“We do that already!” blurted out the VP of Marketing and VP of Sales almost in unison at a once promising $10M MarTech company.
Growth had flatlined. So, a board member asked me to answer a seemingly complex question: “Why is this promising company underperforming its peers and potential?”
I was 5 minutes into a leadership team presentation. And we’d found a simple answer.
Key GTM leaders had the wrong mindset.
Top performing GTM teams typically combine a strong market opportunity with leadership who are always looking for the edge.
These top-performing leaders continually ask, “What will lead us to improve? And, where can I seek out that learning?”
Middle-performer GTM teams also typically have really strong market opportunities driving growth but also have leaders focused on maintaining the status quo.
These middling performers are already convinced their teams are “doing a great job, too busy to innovate, or have little to learn from peers or experts.”
And, the hard truth is that our instinctual brains are wired for middling, not top performance.
People much smarter than me have shown this empirically.
You can look at Herbert and Simon’s work on “satisficing” behavior. Or, Jonathan Haidt’s excellent summary in the book on The Righteous Mind on how our brains start with a conclusion and then look for evidence to support that conclusion rather than the reverse.
In other words, top performance is an act of will. We have to consciously stop and resist the instinct in our brain that says “we do all that already” or “I already have the answer.”
Fortunately, in this situation, the CEO understood the instinctual response was not the right response and said, “let’s hear Brent out on what we can learn and improve.”
As we got further into the presentation and then the engagement, the VP of Sales and VP of Marketing joined the CEO in being big supporters.
They began to see opportunities to work on repositioning the company’s value proposition, engage buyers in a different way, build new content, and coach team members.
This company had just completed its Series B fundraising round. It started to grow rapidly again as the leadership team coalesced around a revised GTM strategy.
The market opportunity for this company had always been fantastic. So, the difference between a B-round growth stall and B-round growth acceleration came down to one simple thing.
The company CEO heard his leaders say: “we already do that all.”
And, he flipped the script and asked the simple question: “we may be really good, but what else can we learn and improve?”