How to choose the right go-to-market motions (+examples)

The Dock Team
March 21, 2024
March 26, 2024

Every deal in B2B SaaS is an inside job.

Your champions know the pain, decision-makers, and adoption process. But it’s hard for them to push a deal forward by themselves.

The sales process is complex—80% of companies have a buying committee with up to 22 distinct roles. 

Strong go-to-market (GTM) motions are the key to finding a champion, helping them build a business case, and delivering ROI.

This guide will help revenue leaders evaluate their GTM strategy and choose the right motions to enable buyers and drive growth.

What is a go-to-market motion?

Go-to-market (GTM) motions are the coordinated actions revenue teams take to connect products to customers and generate revenue.

In contrast to sales motions, GTM motions extend across the entire customer journey and require collaboration from product, marketing, customer success, account management, and support.

All GTM motions fit on a spectrum:

  • At one end, the buying process is completely self-serve.
  • On the other end, sales teams guide customers at each step. 

Everything else falls into the messy middle. For example, the goal of a community-led growth motion can be to push members to a self-serve experience or sales conversation.


Example go-to-market motions

Customers don’t care which motion you run as long as it puts the product in their hands. With that in mind, we’ll look at different approaches but focus on the examples and nuances.

Sales-led motions

In sales-led motions, Sales and Account Management teams act as conduits to the product. 

They uncover pains, customize sales demos to specific business needs, and fight against inertia through multithreading.

This high-touch approach works well for complex, high-ticket offerings targeted at conservative buyers. But it becomes a catch-22 when you need users to advocate for your product before the actual decision maker will take a demo.

Buyers often find products through their users.

Example: Twilio

Twilio recognized this challenge.

They started with bottom-up adoption before pursuing a top-down sales motion. Once developers were hooked, the Sales team converted the demand into closed won by selling business outcomes to the executives.

Francois Dufour, Twilio’s former VP of Marketing, lays it out in this episode of Grow and Tell:

“The main strategy was to put Twilio in the toolkit of every developer even before they have a real use case with volume and budget.”

The Marketing and Sales team then created urgency by tying product features to specific jobs to be done.

“It wasn't about all the products or the API breaks. But it was about ‘Oh, you can do text alerts. You can do call center. You can do call tracking. You can do two-factor authentication.’”

This helped convert developer passion into enterprise deals.

Stories like that can quickly get lost in a slew of email threads and Google Docs. Reps need a way to push past the first demo by enabling a champion to share adoption metrics and use cases to their stakeholders.

That’s why Stephen Ruff, Co-Founder of Champify, had his team start sending Dock workspaces as leave-behinds after the intro call and demo.

Quote from Stephen Ruff, Co-Founder of Champify: "Dock is a really easy way to get internal exposure. We've actually had customers doing a business case to their CFO, pull up the Dock and just scroll through it.

Now the champion can share a single resource during internal conversations to move the deal forward. It’s a hack for sales teams because they can trust the right messaging gets delivered to the rest of the company.

Sales-Led Pros & Cons


  • Quick wins: a sales-led approach prioritizes customer acquisition and revenue generation early on. This helps validate product-market fit and win new logos fast.
  • High ACV: sales teams can go directly to the buyer and close an enterprise deal instead of relying on one-off purchases.


  • Economies of scale: sales-led motions can be inefficient because customer acquisition isn’t scalable. A rep will always be involved, so you can’t make money while everyone sleeps.
  • Slower time-to-value: without user autonomy, CS teams become a crutch that most customers don’t let go of.

Team Structure & Roles

At Chili Piper, I was super lucky to work with a world-class Marketing and Sales team. It was hard to miss the brand on social media and our AEs closed most deals we brought their way.

That’s the tricky part of a sales-led approach.

You’re counting on strong inbound marketing, an efficient sales cycle, and a great CS team. The product doesn’t lend itself to renewals and upsells, those only happen as a result of more meetings.

At the same time, we’re often relying on a large expansion motion to reach the net revenue retention (NRR) needed to grow. This means the sales to CS handoff has to be seamless.

This mutual action plan from Dock keeps the momentum going after the deal is signed so customers can get to first value quickly. When that happens, it’s much quicker to get them to second value and build the business case for an upsell.

Screenshot of Dock's Mutual Action Plan software.

RevOps is the glue that holds all of this together. They make sure leads get routed to the right reps, manage SLAs, handle reporting, and fine-tune the revenue engine.

Having a templated approach in Dock helps them create a consistent process between marketing and sales. No more relying on reps to find the right sales collateral in Showpad.

Product-Led Growth (PLG) Motions

Product-led growth motions use a self-serve buying experience to drive acquisition, retention, and expansion.

You won’t find many “pure-play” product-led growth motions past the $50M ARR mark. 

Eventually, every product-led company layers in sales to cater to larger buyers who need help with adoption or getting past procurement.

Example: Figma

Figma is a great example because they didn’t have a sales team for the first 3 years.

On Lenny’s podcast, Claire Butler (their first GTM hire) shares how they built their PLG motion.

They began by forging relationships with individual contributors (ICs) – the designers. Product and Marketing teams worked closely to implement feedback, get users hooked on the brand, and build a community around the product through “Little Big Updates”.

The designers then used their social capital to advocate for Figma within their companies. Instead of going to the VP or executive buyer, who might not care what tool gets the job done, the designer or their manager just put it on a credit card.

It also aligns with the way people expect to buy this type of software. Imagine having to book a demo before you can use Photoshop.

Eventually, Figma dove into a product-led sales motion, with Microsoft as an early adopter. 

A small team that was acquired by Microsoft was already using Figma, and more pockets of users were starting to pop up. The problem was, no one knew who the actual buyers were.

So Figma’s data science team created “node graphs” to map out who was using the product and what team they were on. They saw which users were signing up and inviting others.

By finding who was at the center of these clusters, they now had the power to discover who the internal champions were. 

“You need someone to land there…these internal champions, they’re really the key to all of this,” Claire Butler, Figma

Eventually, somebody at Microsoft realized they needed to consolidate all of these users and add controls – security, account management, and procurement. That’s the story of how Figma secured one of their first big enterprise wins.

Now they still generate MQLs from free trials, but sales teams work with the designers to unblock them from security. For upsells, freemium or pro users go to the website to upgrade, speak with a rep about implementation, and then the IC drives the sale on their own.

PLG Pros & Cons


  • Faster time-to-value: PLG works best for a technical audience who can navigate the product themselves and already obsesses over the tools they use. They need less hand-holding or CS support to reach their “aha” moment.
  • Flywheel effect: Customer acquisition is efficient because you don’t always need sales to close deals. Users recommend the product to other users, who then spread the product to other buyers.


  • Low ACV: you’re often relying on smaller purchases to stay afloat, especially in the beginning. It’s hard to close enterprise deals without going through procurement.
  • Heavier lift: replicating what Figma built out to find internal champions is not easy, and neither is figuring out how to convert free users into customers. This product-led sales template at least gives you a good place to start.

Team Structure & Roles

Pulling off product-led growth looks a lot different from executing a sales-led motion. Emily Kramer & Kathleen Estreic from MKT1 go as far as to say:

“Marketing at a B2B company with a self-serve motion compared to a sales-led motion is a different job – almost as different as B2C and B2B”.

This visual helps explain why:

Source: MKT1 Newsletter

The main CTA in product-led growth is to sign up instead of book a demo, which changes how marketers guide buyers across the funnel. I think product-led marketing is much closer to B2C.

The goal is to bring in a broad group of users and get them to try the product for the first time. Instead of being hyper-focused on MQLs and booked demos, you’re identifying and converting product-qualified leads (PQLs) within the product.

SDRs and AEs play the role of product specialists, offering gentle nudges and sales assists when a user “raises their hand” asking for help. Their job is to clear obstacles like procurement needs, security concerns, or roll up users within an organization into a larger account.

CS comes earlier in the funnel to deliver faster time-to-value. They create playbooks for scaled success services and provide white-glove support to high-profile users. Instead of being 1:1 with an implementation team, they often have to clone themselves while still delivering a personalized experience.

Which makes Dock any CSM’s best friend.

Quote from Brittany Soinski, Manager of Onboarding at Loom: With Dock, it only takes us about 10 to 20 seconds to launch a new customer. I just type in their name and we have this fully personalized template ready to go.

Brittany Soinski, Manager of Onboarding at Loom, was “able to move many of their onboarding activities to async—saving about 2 hours per customer during onboarding.”

Creating a great first impression during product-led onboarding ties closely to retention. In fact, 93% of software buyers say the quality of the implementation process has a significant influence on their decision to renew.

Community-Led Motions

Community comes in so many different forms: a Slack group, Youtube channel, LinkedIn ambassadors, branded newsletter, etc. 

But turning a community into a source of acquisition and expansion is what makes it a GTM motion.

Community-led growth is when companies help loyal users and brand advocates guide prospects and customers through the buyer journey.

Example: Notion

Camille Ricketts joined Notion in 2019 as their first marketing hire. Employee number 11. She still remembers when Ivan Zhao drew up a funnel on the whiteboard and said:

“Here's what we think needs to happen at every single stage of the funnel. Then if we do our work correctly, here, all the people at the bottom of the funnel are going to go back up and lend itself to all this awareness.”

It’s every company’s dream, but tough to bring to reality. Camille walks us through exactly how her team did it in this episode of Grow and Tell.

Camille’s team recognized what made people excited about Notion: building and sharing templates with the world. So they worked closely with users to understand how to help them.

“Whenever we saw a new behavior emerge among them, we figure out what would the life of that look like and how could we invest in it more.”

This eventually led to the ecosystem of consultants, course makers, and template sellers we know today. But the first step was just observing users in the wild.

“What are we seeing people do without us necessarily pushing them in a direction?”

People were doing a lot on their own. 

Running a subreddit of 300K people, creating their own Facebook groups, and even building their own micro-communities.

Instead of cracking down, Notion found ways to empower them. They amplified the voices of advocates, provided playbooks for in-person meetups, and offered resources for how to sharpen community management skills.

From there, they launched an ambassador program.

Ben Lang, the Head of Community, invited 20 of the most vocal users into a Slack group. Then, he joined Zoom calls to learn what they were building and collect feedback.

They didn’t need to compensate the ambassadors with dollars. The incentives were early access to features, a close feedback loop with product managers, and ongoing AMAs.

Community-Led Pros & Cons


  • Access to users: Members provide feedback on pain points and features. These insights inform product development and messaging.
  • Brand power: With community, brands can create an irrational cult-like mentality. When it’s time for renewal, you don’t have to worry about customers leaving.
  • Low CAC: Similar to PLG, there’s the potential for a flywheel effect. There’s less of a need to “buy” growth because community members promote the product and drive referrals through word-of-mouth. As the community grows, the benefits compound, enabling increasingly efficient growth.


  • Heavy lift: nurturing a community effectively over time requires considerable resources. This could distract from product dev and other focus areas. It’s also hard to secure buy-in from the C-suite.
  • Wrong fit: some products are bought rationally rather than emotionally, making community-building less impactful in certain categories.
  • Slow start: it takes time to create a community, so initial growth will be slower compared to sales-led acquisition. The initial prototype is like a product, it might not look great to begin with.

Team Structure & Roles

Notion didn’t have product managers for a long time. Engineers built features and got feedback directly from the ambassador group, acting as quasi-PMs.

But as you scale community-led growth, product managers help with documentation, build in public, and search for bigger use cases to tackle.

Marketing plays an outsized role, evangelizing community members and investing in their success. You’ll typically need:

  • Community leads for ongoing moderation and engagement
  • Social media managers to grow the community
  • Demand gen/ABM strategists that convert community members into new customers

As the snowball starts to collect momentum, content, and community build off of each other.

  1. Content is created based on what the community wanted
  2. Community gets excited and distributes the content

Sales plays a similar role as they do in PLG—acting as product specialists who focus on the hand raisers.

Event-Led Motions

Events seem like any other marketing channel. But when you integrate them into the Marketing, Sales, and CS functions, they become a GTM motion.

Event-led motions use in-person or virtual events to acquire customers and drive upsells.

Example: Beekeeper

At Beekeeper (where I work), we sell to HR leaders at frontline companies. It’s very unlikely that the end-user is the one buying the software. Events help us go straight to the buyer.

In-person events and webinars are our second highest-converting lead source after website demo requests. They also contribute significantly to the expansion pipeline.

Our field team creates a recurring calendar of events that serve different purposes. Some are to generate new leads and nurture prospects, but many are also geared toward helping customers unlock new use cases to increase stickiness and upsells.

Webinars are integrated into the overall strategy. We promote them months in advance, bring in influential speakers, and coach reps on how they can use events to follow up with prospects or accounts that are stuck. Our latest play is clipping recordings and sharing them in outbound sequences with prospects or stuck deals.

In-person events are handled methodically–we only sponsor the ones that are worth it. If the ticket price is too high, we’ll have a few reps show up and engage in organic conversations. Then we’ll pair the events with a prospect dinner that includes a few of our existing customers.

Example: Podium

Nico Dato, currently the CMO of Entrata, describes a similar approach they took at Podium

“By the time I left Podium, we were doing 350 trade shows a year. We'd say, ‘Hey, this is going to cost us $8,000. We just need to triple our money or quadruple our money. And if we did it and it worked, we'd go back to that show next year, and we'd just keep doing it over and over and over again.”

Once you get in a groove, it gets easier to predict which events to double down on. Here comes the hard part: how do reps use the momentum to close deals after the event?

Andrew Hollis, former Director of Sales at Nectar, realized his team needed to upgrade the quality of follow-up and make it more buyer-friendly. So they created Dock digital sales rooms to personalize the experience and quickly get company-wide buy-in. The results? A 31% increase in win rates.

“As a personal Dock user, if I had a prospect go over 12 views on my Dock, they had like a 97% chance of closing. It was ridiculous.” 

Event-Led Pros & Cons


  • Repeatable playbook: having a refined event blueprint allows SaaS companies to replicate successful events efficiently. Once the formula is proven, events can scale in a "rinse and repeat" fashion.
  • Referrals: when a happy customer is talking about their experience in the booth, other prospects notice. Events are a natural medium for customer referrals and social proof.
  • Targeting: events can be tailored to specific buyer personas or customer segments. This allows you to hone in on high ICP-fit accounts.


  • Costs: events can be expensive to plan and execute well, from venue logistics to promotional costs. You need solid attribution tracking and ROI to make the juice worth the squeeze.
  • Hard to scale: unlike other marketing channels, events are harder to scale. Each event essentially starts from scratch and has a fixed capacity.
  • Resource intensive: An event program pulls resources away from other priorities, including AEs who are doing demos and closing deals.

Team Structure and Roles

Goes without saying, but a strong field marketing team is needed to pull off events. 

There is so much planning and logistics that happen in the background to execute on a successful event.

Then the broader marketing and sales team has to squeeze every drop out of events through content creation and outreach.

How to optimize your GTM mix

When you start moving down- or up-market, buyers start to come in different shapes and sizes. They’re used to purchasing software the way they want.

Most successful companies will run hybrid motions, combining elements from different approaches to serve a larger market.

Here are some factors that give you clues on how to re-evaluate and expand your approach.

Buying journey

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

When asked about product-led vs. sales-led, Pete Prowitt, Head of Revenue at Stytch, gives us a few questions we should ask ourselves:

“If I were buying the software, what would the experience be that I wanted? Is this the right point for a sales rep to jump in and intervene? Is this something where I actually want to do a little bit of exploration to get smart and to figure out how far I can take this on my own?”

Retracing the buyer’s steps might help you discover a specific checkpoint where it’s important to add a human touch. Or realize some of the sales process could be productized.

The goal is to make the experience feel natural to the buyer.


The persona and segment you’re going after will inform your GTM.

Alexa Grabell shares a great example. It’s hard to push a self-serve experience onto an HR person because that persona loves talking to people.

But, “if you’re selling to a PM, they probably are going to want to hack it together by reading documentation on their own.”

Selling to enterprise almost automatically qualifies you for some components of a sales-led motion, whether it’s traditional or product-led.  To win their business, they expect you to jump through the hoops of security, procurement, even discounting. 

So the GTM motion has to be set up to accommodate for that.

Startup buyers can be found easily through PLG because they’re not as worried about the other stuff, they just want a product that can solve their problems today.

The other lens to see ICP through is buyer vs. user. If you need bottom-up adoption from users, product or community-led helps get the product in their hands. Going straight to the buyer can be easier through a sales or event-led approach–except for the nuanced case of Twilio we covered earlier.

Product adoption

How much hand-holding do users need to find value?

Simple and intuitive products can lean more into product-led growth. The more complex a solution is, the more important sales guidance becomes.

There’s also the case where you’re taking a buyer into completely uncharted territories with a new product or category. Here’s how Pete Prowitt describes it:

“If you're building in a really new, really dynamic, and really unknown space, that might actually be a good time for you to intervene earlier in the process to help open up the prospect's eyes in terms of what's possible and to do a little bit of the challenger sale on traditional thinking earlier.”

A rep is critical in guiding these prospects to a new way of thinking.

Company stage

This one is a mixed bag. 

I say early-stage companies need quick wins to validate product-market fit, which lends itself to a sales-led approach. However, Figma proved that an early-stage startup can also win with the efficiency of product-led.

Either way, more mature companies will need both product-led and sales-led to grow.

We also talked about how community-led growth takes a high initial investment, so it might make more sense to dedicate resources there once you have a revenue engine that’s chugging along nicely.

Your team and their skill sets

Play to the superpowers of your team. Not everyone can hire a brilliant community leader like Ben Lang or a VP of Marketing like François Dufour.

If you have a great group of BDRs and AEs, you can focus on being sales-led and incorporate elements of a product-led approach as you grow.

On the other hand, if you have amazing PMs and engineers, PLG can be the right place to start.

Practically, we have to build on what we’re good at.

Pricing and contract value

The motion needs to line up with the price point. 

Going back to the Figma example, it would be odd if I had to sign up my entire company for Adobe just to use Photoshop on a few projects.

From an ACV standpoint, selling individual subscriptions only makes sense with product-led growth. There’s not a high overhead so the company can afford it, and the buyer is also fine with putting a small monthly subscription on a company credit card.

The pricing model should match up with how a buyer expects to pay.

High ACV deals are typically reserved for sales-led because most people aren’t ready to fork over $50K+ without talking to someone. At least I’m not.

Support any GTM motion with Dock

Fine-tuning your GTM motions is an infinite game. There is no set-it-and-forget-it approach. 

But regardless of which motion you choose, all roads lead to buyer enablement. Internal champions are the key to driving the sale, spreading adoption, and ensuring stickiness.

That’s why you need Dock – to move users and customers past the last-mile problem.

Try Dock for free or set up a demo here.

The Dock Team