If you build it they won’t come. You build high-quality customer education and enablement content, yet usage is low. You talk to internal teams and customers and many aren’t even aware of your excellent offerings. Your data demonstrates that well-trained customers have higher product usage, are more loyal, and are more likely to renew, yet the majority of your customers still aren’t trained. Your courses are meaningless unless you think like a product owner and build a go to market plan.
What is a market plan? In a go to market plan, you define the product vision and message to launch your product with a competitive advantage. A market plan also defines the internal and external resources needed to deliver your unique value proposition to customers, to achieve a competitive advantage, and to enhance the overall customer experience, according to Wikipedia. It also takes into account things such as the quality of the product and the pricing.
At my previous company, sales management launched a top franchise owner award to encourage sales reps to nurture and manage their territories. I won the award the first year it was offered because I ran my Customer Education as a business within the business. Using go to market plans, I marketed and sold Customer Education products both internally and externally to have the greatest influence on customers.
Why you need a go to market plan. Constructing a go to market plan facilitates you thinking like a product owner. Because you build and sell a distinct product within your company, you need to define how your product reaches your audience, as well as the familiar design and development cycles. This includes how to price, market, sell and deliver your offerings. Since you are are running a business within a business, your offerings need to have an impact whether you make a profit or not. Better product definition resulting from a go to market plan also improves communication with internal teams and keeps you from working in a silo. Aligning with sales, marketing, customer success, and customer support teams means you can delight your customers with an integrated solution.
How to build a go to market plan. A market plan is a document that answers the who, what, why, and how of your offerings.
- Who: Defines the audience, including the internal and external stakeholders to engage
- What: Defines the offerings you are taking to market
- Why: Explains the purpose and impact your product has on your audience and your company
- How: Details how you will price, sell, market and deliver your product
To build your go to market plan, create a document with a section for each of these areas, and then answer the questions:
- Executive Summary: What is the high-level overview of your offering and how are you taking it to market?
- Purpose of the Offering: Why do users need this offering? The purpose might include reducing the support queue or increasing product usage.
- Success Metrics: Which metrics will you use to measure your impact? Make sure the metrics tie into the purpose. So, for example, if reducing the support queue is the purpose of the offering, then demonstrate the impact the offering has on the support queue over time. How will you capture, track, and share the metrics?
- Audience: Who is this offering for? Your audience might include administrators, developers, business analysts, partners, and/or employees.
- Delivery: How will this product be delivered? Delivery options include self-paced, live online, and instructor-led classrooms.
- Pricing: What will you charge for this product? Examples include per user/seat, annual subscription, bundled into the software license. It’s helpful to know industry standards and also what your competitors charge to validate your pricing.
- Marketing Strategies: Training doesn’t market itself, so it is important to market your offerings to internal teams for greater influence. Internal strategies: How will you market your offerings internally, to CSMs, Support, and Sales Reps? You might join sales calls, and send out monthly internal newsletters. External strategies: How will you market your offerings externally, to customers and partners? You might work with your Marketing team to include training before user conferences and to send out campaigns. You could partner with Engineering to provide an in application banner when your software starts up to point users to training content.
- Selling Strategies: Training doesn’t sell itself, so it is important to sell your offerings to internal teams in order to have a greater impact. Internal strategies: How will you align with sales incentives, including quota, commissions, and club? Partner with sales management to include your products and selling strategies in sales playbooks, and provide SPIFs to reps for selling your offerings. External strategies: What is your plan for selling to new and existing customers? Existing customers could provide a large opportunity for revenue. How can you align with the sales cycle and with other services products to provide a solution sale?
What to do with your go to market plan. As you can see, building a go to market plan encourages you to talk with sales, marketing, customers success, and other internal teams in order to define your offerings. This results in engaged and educated customers that are more likely to renew and buy more, as well as scalable customer success teams and reduced support queues. Using a go to market plan, you not only build your offerings, you also properly price, market, and sell them. Thinking like a product owner is what you need to drive successful offerings and engaged customers. If you build it with a go to market plan, they will come.
Learn about creating a strategic Customer Education operation and build a go to market plan in ServiceRocket’s Customer Education University (CEU), which I deliver. We are wrapping up the current CEU this week, so stay tuned for our next CEU session in January 2018.
Donna Weber leads KickStart Alliance‘s Customer Success practice, specializing in the post-sales customer success journey. With over 20 years’ experience, she builds programs that enable, onboard, and educate customers, helping hi-tech firms create customers for life. To learn more, contact Donna.
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