Bridge the Bottom-Up Plan Gap

In most SaaS organizations, functional leaders build go-to-market plans in a bottom-up manner. These bottom-up plans usually estimate future performance based on historical data for a particular function and layer in proposed investments to drive growth. Sales leaders build territories, assign quotas, refine sales processes, and model sales capacity. (The sales plan is frequently driven heavily by headcount and quota needs.) Marketing builds its plan around strategies for demand generation, content, digital marketing, events, etc. Each function develops what it believes to be a solid go-to-market plan.

No matter how thoughtful, detailed, accurate, or “realistic" these plans might be, they must always adhere to senior leadership's top-down growth and profitability targets. And it goes without saying that the bottom-up build almost always falls short of those top-down target assignments. Sales doesn’t get the headcount it requested. Marketing doesn’t get the budget it asked for. So the question becomes, “How do you bridge the gap between the bottom-up and top-down plans?”

One best practice is to use “Programs” to bridge the gap. Programs are built to support the needs of various business “Dimensions.”  Dimensions are used to describe variables like Channel (Inbound, Outbound, Partner), Segment (Enterprise, Commercial, Small Business), and/or Region (North America, EMEA, APAC). Organizations should consider Programs as the methods that will be deployed to develop the pipeline necessary to meet and exceed top-down expectations. Sales and Marketing should work together to model many Programs, seeking to determine which Programs have the best chance of meeting growth, profitability, and timing goals. Program timing is essential. For example, investing exclusively in a new ABM motion for Enterprise will negatively impact short-term pipeline development. Exclusive investment in ABM may be an excellent idea, but it may not support top-down goal assignments.

The key is to model Programs cross-functionally and understand the Program's impact on each Dimension.  If Sales and Marketing wish to get Programs (including sales capacity) funded, they must work together as the business's growth engine – not two unique functions. Imagine the CFO’s appreciation when the CRO and CMO jointly present the evaluated “X” Programs, the selected “Y” Programs for deployment, and the proposed cost and predicted returns for each. In short, Marketing and Sales must present a unified front when seeking Program investment from the CFO and CEO. 

Once approved, the plan must managed daily. “Set it and forget it” must be a thing of the past. If an approved Program for ABM pipeline development was predicted to deliver 40 leads per month, leaders must measure progress against that goal daily. If Day 15 is reached and only 15 leads have been created, an incremental process must be defined to ensure that 25 more leads are generated before the month ends. This only works if Sales and Marketing work hand-in-hand.

Bottom line? The bottom-up build rarely aligns perfectly with the top-down goal assignment. Working cross-functionally as a singular growth engine, Sales and Marketing should build the right Programs to bridge the gap. By managing Programs daily, necessary changes can be made to ensure the business meets its objectives. Creating and managing Plans in this manner is where Outset shines. Please feel free to reach out to me if you'd like to learn more.