A go-to-market strategy defines the activities and the participants that connect a firm to its customers and prospects (Zoltners 2001). Within this framework the process of deciding on a go to market strategy usually involves answering four major questions. The first of these questions involve determining how best way to segment the existing market. Since customers are heterogeneous with differing needs market segmentation which entails identifying different groups of customers with similar characteristics is mandatory. The existence of diversity among customers is minimized as the broader market is divided into smaller homogenous segments. Segmentation can be structured along the lines of geography, customer size or business potential, industry or application, market and channel accessibility and purchase behavior. Products, services, positioning and selling efforts can then be customized into individual segments. According to Zoltners the best approach to segmentation for developing go to market strategy is one that generates segments whose members require similar customer attraction and retention activities and hence similar essential work.
The second question entails determining what essential work is required for each segment. Essential work comprise of activities required to serve the customer efficiently and effectively. Essential work is subdivided into four activities: interest creation which involves making prospects aware of the benefits of your product or service, pre-purchase which include qualifying and assessing customers and prospects, purchase which encompasses negotiating, bidding, proposal writing and writing orders and post-purchase activity which represent activities geared toward building commitment leading to business relationships and future sales. In determining the essential work requires for each segment customer needs, size and opportunity can play a pivotal role together with input from sales people, channel partners and consultants. After determining the required essential work the next question involves deciding which go to markets participants should perform these tasks.
Cost is usually an overriding factor in determining how to go to market. The four major go to market participants are advertising and promotion, call centers, the internet and sales forces. Each go to market participant will have a varying amount of efficiency and effectiveness depending on the customer characteristics and type of essential work. The sales force is known to provide that critical link for companies transitioning from transactional selling toward one of relationship building. Sales people can also be very decisive in protecting and retaining valued accounts.
This is not to underestimate the contributions made to the sales process by other go to market participants and very often there are hybrid go to market participant portfolios where the salesperson does some of the essential work and other participants perform complementary tasks for the same customer segments and most of or all the work for other segments. The final question involves deciding whether to use a direct or indirect sales force. Several factors favor direct sales for over indirect sales force and vice versa. The level of company specific capabilities required for success in the selling process determines whether to sell directly or indirectly (Zoltners, 2001). These capabilities according to Zoltners reside in the areas for marketing, information and Finance.