You have a product IP repository, which is your code base.
You have a customer IP repository which is your CRM.
You may even have an Operations IP repository.
But where do you find, and how do you create a cross-functional GTM IP repository across Marketing, Sales, Revenue Operations, and Customer Support?
[Transcript] Finding And Building The Elusive GTM IP with Todd Rowe
We couldn’t be more excited or honored to introduce to you this keynote speaker. He’s a friend. He has been a senior executive at companies that you might have heard of. Companies like Adobe, Google, and Apple. At Google specifically, he managed a book of business worth billions of dollars on a yearly basis. Please help me welcome Todd Rowe to the stage!
Thank you very much, Armando! It’s a pleasure to be here. I love the aspect of having a Ted-Talk-style event for everything around SaaS, so thank you very much. I’m really excited to be able to meet with you here and thank you all for joining.
I hope this day provides you with a lot of insights. These pearls and wisdoms that you can take and implement into your own business itself. Today, I’d like to talk a bit about GTM IP. Let me just bring up some slides and share with you what I mean by GTM IP.
How it’s sometimes elusive, but more importantly, how do you go about building that? So that’s what I’ll take you through in about 10 minutes’ time. Afterward, we’ll open it up for any questions you might have for about five minutes time.
A bit of background here. So I’m currently on the board of directors of a couple of different companies. I’ve worked in startup companies like Bevy Labs. I’ve also worked at larger companies like Armando said, Google, SAP, Adobe, and Apple.
If I were to say an interesting fact about me, I’d say: Modern day Nomad. I have lived all over the place with my family, and I have lived, East Coast, West Coast, in 12 cities, three countries, all over. I travel an awful lot. I’ve had global roles for the last 15 years or so. Even though I travel quite a bit, a lot of new countries, I still need to go and visit.
So that’s a little bit about my background. Let me actually talk to you in terms of GTM IP. First of all, I would like you to think of really successful companies that you know have just had meteoric growth.
Think of one company in particular; it could be anyone, any company, or any industry. I know what you would think about: usually, it would be that they have been able to achieve “escape velocity” to grow.
I would bet that part of the reason why they have grown is not just great technology, not just great timing, but also because they had something called GTM IP.
Let me give you a background story on this. Back in 2010, I was interviewing for a job at Google. It was to build out a global business unit, and one of the interview questions I had was, “We would like to grow this from $250 million to $1 billion dollars in two years’ time. Are you the guy to do this?”
Well, when you’re interviewing at Google, there’s only one answer which is, “Yes, of course, I’m the person to do that.” I got up there on the whiteboard and outlined how I would do that, and I figured I did well enough because I got the job offer, joined them, and on the first day, they said, “Okay, great! Welcome to the company. The clock is now ticking. You’ve got two years. Good luck!”
I thought to myself, “What type of compound annual growth rate is going from $250 million dollars to $1 billion dollars in two years’ time?”
It was insane! I realized I could not organically throw enough bodies or people at it, enough product, or even see how many different markets to go into, to do that. I had to look at things beyond just function-specific. Just look at marketing, sales, or customer success. I had to look cross-functionally from a go-to-market standpoint to really try to scale this business cross-functionally.
So today, I’ll talk about what GTM IP is from aspects of systems, shared success metrics, and people, and how not only great successful companies can create this GTM IP, but how any company could do that, how you can do that as well! So that’s what we’ll go through.
Here’s what I think the problem statement is: Most companies that you look at will optimize each function in itself. So they will optimize aspects of product development from an engineering perspective with Agile methodology and optimize the engineering team itself.
Separate distinct from that, we will optimize the marketing team. Everything from lead generation, pipeline flow, and branding aspects. Separate distinct from that would be from a sales perspective.
Optimizing each individually, and each of them has their own IP. The engineering team has product IP in their code base; from a marketing, or sales perspective, their customer IP is in the CRM, but very little IP exists that truly is cross-functional.
The whole customer lifecycle starts from product and product development to marketing, then to sales, and then to customer support aspects as well.
By its nature, it is very fragmented, and it’s very scattered. Sometimes it’s in systems; sometimes, it’s in people’s heads, and with the Great Resignation when people leave, part of that GTM IP leaves as well.
So we need to optimize this for the entire customer lifecycle, not just one single component. I like to compare this growth to a growth train where that train is literally optimizing each of the different aspects, not just 5 or 15 different train cars itself.
So from my experience in building GTM IP, there are three components.
- Shared Success Metrics
Let’s talk about each of these three briefly. In practice, here are the things that we really need to look at.
Systems. Now, you say we already have a great engineering product IP. We’ve got the codebase there, we’re fine from that system, and you may have a great CRM system from a lead generation and customer management perspective and perhaps a different system for customer support or different aspects.
Instead of ripping and replacing everything, my recommendation would be to keep each one of those that you have but build a bridge between them with dashboards that have specific functions. Build that bridge with dashboards so that you can manage and track the operational metrics beyond those different systems.
It’s measuring what I call the three V’s–Volume, Value, and Velocity. Let’s take pipeline, for example, to highlight what I mean by volume, value, and velocity. With volume, we need to look at the total number of deals that are in the upper mid, and lower part of our funnel.
Do we have enough deals based upon an average sales price to help make our numbers? What is the value? Is that average deal value increasing or decreasing? How quickly are you able to go through that pipeline? The same thing is true as far as volume, value, and velocity from a product perspective. So we’ll measure each of these three different variables going from product to marketing to sales to customer support aspects that way.
So the first one is from a systems perspective. Rather than creating a completely new GTM IP, it’s building dashboards to be a bridge point between those different function-specific systems.
The second one, though, I think is really important. It follows the cross-functional success metrics. If you think about our MBOs, our KPIs, most of them 80, 90, perhaps, 100%, are function-specific where it’s within marketing how many leads we are driving and how many sales-qualified leads do we get at the very bottom of the funnel. Then, from a sales perspective, you’re done. Your quota is your KPI, how many deals what your quota attainment is. Rarely do you see shared success metrics.
David Hewlett was the founder of Hewlett-Packard. It was the first startup in Silicon Valley, and he had once said something that was very impressive. He said, “Show me how someone is measured, and I will show you how they behave,” and that is so true.
We see that again, and so if we have function-specific KPIs, our people will function in a function-specific environment that way. Whereas if we give them shared success metrics where the marketing team will only succeed if sales exceeds, or the product management team will succeed only if it works closely with marketing.
So one of the things that I’ve had to do is actually change some of the KPIs. This way, for example, marketing and sales own certain targets together where marketing’s quota is around sales-accepted leads, not marketing-generated leads. This way, sales and marketing have to work together. It’s surprising to see how quickly both teams view each other as companions and help each other make those numbers.
So, shared success metrics! I would ask you to look at each of these two different functions that have to work together. Whether it’s product and marketing, marketing and sales, or sales and customer support, see what their shared success metrics are, measure them, compensate them, and look at promotions based upon that.
Lastly, from a ‘People’s’ standpoint, I’d like to have you think of one company that you admire that has been so strong and so successful. As you think about that, I would bet one of the things you think about is not just great technology or great execution, but they probably hire really great people.
My belief is that people are the glue that keeps the GTM IP together. Let me repeat that. It is the people that are the glue that keeps the GTM IP together. Not just systems, not just cross-functional success metrics. Part of the way you and I, as leaders, are measured is based upon the quality of the people that we bring on board.
Therefore, if we bring on people that are more “we-oriented” and not “I-oriented” and vet them through the interview process where it’s a team-based mindset versus an individual what’s in it for me mindset,” that makes a huge difference.
The other thing that I find that we can do as leaders is model team culture behavior by not only who we promote but even the awards that we provide them. Awards are things that could be as simple as a certificate or some type of plaque that recognizes them for a certain aspect.
However, it’s trying to model the type of reward, the type of behavior that we want to model for the rest of them. I’ve gone to some of my team offices around the world, and literally two or three years after receiving an award, I still see somebody’s award proudly displayed on their desk.
They’re able to say, “This is what I did,” and though the power of awards and public recognition is rewarding, the type of behavior we want to model for the rest of the team has a positive ripple effect. So those are the three aspects of GTM IP I wanted to share with you, systems, cross-functional success metrics, and people.
So in finalizing things, GTM IP and escape velocity, in terms of growth and scale, can be something that all companies can have. It’s not just for the privileged large companies that have a lot of resources. You can accomplish this as well as you look at these three different aspects of GTM IP.
One of my favorite quotes is from the German philosopher Goethe, who said, “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”
I hope that we take this content and look at our IP and move from what has been a function-specific IP to truly GTM IP cross-functionally will help be a great scale factor. Those are the things I wanted to share with you. I hope that’s been helpful.
Let’s go ahead and open it up for Q&A.
Hot Takes Live
Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.
These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).
Todd! Thank you! First and foremost, this was awesome. I particularly loved two things.
That idea of optimizing for the growth train versus the different train cars; loved it!
One thing that I was thinking about during your talk was how this was great in theory, but in practice, you get people and departments all the time who revert back to their own KPIs and their own systems and models of behaviors.
It’s tricky, right? I think you address this in the second part where you were saying the key that really stood out to me is the more you can be intentional in creating interdependencies between functions and departments, the more you are modeling out a system that self-selects towards certain behaviors. I think that is disproportionately powerful.
it is. What I find is that as we build these KPIs with shared success metrics, it helps people realize what we really value. How will they be measured?
However, it’s not just for the KPIs. Even with weekly or monthly team meetings, highlighting those things of how people are working together, those success points between different functions, you can keep repeating that aspect on a weekly or monthly basis. That helps change that team culture or that mindset of if we really have to work together to be successful.
Really underlining the things that you want to incentivize, and you want to see more happening within the organization.
Todd, this was great! Thank you so much for doing this.
Kathy is asking if you have any reading suggestions to learn more about this idea.
I do, in fact! Harvard Business Review had a really great article. I’ll share that with you. It’s quite good.
There’s another one in terms of just scale. A book that I’ll share with you. It’s called Blueprint to a Billion. Basically, how do you create a playbook to get a business to a billion dollars? So Kathy, great question!
Love it! Another sound bite as I’m digesting and processing your session is this idea of systems that have compound growth over time.
We talk constantly about scale, but the reality is that for most companies, scale is tomorrow’s problem. However, the way to really accelerate the path from today to tomorrow is by thinking about the things that start in that direction already and that, over time, provided that you are successful in executing against them, becomes even more relevant, which I think is particularly compelling as well.
That’s true. You are right that many times we think of scale as just ‘short term’, ‘next quarter,’ ‘next month,’ types of things, but if we have a bigger, audacious goal, next year, we want to be doing X, Y, and Z. It gives you the time to put things into place that you can then start to build that scale.
Loved it! Todd, thank you so much.