The Modern GTM

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B2B marketing: from trial to land and expand

You might think marketing’s job is done once the USER signs up for a trial. You would be wrong. Yes, the product needs to prove its value to the USER and the sales team will work to convert them into a paying customer — and someday an expansion opportunity. But guess what? Marketing plays an important role in ushering the USER and potentially BUYER through these later funnel stages. 


Trial sign-up to engaged trial

As easy as you think your product is to use, your USERs will need support along the way. There are a variety of ways that your entire company can (and must) support your USERs at this stage. Your sales and community teams will be engaging with your customers and trial USERs to assist them in getting the most out of your product. Through these engagements, you’ll get valuable feedback directly from USERs about where they’re getting stuck adopting your solution and realizing the potential value. 


Based on this feedback, your product team will continue to improve the product experience, including in-product tutorials, and of course, product enhancements. Your education team will leverage this feedback to craft content and other resources (a “getting started” guide, videos, documentation) that help USERs adopt your product successfully, experience the aha moment, and realize the value that your product delivers. 


Marketing supports these initiatives by helping get the educational content in front of your trial USERs at the right time. To accomplish this, you’ll need to integrate the product engagement metrics for each user into your marketing automation system as discussed in Leads! How do we get more leads? These metrics will trigger emails to USERs based on what they have and have not accomplished with your product. The emails themselves will mostly consist of links to the educational content specific to the product engagement or milestone that the USER needs to achieve. Let’s take a look at an example:




Marketing can also create programs specific to this stage of the funnel. Webinars, office hours, lunch and learns, and other events can be great ways to engage with trial USERs and learn how they are experiencing your product, while at the same time providing them with product training and support in this critical onboarding phase.


Supporting the land

When trial USERs meet your qualification criteria, your sales team will begin the sales process. Tactically, you’ll configure your marketing automation system (see Leads! How do we get more leads?) to automatically assign qualified USERs to your account executives. Beyond that, marketing will work with the sales and product teams to develop a variety of assets that aid the sales team and your future customers throughout the sales process. 


The minimum viable sales collateral library


  • Sales pitch deck: 10–12 slides that introduce the company, addresses the “Three Whys,” and sets the stage for a product demo

  • Datasheet: One- to two-page PDF providing an overview of the company and product. Essentially, a variation of the pitch deck with full sentences, short paragraphs, and a few visuals. This is primarily used as an asset that you provide to USERS so that they can share it internally to help them champion your company and product throughout their organization.  

  • Demo: Marketing, product, and sales teams collaborate to design a demo script (think movie script, not shell script) that takes USERS and BUYERS through examples of your product being used to improve the most important real-world scenarios or use cases. 


At some point in the future (or maybe now), you will have a more mature product and a more mature demo strategy. Your sales team will be able to customize individual demos based on the specifics of that opportunity and ideally leverage the USER’s trial to show the value using the USER’s data. But you have to walk before you can run. Sometimes you can go straight to running, and if you can, do it! If you can’t, create a demo of these scenarios the best way you can.

Using your actual product with fake/demo data works best, but if mockups and slides are all you have at this stage, then so be it. You’ll gain valuable feedback about your product, messaging, your customer’s pain, and whether your product will remedy that pain by giving demos, even with just mockups, to potential customers. For your potential customers, the demo is often when they are able to connect the dots between your pitch, what the product actually does, and how it will fit into their current environment and processes.

  • Customer proof: Obviously when you’re just starting to build your product and recruit design partners, you won’t have referenceable customers or case studies. As you do start to gain USERs (paid or not), you should be doing whatever you can to turn their story into some form of reference. Typically, getting a formal, publicly accessible case study takes time and may require a fair amount of logistics with your customer’s legal and/or marketing departments. Believe me, getting these case studies is more than worth the effort. But if it’s proving challenging, you can always start small with a quote that includes relevant metrics or ROI calculations that drive home the value that you deliver. You can always continue working with a customer who gives you a quote to evolve their story into a written case study, video testimonial, and even as a speaker in webinars and other events. Nothing makes USERs and BUYERs more confident about a solution than learning how a peer has been successful with your solution.


Supporting expansion

You’ve hit the gong, high-fived the team, and maybe even celebrated your land deal with a little bubbly. Next up: ensure your new customer is successful with your product as they move from trial usage to integrating it into their day-to-day workflows. We’ll assume that’s going well and you are now starting to think about how you can grow your existing customer accounts. 


Recall that the first deal with a customer is often relatively small and we call this the "land" deal. Now, you are trying to "expand" that customer account by offering them additional products or additional usage of the product they already purchased. Expansion can come in a variety of forms and largely depends on your product and packaging. 


Most common forms of expansion and how marketing plays a role


  1. Additional usage of the existing product for the initial land use case
    How this works will depend on how you price and sell your product. The most common scenario is adding more users (seats) to the existing land use case but is really whatever drives your pricing model (API requests, data volume, etc). 


Oftentimes the initial land deal will only include a subset of the potential opportunity. For example, your customer may purchase five seats even though they have a team of 25. Once the initial team of five is successful, you will work with the customer to onboard and pay for the additional users. Marketing’s role in this scenario is pretty limited and is largely managed completely by the sales team. However, marketing can run campaigns to help get these opportunities moving. 


Account Based Marketing (ABM) techniques can work really well for this scenario, letting you run advertising campaigns that only target specific individuals from this company. The ads should be promoting content, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even create content and landing pages that are customized to this specific company. The goal is generally to augment and amplify what sales is already doing, which is to make these additional USERs aware that their colleagues are using your product successfully and that they should be too!

  1. Additional teams and departments
    If you have one team in a larger organization as a happy customer, it seems reasonable to think that other teams or departments in that organization could also get value from your solution. The beauty of this scenario is that you have an extremely relevant reference customer already in their organization. Working in collaboration with your sales team, marketing can create a case study based on the current implementation. The case study can be private or public or you may even create both versions. A private case study, meaning it is only shared within this company, usually opens up the possibility for a lot more detail to be included. You can also organize events at the company’s office to promote your solution and showcase your successful implementation, such as lunch and learns or internal meetups. ABM advertising, as described above, is even more effective in this scenario as you likely have more work to do to gain awareness and educate other departments that may be in different offices or parts of the world.

  2. Upselling additional product capabilities
    The last expansion scenario is when you have additional offerings to sell to your existing customers. These offerings include higher-priced editions of the same base product but with additional functionality (think “Enterprise Edition”), add-on products that are sold a la carte, and even different products.

    Regardless of the type of additional offering you provide, the strategy is essentially the same as acquiring a net new customer. You will have a funnel that starts with awareness and education and leads to an opportunity and a closed/won deal (see Designing a GTM funnel based on your customer journey). Many of the tactics are the same as well but customized to the additional offering you’re selling and leveraging the fact that your target audience is made up of existing customers. Awareness in this context should be much easier since you will (hopefully) have an established relationship with the customer and your product should be promoting the availability of the additional offering (showing the existence of the advanced features but not letting the customer use them). ABM techniques also work remarkably well in this expansion scenario.


If you’ve made it this far in the Marketing module of the Field Guide, congratulations! You’ve made it to the end. Of course, there’s only so much we can fit into this guide and plenty more your marketing team will be doing than is covered here. I’m always open for a spirited GTM discussion, so if you have questions or want to dig into anything in more detail, you can reach me at bill@unusual.vc.

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