Two years ago a start up founder – lets call “A” and I were a having a conversation.
How is business ?
A. “Our sales are flat. It seems customers take very long time to take a simple decision”.
Why do you say that ?
A. “We have endless meetings – and it is really very frustrating to keep on pitching a powerful value proposition – any fool can see. Yet they dont take decision.”
Little more probing indicated, that they were trying to sell the product B2B2C , B2C, B2B, in short the thinking was that anyone who had a end consumer interface could be a potential. The focus was on last mile instead of the entire value chain.
Limited by resources, many start ups make this mistake of trying everything in spray and pray mode. There was an urgent need to target potential customers based on product -market fit. Sales resources are expensive and must be deployed after mapping out target segments , and mapping buyer persona’s for improving success probability. A start up can prioritise their efforts by defining a representative target segment. The following steps should help :-
- Define who is your end consumer.
- How do they fulfill their need ? How,many touch points must the customer experience to eventually fulfill the need ?
- Which touch points are critical in that experience and are currently a time or cost drain ?
- Are the dependencies of these touch points systemic or are they insitutionalised ? e.g ., visit to a Pathalogical Lab for diagnostics.
- Is the experience ubiquitous ? Any demographic groups more vulnerable than others ?
- Based on the above filters you may be able to define your target segment.
While this is important for sales, some degree of experimentation can take place based on strategic business development. This could be based on building strategic alliances and partnerships. Insitutional channels that can seed and nurture the product or service based on complimentary effect. Few days ago a major oil and lubes brand reached out to small automobile workshops for co sponsoring car maintenanance events at subsidised rates. This was win -win for the small auto repair shop and the oil brand.
In order for sales to pick up, it is important to be more customer and market focussed in the initial months. Also budget for sales expenses not as an after thought. Investors like to read degree of commitment, sincerity and openness to change. Selling is nothing but exchange of monetised value. This needs to be explicit.
All the best.