Good go-to-market should discriminate

Everything - from your website to your sales experience to your roadmap - should qualify ideal prospects in, and disqualify bad-fit customers out. Here's why you should be "the thing for someone".

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If there’s one thing I tell everyone, it’s that it’s much more valuable to be ‘the thing for someone’. Niches for riches.

But look around many SaaS websites, and it’s obvious they haven’t learnt the lesson yet. They’re trying to be something for everyone.

This is often a goal for early-stage founders and sales leaders.

“We can sell to everyone!”

"Our market is everyone who’s ever had this problem!”

And yet… it never quite works out.

Spreading focus too thin, and trying to be something for everyone, has a slim chance of success. It also has a high probability of negative impact.

Your value proposition becomes muddied, as your external positioning confuses both ends of the market.

Marketing can’t quite deliver. Either there aren’t enough leads, they’re not the right type, or CAC is too high, or LTV is too low.

Sales resources become stretched and inertia sets in. In my experience, most sales reps want to sell bigger and bigger deals, so they neglect smaller prospects. But reps become dissatisfied with the lack of momentum from bigger prospects. And then they flip-flop back and forth, aimlessly without a sales plan.

Product teams fight: priorities compete, sales asks win, and customer advocacy takes a hit.

Pricing becomes a mess. You’re either priced too cheap and therefore leaving tons of cash on the table. Or, you’re too expensive, losing out on a big chunk of low-effort high-reward revenue.

Internal discussions go on for ages about whether to remove pricing on the website. When sales win the argument to remove prices, you see an increase in tweets and complaints that you’re losing out on business.

Culture flails between the inevitable struggle as hires from both scrappy self-service startups and the enterprise SaaS world butt heads with each other.

Good go-to-market should discriminate

If to discriminate is to “make a distinction in the treatment of different categories”, that’s what your go-to-market should do.

Disqualification is much more important than qualification.

The way you go-to-market should disquality bad-fit prospects out. They should - politely - be discouraged from moving forward from the moment they land on your website or engage with your sales reps.

Of course, you don’t want to scar them for life; they might be the next big market you move into. But today, say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

Meanwhile, your ideal customers should be welcomed with an experience tailor made for them. Roll out the red carpet and make the whole experience effortless for them from the first click.

Make sure these components are aligned

Pay attention to these components, to sanity-check how focused your GTM is for today’s ideal customers:

Positioning and messaging

Know your customer. Extract their jobs, pains, gains, and triggers. Understand the value your product can deliver for them - and build your messaging around it.

Everything from the phrasing in your ads and headline on the homepage, to the illustrations on your website and the customer logos you choose to promote, matter.

Buyer journey

It’s not as simple as self-service vs inside sales. Buyers will have many different needs and questions based on their company stage, maturity, and change environment.

What should your meeting decks look like? Do they expect to receive send-over decks too? What about PDF one-pagers?

And onboarding: should it be a white-glove service, or should it be self-activation with lots of educational content?

Pricing

Do potential customers need to know the prices before they sign up or request a demo, or is price not the most important factor?

What’s the right value metric: number of seats, utilization, or a flat platform fee?

What’s the number that’s borderline expensive, but at which they would still consider?

Customer support expectations

In my experience, this is the biggest indicator of whether your GTM is working as expected (although, customer support is often neglected in GTM planning).

Is your customer success program set up and aligned with the types of customers you’re bringing onboard?

Are you focusing on self-service content and in-product chat, or are you providing 1 customer success manager for every 10 customers? Do you deliver personalized QBRs on how to maximize adoption and results, or do you just send new feature emails to your product admins?

GTM evolves, but be considerate about it

As you grow and learn more, it’s natural that your go-to-market will evolve along with your customers and the market opportunity. Some businesses will find themselves being pulled upmarket by bigger customers - others will try to force a change.

Especially if you have aggressive funding, you rightly have the space and opportunity to explore multiple GTM motions - just make sure that your choices are considered, and decisions made with aligned tactics and execution.

But at the early stage, trying to be something for everyone risks spreading your focus too thin.

And in this community, we know that a tight focus + increasing confidence = building momentum.


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