The Revenue Reckoning and Resurrection of GTM Strategies in 2024


12 minutes read


In the last few years, we’ve gradually begun transitioning into the “Dark Ages” of GTM strategies. It’s a problem that’s growing increasingly complex, and no amount of artificial intelligence (no matter how innovative) will solve the problem.

Only human beings can bring us back into the light.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for solid “top of funnel” sales activities leveraging intelligence and AI solutions that help boost performance. However, we need a more holistic approach to counteract the issues in the modern landscape.

How did we get here?

Since 2010, practically everyone (including myself), has figured out that a good SDR (Sales Development Rep) can be a crucial tool for driving top-of-funnel growth cost-effectively. They can help reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC) and unlock new sales opportunities in the pipeline.

Over the last decade, the sales role has evolved as a result. The concept of creating specialist roles for operations, sales operations, and sales engagement became the next step in the industry revolution. Technology began to evolve, giving us more resources to work with than ever before.

All of this was great. We celebrated efficiency and effectiveness in the sales landscape, patting ourselves on the back every time we invested in new technology and innovations. What we didn’t realize is that we were also on the verge of a giant comet coming to destroy the revenue planet.

As human beings, we have an annoying tendency to ruin things. In this instance, we were like Captain Kirk and thought we landed on Ceti Alpha V when, in fact, we landed on Ceti Alpha VI. (See Star Trek Wrath of Kahn). The comet of change hit our planet, and the dust flew everywhere, leaving us struggling to see clearly.

We suddenly realized that there were simply too many tools for a rep to use simultaneously, and innovators began turning individual tools into full platforms to overcome the chaos.

Unfortunately, while consolidation works for a while, the cycle eventually begins anew. Dropping interest rates, smarter consumers, and the continued advancement of technology create another series of potential comets to navigate alongside new opportunities.

Good things are happening, from new companies being created to new solutions emerging for sales platforms. Career opportunities are evolving, and product-led growth campaigns are driving amazing results. It all looked rosy – at first.

What happened next?

It seems like every time we enter a period of balance and tranquillity in this world, something comes along to shake everything up. In 2020, that “something” was the dreaded COVID pandemic. More than just a global event, “The Vid” was almost a warning sign.

It forced us to rethink, change, and rebuild new strategies. Like Noah and the Ark, companies started innovating to survive, but businesses and people were still washed away by the flood.

After a few months, the skies began to clear, and the horizon became brighter, clearer, and more infused with hope. Interest rates started to drop, budgets were opened up for funding, and new organizations started sprouting out of the woodwork. Jobs became more plentiful, and salaries increased, responding to the complex economic landscape.

Additionally, the idea of founder-led sales, which has always been around, gained more attention. Still, many founders fell into the belief system that whatever they created, their creation was going to be successful via a PLG strategy. And just like the previous histories, outlandish revenue targets were created. Everyone knew better but could not resist their own emotional impulses to pursue growth and massive money exits.

That brings us to 2022 and 2023 when our “revenue ship” hits another iceberg. Just like with the Titanic, there weren’t enough lifeboats to go around. People are left in the water, wondering whether to sacrifice themselves so others can survive.

By the time 2023 rolled around, hope was again starting to dwindle. Executives stopped everything. They stopped spending money on innovations to help the sales team, they once again slashed their marketing budgets, and their growth dwindled.

What’s worse, humanity began to suffer. Ethics went out the window in favor of survival. It was like the movie “Jaws.” Nobody wanted to shut the beach down on a holiday weekend for safety. They just brought in more “lifeguards.” Organizations thought the sales teams didn’t need training, so they left them treading water, unable to reach up and grab their goals. The result? 93% of companies ended up missing their quota.

Which takes us to 2024

Now we’re here in 2024, and once again, innovation is circling our planet. Artificial Intelligence is taking the world by storm as we discover the power of generative AI and large language models. The response to this new development has been complex. Some love it, others hate it, but either way you look at it, change is coming again.

The only difference now is that companies are less concerned about “losing” people to the floods, the icebergs, and the comet strikes of years gone by. Business leaders assume they can simply replace humans with bots – but that’s not the case.

Artificial intelligence is getting stronger and will continue to evolve, but it’s still more “artificial” than “intelligent.” Through every up and downturn of the era, one of the biggest problems companies have faced is the lack of humanity in sales- something that’s easy to fix with the right sales training.

Throughout the ups and downs of the 2010’s and early 2020’s organizations made cuts to headcount, but they also saw the value of embracing humanization. They brought in sales training to teach the soft skills agents needed.

The same approach is needed now.

The end of 2023 set us up for more disaster, driven by making the wrong assumptions about sales. It’s easy to say that countless companies missed their quota in 2023 because of problems with the “wrong sales team.” In fact, Dr. Howard Dover said: “We had the wrong salespeople in the seats in 2023. We’ve gotten rid of them because so many A players are available now.”

The problem with this view is that most companies assume they’ve hired A+ players already. If they were wrong the first time, what skills have leaders developed to ensure they don’t make the same hiring mistakes again?

The reality is many business leaders are still focusing on the wrong thing. They still rely on the ideation of competitiveness, past performance, and the logo pedigrees of previous roles. They don’t understand that “human skills” define great salespeople.

What’s worse, the leaders embracing founder-led sales still live in the hope that their product or service is revolutionary. They’re still betting on the idea that a “good” salesperson can sell anything without recognizing that they’re hiring “human beings” to sell solutions to other “human beings.”

Now, the silver lining: some companies are on the verge of a resurrection. They’re realizing that customers aren’t yet ready to buy from an AI bot – they still want a human-to-human experience. The most successful companies right now are the ones that bring in tools and training to augment – not replace – their sales teams.

They understand the key to success is about supporting and training their sales teams to connect in a real way with real humans. As a result, they’re reaching out to sales training experts for 1:1 strategy sessions and consultancy support. They’re engaging with revenue consultants to formulate new GTM strategies, and finding innovative ways to avoid future mistakes.

Who will survive beyond 2024?

Companies like Harvard Business Review and HubSpot tell us that 90% of startups fail in the first year. And another 70%-80% will fail over the next several years. So, who has what it takes to survive?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can assure you the winners won’t be the organizations led by people convinced they’re always the smartest person in the room. The survivors of tomorrow won’t be the leaders who assume their solution is “automatically” the best.

These leaders and founders are like the stage moms and dads who think their child is brilliant. These leaders are the ones who think that choosing the right preschool will guarantee admission to an Ivy League college.

The survivors of the years ahead won’t be the organizations led by people who think they can read a book on sales in a weekend and then suddenly be smarter than a VP of sales. They won’t be the companies who believe they suddenly have product-market fit after 20 logos, and they won’t be the founders who think it’s okay to fire sales employees who don’t reach unrealistic goals.

These leaders and founders are Kahn from Star Trek. They think they are about to win like all the bad guys do.

So, who will survive? I believe it will be the leaders who know how to check their ego at the door. These are the people who have enough humility to understand that customers want humanity, not just endless innovation. The leaders that win will be the ones who understand their sales teams need more than just “tech skills” they need conversational sales skills. They need to know how to earn the right to ask questions, which questions they should be asking, and when to ask them.

Beyond 2024, the survivors in the sales landscape will be the Captain Kirks who embrace a Kobayashi Maru approach to their GTM Strategies and Sales Training. And yes, AI will be a part of it. It will not be the pixie dust that Tinkerbell uses to get everyone to fly.

So, do you want to become Kirk or live as Kahn?



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