A hunger for certainty will not help an entrepreneur make timely decisions or manage the level of ambiguity and uncertainty they need to navigate through.
Most markets that are of any size or grow to any size become a “Red Queen Race” where you have to go faster and faster just to stay in place. Product-Market fit may be achieved early but requires a significant amount of effort to maintain in the face of new competitive offerings and emerging requirements in your customer base and from new prospects. The half-life of a market insight is perhaps six months.
Both incumbent and challenger firms enter into a co-evolving ecosystem of partners, suppliers, customer expectations so that even for a successful company last year’s approach is often in need of improvement.This requires you not only to continue to learn, but to learn faster than your competitors.
To borrow and analogy from medicine, it’s less like an appendix removal where everything is more or less in the place and the risks can be anticipated and therefore mitigated, and more like infection control in a hospital where the bacterial population evolves responses to whatever cleaning, material handling, and antibiotic regimens are instituted.
So what can we guarantee if you ask for our assistance? Not that your new product or new business will be successful, alas.
We have developed considerable expertise in helping consulting firms productize their service offerings and software firms identify the best niche for their current products and new markets where their current technology base and core competencies will give them an advantage.
We have an emotional distance from your product that can often provide a perspective that will complement the insights that your team has. In many cases new products fail not from lack of invention but from a lack of understanding of who will gain the most value, what firms are more likely to make an early decision in your favor, and which early customers can act as a gateway to a new or emerging market where you can prosper.
We have several diagnostics that we can take you through including:
- The first seven questions your product plan should answer
- A critique of your current demo and ways to improve it.
- An analysis of your current sales pipeline and process with an eye to cutting time to revenue and increasing your win rate as well as decreasing your “no decision” rate.
- Interview your current customers–as well as firms that selected someone else or who decided to stay with their status quo–to assess your current targeting and engagement process as well as provide you with a deeper understanding of what’s working and what successes you can build on.
We like working with early stage teams because everyone is effectively customer facing and although may sometimes be sharp disagreements everyone can sit around one table and hash things out without the politics and corporate kabuki of who is right instead of what is right that larger firms can sometimes fall victim to. We have helped teams at larger firms and public corporations where the dynamics mimic those of a startup.
Many startups transit the stage of finding their first dozen customers and then scale a formal sales process, never looking back. We are comfortable operating in the highly uncertain and ambiguous early markets, where startups have to act on the reasonable probability that an opportunity exists. If they wait for certainty they lose the chance to be further down the learning curve than other nimble small competitors and may face larger competitors who, now that the market opportunity is clear, can bring considerably more people and resources to bear.
If your team is wrestling with the challenge of finding early customers, selecting a target customer set, or debugging a sales process that was starting to work and then seems to have stopped, we can help. Contact us.