactful Brand

The B2B industry is often a few years behind B2C from a branding perspective. You’ll notice how many B2B SaaS companies look similar and how their websites usually lead with a platform’s capabilities instead of its benefits. The issue is that you need to generate brand awareness, but if you look and sound the same as everyone else, you’ll get lost. 

Think of any popular B2B SaaS company. We’ll use Salesforce as an example. While other CRMs have many similar features to Salesforce, it’s their brand familiarity and affinity that make them so prominent in their industry. When you think of Salesforce, don’t you envision their cloud logo and their mascot, Astro?

To stand out from the noise, be courageous with your brand design and value proposition. Be funny. Do something different to improve your creative and brand voice. Use social media to take a slightly more B2C approach with videos and graphics of your team’s personality. Instead of giving off a “look-how-great-my-platform is” feeling on your website’s homepage, focus on how you can solve your customers’ problems or bring them value.

Once you’ve solidified your brand, you can expand toward a whole brand thinking methodology. This takes your brand creative and voice a step further and applies it throughout your organization in all internal and customer-facing initiatives.

Integrate Your Sales & Marketing Teams

B2B teams hear about sales and marketing integration constantly. Everyone knows its importance, but few companies can successfully implement it. If you’re like most marketers,  you’re stuck somewhere on a continuum, with sales integration occurring in certain areas but not in others.

A great GTM strategy is built on mutual understanding. Your sales, marketing and customer success teams should agree on what stage of business you’re in, your target account lists and the reasons why you’re targeting those accounts or audiences.

Start by meeting with your sales leader and their top-performing salespeople. Get buy-in for your campaigns and include them in your process. Ask questions to understand your sellers’ goals and how they like to sell. If your teams are truly aligned, marketing and sales should have similar goals on which to base your GTM strategy.

Then, communicate your need for alignment on value propositions, personal emails and even phone calls and texts to ensure cohesion with your marketing tactics. Once the GTM strategy is in motion, be mindful to consolidate your data into dashboards or other reports that can be easily accessed by both teams.

Assign the Internal Owner(s) of Your GTM Strategy

One reason why GTM strategies fail is that there are unclear guidelines of who owns which processes and responsibilities. Does your chief revenue officer own the strategy? What about your CMO, your VP of sales or your CFO?

The best person to oversee your GTM plan is your CEO or a small group of senior leaders. They have a 40,000-foot view of the business and understand your competitive advantage. If your GTM is aligned with your CEO and leadership’s vision, your teams executing the work will be better aligned, too. You’ll also be more equipped to receive support because the entire leadership team is working toward the same mission. 

If you’re in a large company, it’s unlikely that your CEO will be leading your entire GTM plan. However, they will have strong opinions on where they see the company going and how they think you can get there. Before you start, check in with them to ensure you’re heading in the right direction and have their support.

Implement the Right Acquisition Channels

Congratulations — you’ve made it this far. Now it’s time to pick your marketing channels. For many B2B SaaS companies, implementing account-based marketing (ABM) and demand generation strategies is a great place to start. 

Account-based Marketing

ABM hyper-focuses your GTM on a subset of your TEM. The goal of ABM is to nurture a select group of best-fit, high-value accounts with specific messaging and touchpoints specific to their business case. 

ABM is a complex long-term play, but the great news is that if you’ve worked through this guide, you’ve already done the conceptual legwork. 

To start, meet with your sales team to narrow down your TEM further until you have 50-150 target accounts (this number will vary based on your ABM budget). Assign the accounts to multiple salespeople, then begin the process of researching the accounts and placing pain-point-specific advertising to them. Once the account engages further, you can allocate additional time and budget to nurturing them through gifting, direct mail, events and more.

Demand Generation

Unlike ABM, demand generation tactics focus on building brand awareness and driving inbound opportunities. Whereas ABM is a long-term play, demand generation is short- to mid-term and includes making your target ABM accounts — and the rest of your TEM — aware of your business.

Top-performing B2B demand generation strategies include programmatic advertising, paid search, LinkedIn ads (can be effective, but expensive) and Meta. These tactics can be easily molded to multiple funnel stages. Use retargeting to share specific media and messages to middle- and bottom-funnel prospects. 

Connected TV (CTV), podcasts and YouTube can also be effective GTM channels depending on your goals and business objectives.

A note about Meta advertising strategy for B2B: Facebook and Instagram advertising can be controversial for B2B companies. Your decision-makers may not like to be targeted on a consumer platform as a decision-maker. This strategy is entirely dependent on your buying committee, your personal preferences and how each channel fits your brand.

Content Syndication

B2B content syndication involves getting your content on other blogs, whitepapers or third-party websites to generate brand awareness and marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) by sharing thought leadership with your prospects and broader audience. MarTech Series data shows that 85% of B2B marketers promote whitepapers using this tactic, while others use a combination of webinars, videos, case studies and infographics. A perk of content syndication is that it builds brand awareness without you pushing your own messaging. Instead of your sales team sharing content, the content syndication platform or website is sharing it for you, making it more of an organic touchpoint.

Industry-specific Channels

There are thousands of industry-specific associations where you can network with ideal customers. If your sales team doesn’t feel comfortable with cold outreach, enable them to speak at an association’s event, host a roundtable or set up a booth. Trade associations also have advertising options on their websites and publications for additional traction.

Intent Data

Research shows that 97% of decision-makers have an idea of which vendor they want to buy from before the research process begins. If you have any chance of influencing that decision, you need intent data to inform your outbound GTM efforts.

Many B2B companies don’t have intent data as part of their next-gen martech stack. But just as content was king in the early 2000s and 2010s, intent data is the next trend that is setting B2B companies ahead of their peers. Having awareness of accounts that are in-market for the products, services or pain points you solve for is a huge leg up. This strategy is equally valuable for ABM and top-funnel demand generation efforts.

However, keep in mind that intent data isn’t everything. If you have accounts that are an exceptional ICP fit but aren’t intent trending, still go after those accounts. Your best-fit accounts might not be in-market at this specific moment, but you’ll be there when they’re ready to buy.

Product-led Growth Strategies

Product-led growth is exactly what it sounds like — offering trials or peeks into your platform or solution so prospects know exactly what you offer. In your GTM plan, implement ABM, demand gen, content syndication and industry-specific channels with a “free trial” or “demo” call-to-action. The goal is to build platform awareness through word of mouth. If you have a strong product-market fit, your solution will meet market demand and quickly engage your buying committee.

Don’t Forget About Client Retention

It’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. But B2B marketers have a dual responsibility: driving new business while managing the customer-facing brand. In your GTM strategy, don’t forget to engage these current customers. Try to focus your time equally between funnel stages to support both the sales and customer success teams. 

Do this by creating relevant content to educate current customers and position you as a trusted thought leader. You can also implement nurture campaigns like email check-ins, net-promoter score surveys, gifting, direct mail and special customer events to help upsell your additional services and build customer loyalty.

Where Do You Go Next?

You’ve set up your GTM strategy and implemented the right acquisition channels. Now, it’s time to measure results and communicate them back to your leadership team.

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