In the early stages, your go-to-market (GTM) leaders generally operate alongside a small team—as both a player and a coach—to do whatever it takes to close deals or reach customers. But once you have a foothold in the market and your GTM strategy evolves to add sales motions, serve multiple customer segments, and sell into new regions and countries, you need to hire leaders who can systematize and scale this complexity to get your company to the next level of ARR. 

This responsibility typically falls onto a few leaders in your company: your chief marketing officer (CMO) builds your company’s brand and generates new revenue opportunities; your chief revenue officer (CRO) coordinates your revenue-generating functions to scale your topline revenue; and your chief customer officer (CCO) retains and expands your existing customer base. 

In the rest of this chapter, we offer some guidance for hiring growth-stage go-to-market leaders. First, however, we cover some of the most important things to consider when evolving your go-to-market organization.


    Evolving your GTM org structure

    As we mentioned in The Hiring Process, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to building a GTM org structure, and every decision involves trade-offs. This means that you need to optimize your structure to address the most pressing questions you’re trying to answer. Some key questions CEOs and GTM executives ask themselves at the growth stage include:

    • How do we build a brand that differentiates us from the competition and generates new revenue opportunities? 
    • How do we coordinate multiple sales motions to get our products to multiple customers? 
      • For product-led companies, should we layer in a sales-led motion, and if so, when?
      • For enterprise companies, how do we build out an effective outbound motion? 
    • How are we adapting our go-to-market playbook to accommodate new product launches and operate in new markets and territories?
    • How efficiently are we segmenting and investing in our customers? 
    • Do we need to adjust our pricing and packaging? 
    • For enterprise companies, how are we scaling our post-sales function to capture more revenue? 

    While there are numerous ways to organize your GTM org, we’ve included some common structures and questions to keep in mind as you scale yours.

    Keeping sales, marketing, and product on relatively equal footing. Sales, marketing, and product all operate on different time horizons, and building an org structure that matures their leaders at roughly the same rate balances the power dynamic between the functions and helps them work in sync. Sales typically focuses on quarter-to-quarter developments, marketing concentrates on the next 6–12 months, and product plans 1–2 years ahead. If you hire a CRO while you still have a director of marketing and director of product, for instance, sales might have too big of a voice and force product into short-term decisions that clog engineering with one-off feature requests. Similarly, if product or marketing makes decisions without sales input, you can end up with campaigns promoting future product features and demotivating customers from buying what you have today. 

    Creating specialized sales operations. As you scale, you might need to build out specialized sales operations to remove obstacles to winning deals. This might involve standing up new functions for these operations or disaggregating an existing role into more specialized functions. For instance, as more reps sell your product, you may need a deal desk to coordinate sales, legal, and product to make sure your contracts are consistent. 

    On the other hand, centralizing functions might create a more seamless experience for your customer. Demand generation, sales, and customer success may be more effective at coordinating frictionless experiences for your customers and your teams if they’re merged within a single team in the CRO’s organization. This recent innovation is typically referred to as “revenue operations” or “GTM operations.”  

    Adding theater sales leaders when expanding internationally. As companies expand internationally, they often add a set of theater VPs to oversee defined regions, such as North America, EMEA, and APAC. Most commonly these theater VPs report into the CRO, but companies operating at several hundred million dollars of ARR might have a worldwide VP of sales who reports into the CRO and manages the theater VPs.

    Making bottom-up and top-down leaders peers. The specific expertise required to run a bottom-up motion is very different from that needed to run traditional top-down enterprise sales. The early GTM leader of a company built around organic adoption and product-led growth (PLG) probably focused on building a community of users. When it’s time to layer on enterprise sales, some companies keep the PLG leader running the bottom-up motion and add a VP of sales to manage enterprise selling. These roles work as peers and report into a leader who ensures that the bottom-up motion provides a funnel for the top-down one. 

    Broader trends to consider

    GTM playbooks have also evolved significantly over the past 10 years, and it can be helpful to bring on leaders who have experience navigating these shifting contexts. 

    • The rise of bottom-up adoption and sales assists. Product-led growth, also known as bottom-up selling, continues to mature as more companies lean in to the model because it’s more cost-efficient. Companies that have a product-led motion but find there’s a place in the funnel where sales tend to sputter commonly implement a sales-assisted PLG motion to increase the close rate. This is a distinctly different motion from top-down selling. 
    • The rise of consumption-based pricing models. As more companies introduce consumption-based pricing models—in which a customer pays only for what they use or consume—GTM orgs need to navigate a shifting line between presales and post-sales. Sales often owns closing the deal as well as getting the customer up and spending, while customer success owns services, implementation, partnerships, and value engineering. Growth stage GTM orgs also need to balance optimizing their consumption-based pricing models for customer success and for improving their gross margins. If your company charges on outputs—which might be more aligned with customer value—that pricing model might not scale linearly with the costs of running your company. 
    • The rise of customer success as the owner of post-sales orgs. Especially for enterprise SaaS companies, the rise of subscription- and consumption-based pricing models means more revenue comes from growing accounts post-sales than from landing the initial sale. The customer success org has evolved to both generate expansion leads from within existing customers and refine the motion for account expansion.
    • The rise of AI in customer support. Companies are incorporating generative AI and large language models (LLMs), and in some cases building their own LLMs, to handle support tickets. AI can search through a database of support documentation and provide improved first-line support with succinct summaries and relevant citations that address the issue. 
    • The increased importance of partner selling, especially on cloud marketplaces. In enterprise, channel sales as well as partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and system integrators have long been a part of GTM playbooks. Now, with the number of SaaS apps that people use exploding both within and outside the workplace, partner selling has become a larger portion of revenue for many enterprise companies. In particular, COVID and increasing budgets for cloud spend have fueled the growth of cloud marketplaces selling third-party software. Compared to buying directly from a SaaS company, cloud marketplaces allow a buyer to have a single agreement with the cloud provider and subcontracts around apps purchased on the marketplace, while also giving buyers flexibility to buy out of their cloud budget. 

    Next, let’s look at Hiring a Chief Revenue Officer, Hiring a Chief Marketing Officer, and Hiring a Chief Customer Officer.

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