In my previous post, entitled The Split Personality of Great Go To Market Leaders, I said that you need to be part Yoda, you need the knowledge of the Jedi Master.  Without Knowledge, the other 2 pieces of the puzzle, Skills (Da Vinci)  and Influence (MLK), you can only create the scale of effort, not the level of impact or contribution that great leaders make.

What then is the knowledge necessary for to be a great go to market leader? Go to Market leaders possess deep and insightful knowledge in three areas, competition, customers and marketplace.  And because of this, they are able to both understand and influence the market they are in, distinctly able to differentiate their offerings, set competitive strategy, and drive priorities into their actions.

Go To Market Jedi Masters understand the competition from not just a capabilities perspective, but they take the time to think about their strategy and challenges too.  They don’t take the answer, “we just don’t know”, they invest the time (theirs or their teams) to gather data, study and assess the key competitors in the marketplace.

Secondly, Go to Market Jedi Masters intimately understand their customers.  They are obsessed with knowing why customers buy, what makes them enter the market, their buying teams and processes and what problems they are trying to solve.  They understand what customers value today, and are actually able to predict with a good deal of accuracy, emerging problems and opportunites facing them.  They study their customers, but more importantly, they NEVER miss a chance to engage with them and they listen deeply when they do. The Masters show up at the right places and times to learn about their customer.  They live, as much as possible, not with one, but with both feet in their world.

Lastly, Go To Market Jedi Masters understand the market at a macro and micro level.  They understand the technology, societal, economic and social trends that impact all of the market participants.  They identify and connect with key influencers, they read voraciously about their market, and focus on adjacencies and disruptions as well as trends within.

Because of their deep knowledge, they have are respected and called on for advice and strategy, and have the opportunity to contribute dramatically to the success of the organization.

How do you become a Master? There are no short cuts, but here are 3 guiding principles –

  • Read, read and read – when you are in the cube, allocate time to research and read about customers, competitors and general market trends.  Leverage technology to find and follow all of the market participants. Attend webinars, read filings and news clippings, monitor websites
  • Get out there – You’ll never learn it all in your cube – you’ve got to get out and meet people in the market, customers, influencers and yes, competitors.
  • Commit– You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but aim to be the best informed.  When you have the knowledge, you can teach.  And teaching, in today’s world may be the only way to truly lead.  But you must commit and persevere.

When it comes to obtaining and maintaining the knowledge needed to be a Great Go To Market Leader, always heed master Yoda’s words, “Do, or Do Not. There is no try!”


Ken Rutsky is a Marketing Consultant and B2B Market Leadership “Ninja”.  Ken helps  organizations climb the ladder to market leadership. His upcoming book is entitled; Launching to Leading: How B2B Market Leaders Create Flashmobs, Marshal Parades and Ignite Movements (Morgan James 2016)  and can be pre-ordered at

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