This article was originally published by Forbes on June 25th. You can view the original article here.
Every growth spurt is an inflection point and, as in rock climbing or hiking, the time for switchbacks. For the uninitiated, a switchback is where a trail's steep inclines are too difficult to run directly up. Instead, back-and-forth trails are used to gradually lead a hiker up the trail. For a growing company, a switchback is where you must stop doing what you are doing and re-evaluate everything through the lens of your new desired endpoint or goal. What got you here may not get you to the next stage. As a fast-growing company, your execution mode switch keeps you glued to the surface. You are always analyzing how fast you are going, but you rarely check in to see if you are in the right race or, in the case of the hiking example, on the right trail. Being on the wrong trail can be fatal. Switchbacks allow you to create a path.
In tech, we use the phrase “go-to-market" (GTM) plan quite literally from the day we are ideating. It's supposed to be critical to our growth. It's our roadmap of sorts for getting our product-market-fit and beyond. In a fast-growth environment, though, we are so focused on the daily execution of sales that we are glued too close to the surface. We sometimes lose sight of the trail and miss our switchbacks.
What do you think is a surefire way of stalling or reversing the growth of a fast-growing company? Working against an outdated plan or sales playbook that is well past its shelf life. As your company grows, your internal and external circumstances change. What works for series A will not work for series B. If you have great execution on a not-so-great plan, you will go the wrong way fast.
Organizations are dynamic beings. They are constantly changing and evolving. At every stage, your go-to-market plan should be changing. A great one is never static, and it's always dynamic. You have to adjust your go-to-market plan as new milestones are met, new data is found and new competitors are identified. We do that within our organization every quarter. Working on an outdated go-to-market plan in a dynamically changing internal and external environment is like hiking with an outdated map. You would never do that, so why do you think it's fair to run a sales organization this way?
It's not important to just have a plan -- it's imperative to ensure that the sales team is able to track performance against the plan, as sales is the most dynamic part of the organization. It's always changing. Even if the organization remains stable for a while, personnel is moving in and out and across roles all the time. All the stakeholders, the old and the new, need to know the latest plan, be able to execute it and know how to track against it.
Sales teams, especially those that are part of a fast-growing organization, need an always-alive go-to-market plan that will sync with their existing systems to update the plan with changes as they happen in real time. Sales leaders need this insight to adjust and course-correct. The days of annual planning cycles are long dead. Increased competition does not allow fast-growing organizations to wait an entire year before they can adjust. A year is a long time.
Dharmesh is a member of the Forbes Technology Council.