Taking a Product to Market? Harden Your Sales Funnel First
For more than 20 years, I’ve been bringing new products to market. I’ve taken new product ideas to launch, through product-market fit, to traction, growth and ultimately success — sometimes failure, but my track record is pretty good and I always learn from my mistakes.
Along the way, I’ve also been paid a lot of money to advise dozens of other startups to do the same. Most of them, not all of them, come to me when they’re in trouble. They come to me for help with their feature set, their pricing, their marketing and their sales. They come to me because none of it seems to be working.
In these situations, I can’t wave a magic wand and fix it. I wish I could. But most of the time it’s due to a poorly built go-to-market foundation, sometimes even a lack of any foundation.
This is going to seem surprising, but the simple step I see skipped almost every time a startup fails to find product market fit is when the startup creates grand plans for dominating their market without any sort of plan to make the product available to the market.
It happens all the time, with new entrepreneurs and veteran entrepreneurs alike. Stealth mode gets activated, feature sets and benefits get documented and built, marketing campaigns get created, sales numbers get projected, and all of this gets done in a vacuum before the first potential customer shows up.
Then, when all the assumptions that went into those grand plans get undone at product launch, the startup is no longer in any position to react to who their customers really are and what those customers really want.
The irony is that having a product available for sale is incredibly easy these days. I mean, it’s more than just a landing page and a credit card form. But it’s not much more. Here’s what I usually find missing, for the simple reason that it never got done.
Fully Defined and Available Products
Before you write your first line of marketing copy, you need, available on your website or some other sales channel, every…