ARC: A Go-to-Market Strategy for Continuous Improvement

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What is ARC? ARC is a go-to-market strategy for continuous improvement. It is the strategy you need today to deal with the rapidly changing global marketplace.

Let’s quickly align on critical terms.

What is a Go-to-Market Strategy?

A go-to-market strategy is a process for planning and executing the release of products, services, and solutions you are delivering to the marketplace.

What is Continuous Improvement?

Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve our processes incrementally over time.

An overview of the ARC Go-to-Market Strategy

ARC carries with it three meanings for our go-to-market strategy.

  • ARC represents a path we follow from our current state to an improved future state.
  • ARC is an overarching acronym for business Alignment, Refocusing, and Continuous Improvement.
  • ARC is also an acronym for the underlying process of Analyze, Rank, and Change

ARC: The Go-to-Market Strategy for Continuous Improvement

ARC – The Overarching Strategy

Let’s down why Alignment, Refocusing, and Continuous Improvement are the overarching components of the ARC Go-to-Market Strategy.

Alignment

We know that there is a cost to misalignment in business.

Research has demonstrated that the cost is both measurable and significant:

And many of us know that the cost of misalignment at the sales and marketing level alone is negatively impacting our results.

  • Hubspot reported 208% higher marketing revenue for well-aligned sales and marketing teams.
  • Aberdeen notes 41% better growth towards quota goals when issues with marketing misalignment are corrected.

That is why the ARC Go-to-Market Strategy advocates the implementation of two well-known models.

OKRs

The ARC Go-to-Market Strategy starts with business alignment using the OKR model.

OKRs stand for Objectives and Key Results and is an excellent framework to ensure that everyone in the company is working towards the same objectives.

To learn more about the OKR goal-setting framework, read our in-depth article on the subject (and listen to the video from John Doerr we include, it’s solid gold).

Agile Teaming

I began my career in software engineering and have long loved the agile approach to software development.

When I found that the Winning by Design team leveraged a similar model effectively for go-to-market groups, I was in love with the concept.

Their book titled “How to Get to $10M in ARR and Beyond Paperback” describes this approach brilliantly.

In short, however, the POD model discussed by Winning By Design is an excellent way to organize go-to-market teams for success and uses the agile teaming model we profess in the ARC Go-to-Market Strategy for Continuous Improvement.

A POD is a “cross-functional, autonomous team of individuals responsible and accountable for achieving specific business objectives.”

PODs consist of three types of roles:

  • Product Roles – These are the people who develop and deliver the product or service.
  • Operations Roles – These are the people who support the product or service.
  • Growth Roles – These are the people who acquire and retain customers.

Read the book and adopt this approach.

Refocusing

Companies often lose sight of the fact that their internal perspective is limited.

Unless they spend a lot of time speaking with customers and prospects, even customer-centric businesses fail to entirely understand perspectives other than their own.

360 Degree feedback loops, like win-loss analysis and other review processes, are considered essential to the overall strategy.

Continuous Improvement

The case for continuous improvement is evident.

The problem?

Most businesses fail to embrace robust, data-informed change management processes.

We are not suggesting you need to implement ADKAR or a similar model, but carefully planned, reinforced, and monitored change efforts are required to ensure your investment in improvement sticks.

ARC – The Process for Continuous Improvement

Analyze, Rank-Order, and Change Management is the ARC process’s internal and most critical components.

We have long written about the Revenue Enablement Execution Model, and the ARC Model is the next logical extension.

The C in ARC, change management, mainly leverages our existing model.

The execution model is a simple workflow, looking like this.

The Enablement Execution Model

Let’s explore the Analyze portion of our process model.

Analyze

Every quarter, the go-to-market team, whether led by a Chief Revenue Officer or a collection of senior leaders, must sit down with the entire team to essentially review existing processes and identify pain points within them.

While the exact questions will vary, questions like these will help you determine where process improvements, messaging, hiring, and so forth are needed.

  • If you could wave a magic wand and make one change, what would it be?
  • What are the top three things that, if improved, would make your job easier?
  • What is something that sales/marketing/customer success could do better?
  • If we could improve one thing about messaging, what would it be?

These questions should be directed at every level within the go-to-market team, from the newest hire to the CRO role.

And also, remember to include sales, marketing, customer success, customer support, and all other team members.

Best Practices for the Analyze Phase

We recommend meeting in smaller groups to ensure every voice is heard.

We also recommend:

  • Allowing everyone to answer anonymously, whether through a tool like Google Forms or other means.
  • If meetings are virtual, don’t record the session and assure people that you will share feedback with higher business levels without their names associated with it (unless they want them included).
Rank-Order

You will receive a LOT of feedback from your go-to-market teams.

Continuous feedback?

They want it done now.

Your best approach is to use a RICE document for rank-ordering all suggestions.

You can download our templatized RICE document for managing the rank order. It is a Google sheet, make a copy and go.

Here is a screenshot of the document and a brief overview of the rank order process.

Rank Ordering Feedback for the ARC Go-to-Market Strategy for Continuous Improvement

Culling the feedback into a set of challenges to tackle will require you to pull together 2-3 key team members.

Tips for organizing the feedback
  • Review every piece of feedback and try to bucket it into common challenges. Often, many people will raise the same topic.
  • Take an initial pass at capturing these challenges and add them to the RICE document above.
  • Perform this process a second time to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
Scoring in the RICE Matrix

For each top-level challenge, update the RICE matrix:

Reach

For reach, give each item a score from 1 to 10, where one means almost no one will benefit from solving the issue through 10, everyone will benefit.

Impact

For reach, give each item a score from 1 to 10, where one means the change will have a minimal impact on overall experience/effectiveness and ten means a tremendous impact.

Confidence

For reach, give each item a score from 1 to 10, where one means you have little confidence in the team’s ability to implement the change successfully, and ten means it is very achievable.

Effort

For reach, give each item a score from 1 to 3, where one means you can implement the change in one quarter, two means over 2-4 quarters, and three means more than a year.

Score

The score will automatically be calculated based on the information you have populated. Sort the score column, and you have your ranked list.

Now Review and Deliver Results

Review the rankings to ensure they make sense to you, then bring them to the CRO and other senior leaders.

Change Management

You have now done a lot of work and feel excited about all the improvements you can make.

As you review the list with your senior leadership team, your goal is to identify ONE change you will make over the coming quarter, the one with the most significant potential impact.

If you bite off too much, you will fail.

Our recommendation is to go with the highest scored item you can complete in a given quarter. You can always do more as you build organization muscle memory for consistent, continuous improvement.

The change management portion of the process can follow a formal model if your business uses one or simply fall back to using a modified version of the Enablement Execution Model discussed earlier.

Let’s review it here.

The Enablement Execution Model

At this point, we have already completed the following steps:

  • Analyze Business Needs
  • Collaborate and communicate to build alignment,
  • Prioritize based upon business impact

and now need to focus on execution, adoption of the change, and measurement of results.

Implementation is on you and your team. You’ve identified the change; make it.

And the same is true of the measurement of impact. Once you’ve made the changes, you can measure if they have the desired effect.

Remember that you need to measure the impact over time and tie it back to the critical business metrics you are seeking to impact.

But let’s take a few moments to dive into driving the adoption of changes and sustaining the change — this is where most efforts fail.

Adoption and Sustaining Change

In addition to your standard processes, you need to build in continued, and continuous, education for the teams.

The model do you need to use?

The Surrounded Learner Technique.

This technique was developed to counteract the human forgetting process and to work with standard human learning techniques and needs.

Read about it in our article and let us know if you need assistance.

Continuous Improvement – Thoughts from the Boston Chapter of SES

How are companies creating a culture of continuous sales improvement?

Sales Improvement conversation at the Boston Chapter of SESThat’s what the Boston Chapter of the Sales Enablement Society set down to explore — and what we wanted to share with you here.

While we primarily focused on sales coaching throughout our conversation, I’ve taken the liberty to add additional thoughts where they make sense.

 

Background of investment in tech vs. sales improvement

Our conversation noted the exponential growth in sales enablement technology vendors to over 400, yet sales productivity has steadily decreased over the same period.

  • 68% of organizations plan to increase sales headcount
  • 425+ Sales Enablement Technologies, $5B in Investment
  • 53% of Sellers Make Quota & 55% of Forecasted Deals Close

The current investments in technology are not leading to a corresponding increase in sales improvement and productivity.

So — what gives?

Investing in sales technology without investing in the people and the processes will fail.

In this article, we will stay focused on sales coaching as the tool for sales improvement, not instead of investing in technology and people, but in addition to those investments.

Note:  There are no silver bullets for improving sales performance; it requires multiple approaches working in harmony. Remember the foundational elements of building a robust sales engine:

  • A well-defined sales process.
  • Mapped buyer and customer journeys.
  • Onboarding programs.
  • Compensation plans.
  • Other core components.
Continous sales improvement supported by sales coaching

You should review this article on building a culture of sales coaching in addition to these insights.

Our group began the conversation by ensuring everyone understood the distinction between training and coaching. Sales training broadly delivers information and insights to a group, whereas sales coaching personalizes the knowledge transfer to the individual based upon their needs.

For sales coaching to affect sales improvement positively, you must weave it deeply into your culture.

How?

Executives must lead the way

Your executive cannot sit back and mandate coaching; they must demonstrate its importance.

  • Executives should regularly speak about the importance of coaching
  • Executives should have coaches and talk publicly about how their coaches help them be successful
Enablement must be trained, coached, and empowered

Coaching, like any other skill, must be learned first and practiced second.

Ensure your Enablement team receives regular training and coaching on being a great coach and has the skills to coach your sales managers to coach.

Sales leaders must also empower the Enablement team to work directly with the sales managers and leaders to identify skill gaps and performance issues and use this information to ensure coaching is delivered where needed.

A corporate culture of innovation

Eh?

Suppose your overall company culture does not support innovation so that people are comfortable trying and occasionally failing. In that case, it will be hard to drive a culture of sales improvement.

Best Practices for continuous sales improvement

Some of these points have been lightly touched upon above; others have not.

Teach your sales managers to coach

Your sales managers are your secret weapon to scaling sales improvement.

  • Teach them to coach
  • Coach them, so they improve
  • Provide them a framework for coaching
  • Enable them to coach in both one-on-one and team settings
  • Teach them HOW to give feedback. Be precise, not generic.
Enable mentors and buddies to coach

Peer-level coaching can be powerful when correctly done.

Teach your sales champions and influencers the same skills.

Set up a buddy program for new hires, where buddies learn to coach.

Coaching is not a performance review or status update

During your coaching, identify one opportunity for improvement and focus on helping your seller with that one item.

Perhaps, using your conversational intelligence tool or simply sitting in on a sales call, identified a handful of areas the seller could improve.

  • Choose one item only
  • Help that individual to see that improving this area could benefit them in their job
  • Brainstorm ways to improve this item
  • Roleplay the ideas
  • Give the seller homework to practice
  • Document the next steps in an email
  • Review, roleplay, and continue in follow-up sessions
Hire for coachability

There are two primary categories of mindsets when it comes to coachability.

  • Fixed – These people are not open to learning and growing
  • Growth – These people are hungry for development and improvement

As you interview, use questions that explore the potential employee’s willingness to learn and grow, demonstrating times when they have done so in the past. For example:

“Tell me about something you would go back and do differently in your career. What would you do differently?”

Understand competencies required

What skills and competencies are required to be successful in your company in a given role?

Which of these must you hire for, and which are you comfortable teaching?

Sales improvement will only happen consistently in areas for which you can teach and coach. You need to understand your competencies in this area.

And.

Work closely with your HR team and sales leaders.

Use data to pinpoint opportunities for improvement

You can’t change what you don’t measure.

Identify the leading and lagging indicators you will use as part of your overall sales enablement strategy.

Use this information to pinpoint sales improvement opportunities as you identify the business, team, or individual challenges against these goals.

Final Thoughts on the ARC Go-to-Market Strategy for Continuous Improvement

There you have it.

The ARC go-to-market strategy for continuous improvement.

This strategy is powerful and, if used correctly, can help your organization drive significant change and improve critical business metrics.

But as with anything, success comes from hard work and dedication.

ARC cannot be successful without the buy-in and support of leadership and the willingness of the organization to change.

We hope you found this guide helpful, and we wish you much success as you continuously strive to improve your business!

Comment below and let us know how ARC is working for you.​

And, if you could use our consulting help, fill in the form below. We will get right back to you to discuss your business and how we can help.

 

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