Parallels Between Go-to-Market Strategies and Agile Product Development

September 30, 2018 Hendrick Lee

As a product leader, agile software development has become a way of life. The ability to quickly respond to customer and market needs through agile processes is critical in a dynamic and evolving environment. It’s no longer feasible to lock a product plan in place a year in advance and then simply execute against it heads down over the next 12 months. With all the new cross-functional and market information that comes from various teams, it’s critical to quickly incorporate and analyze this data to create the best product possible.

Go-To-Market (GTM) strategies are generally large, annual planning events. Companies gather leaders in annual planning sessions where they strategize and design their go-to-market strategies. The strategies are then communicated to senior managers, line leaders, and finally employees who are charged with execution. While the designed strategies are well-intentioned, the end result often lacks critical, recent data points and context, rendering them outdated as soon as they’re implemented. This assumes the original strategies can even be implemented exactly as designed by the senior leaders. Often, the ideal strategies lack the appreciation of organizational realities and availability of data.

Over the past few years, some of the most successful companies I’ve worked with have transitioned to an agile GTM planning and execution approach. Similar to software development, the old world of long-term planning and rigid execution can no longer support the dynamic, competitive environments we find ourselves in today. These companies are constantly adjusting their GTM execution based on real-time data and industry feedback. They iteratively test and update their plans, embracing the mantra that what worked last year, last quarter or even last month may not be the best path to success tomorrow.

As companies attempt to make GTM planning and execution more agile, they have started running into the challenging operational realities of doing so. Current platforms and tools are simply not built for agile GTM execution, let alone capable of supporting the myriad of GTM strategies that are utilized. Sales, marketing, and revenue operations have become more critical than ever as companies begin to truly understand their strategic importance. No longer is operations relegated to simply being an execution arm of the organization. Operations have become strategic partners as they agilely adapt GTM processes and execution based on evolving strategic, competitive, and market conditions.

In today’s dynamic environment, organizations should continuously analyze and evolve their GTM strategies. Much like product development, those who are executing against a static GTM strategy (or product) may find themselves antiquated. At best, time and resources are wasted. At worst, these organizations may eventually find themselves irrelevant as the new kid on the block has adapted and iterated themselves to the head of the pack.

About the Author

Hendrick Lee

Hendrick is VP of Product at LeanData, focused on product innovation and driving customer success with LeanData's unique solutions. Prior to LeanData, Hendrick led the web and mobile product teams at Zynga Poker, nearly doubling revenue to make Zynga Poker one of the largest and most valuable Zynga franchises. Prior to Zynga, Hendrick led Product Management efforts at PayPal, Plaxo, LoudCloud (Opsware), and Evincii. Hendrick began his career in software development at BuildPoint, an online e-commerce platform.

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