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GTM, Sales

Authentic GTM — Time to deliver on your promise

Jacco van der Kooij

Written by Jacco van der Kooij

Founder, Winning by Design

Authentic GTM
Cube houses in Rotterdam (Credit: Laura Longwell —

Sales professionals are eager to have a meeting with prospective customers to learn more about their challenges so they can help them tackle those challenges.

But customers do not want to talk to sales to educate them about their problems, and certainly are not interested to populate their calendars with 15 minute meetings. And why would they? Only so the sales professional can convince them that the problem they are solving is the most important?

Customers want their problems solved. Being authentic means solving their problems, not convincing them of which problems to solve.

Match what is sold to what is delivered

At the root is the sales approach itself. Is it the sales teams true intention to help customers solve the problem? The way they are measured and compensated speaks volumes. Let’s not kid ourselves for most companies being customer-centric is just a vanity statement.

Selling with the goal to help solve a client’s problem, and actually delivering against that experience is what we refer to as Authentic GTM.

Extend through to Customer Success

Depicted in the picture below is a more modern approach which provides the customer with a solution to the problem.

Customer Success

There are three new stages to consider;

  • Onboarding — Help a customer to achieve first value of the service
  • Use — Help a customer to actively use the service to solve the issues
  • Expansion — Help a customer expand the impact of the solution

Think in Experiences not in Stages

A customer does not wake up in the morning to call you up and say “I am one of your ICPs, can you move me out of your education stage and into your selection stage?.

In order for us to shift to an Authentic GTM mindset we have to think in terms of the experiences they go through.

customer experience

A customer goes through six key experiences:

  • O’SH!T I have a problem: Sometimes the problem is clearly visible to a customer in which case we are solution selling — or it is still unclear in which case we are provocative selling. Once the customer feels “O’shit,” they also start researching for a solution. This results in inbound leads.
  • AHA there is a solution: The customer has identified a potential solution to the problem often through online research before they are interested to talk to anyone.
  • WOW this is going to fix my problem: The customer gets a WOW experience from the experts at your company, deeper insights, broader perspective and most importantly a plan to success.
  • YEEHAW it works: The first value is achieved and the customer feels the service works as advertised, is delivered on time, within budget, and solves the problem discussed.
  • This is working out. AWESOME: The customer is now using the service constantly. They learn from best practices internally and externally.
  • OMG why did I not know about this before: The customer can’t imagine living without the service and keeps coming back for more, and shares their experience with the world.

Want to exceed a customer’s expectation? Deliver as advertised, on-time, and within budget!

What is Authentic GTM?

Authentic GTM also known as Customer Centric selling is when



At first glance Authentic GTM is where the WOW experience delivered during the sales process matches up with the YEEHAW experience. Cloud providers are starting to catch on to this, and customers today are being delighted with this experience.



Now this is more complicated. I commonly see customers fade using the service 3–6 months into use. This is becoming a huge issue that requires the entire company to rethink how they approach customers, in particular Product Marketing, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success.

A more detailed read on the topic of customer success can be found at Lincoln Murphy’s Sixteen Ventures


Ask yourself…

A few questions that can help your team with the tone of voice, and set the culture of what is needed to become a customer centric organization:

  1. Does your customer get the O’SH!T I have a problem experience from your marketing?
  2. Does your inside sales team/web-site deliver the AHA we have a solution moment?
  3. Is the sales team able to WOW the customer with their knowledge and insights?
  4. Do you get the customer to the YEEHAW as you launch the service?
  5. Are you helping customers experience how AWESOME the service is?
  6. Do you get an OMG experience because you actually delivered on your promise?

Guidance to get started

Research over Email — Encourage your team to research your customer online BEFORE they contact them. I don’t mean find out what they did on the weekend, but rather what their business is like.

Diagnosis before Prescription — Help your customer diagnose the problem first. Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice (by Tony Alessandra)

Ask not pitch — To solve a problem requires that you learn about it, to learn about the problem you need to ask questions. Not to pitch your service into a vacuum. It does not work. So stop pitching contests and instead teach sales teams to ask questions.

Help make a trade-off — Assist the selection process, show the options and encourage getting a second opinion. Provide lots of value.

Share visuals not just stories — Consider simplifying your stories by using more video/visuals to explain the situation. Customers make emotional decision based on things they see, and rationalize these decision using facts and figures such as price and RoI.

Guide not Close — Share what the next months will look like, taking away their worry, and set the stage to extend the WOW experience into a YEEHAW experience.

But most of all…

Sales must focus on making the customer successful NOT closing a deal to hit quota.

In sports we are taught to carry through with the motion and NOT stop on contact. So too in sales, winning that deal is important but only if you can carry through to make your customer successful. That means you have to make solving the customer problem the primary goal. Solving the customers problem and provide these a great experiences throughout the entire process is what we call Authentic GTM.

solving the customer problem the primary goal
Photo Source: Haung, P

So how about that 15 minute meeting?

As for calling a customer up hoping to schedule a 15 minute meeting. Don’t overwhelm them with ten calls. Don’t pitch them when you get them on the phone. Don’t handle objections as they share their concern. Instead; share the research you have done, offer relevant insights that relate to them, perform a proper diagnose by asking a few pointed questions, and if they are interested (and qualified) offer access to an expert to help them.