Implementing an Actionable GTM Strategy

Implementing your GTM Strategy is one of the most crucial parts of integration. Learn all the challenges of implementation featuring Hannah Leung, Senior Manager, M&A at Salesforce.

Implementing an Actionable GTM Strategy

9 May
with 
Hannah Leung
Or Listen On:

Implementing an Actionable GTM Strategy

Implementing an Actionable GTM Strategy

“Do not underestimate the complexity of an existing company. Keeping an eye out for the differences and understanding how that might impact the integration plan is really important.” - Hannah Leung

Just had a great interview with Hannah Leung, Senior Manager, M&A at Salesforce, where we talked about the challenges of implementing an actionable GTM strategy.

special guests

Hannah Leung
Senior Manager, M&A at Salesforce

Hosted by

Kison Patel

Episode Transcript

The Relationship of Integration with Corporate Development

Corporate development acts as a hub, and then integration act as a spoke. We essentially work with a number of different teams, collaborate, and can report to the corporate development team on a regular cadence so that we can all work with our field teams as well in our different functions and really grab the best of the minds across the different teams as we go through the integration. 

We usually start getting involved during the due diligence cycle, and we represent essentially our area of expertise, much like any of the other teams. We think through that go-to-market notion about how our customers impacted, what are things to consider given our knowledge of the field teams and their current state, who would be the best collaborators, etc.

Getting Involved During Diligence

Depending on which deal it is and which team, how much the team should be involved, and the type of deal, we would do a management presentation where we learn more about the company. 

And then, we also do individual interviews as a team for each function, and then we provide a recommendation. We really want to understand what that customer experience looks like across the spectrum. 

From a sales perspective:

  • How do your different sales teams interact with your customers?
  • What's your messaging? 
  • How do you guys get involved? 
  • Metrics  

Post-sales perspective 

  • The success function- how they interact with customers and build a relationship with them
  • The support function - if customers have issues, how do you deal with them?
  • Are there any automated processes that the team uses for renewal 
  • Services - how you help customers stand up once they buy your product. Those are the four main areas.

We come together as a team across all of the different functions and with the Corp dev and review everybody's recommendations and take that into account as we think about the integration plan across the board. 

We collaborate, and we also try to understand each other's functions a little bit, discuss which function might be impacted or we might need help from, and start having those conversations a little bit earlier as we think about the integration planning

Preparing for Integration 

One thing that we often do as we think about the integration strategy is the overall V2 MOM: Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures of integration. 

We think about the high-level goals of the integration, and then we figure out who can help lead and make sure that we're all continuing to execute across those goals. We also start highlighting some of the potential challenges.

Common challenges when implementing go-to-market? 

So one thing I think we really try to keep in mind is to make sure that we continue to keep a customer focus. 

We really try to think about what the customer journey looks like across the board. What are the teams involved? For example, if we take the buying process, there are the leads that the customer gets, and then the account executive becomes involved. 

If we're lucky that the deal goes through, but after that, there's also figuring out implementation needs a customer might have. 

So as we think through each of those processes, we have to figure out what those customer touchpoints are and how we want to communicate across the board and take that customer journey. 

We also think about some of the concerns of the acquired theme and the existing team.

  • How soon can we start selling this new product? 
  • Can we start selling right away?
  • How do I collaborate with existing sales? 
  • Does our comp structure change? 

We try to be very transparent and collaborative as we think through those challenges so we can really have the programs in place to support them. 

Working with Communication

We work very closely with our comms department. We usually draft documents together, and also it goes through a legal review to make sure that we're not taking on any additional risk with these communications. 

And also, we work with the acquired leaders as well as we go through that communication process because of course, they know their customers best, they have close relationships with them. They can help us anticipate what those customers may have questions about.

The comms department is excellent about giving us insights on what to keep in mind. 

  • This is what happens at the close. 
  • Continuing to work with acquired leaders and existing teams to draft additional messages. 
  • What are upcoming details that you should look forward to? 
  • How might things be changing for the customers, etc. 

It's an ongoing communication, and we use tools like Slack channels, workflows, et cetera to gather feedback and questions from the field teams. 

Quote-to-cash 

With the subscription model or a SaaS model, it gets pretty complicated because you're not only responsible for completing the sale, but also for the add-on, renewals potentially, and, unfortunately, attrition events at times as well.

And as we think through the integration plan, we go through a quote-to-cash process and many of those different steps. We have to look closely and understand how each process is executed within the organization and how things are changing. We figure out some of the system's limitations and then use that as guidance for our integration plan. 

That's why it's important to understand what the teams might be looking for as well. A big challenge with the post-sales process is, as we think about bringing more customers in, we need to think about scale. We also need to think about keeping that product expertise as well. 

And we work closely with our field teams to figure out this is what this product looks like, and these are some of the complications of executing or implementing this product. 

  • How do we build self-service, automated programs that help more customers get onboarded quickly?
  • How do we make sure that when a customer that's already a Salesforce customer wants to learn more about this new product, the existing teams that they're working with know where to point them, even though they may not have the expertise. 
  • We may also have to consider how we build enablement programs so that when people should be learning more about this new product, as we scale, they have the right resources to do so and so on and so forth.

How does approval work 

For smaller organizations, their approval is just going up to the CEO all the time. Whereas at Salesforce, that approvals process might be a little bit more complicated.

So we have to think about how we align the same approval process, minimize risk, and make sure that all the customers will have the same terms and conditions as we integrate this new product. This is all part of the lead-to-cash process. 

It's not scalable if you have a single person that approves everything so you want to make sure that there is automated approval processes for certain scenarios. So even if that one person is out, it doesn't become a single point of failure.

Provisioning

Provisioning is part of the entitlement process after the sale happens and you have to make sure the customer gets access to the product. For smaller teams, a lot of that is very much manual. 

As part of the go-to-market motion, we have to collaborate with the product teams and post-sales team to make sure we understand what the provisioning process looks like.

So that if it needs to be automated, we need to figure out how to do that because it's okay if it takes maybe five minutes to provision a new customer when you're a small company. But imagine you have hundreds or thousands of new customers, and that's not scalable anymore.

We need to figure out how to automate provisioning and find different people who can help with the provisioning process instead of just one person.

Data Structure

For some of our acquired products, when they're smaller and have fewer customers, a lot of it is just thinking about the assigned licenses that the customers have, and that's the end of it.

And then a lot of the data collection about how the customer's doing? Are they actually adopting the product and getting value out of the product? That all depends on the relationship between the success managers and the customer.

So as part of that go-to-market process review, we think about the necessary data structure changes so we can automate everything.

Timeframe 

It varies a lot. It could be months, sometimes more than a year, but it also depends on the function. Some functions are easier to integrate than others, and not all functions have to come in at the same time.

It's good to make sure that there is thinking into whether or not they're ready to come into the mainline business and what support they'll need to be successful?

Otherwise, you're acquired companies get very frustrated, and they're more likely to trip potentially as well. So that's an important piece. We have to be very methodical and also considerate about what's a good time and what's a good path for them.

We try to be as close to the acquired leaders as possible and the teams as well, so that we get up and we do surveys. The corporate development team also helps run surveys to see where people potentially are having challenges or feel like they're not as well supported. And I find those surveys really helpful.

Hardest Part

It's making sure that you continue to stay passionate and making sure that you keep the customer and the employees at the center of things. I think there are a lot of distractions at times when there are challenges with the process, and that makes it harder for them to integrate.

That roadmap is also very complex. So it takes a lot of mental power to figure out exactly what needs to be done. And obviously, there are potentially like cooks in the kitchen, where you are collaborating with a large team. And it's important because there are a lot of different areas of expertise to account for.

But at the end of the day, it is just making sure that you continue to keep people at the center of things. Even if things may not go as well as you originally planned, having that transparency and having that empathy and honesty throughout the process is what keeps people continue to be motivated and adhere to that process and be patient with it.

Best Practices on Alignment

The Corp dev team does a pretty good job setting the right meeting cadence and expectations. We've also started using Slack to help drive some of that knowledge transfer and just knowing people can't all show up to the meetings at once.

We've set up workflows where people can submit their updates, be more async, and see what's going on in other workstreams that might be relevant to them without having to necessarily always join that meeting. 

And then, people could also have shorter attention spans, and there are multiple inflight initiatives. Using all those automated workflows is helpful. 

Huddles have also been helpful. Having a quick conversation with someone to clarify some of the probable nuances of the integration. And then I would say shorter, more frequent just in time enablement for the field teams has been really helpful.

So, in addition to, of course, having a large training session where you get to review your rules of engagement, your collaboration strategies, initiatives, et cetera. Having things like your Slack channel, having pinned content, and having shorter documents that are very concise in explaining what people need to do just in time, can be really helpful as well. 

And so it's really good to make sure that there is an easy place for people to go to, to access information that they'll need.

Ownership

We do a pretty good job of ensuring that it's pretty visible who is responsible for what acquisition. People are very responsive when you ask questions, and we have very good collaboration. 

Then we also have documentation that helps track which is responsible for what. Who are the owners of the V2 MOM? 

Sometimes for larger acquisitions, there's also a RACI model for who is responsible for which workstreams and so on that helps people keep track. 

Short Huddles

Initial alignment is really important. I agree that there's still a need for some of those long meetings to set the stage and so on and so forth. But I think some of that async work on aligning what the values are, the vision is, and then who is responsible for each piece of the execution helps get rid of some of that overhead.

I think it's also important to recognize who are most frequent collaborators or where potentially the long tails of the acquisition would look like, so you can set up upfront; this is how you might want to engage. 

Also, working between crypt docs has been helpful where people are able to provide feedback and comments asynchronously and think about all of those things that you can. 

Keeping people focused on the deal

A lot of it is trust. Everyone comes in with expertise in their areas; trust that your collaborators execute on the part that they're responsible for. 

And then you always keep an open channel for communication and make sure that if they need something from you, you're able to respond quickly and have a good conversation about the challenges you're experiencing?

And then what are the anticipated actions that you need your collaborators to take. It's making sure that we stay focused on what the actions are and also what is the impact or the 

I always assume that people come in with good intentions. Often, for an acquired company, or even for our existing teams, it is challenging, or people have a lot on their plates and on their minds. 

And sometimes, when things get potentially taken out of context, or it feels like people might be saying, no. It's good to keep in mind that everyone's trying to do what's best for their team and the company and have that conversation with that in mind so that you can continue to build upon that trust and that collaboration environment.

Advice for young practitioners

Sometimes you'll go into a new program or new project, and you're going to go through a phase of feeling nothing and being probably a little bit stressed and a little bit overwhelmed.

And then you are going to, over the course of maybe a couple of weeks or a month or two, feel like you learned a lot. And then, because the organization is so large and the program can be so complex, and a couple of weeks, they might feel overwhelmed that you don't know anything again.

And so there's a bit of that kind of wave of feeling like feeling really overwhelmed and then feeling more confident. And I think that's perfectly normal because there's always so much to learn and you can't really know everything at the end of the day. 

But as you build on those relationships that you can really lean on, you can address those questions more effectively and keep in mind that you always have something to offer.

Also, it is crucial to give those acquired employees somebody to reach out to, either a buddy or a regular cadence of meetings where they can ask questions, et cetera. 

Because if you're a new employee and you're coming into a team, you're surrounded by people who have been there for a long time, which can help you on a more regular, ad hoc basis. But for acquired teams that are all coming into new systems, new team structures, new organizational culture, sometimes as well.

And it's really important to know that, there are probably many things that they don't know, and it can get overwhelming really quickly. And so making sure that you recognize that and help them find ways to address some of that confusion or some of that feeling of overwhelming confusion, et cetera, can be really important.

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