How to create a GTM tech stack aligning Marketing, Sales and Customer Support
Before we get started, we want to thank Sibil Samuel for all of his help with this piece. Honestly, this is just the result of a fruitful conversation in which he kindly and articulately explained to me the importance of having the right tech stack for organizations looking to scale. His expertise and how easily he conveys what he knows was ideal for me, an anthropologist, in the B2B SaaS space. I hope his input is properly represented in this piece :)
According to Jenny Booth, writer for MixPanel, “A technology stack, also called a solutions stack, technology infrastructure, or a data ecosystem, is a list of all the technology services used to build and run one single application.” Of course, this definition of tech stack is more focused on the engineering side, it still holds true in this context. However, it is important to think of it (for the sake of this essay) as the underlying mechanism that allows interdepartmental communication and growth.
That is to say, that we need to understand the meaning of a tech stack shift from running a single application to leveraging technologies that reduce friction and facilitate growth. In other words, the GTM tech stack is the orchestrated set of technological tools that are required to provide value across all customer touchpoints. That means that the tech stack is the backbone that allows organizations to do what they need to do efficiently both inwardly and outwardly, and it connects with the expectations of a particular ICP.
Sounds pretty serious. And yet, it seems that it is common that organizations ignore the importance of selecting the right tech stack that facilitates interaction across departments from the start. Oftentimes, we see that sales, marketing and other internal teams figure out what they need in relation to their role, because it is through the particular metrics such a department holds that they are going to be measured.
For example, if you work at a customer support department, you will be looking at tools that allow you to do that efficiently. The same decision process goes for marketing, sales, etc. Yet, by not having a comprehensive link between the tools you decide to use you may over complicate your internal processes and you may even be responsible for crafting an overall user experience nightmare.
By UX nightmare, of course, just think of trying to do anything with a Telco, or talking to customer support at a bank. If you have had a good experience in any of these two scenarios you live in an alternate universe we would all love to be a part of.
So, how can you create a GTM tech stack that aligns your internal departments?
Phase 1: Discovery
Anyone looking to solve problems has to start from the beginning. What problem are you actually trying to solve? Who is involved? What is the current tech stack? What works and what doesn´t? Etc.
Truly, what matters is that you fully understand the following:
What is the objective of the company?
What are the goals and metrics for each dept?
What is their current process and tech stack?
How do they envision that process in the future?
What are the ICPs for the business? Which ICPs more important?
Once you know that we can jump to phase 2.
Phase 2: Capability model mapping.
Capabilities define what an organization needs to be able to do, in order to successfully achieve the outcomes that are defined as part of the corporate strategy. Truly, doing capability model mapping is what is going to allow you to reach your goals in the short term while setting you up for future success.
To do so, do the following:
Create a logical decomposition of marketing management processes into a set of capabilities and outcomes. In other words, dig deeper into what is happening in terms of marketing management and find a fruitful pattern based on your organization capacities.
Understand what tech is in place, gaps, and future improvements. After you have done a decomposition of marketing management processes you can look at the tools being used and how they all tie together.
Phase 3: Build baseline architecture and data modeling.
Once you have figured out objectives, metrics, processes, tech stack, ICPs and finished streamlining a potential capability model mapping, focus on thinking ahead and how to take your current GTM tech stack from where you are now, to a better optimized state.
An easy way to do so is by:
Knowing the underlying technologies used and
Understand how those technologies connect with each other and the processes the organization wants to push forward.
Set up data flow patterns that are functional and as comprehensive as possible.
Figure out which data will you be capturing, through which tool, for which purpose.
Plan what exactly would you do once you have that data in the new architecture you are designing.
Phase 4: Streamline your stack.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just make sure that your tech architecture works and matches overall organizational goals.
Phase 5: Leverage data to power automation and personalization.
If done correctly, you will be able to have so much data that it is crucial to automate some of it, as well as creating personalization parameters.
Now that you have done all that, what does a GTM tech stack that aligns Marketing, Sales and Customer Support look like?
It looks something like this
As you can see, creating a GTM tech stack that works is the combination of cultural transformation and drive (people), a clear and granular understanding of processes and operations within the organization (Process and Ops), and the technology that facilitates the entire process to run smoothly.
On the essay, The Question Concerning Technology, Martin Heidegger argues that technology is not strictly bound to instrumentality. And, in a way, I think he is right and adds a lot of value to this essay.
Usually, most of us think about technology and what a tech stack is from a pragmatic perspective that focuses on:
Technology is a means to an end - with the right tech stack we can accomplish organizational objectives.
Technology is a human activity - we all use tech everyday. It is a given that tech adoption is natural and frictionless.
These are exactly the pillars that Heidegger mentions and later on deconstructs. But, rather than bore you with philosophy (I do highly recommend reading this short essay that you will have to read at least 10 times to sort of understand), the problem Heidegger has with technology is not its nature, but rather its orientation.
He goes on to say that "the essence of technology is by no means anything technological”. And, if we think about the framework we just mentioned and how a GTM stack is not about technology but rather about understanding how to connect and streamline processes with tech so that we can avoid losing control over it and not accomplishing our goals.
"The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control" - Chances are, if you have been working in tech that you have felt overwhelmed by the amount of technology that surrounds you. It is beyond human understanding, and evolving at a much faster pace than we humans picture (Amara’s law vs our ability to imagine futures). We are, indeed, in the process of creating a GTM tech stack, fighting against drowning in tools, processes, and thought patterns that slow us down and create waste. So as to continue being masters, instead of falling prey to technology we set up in place and never question again.
And, it is here precisely that understanding technology beyond instrumentality, into what he argues is also part of technology poeises (the activity in which a person brings something into being that did not exist before) is crucial.
Setting up a GTM stack that aligns Marketing, Sales, and Customer support is not exclusively an instrumental process to improve processes. It is, beyond that, an activity that lets you design and create something that did not exist before, something beyond the framework and understanding of technology, that innovates, and adds value to any system merely by orchestrating and aligning seemingly disconnected departments.
Perhaps thinking about this solely from a Sales Ops, or Marketing Ops perspective is not the right way to go. But rather, take a chance to organize your GTM stack as much more than instrumental value to real understanding. Only through actual understanding and alignment can we move beyond tech as means to an end, to an almost artistic process that brings forth value, connections and reveals the true power and potential of your organization.