A go-to-market strategy is one of the most critical parts of any acquisition. And while most companies start creating their GTM plan post-LOI, Pragnya Kashinath believes otherwise. She is the Director of M&A at Cognizant, and also owns and delivers the GTM integration plan for the target organization. In this article, we will all learn how to create a successful GTM strategy.
"No two customers are similar. Every customer's journey is different. So you have to be able to customize the way you are doing go-to-market for each of those customers." - Pragnya Kashinath
Pragnya's role is unique as she is part of the business, not the corporate development team. She helps source targets, which is why she is involved from the beginning of a transaction, and provides a lens from the business perspective. Her focus is to evaluate the target business and understand the combined value of both organizations and how they can translate it in a meaningful way for the customers.
As they go into diligence, her goal is to understand how the target companies sell their products and anticipate possible integration challenges. She needs to develop a hypothesis of what the GTM strategy will look like based on all the data they have gathered.
After the deal is closed, they will collaborate with the target company and pick the right customer to test the hypothesis. There will be learnings along the way, but after fine-tuning and perfecting the approach, they can look at broader sales enablement and expand it across the customer landscape.
She also believes that communication is an integral part of success. Therefore, sales teams and all of the people involved in making the collaboration a success should be properly incentivized.
Lastly, being open to customer feedback is crucial. This will enable you to redefine your approach and continue making your customers happy.
"Customers won't align to your plan. Customer needs are evolving faster than your plan, so you need to have an agile approach to solving client problems." - Pragnya Kashinath
Aside from getting involved initially, one of the key areas that makes Pragnya successful is working with the target company post LOI. They collaborate and make sure that the target company is on board with their GTM hypothesis. Often, a target company will have insights into how they could grow their business if they had access to the capabilities you already have. Pragnya likes to hold a joint sales workshop with the target company and start planning a customized approach for a couple of key clients.
One of the most important things to remember is that no two customers are the same. You need to be agile and customize your approach for each customer. As you test your hypothesis post-close, you need to tailor it based on your customer's needs. This is a very collaborative process every step of the way.
"The idea is not to come and build something brand new. It's about understanding what both companies have and how we bring it together in a meaningful way." - Pragnya Kashinath
The biggest challenge in creating a GTM strategy is acknowledging the difference between how both companies are selling their products. You have to accept that there is no right and wrong approach and that both teams just want to do right by their customers. This is why communication between the acquirer and the acquired company is crucial for success.
However, communication can sometimes be difficult because both companies use different tools and collaboration platforms.
Also, synergy models are very susceptible to overestimation. Often, deal fever kicks in, which causes overreaching synergy models that are impossible to deliver. Pragnya likes to do a side-by-side comparison of both companies' customer lists.
Aside from the revenue that these customers bring in, she also considers the quality of their relationships with the target company. If the connection is declining, she will be able to set realistic expectations on the synergy models. By comparing this data, she will get a good picture of the logical limitations of the synergies combined with extensive market research.