How do I bring my product to market?

Gregg Fairbrothers:  Not to overstate the obvious, but the way to bring your product to market is to go out and sell it.

  1. You should try some selling yourself, because selling means touching customers, and there is nothing more valuable than being in touch with your customers.
  2. But products seldom sell themselves. Marketing—product, price, place, promotion—sets up the market. But someone has to go out and sell your product. This means sales people, and you are the one who has to hire them. When you’re starting out, there are ways to keep cash costs down. They’re not ideal, but they can get you started. Eventually you need to have sales people, those people who go out and get purchase orders and collect the cash.
  3. Websites are one small segment of the startup world. They tend to draw more attention than their share of commerce really represents. There is so much on the web today that getting traffic to a new website is often incredibly hard.  When it comes to getting web traffic, typical sales practices often don’t apply. It’s hard to sell websites to web users the conventional way unless you have the resources of a Groupon to put hundreds or thousands of sales people on the ground. But if your  website is going to rely on traditional revenue sources like advertising, you’re back to the old problem: someone has to do the selling.

 

Howard Anderson(Senior Lecturer, MIT; Visiting Professor, Tuck School; Founder and President, The Yankee Group):  One of the biggest mistakes a young company makes, especially in the technology area… is hiring a sales force TOO EARLY.

  1. The pressures are enormous – you have raised money and your investors want to see a return. You have hired a staff and they want to feel progress.  But the real problem: the product is not ready….you hope it is, but it isn’t. So you hire a sales force, give them a salary plus a commission… and then they go after customers. Good, right? No, not so right.  Often the product isn’t debugged.  The first customers spit up all over it. The sales force gets discouraged because they will not make their commission and world of mouth can kill you.
  2. In the pre Internet days, that was bad but not awful.  But today, an unhappy customers tells …. the world.  So now you have to rehire but salespeople are reluctant to join a flawed company.
  3.  A product in General Release….has all the bells and buzzers done.  The documentation is fixed. Customer service has been trained. Channel has been brought up to speed. Parts are in stock.  The product has been drop tested, heat tested, cold tested.   Then and only then can you begin to actually sell the product.
  4.  All good marketing does for a product that is not ready for Prime Time …is to let more people know early how flawed the product is.
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