December 15, 2017

Mistake #7 – There is No Clear Plan on How & Where to Sell the Product

Two of the significant decisions that entrepreneurs and companies must make when launching a new product are:

  1. Too whom they are going to sell the product
  2. How are they going to sell the product

I’ve heard way too many people say that there are many market segments that could benefit from their product and they don’t want to restrict their sales efforts to just one segment as they don’t know which market will be the most successful, so they end up spreading their limited resources across many different segments.   The reality is that unless you are a very large and well established with an extremely large marketing and sales budget, you can’t effectively reach out to many market segments and the impact of your marketing and sales effort will be weak.   So you must focus your initial marketing and sales efforts on one or a very limited number of market segments until you’ve established a beachhead.

Choosing That First Market Segment

Believe me, this is a painful decision, especially when there appear to be many potential markets and there is always the risk of being wrong.  So how do you choose that first market segment?

If you’ve done the upfront market validation work that I’ve recommended, then you’ll already have identified a market segment that has expressed a significant need and is willing to pay to solve that need.   Characteristics that I recommend that you look for are:

  1. Has greatest pain
  2. Willingness to try something new
  3. Willing to pay now
  4. Multiple early adopters in that segment
  5. Reachable via your current marketing and sales model
  6. Referenceable

If you haven’t done the upfront market validation work, you need to quickly evaluate a small set of market segments and choose which one has the highest the potential.  What I would do is to select 3 to 5 potential markets and do some initial sales efforts into each one.   Within about 3 to 5 sales calls, you should have a sense of which market segment best matches the six criteria I listed above.

How Are You Going to Sell?

Now that you have some focus, you still need to decide how to communicate the value proposition to your target prospects.  Again, your understanding of this should have already been developed from your market validation work and you can quickly build out the right sales tools.   If you are one of the founders of the company (typically the first salesperson), you should already have intimate knowledge of the market you are selling into and the value proposition you are offering, and you could quite likely do the first sales “flying by the seat of your pants”.  But I highly recommend you think through the process and develop the right tools as this will make you much more professional and effective.   If you already have salespeople or are going to hire a salespeople to kick-off the sales of your new product, then you MUST think through the sales process, develop effective sales tools and enable your sales team to effectively sell.  I cannot emphasize this enough as I have too often seen new salespeople struggle with making those first sales as they had no clear guidance where and how to sell the product.

 Effective Sales Enablement (How to Sell)

Here are the key points that must be understood and defined to effectively enable your salespeople to effectively sell your new product.

  • Target market segment (see above)
  • Buyers within that segment
  • Key pains/problems that you can solve for those buyers
  • How you solve those pains/problems
  • Expected benefits from using/buying your product
  • Evidence that you can actually achieve these benefits
  • Key competitive advantages of your offering (v. alternatives)
  • The 3 to 4 most relevant messages that you want to communicate to each buyer profile

Once you have this well defined, it’s a pretty straight forward process to create sales tools (presentations, demos, questioning guides, etc.) that will make your sales people much more effective.   Please see my presentation below on creating the core sales enablement tools.

 

 

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