Accelerate your b2b startup revenue
Product is done, where’s sales ?
Hans Baumhardt | 20 February 2017
This is a reference clipboard of the common principles and methods I use with early stage businesses to create and validate commercial go-to-market plans.
There is enough uncertainty in your product, market and business model so use a proven framework like the A16Z Go-to-Market Best Practices for Startups
First box is “value proposition” and the rest covers all the building blocks of consideration. The slides are brought to life in the gritty startup story “The hard thing about hard things”, which has great quotes to enjoy like:
“there’s no recipe for motivating teams when your business has turned to crap.”
Bringing a new product into an existing market category to optimise, or creating a new market category (aka Ansoff matrix) ?
This will focus messaging and audience engagement on either early adopter education & evangelism, or competitive benefits positioning for a mainstream market. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Products to Mainstream Customers that considers how a proposition, messaging and engagement changes through the product:market life-cycle. Still relevant in the lean startup world of today.
Is the proposition lead by sales or marketing ? For a super-clear explanation check out Leslie’s Compass: A Framework For Go-To-Market Strategy.
The article suggests your proposition is either commodity toothpaste, or a specialist jet engine (outcome: minty breath | hot air). This focuses investment on volume marketing with online transactions or the intimacy and cost of high touch consultative sales.
The first box in a go to market plan is to have a clear value proposition and message for each specific audience (market, profile, persona). In a perfect world that proposition will have been identified through market validation experiments. That needs to be extended into messaging to answer three key questions which earns the right to sell.
Creating a new category needs a stack of investment in educating and evangelising to the innovators and early adopters. Optimising an existing category takes less early market effort, but benefits qualification and references still need to be generated here fo mainstream credibility.
The mainstream market is defined as being risk adverse. They will never go first and depend on the comfort of credible references from previous markets
It will take many iterations with sceptical prospects to iron this stuff out so it makes sense, and you can stop sweating during delivery. Wear a dark jacket and remove the friction of conflict, superlatives and incomprehensible jargon to nail a simple story in the language of the buying audience.
Hiring the first sales specialists once you have proven the model @10 customers:
Magicians, Marines and Medics – Understanding Sales Roles (Mike Adams)
When You Hire Your First Sales Rep — Just Make Sure You Hire Two (Jason Lemkin)
Hiring the a sales leader when ready to scale doesn’t work out 70% of the time. It can take a year to do right.
The 48 Types of VP Sales. Make Deadly Sure You Hire the Right One (Jason Lemkin)
10 Rules to Being a VP of Sales in a Startup (Brendon Cassidy)
Any sales methods such as Sandler, Spin, TAS, Value-Add, Miller Heiman, Challenger et al. can be useful, depending on your proposition from transactional to consultative.
To identify long term value I generally start with the principles of Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship by Mahan Khalsa. Its packaged by Franklin Covey as “Helping Clients Succeed”. Great proposition, why wouldn’t you ?
I have used this to help consultants transition into sales for over 20 years. It is simple, elegant and anyone with an engineering or consulting background will grok it. No cunning sales tricks. My desk copy just happens to be dated 1998. A great year.
Hope is not a strategy
Rick Page, personal trainer to 25,000 sales superstars /apparently
First published by the author on hjbconsulting.uk