A port mortem plan for Q1 and plan for Q2

Leading a growth company is often like being an explorer like the brave souls who pioneered the westward expansion in America. Every day is hard work, every day you must make critical decisions and every day the condition or circumstances change. At first you are in familiar territory and the context is understood and decisions feel easy. Then you expand into new territory. The opportunities seem broad and diverse, there is excitement and the options seem numerous and the decisions grow more challenging. After you pass the green fields of opportunity you eventually hit obstacles and challenges not unlike the current macro environment. Now decisions have become life and death, the choices are narrower and more critical than ever before. Now we must circle the wagons and plan our path.

So what does it mean to circle the wagons? Well in many respects it is a literal recommendation to gather your team, shrink the distance, narrow the scope and sharpen your focus. In the westward expansion it was a defensive strategy to avoid an undefended front, concentrate resources and protect each other. Read on to see how you can circle the wagons after Q1.

Circling the wagons for a growth company trying to weather external forces like our current macro environment requires a three-pronged adjustment to your strategy around ICP, Persona and GTM approach. Let’s dive into each with some tactical advice on how to address. Alt text

Strategy Refinement

In challenging times it is critical to reassess your strategy to ensure it still works given the current environment. The key focus of this analysis should be targeted around what type of companies you should be targeting, who at those companies you should be talking to and what is the most effective way to get engagement.

ICP - the financial headwinds of the SaaS industry, recent bank failures, rising interest rates and general economic instability will impact industry verticals, companies of different sizes and at different maturity stages differently. It is important to take this into consideration when you decide who to target right now. It is likely there needs to be changes made from last year’s approach in both vertical and company size to have a more viable target group for this and next year.

Some great insights from the @batteryVentures in their latest State of Cloud Spending report here https://www.battery.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Battery-Ventures-State-of-Cloud-Software-Spending-Report-March-2023.pdf

Action Step: review all the closed won deals in Q1 and segment them by company size and vertical. Do the same exercise with all closed lost and deals that have been pushed out and adjust accordingly.

Persona - in light of the current events we have to revise either the persona we engage with or the messaging we use for that persona.For example during the SVB collapse you should have under no circumstances reached out to a CFO for obvious reasons. Now inlight of the SVB collapse, other banking failures and the general economic uncertainty your approach to CFOs should be revised to that contextual backdrop. So think through how the current environment may change the tone, cadence, type of information you share or how you communicate in light of the environmental backdrop.

Action Step: review the last 10 deals you closed and analyze in Gong or your CRM who was the initial persona, what message opened the door, who else was or was not involved and see how that compares to your last 10 closed lost deals.

GTM - when changes happen to the macro environment you have to review how you go to market in terms of segments, channels, regions and approach. For example, in tight economic times it disproportionately hurts less mature companies (VSB, startups, SMB), it changes channel partnerships, it can hurt certain markets differently, and may make approaches less viable like outbound or expansion.

Action Step: review the revenue contribution for Q1. Where and when did the lead come to us, what approach (inbound, outbound, expansion) did we use to engage, what markets are these businesses in and how can we categorize the segments the businesses fit into. Use this insight to review your approach for Q2.

Circling the wagons is about responding to a new situation. In order to get the most out of your Q1 post mortem, here are some critical mindset considerations to get prepared.

  • Leave your preconceptions and muscle memory at the door. New solutions don’t come from old thoughts.
  • Focus on small incremental changes that can be measured. If every decision can be life or death like crossing a frozen lake beginning to thaw, think slowly, test each step and then act fast.
  • Forget about titles and think about business needs and roles.
  • Yesterday you may have been an SDR or Sales Rep, but today you may need to be an extension of the implementation team or have to jump in to save an account. This is when working as a team matters most.

And keep in mind that we DID reach the west! You can weather this storm: work smart, work hard and work together!