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B2B GTM Change Management and Implementation
It’s hard to understate the value of change management and its bearing on implementation. A company could possess unmatched technical skills and develop an iron-clad strategy, yet still fail if change management is not given consistent attention from the start of the transformation. Buy-in is critical in managing how employees respond to news of the new commercial strategy as well. Anxiety tends to spread quickly throughout organizations, especially when professionals remain in the dark about changes to the status quo. Unmanaged fear can become active resistance, creating risk to implementation and success in the long run. This part of a new commercial strategy, the “touch,” is the true X-factor, relying directly on each company’s knowledge of its culture and people.
This is where the tactical role of the CEO, specifically, comes into play. The CEO must steer the change-management effort in parallel with the design of the B2B GTM, which will be carried out by the commercial area and other departments. This gives many people in the company the opportunity to contribute to the company’s future while the CEO guarantees that the implementation strategy adheres to the company’s culture.
a. Commitment from the C-level. It’s worth saying more than once. This is an essential, foundational component of positioning the new commercial strategy as a whole-company journey. In terms of change management, it is also the first step of the process. This effort must originate at the highest level of the business to ensure the B2B GTM is top of mind, organization-wide.
b. A multifunctional approach. Once the whole-company journey is set in motion, a multifunctional approach to communications will kick off the buy-in process. This means announcing details of the B2B GTM to the key areas that will be impacted in a practical way. For instance, messages crafted for each department or audience group, shared through forums such as workshops or one-on-one conversations.
c. Stakeholder management. Stakeholder management is perhaps the most important element of the change-management process. Done effectively, it minimizes silos in thinking and helps professionals understand the motivations of the B2B GTM. While the multifunctional approach may address professionals in groups, stakeholder management means listening to individuals and preventing small concerns from getting bigger. This should be done with honesty, sensibility and respect—and from the very beginning. It’s important to remember, however, that communication does not mean making everyone happy and giving them what they want; it means ensuring they feel heard and know what to expect.
Implementation is the point at which all elements of the Strategy-to-Execution toolbox converge. It is also when change-management efforts will tangibly take shape. We define implementation through three core steps, but to make these principles pragmatic relative to the CEO, here we’ll focus specifically on how that role is embedded within each.
i. Define your strategic premise. The strategic premises of the GTM are what justify how the implementation will take place. For example, if the company is in financial trouble, a tight timeline and capturing results immediately could be the strategic premise. Making this decision is precisely the CEO’s role, as is formulating communications about these decisions. Defining the strategic premise should result in a roadmap of steps for the implementation to follow, and a calendar of when each milestone of the B2B GTM will be activated.
ii. Implementation architecture. This takes the roadmap away from the CEO and details it so that the proposed timeline can be validated or challenged. At this stage, four elements should be discussed to build a full view of the implementation architecture:
- A complete list of all activities included in the B2B GTM
- How long each individual activity will take to complete
- Who is responsible for executing each activity
- How each activity is connected to those around it: what actions cannot take place until others are completed, and how each phase impacts the next. For example, if communications have not been completed, commercial work fronts cannot be implemented. This step should also analyze the availability of resources—if there are too many work fronts for the number of professionals, the CEO must decide if the timeline should be extended, or if other activities will be deprioritized.
iii. Project management. Strong project management is how the implementation architecture (roadmap and timeline) is maintained. The project manager should serve as a liaison between the leaders of the work fronts and CEO. The two primary responsibilities of the project manager are 1.) to coordinate the process and 2.) guard its design. For this reason, it is ideal for the project manager to be included in the B2B GTM from the design phase. The project manager should be able to streamline details into executive summaries, make connections between areas and identify actions in advance. Importantly, being able to recommend solutions rather than report progress and problems is key to boosting the CEO’s capacity to make quick, effective decisions.
When it comes to change management and implementation, how you choose to approach the journey is as important as reaching its endpoint. The road ahead will undoubtedly be challenging, requiring adjustment and complex choices. In the end, a truly transformative B2B GTM—one that accelerates specific objectives and advances the success of your company and its professionals—requires striking a careful balance between technical expertise and implementation in the specific context of your business.
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