Skip to main content

Create a Business Model and Go-To-Market Plan

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe key aspects of a business plan.
  • Describe the components of a go-to-market plan.
  • Build a go-to-market plan.

Plan for Success

You’ve identified your audience, and you know that they want to buy what you’re selling. It’s time to use that information to build your business plan and go-to-market strategy.

Just to be clear, we aren’t suggesting that you write a monolithic document that no one wants to read. You’re building a roadmap that you and your employees use to focus your efforts and align on priorities.

Your business plan represents your long-term goals and your general strategy for meeting those goals.

Graphic showing 3-year plan with increasing revenue and market share

Your go-to-market strategy describes how you’re going to take your product through its lifecycle.

Lifecycle showing plan, build, distribute, market, sell, and support

Prepare to Create a Business Plan

It’s all about the customer. That’s a mantra we at Salesforce have in our mind as we work. When you build your plan, have reminders in the room about the audience you’re about to serve.

To give everyone a single point of reference as questions arise, post customer personas on a wall. Keeping the customer center stage allows you to “just say no” when you’re figuring out what is and isn’t in your business plan and your offering.

Don’t build your plan alone. We recommend including key stakeholders, co-founders, your executive team, and advisors. If your team is small enough, get the whole company together. Multiple perspectives and stakeholder buy-in make your plan more robust and actionable.

Set aside time, at least a day or two, preferably away from the office. And bring lots of brainstorming tools, like sticky notes, flip charts, and index cards.

What’s in a Business Plan?

Your business plan begins with your vision statement. Everything that follows is about how you make that vision happen. Typically, you keep your business plan high level. Your team aligns to the plan by providing details on how they’ll contribute to meeting it.

Standard elements of a plan are:

  • Goals—What must you accomplish to reach your vision?
  • Methods—What are the steps for reaching those goals?
  • Measurements—How do you determine when you’ve met your goals?
  • Obstacles—What can get in your way as you try to reach those goals?

Your plan can take many forms. At Salesforce, we create a document called a V2MOM. It describes what the company wants to accomplish in the year and how we are going to achieve it.

Every employee from the top down creates their V2MOM based on the V2MOM of their manager. Check out this blog written by Marc Benioff that explains the Salesforce approach.

Another great tool is Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas, a graphical, one-page business plan, which is further described in his book Business Model Generation. It’s a great brainstorming tool, and when the canvas is complete, you have an artifact that you can hang in your office.

Build a Go-To-Market Plan

Now let’s focus on your first AppExchange offering. Your go-to-market plan helps you with everything from ensuring that you’re building the right product for the right customer to supporting that product after it’s launched.

Your go-to-market plan describes:

  • The market segment you’re targeting
  • Key attributes of your customers
  • Your value proposition
  • Your offering
  • The channels through which you’re selling and supporting your customers
  • Your financial model and budgeting
  • Your marketing and awareness plan with a complete sales kit

Good news, in the last unit, we determined your market segment and customer attributes. Now it’s time to tackle the remaining five sections.

Create a Value Proposition

How would you like to be identified in the market? How does your offering stand out from your competitors? Your value proposition articulates the answers to those questions.

Create a simple and direct statement that describes what you’re offering to the market. Don’t get caught up in business lingo—the simpler, the better.

One way to create a value proposition is to respond to your customers’ needs and pain points.

Customer Needs Value Proposition
I meet customers at their place of business. I want to show them an online plan and modify it with them. Available and easy to use on any device with responsive design.
My employees must follow a standard process. Wizard-like interface to support common processes.
Employees keep circumventing or missing approval requirements, and it’s a nightmare. Built-in approvals that can be customized to your processes.
My employees are begging for a single, unified interface. Having multiple apps open is killing them! A single-source view of everything that’s important for getting the job done.

Consider incorporating portions of Salesforce’s value proposition, available to you in the Branding Guidelines for Salesforce Partners, with your own. For example, you can incorporate elements of our cloud vision. If you have different customer segments, make your value proposition appeal to all of them.

Just as you test your offering, test your value proposition. Get feedback from potential customers and people who don’t know anything about your offering.

Do they get it? If not, it’s back to the drawing board.

If you want to learn more, there are great resources on the Internet. One of our favorites is Alexander Osterwalder’s value proposition canvas and accompanying book.

Refine Your Offering

You probably already have an idea of what you’re going to build. Your development team has been at work learning about what you can build on the Salesforce platform: OEM Embedded apps, ISVforce apps, and Lightning Components. They’ve also been investigating the Salesforce editions available to you.

The work you’ve done up to this point helps you flesh out the details and set priorities. With the leaders of your development team, make final decisions. Make sure that the choices align with the attributes and needs of your target customers.

Develop a Channel Strategy

Where will customers go to purchase your offering? And how will you provide support to them after they’ve purchased it? The answers to these questions define your channel strategy.

The AppExchange is a great place to market and sell your app because it has a large audience. If you also use your own website, you can provide support options like training, a question and answer forum, and a case filing system.

Make a Financial Model and Budget

If you’re just starting out, how are you going to stay afloat until your company generates income to support itself?

Here are some questions to consider when creating your budget.

  • How are you prioritizing the different needs of your growing business, like development, sales, and support?
  • How do you make your funds scale to get your offering to market?
  • How much are you forecasting in sales and in renewals?
  • When will you be profitable?

If you aren’t familiar with this type of budgeting, consider hiring someone with these skills.

Develop a Marketing Plan

The last item in your go-to-market strategy is your marketing plan. Let’s look at the key parts.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is not colors or a fancy logo. It’s the distillation of your offering’s value proposition and company vision into memorable words or phrases.

How does your event management app stand out from your competitors’ apps? Look at its value proposition. Themes like cloud-based, trusted, efficient, and on-site customer interaction are possibilities.

Marketing Calendar

You marketing calendar identifies the events and social activities you want to pursue to get your offering in front of customers.

Here are some options to consider.

  • Host a webinar
  • Participate in a Salesforce World Tour event, Dreamforce, or other conference
  • Be a sponsor for an event, such as Dreamforce
  • Advertise in a trade magazine
  • Host your own events in cities with a large number of potential customers
  • Volunteer for a leadership initiative, such as a newsletter

Sales Kit

When you go to events and your sales team goes to work, have a sales kit that everyone uses to engage your customers. The kit ensures best practices and a consistent message.

The Selling to Salesforce playbook, available when you log in to the Partner Community, has templates for creating many sales kit assets.

Team Alignment

Great plans! But can you pull them off? A common mistake is not taking the time to build alignment with your team. We recommend that you discuss your plans with the team and get their feedback. We won’t be surprised if this exercise provides you invaluable feedback on how to reach your goals.

The Recap

Experience has shown us that if you take time to build strong business and go-to-market plans and create alignment with your team, you have a better chance of success.

If you want to learn more, Salesforce provides various resources. For example, check out our Marketing Power Hours, where industry leaders come to share their best practices. Or poke around the Marketing section of the community, which contains resources for doing everything from making your AppExchange listing stand out to sponsorship opportunities.

You’ve now done most of the hard work. Pat yourself on the back. Time for the quiz.


Keep learning for
Sign up for an account to continue.
What’s in it for you?
  • Get personalized recommendations for your career goals
  • Practice your skills with hands-on challenges and quizzes
  • Track and share your progress with employers
  • Connect to mentorship and career opportunities