A common mistake businesses make when scaling operations is retaining the system that served them well in the early days. As the company grows, so too must the team’s operating model in order to be effective.
Ideally, all critical teams, such as sales, marketing, and customer success, are aligned regarding their objectives and how they plan to achieve them. This is easier said than done, as most businesses are organised in a way that reflects their history and not their future.
Organisations often deal with silos and fiefdoms, which can lead to a lack of clarity and accountability. This can be addressed by creating an operating model fit for purpose and setting the team up for success.
What the “right” structure is
There is no one-size-fits-all operating model for your go-to-market team (GTM), but certain elements are essential for success at each stage of growth.
The structure of the go-to-market team should evolve as the company grows. It is often best to have a centralised system in the early stages with a small team responsible for all aspects of go-to-market activities.
As the company expands, it can be helpful to decentralise the team and give more responsibility to regional or product-specific groups. It allows the go-to-market team to be more agile and responsive to the needs of their specific markets or product lines.
Investing in a proper structure for your go-to-market team is essential for long-term success. The right one will depend on the stage of growth your company is currently in and the business’s specific needs.
Understanding key roles
Before you can set up your team for success, it is helpful to understand the critical roles within a SaaS organisation: marketing, SDR, sales, and customer success. These four comprise a go-to-market team, or the team tasked with revenue enablement.
Business growth is more likely to occur when all these four departments coordinate their efforts. While each has different goals, they are all working towards the same ultimate objective: to increase revenue.
1. Marketing team
The marketing team creates awareness and demand for the product or service. They do this through various channels, such as paid advertising, social media, PR, and events. Marketing efforts help drive leads into the sales funnel, where they can be nurtured and converted into customers.
2. SDR team
The Sales Development Representatives (SDR) team is tasked with generating new leads and opportunities. They work closely with the marketing team to ensure that the leads they are working on are high-quality and likely to convert into customers. The SDR team uses various outreach methods, such as email, phone, and LinkedIn, to connect with potential customers.
3. Sales team
Once leads are pushed further down the sales funnel, they are handed off to the sales team. The sales team’s job is to close deals and convert leads into customers. They establish rapport, understand customer needs, and negotiate terms.
4. Customer success team
The customer success team ensures that customers are happy and successful with the product or service. They work to reduce churn and increase retention and expansion revenue. Once a deal is closed by the sales team, the customer success team takes over and works to onboard, train, and support customers.
The Island Model
The island model is the default structure start-ups often find themselves in. It involves all teams working independently, with little to no cross-collaboration, but reporting to the same head (the founder). This can work in the early days when the company is small and everyone is focused on getting the product out the door.
The benefit of this model is that it gives teams the autonomy to move fast and experiment. It also allows founders to oversee every aspect of the business. However, the downside is that it can lead to duplication of effort, confusion over priorities, and a general feeling of disconnectedness.
While the island model can sustain a business in its beginning phase, it will eventually need to evolve into something more robust to scale.
The Assembly Line Model
When a start-up transitions to a mid-sized business, the assembly line model is often adopted to meet increased demand. This model has a clear division of labour with everyone focused on their own individual task.
The model works similarly to an actual assembly line, with each team working on their own section and then passing it off to the next unit. The advantage is that it increases efficiency and output since it allows everyone to concentrate on their area of expertise.
Additionally, this setup makes it easier to identify issues. Since the sales process is linear, it can be easily mapped out. Thus, any bottlenecks can be quickly distinguished and fixed.
However, the assembly line model can lead to a feeling of disconnectedness among team members. It’s easy to feel like a cog in a machine and lose sight of the company’s vision. This can demotivate employees and lead to a high turnover rate. Furthermore, it can be challenging to enact changes quickly when things aren’t working as intended.
The assembly line model best suits businesses with a well-defined product and market. If your business is still in the early stages of experimentation, it’s best to stick with the island model.
The Pod Model
The pod model is a hybrid of the island and assembly line. Here, each team - or pod - comprises smaller, nimble groups responsible for different customer journey stages. This could include a group focused on acquiring new customers, another on growing existing relationships, and so on.
This structure allows for a diversified team that can still move quickly and efficiently while also allowing cross-collaboration. It also gives more clarity around objectives and priorities.
The advantage of pods is that they allow room for flexibility and innovation. An ideal pod consists of individuals with complementary skill sets; wherein one can fill in the gaps for another. Diversity can lead to improved problem-solving and provide a competitive edge.
However, one of the downsides is that pods can lead to decision paralysis as more people are now involved in the decision-making process. It can also be a challenge if there is conflict among team members.
The pod model functions best when all team members clearly understand their roles and responsibilities. Pods can be adapted and changed as the company grows, which makes it a scalable solution.
Structure in a hybrid workplace
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a shift in how many businesses operate, with more employees working remotely. This has led to a hybrid workplace, which is a mix of office-based and remote workers.
A hybrid workplace offers many benefits, such as increased flexibility and decreased costs. It gives an employee the freedom to work from anywhere while also offering the opportunity for in-person collaboration.
The question is how SaaS organisations can restructure themselves to take advantage of these benefits. Whether your business employs the island, the assembly line, or the pod operating model, it’s crucial to consider what changes need to be made to fit a hybrid setup.
The key is to formulate a strategy considering the team’s hybrid demands and customer expectations. This may involve:
Reviewing your customer-facing teams and processes to see how they can be adapted for a remote workforce
Implementing new technologies or tools to enable better collaboration between employees working from different locations
Encouraging employees to take advantage of flexible working arrangements
Providing training and support to help employees adjust to the new way of working
According to a McKinsey study, 90% of B2B sales companies have admitted that their current sales model – being omnipresent – is equally or more effective than their pre-pandemic processes. B2B buyers have fully adapted to an omnichannel ecosystem, which means B2B sellers must do the same.
Revenue growth can be challenging for any business, but it is especially tough when teams are not aligned. By setting up the go-to-market team with a suitable operating model and structure, companies can significantly increase their chances of success.
There is also value in considering the hybrid workplace when designing the go-to-market team’s operating model. With more people working remotely than ever, it is crucial to create a flexible system that can accommodate various work styles.
It is important to remember that no two businesses are alike, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Take the time to assess what will work best for your company and implement the necessary processes to make it happen.
Expert advice on operational structure
Restructuring a team can be a daunting task. Identifying issues can also be difficult when everyone is used to working a certain way. That’s why it helps to get a fresh pair of eyes to assess your team’s strengths and weaknesses and how they can be addressed.
Ellivate Consulting comprises a team of specialists dedicated to helping businesses with their go-to-market strategies. We have worked with companies of all sizes, from start-ups to large enterprises, and can help you develop a customised operating model that will enable your team to succeed. Book a session with us today.