Go-to-Market Strategy for an AI Product – From Insight to Action Plan (Part 3 of 3)

Daniel Faggella

Daniel Faggella is Head of Research at Emerj. Called upon by the United Nations, World Bank, INTERPOL, and leading enterprises, Daniel is a globally sought-after expert on the competitive strategy implications of AI for business and government leaders.

Go-to-Market Strategy for an AI Product - From Insight to Action Plan (Part 3 of 3)
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Welcome to part three of this three-part series on go-to-market strategy for an artificial intelligence product or service. In part one we talked about what kind of insights you want to get out of a go-to-market strategy. In part two we talked about how those insights are gleaned.

We talked about secondary and primary research strategies that we actually use here at Emerj and things that you could take and use in your own company, some of which are pretty complicated and are maybe best done by a research firm, some of which are pretty easy to do at a very small team.

Once you know what questions you need to answer to successfully launch an AI product or service in a way that’s going to resonate with the market and drive revenue, how do you do the research?

When we deliver on a go-to-market strategy project for a client, the goal is not to hand a report over. It’s about action. How do we translate the insights from the market? How do we take them and turn them into something that changes what we do in the business to better suit that?

And while every go-to-market strategy project is going to be different, generally speaking, there are broadly four areas of action that business leaders will want to determine:

  1. The markets that they’re deciding to commit to
  2. The buyer for the product or service
  3. Marketing collateral (landing pages, sales material, etc.)
  4. Hiring plans for sales, marketing, and product needs

We’ll run through these four in part by carrying over an example from episode two of this series: conversational interfaces in the banking sector.

Action Plan

Finding the Markets to Commit to

Let’s say that you, the business leader, did your homework and got a sense of what your team was capable of. You talked to real buyers, leaders in different parts of the customer service side of various banks, and found that demand was hottest for call centers.

You might have found that a voice response system is best suited for your technology and that there’s a big market for that. Maybe it’s not. In order to figure this out, you’re going to want to look at what the current size of the market is. How much are banks willing to spend to solve that problem today? You get that from doing all the primary research we talked about in the previous episode.

In addition to that, you’ll want to take a look at your own capabilities. What is your team good at? Does your team understand voice and speech data? Is that a capability you have within your company?

These are all going to be considerations so that when we get done with that go-to-market strategy homework, we’ll be able to make a much more informed decision as to where there is going to be a lot of money in the future.

Determining the Buyers

Next up is determining the buyers and stakeholders that you’ll actually need to influence to get a deal done. If you try to pick this first and then determine the market or product category second, you’re almost always going to step on your own feet.

The fact of the matter is that if you’re selling into the enterprise, it’s pretty unlikely that the whole landscape of stakeholders that you’re going to have to influence in the call center space is going to be essentially identical to the landscape of folks that you need to influence on the chat interface side of things, for example. The same could be said in the healthcare space or anywhere else. The definition of the buyer, the day-to-day life of the buyer, and the various stakeholders that are going to be involved is going to be different.

To start with, you’ll get a sense of which are the stakeholders that you’re going to start the sale process with. Who’s most important to reach first? This is often a critical question because it’s not always going to be the person that cuts the check. Sometimes it makes sense to shoot right for the economic buyer on day one. Sometimes you have to build influence from a lower level.

Whatever the case may be, you’ve got to think about who you’re appealing to first because a lot of the outbound marketing that you do, a lot of the marketing collateral you’re going to build, is going to be geared towards first touch points.

Of course, we’re going to need assets for those people later on down the line. But oftentimes if we’re selling into the enterprise, we need to look at who’s going to get touched first.

If your homepage or initial sales collateral doesn’t address the first touchpoint well, it’s going to be hard to get a deal through.

In addition, who’s the ultimate check cutter? What are the sets of titles? What are the sets of roles of that person who ultimately will give the thumbs up and transfer the money? A business needs to have ways of addressing them in terms of the sale, deeply understanding their fears and the opportunities that they’re pursuing.

You’ll also want to look at the existing vendors selling into the space. Whether or not they’re artificial intelligence vendors, you’ll want to see who your buyers are spending money with now. There’re lessons to be learned, such as discovering what their key features are.

There’re lessons to be learned about what their value propositions are that they tout in their marketing and what the language is that they’re using to attract the person that you want to attract to buy. All of these are things that you can really dial into deeper once you know who is ultimately going to cut the check.

Creating Marketing and Sales Collateral

If you know the market and you know the product and the product category and understand who the stakeholders are, then you can get a sense of how to redo and overhaul marketing collateral, landing pages, and sales scripts. You can get a sense of what your main digital assets should look like. Do they appeal to the main benefits that you need to appeal to and appeal to the major objections the buyer needs to get over?

Going with the conversational interfaces example, you could find out that for buyers the biggest opportunity is a smoother, seamless user experience, that they want to have a better experience on mobile than their competitors and that seems to be what all of them are thinking about. Does your homepage represent that? If you know who your first touch point is and you know what those people are running towards and away from, you’ll want to build a homepage that reflects that.

You’ll also want to look at your sales collateral. What are the PDF case studies that you’re sending out? What are the use cases and white papers that you’re sending to people? Do they double down on and emphasize the things that are exciting for your potential buyers? Are they addressing those objections in this sphere overtly?

If a potential buyer isn’t reflected on your homepage or sales collateral, you’re doing it wrong. When we do this with clients, often it involves really tightly analyzing the marketing strategy of competitors and getting a sense of the wording and the language that’s used for the companies that are successful.

We get a sense of a library of value proposition phrases that we can make sure to sprinkle and integrate into sales collateral and content marketing efforts so that a business has real ammunition to move forward. But anybody could do this if you knew those insights.

When you fully understand the product, the market, and the potential buyer, how do you bake that into everything that you’re doing for marketing and sales? That’s going to be a critical element here.

Determining a Hiring Plan

Let’s say you’re selling into the healthcare space. You’ll likely need salespeople that can speak with doctors, and that’s going to be a different sales team than if you’re selling to CEOs. If you’re targeting the C-Suite, you’ll have people dress differently and talk differently. They’ll talk bottom line and competition.

If you’re talking to doctors, you have to know some of their terms. You have to know the frustrations of their day-to-day life. You might have to understand some of the medical lingo. You might want to hire people who’ve sold to doctors in the past. That’s a very different person than someone who’s used to sniping the C-Suite for some kind of B2B SaaS solution. That’s a different kind of team.

So when you’re going to staff up to make growth happen, once you know what market to attack, you’ve got to take into account your team considerations, the kind of plan moving forward for how you’re going to grow and what parts of your team are going to expand and what elements you’re really going to want for sales roles, for marketing roles, for product teams.

You maybe don’t need to hire the kinds of programmers that you have a job offering up for right now. You might need a different kind.

For sales, you might need to totally scrap the job opening that you have listed on your website and completely rewrite it to make sure that you’re getting somebody who’s truly going to resonate with the job, who’s going to understand the specific challenges and has the kind of experience that’s going to deliver results.

Moving Forward

Putting all this together is going to be different per project. It will depend on how much you’re trying to get done and if you’re overhauling a whole suite of products. Are you building one very specific, targeted product for a single individual economic buyer that you know how to target?

Complexity levels are going to vary, but in terms of what it looks like to take the insights from a really solid go-to-market research deliverable and turn it into an action plan, often this is going to be two or three weeks of intermittent meetings.

Maybe it’s only once a week. Maybe it’s a couple of times a week for 45 minutes. Sometimes it’s going to depend on teams. It often doesn’t take six months to translate this into action, but it’s also not something that people should expect is going to happen in a half day.

You shouldn’t sit everybody down, break them away from work realistically and map out how the whole business is going to change in one session. You’re going to have to throw this on a weekly docket, and somebody in leadership and the leaders of different functional areas of the business are going to have to attend.

If it’s a small team, they’ll want to cluster together and make sure that this is part of whatever their weekly strategy meeting is. Maybe it’s after metrics on Monday; maybe it’s on Friday, whatever the case may be.

You’ll want to dip into this a few times and gradually bake this into your goals, break this out into tangible tasks and digest this as a company. Sometimes it might take half a month to actually do; sometimes it takes a full month.

It’s going to depend. But it’s often not much more than that when you’ve taken the concepts, the ideas, and the insights from go-to-market and really baked it into a better strategy for attacking the market and growing the company.

Actual execution is going to vary, but ideally, that’s what you should shoot for, and that’s what people should expect. It isn’t something that a company can download without having some of those high-touch meetings and asking those critical questions after the fact.

Hopefully, this series has been helpful. We do a lot of this work. In terms of what I explained in this series and how these things roll out, it’s not from reading blog posts, it’s from doing the heavy lifting and having to go through this process, digest these things, and work with teams to get this done with them.

If you’re thinking about overhauling a current suite of products or if you’re thinking about bringing a new product to market and you’re going to be putting a lot of money behind it and want to attack it the right way, then feel free to reach out to us for help.

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