Mastering the 28 Moments of the Customer Journey that will make or break your GTM


17.5 minutes

I’ve made predictions about GTM in 2030 that are already appearing in the Fortune 100 today. They think that Channel is more synonymous with resell partnerships where only a third of their business gets resold by the end of the decade. I predict that 90% of it will be partner-assisted. The go-to-market motion seems to be parallel regardless of how the money flows, where a third of it may go ‘marketplace,’ a third of it may go ‘direct,’ and the remaining may go through layers of reselling. It’s the fact that you’re going to have 90% of your deals wrapped around partners. How you work with those partners programmatically, and relationship-wise will determine winners and losers over the decade.

Five different things are going on from a business model perspective that are challenging the future of reselling. Remember that 75% of world trade flows through others or $86 trillion of world GDP. You bought your last car from a dealer. You purchased your previous TV at a retailer. You bought your last jar of peanut butter and a brochure this way. Everything you do in your personal and most of your professional life goes through channels of some kind. In the tech industry, it’s 64%. I mean, it’s big everywhere.

The fact of the matter is that Product-Led Growth (PLG), subscription consumption models, direct-to-consumer, value-based / usage-based models, and marketplaces are the five things that are significantly impacting all that flow of money. RevOps is factoring in how all these models get deployed. So if you’re a company today in technology like Cisco, Dell, HP, Lenovo, or IBM, you’ve gone 100% all-in on subscription. Only one-third of their revenue will go through channels, marketplace, and direct respectively by the end of the decade.

If you are a pure SaaS company today or an emerging tech company, your board may pressure you to go with a PLG model that replaces the kind of direct selling, direct marketing motion we’ve been in for 20 years. They point to Zoom, Slack, and the valuation of PLG companies as a success story; there are 175,000 SaaS companies today in the PLG conversation.

My channel perspective doesn’t replace the 90% of your future deals or partner assisted. So whichever kind of company you’re running, whatever model you’re running for revenue, your customer has 28 moments from the point they have a problem to the point when they make a vendor selection that may (or may not be) in your favor. These 28 moments become everything.

In the last ten years, we’ve invested in MarTech and AdTech that have hoovered up your private information, cookies, targeting, and your trace, which will not be available in the next decade. Nearly half the MarTech stack has now been neutered without the data to watch you as you move through those 28 moments. You read the ebook, watch their YouTube video, talk to your neighbor on social media. I mean, you bump across 28 things to build the confidence to make a vendor selection. The only way a company will be successful in the future is if they go and partner. Those 28 owners have those precise moments. GTM leaders must be able to attribute those 28 moments to the actual end purchase. Attribution is key.

Number two is data sharing. Think about a car company. The last time you bought a car, I can guarantee you probably went through 28 moments getting 365 vehicles down to the one you wanted to buy before you walked on to a dealership. Those moments could be “Car & Driver, Edmunds, or a YouTube influencer.” These are all the things that happened via a partner. Brands must share data and attribute those 28 moments. That’s a partnership. In that case, the flow of money is through the dealership.

When legislation loosens up, buying will be more direct through Carvana, to give the example of a car purchase. This model creates a dealership for every industry. A crucial part for these GTM leaders is to disconnect the flow of money from the importance of ecosystem partners. Accenture did an extensive global survey with 76% of CEOs. It revealed that their current business model would be unrecognizable in five years. Because it isn’t PLG, it is focused on ecosystems because consumers are starting to disconnect. How the customer spends money is less important than getting them to the dance in a post-cookie world. In a subscription or PLG model, “leads-to-subscription” keeps that customer dancing every 30 days forever.

So now I need to focus on those partners that help drive adoption, integration, or stickiness. It calls for upselling and cross-sell enrichment. So many things go on every 30 days forever that have nothing to do with money flow. If it’s a consumer, you’re trying to create habits like Netflix. If it’s business, you’re trying to develop those integrations and adoption rates that that customer will never unplug. So who are the partners wrapped around that customer every 30 days forever? Do you have them in your system so you can educate, incentivize, co-sell, co-market, and enable them?

There are 100 things I need to do to affect an excellent partnership to know the people on the left of the transaction and the right. Whether I go PLG or choose a subscription-consumption model, the entire customer journey now becomes my purview as a RevOps leader. I’ve got to make sure that I have a relationship with everyone in the room at every moment of the customer journey. On their blog, in their magazine articles, YouTube videos, social media all along the way.

‘They’re saying nice things about us.’ That’s the new model. It doesn’t matter how the money changes hands anymore, and you shouldn’t be concerned. All you should be worried about as a RevOps GTM leader is that you are inside your market TAM every way your customer wants to spend money digitally or physically. Your brand represents itself in every way, so you’re not creating friction or tension. Not getting to the end of the job and saying, “oh sorry, you can’t buy that way, you’ve got to buy through Larry,” or “you’ve gotta buy through this website.” You can’t redirect a customer once they’re at the dance. You’ve got to be able to transact in the way they want to transact. And whatever market you’re in, you’ve just gotta make sure that you’ve checked those boxes. But your overarching strategy isn’t that. Your approach is more of an ecosystem strategy wrapped around transactions.

The end of the MQL.

If you talk about the future of marketing, you’re not going direct anymore. You may earn one or two of those 28 moments. If the average company we talked to is successful in marketing, the customer might bump into their website. If you’re buying a car, the one you choose, you’re going to go to that manufacturer to configure the vehicle online and select all your options. You’re going to change colors. You’re going to use their tools, so hopefully, they will gather your information at some point along those 28 moments. But if they don’t, they have to make sure there’s some data sharing or something else.

So a marketer is not somebody that’s harvesting private Facebook and Google data lakes anymore. Marketers are looking to create partnerships, share data, and attribute the work. We’re not talking about Kim Kardashian-level attribution consumer-wise. This business-level micro-influencer is the owner of 28 moments. Doing the calculations and the quantification of that 28 leads to a point. Now, marketers’ most significant risk is getting through all 28 moments and not earning or seeing that customer. They could lose a deal now without ever knowing there was a deal. That’s how a marketer gets fired later this decade.

When it comes to a salesperson, we know the future buyer has a significant impact on sellers. We know that millennials will make up the majority of buyers in four years. I want to talk to salespeople within an actual dealership experience. That’s the worst part of buying a car, to go down there for eight hours trying to get a deal with the manager. You wonder what they’re doing in the back. You’re hungry, and you’re tired. You already know the invoice price and back-end rebates are because you looked them up as part of those 28 moments. You already know within $100 of what you’re going to pay for that car. Now, everybody we talked to would pay $100 more just to get it delivered to your driveway and hand you the keys. So this sales avoidance is a big thing.

These moments. They’re moving through these 28 moments to gather the confidence to make a vendor selection without ever talking to a salesperson. That’s over half the cases now. Only in the most highly considered products and most complex issues do you have to involve sales. Marketplaces and many things like growth replace the confidence that a salesperson might give you to get you over that final hurdle. So in a world of sales, you’re now in a world of territory management. As a salesperson, I’m most focused on those people that are getting my customer to the dance. They’re working with them primarily digitally now.

Ensure that when that customer arrives and is ready to get on the dance floor, you’re orchestrating those things. I care less about my geographic territory as defined by the end customer. I care more about my region and all the moments, making sure in those moments ensuring I show up many times in an optimal way. Maybe I’ll need to maneuver myself into the actual flow of money, but I may not have to in most cases.

Customer Success is almost the same story. Is this the “every 30 days forever?” Am I managing the adoption rates, the integration and stickiness rates, the upsell and cross-sell opportunities? Am I looking at the enrichment of the contract, ensuring that those five partners that wrap around the customer, every one of those 30-Day moments, delight that customer and that we will not get unplugged? When you think of a product like SAP, everybody hates it but will never rip it out because it’s like doing open-heart surgery. Instead, build something that delights customers every day, like Netflix. You just never want to unplug that $12 because it keeps entertaining you. The customer is giving a tacit “yes.”

I talked to Marcus Cauchi, and we are two peas in a pod when it comes to this kind of ‘long’ customer journey. We recognize the adjacencies around each of these things that we cannot measure. I think of Mary Shea when she talks about the consolidation of a tech stack. What are you doing about attribution?

Again, we’re not talking about Kim Kardashian on Instagram. We’re now talking about getting your product, getting that customer to the dance, and attributing the most helpful people that don’t work for you. What are you doing about data sharing in a future where you can’t go and scrub a big data lake but have anonymous data? Whoever created the moment needs to share the info with you.

So you could see those early moments are what you’ve been trying to do with a MarTech AdTech stack for a decade. And in the next decade, you’re not going to be able to do it with those tools; you’ll need data sharing at scale.

Over my shoulder, there’s a tech stack with 183 companies. Most go-to-market leaders put more in the channel column than they do in the go-to-market column. You could call this a go-to-market stack, and it’s additive to the sales stack referred to by Mary. It’s additive to the Scott Brinker stack. It’s additive to the Customer Success or Customer Experience stack.

Imagine if you took all three of those stacks at those different parts of the customer journey and then overlaid what you’re going to do to recognize third parties. 96% of Microsoft’s revenue is partner-assisted. 2.5 trillion. The most valuable company globally acknowledges 96% of their deals have multiple people in the room who they don’t report to but could hire and fire them. All they can do is enable them to the point where they say slightly ‘nicer’ things about Microsoft than they do AWS or Google. There are 10s of 1000s of people that work at Microsoft that have the job of bringing on these 400 new partners every single day. By achieving the 470,000, they have already outgrown AWS six quarters in a row by a significant margin because of their enterprise-class channel.

Not because of technology or product-led growth. Not because you know people like the company up in Redmond. It’s because they built an army. Their competitors didn’t. Microsoft better owns those 28 moments than anyone else. Hence why they grew at 51% for six straight quarters inside a pandemic. It’s the realization of this GTM.

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