Marketing, Sales Execs: Go-to-Market Capabilities Ineffective

June 10, 2008

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Most global companies acknowledge significant deficiencies in their go-to-market process – the strategic and tactical aspects of delivering and supporting a product/service offering to the marketplace – according to a new CMO Council study.

The go-to-market process includes product specification, pricing, distribution, marketing communications, sales, after-market support and customer experience management.

Marketing and sales executives were highly negative when it came to rating their own go-to-market effectiveness:

  • Only 6% of senior marketing executives rated their go-to-market marketing capabilities as extremely good, and only 6% of senior sales executives placed themselves in the top category.


  • Among large-company respondents – those with more than $1 billion in annual revenues – the numbers are only slightly better, with roughly one in 10 executives rating their go-to-market capabilities as extremely good.
  • The self-ratings results are similar for the go-to-market sales capabilities:


The “Driving the Bottom Line from the Front Line” study surveyed some 1,000 senior marketing and sales executives from enterprises across multiple industries and was conducted in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The survey examines a range of marketing and sales variables tied to companies’ go-to-market processes – including their strategies, functional competencies, operational processes, customer knowledge, relationship-management practices, budgeting and level of innovation.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Slow transition from vision to action: Though the vast majority of executives view marketing and selling capabilities as the most critical contributor to commercial success, many have not made the effort to take action by engaging in major or sustainable capability-building initiatives in the last five years. Two-thirds (66%) have undertaken fewer than four high-profile initiatives to improve their marketing and sales capabilities over the last five years.


  • Short-term over long-term: In attempts to strengthen their business, many high-ranking executives seem more focused on near-term operational challenges than on building advantage over a longer time horizon. Most of the executives surveyed said they were focused on selling effectiveness and account management (43%), while placing less importance on longer-term capabilities such as customer data capture, integration, mining and warehousing (15%). Improvements in channel management (14%) or multifunctional selling teams (11%) also ranked relatively lower.
  • Insufficient training relative to other talent investments: Most respondents (56%) said investments in people (talent and performance management) would be key to enhancing go-to-market performance over the next three years. Yet relatively few (24%) are planning to improve their existing teams’ skills and capabilities via increased training and development.
  • Attention focused inward vs. outward: Though most marketing and sales professionals (58%) strive to be considered best-in-class, few are prioritizing analysis of competitors’ strengths and best practices. Less than 8% ranked looking at best practices externally or internally as a top priority.
  • Resting on the “tried and true”: Companies appear to be relying on traditional metrics such as revenue growth (85%), acquisition and retention (53%), market share (49%), and margin improvement (47%) for evaluating go-to-market performance. Input and insight from consumers and the channel are lower on the list of priorities.

“To the extent that they are striving to enhance their go-to-market skills, many companies seem to be focusing largely on small and near-term problems instead of tackling larger strategic, operational and organizational issues,” noted Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “This shortsightedness can have broad and negative ramifications for enhanced efficiencies, revenue generation and profitability.”

And according to Miki Tsusaka, a senior partner and global leader for the marketing and sales practice of The Boston Consulting Group: “Continuous changes in the global marketplace require that companies have a strong and ongoing developmental focus on improving their go-to-market capabilities. To succeed, companies need all marketing and sales functions working together holistically. Moreover, these functions must be closely aligned with an enterprise’s corporate growth plan and strike the right balance of getting internal and external (i.e., consumer/customer/competitor) inputs.”

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