Why Over 80% of Product Launches Fail

So what does GTM Strategy has to do with all of this?

No matter how successful your pilots were or how incredible your technology, the lack of a solid go-to-market plan will dramatically increase your new product’s chance of failure.

Remember Windows Vista? Or more recently Google Glasses? Despite being new products from two of the world’s largest tech titans, both failed spectacularly. This should be your wake-up call. 

History is littered with disastrous product launches. In fact, according to Professor Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School, 80% of new product launches end in failure. While he wasn’t addressing the hi-tech industry in particular, failure can be even more of a problem when it comes to technology startups. 

Why do so many new products fail?

The intuitive answer could be that the products themselves just aren’t good enough. Or, maybe, that the market wasn’t ready for a particular product — the classic excuse of many failed innovative startups. The truth, however, may be different. 

Hi-tech startups are surrounded (and often founded) by technologists that have very little knowledge of market needs, target audience, or selling methodologies. It’s only when they raise seed funding, and are under pressure to quickly commercialize their product, that they realize how little they know about what they should do next.

The reality is that failing product launches more often than not result from the lack of a smart, solid go-to-market strategy during those early stages after finishing the first funding rounds, or even before.

The most common mistakes startups make

To give a sense of just how easily this can happen to so many startups with great potential and innovative products, but without a solid go-to-market strategy, let’s go over a few painfully common mistakes:

  • Failure to conduct a thorough, independent, unbiased market research.
  • Failure to understand the product ecosystem and market, including the competition.
  • Failure to pinpoint the right target audience and acknowledge their goals and needs.
  • Failure to identify where to meet that target audience and what to say to them.
  • Failure to orchestrate and combine the holy grail of product, sales, and marketing.

These mistakes are often the result of one fundamental flaw commonly found in startups — they are used to thinking solely in product and technology terms. But, when a startup is looking to storm the market with a new product, it is vital they start thinking outwardly and from the customer’s perspective.

The potential problem with successful pilots

So, you’ve had a few successful pilots. And now you think you’re good to go. But if you don’t have a proper go-to-market strategy in place, at some point, you’ll get stuck. 

The first few pilots conducted by many startups often rely on existing contacts they have. This means they are therefore not forced to actually pitch. Thus, the pilot they conducted with a bank, for example, may have been made possible by a brother of one of the founders who holds a senior position there. The fact they are not going to market cold to pitch the benefits of their product means they are unlikely to fully understand if they are targeting the right audience or persona, or even the right market (a pilot conducted with an Israeli firm may be of little relevance if your market is actually firms operating in the UK). So, all of these pilots may have been a waste of effort and time. 

When you have a go-to-market plan in place, you will know exactly the correct personas, audiences, companies and locations your pilots should target. You will know what they should achieve and how to get there. This allows you to focus your efforts.

So, what do you do now?

Stop, take a breath. Don’t start with any marketing campaigns just yet. Don’t hire your first sales team member. Don’t over-invest in product development. 

It’s too early. Get a clear picture of the road before you drive it. It should not take long — a few weeks or a couple of months — to save you from becoming just another casualty among the 80% of failed product launches.

Redirecting your focus (from internal product development) to the marketplace will help you build a robust plan. This will help you combine and align product, marketing and sales efforts to support your startup’s growth. 


And if you are still unsure and need to dive deeper into go-to-market strategy read our blog on Go-To-Market Strategy – The ‘DOs,’ The ‘DON’Ts,’ And The ‘HOWs

Got The “Rebranding Itch”?

Here’s why branding is worthless without positioning: It usually happens before a significant company milestone or event – an important conference, a new product launch, a merger. It’s called “the rebranding itch”. Someone, usually an executive, scratches his or her head and decides it’s time for rebranding. We know it because it is at this point that we at Forabilis usually get the call. When we dig a bit deeper to try and understand the need for rebranding, we usually find that something isn’t working out – something bigger than the logo or the tagline – it usually has to do with challenges related to business objectives which tie directly to the company’s go-to-market strategy.

Rebranding as a painkiller

So, why do highly intelligent, talented, often experienced executives ask for new branding at this stage? It’s a bit like insisting on getting your teeth cleaned while what you should really get is root canal.

And there lies the answer. Going deeper, searching for misalignment, finding true answers to what should be done to fix it, what we call “repositioning” – that’s just as painful as root canal, maybe even more. It is much easier to go for the painkiller – the rebranding. If you go for the painkiller, you’ll soon find yourself fighting over colors, fonts, tagline, and the right words to package your product or service. Question is, would that save you from yet another visit to the doctor just a few months down the line?

Wait, so is branding not important?

Hey, we’re in marketing. Of course, we love branding and believe it’s important! We love it because it’s the fun part that comes after the root canal, assuming you survived. But here’s the thing about branding: It’s about telling your story. At the beginning of the branding process, you’ll be asked to tell your story in your own words, so that the branding agency or consultant you hired for the job can package it creatively, tightly, in a precise manner. And, if you were lucky to hire someone good, you’ll be asked all the right questions: Who are your competitors? What are your differentiators? Etc.

But what if you get your story wrong? That’s when it gets tricky. Because your branding consultant would rarely know to tell you so – the underlying foundation of the branding process assumes you have the right answers – they just need to be packaged by a branding pro.

For brand positioning, doubt is a necessity

When the challenge runs deeper – examples may be low product sales, marketing and sales misalignment, low customer retention, or even market trends which make your product irrelevant – that’s when we at Forabilis come in for the root canal. It’s not always a popular role, it’s hard to be the people that doubt your answers. Because you may think that all you need is branding. We may think differently. We may not accept your answers as is. We may search for answers in different places. This is a long, highly demanding process. It’s not for everyone. The outcome is a brand positioning document, which is the foundation for a plan and other activities such as branding. Branding works best when it comes after positioning. Otherwise, it holds little value, and the same problem will continue to haunt you.

How do you know if you should do branding or start with positioning?
Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I sure of what I need? If you’re not sure, usually this means you probably need positioning.
  • Why do I need rebranding? Does the current brand speak my product or service language?
  • Am I expecting any major changes to my product or service offering?
  • Am I planning to go to new markets?
  • Is my company under merger, acquisition or reconstruction?

If the answer for one of the above is “Yes” – you probably need positioning

Do you really know how to answer the following questions, and is there a consensus among team members and company stakeholders on the answers?

  • What is it that you offer?
  • What is your promise to your customers? (no, it is not the same question)
  • What is your market or markets?
  • Who are your customers, users and buyers? What are their pains and needs?
  • What are your clear differentiators? (being better is not a good answer)
  • Why would your customers buy from you?

If you are not sure about the answer to one of the above, or there are disagreements among team members and company stakeholders – you probably need positioning.

Read more about it on our blog or contact us to get the ball rolling

3 Principles for Effective Sales-Marketing Alignment

Gone are the days of marketing and sales working in silos. You will not be winning business just because of your market presence, or the success of your sales team alone. That’s why modern teams that find a way to make marketing and sales coexist successfully enjoy 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates. 


Customers demand a unified experience with one cohesive voice 

Sales and marketing misalignment is not a new topic. What’s changed is the way customers buy – sophistication level is up, and the customer now gets through a substantial part of the sales cycle without engaging with a sales person, receiving most of the information from 3rd parties.

What also changed is marketing technologies and the way organizations generate leads, qualify and nurture them. Especially in the current economic climate, the marketing discipline is becoming more account-focused (read more about account-based marketing and how we’ve been using it with top clients here), which forces a stronger collaboration between sales and marketing.

What can you do to align sales and marketing in your organization? If you are a decision maker, whether in marketing, sales, or another executive position, here are 3 principles you can start implementing in your organization:


Principle #1: Channel the team player within 

Encouraging collaboration between sales and marketing involves active steps that managers of both teams can define, among them –

  • Weekly meetings
  • Structured, consistent sales feedback to the marketing team about marketing content, tools, and campaigns
  • Have marketing sit on sales calls and attend some sales meetings to better understand needs and hear the client
  • Develop a library of sales materials for everyone to use and ensure sales are updated with new materials
  • Involve sales in messaging and content development

Principle #2: Own it 

Both teams should be able to openly discuss accountability and alignment issues and use data to support their cases. Marketing and sales goals should also be discussed openly, while each team understands the way they support the company’s business goals.

Topics to be discussed should include –

  • Leads flow
  • Leads quality
  • Close rate

Principle #3: Stay continuously connected 

To be able to support collaboration and accountability, it is recommended to integrate sales and marketing software. It is easier said than done, especially in smaller companies, but the benefits are substantial. This kind of integration helps everyone invested in the company’s sales goals see the entire lifecycle from lead to  customer. It helps both sides – marketing and sales – to better allocate time and resources to optimize results.

Check out our blog to learn more on how to make marketing and sales live happily ever after, or contact us and we’ll work it out together

Go-To-Market Strategy – The ‘Dos,’ The ‘Don’ts,’ And The ‘Hows’

* This article summarizes a workshop we’ve been running with for years, focused around a favorite topic we feel most strongly about : The Go-to-market Strategy and it’s role in a young startup’s life.

It’s always a good idea to start with a story

Up until 1988, Nespresso (i.e., Nestle) were coffee-machine manufacturers. It wasn’t until a young guy named Yannick Lang joined the team that they started aiming for an entirely different target audience – private consumers. Lang thought 35-45 old coffee lovers might want to experience quality coffee in the comfort of their own home. And, as we all know, he was definitely right.

From that moment on, Nespresso had changed the 3 most fundamental strategy elements:

  1. The product (from coffee makers to coffee capsules).
  2. The market (from selling to businesses to selling to consumers).
  3. The sales and marketing channels (by selling the coffee capsules directly to consumers and starting Nespresso’s loyalty program).

These 3 key changes have led to Nespresso’s phenomenal success, and they are, in a nutshell, what we call a ‘killer’ Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy.

But enough about coffee, let’s talk about what Go-To-Market really means.

We define Go-To-Market as a strategic plan describing how to attain new customers and maintain existing ones, while supporting organizational growth and business goals. However (and this is the crucial part), the basics of any good GTM is a firm and clear connection between the product and its market, which brings us to what makes a successful GTM strategy –

It needs to be flexible, action-driven, and include reciprocal relationships between marketing, sales, and product.

Okay, but how do you know when you need a GTM strategy? It’s simple –

  1. When you don’t meet your business objectives.
  2. When you anticipate you won’t reach your goals due to recent changes in the market, in regulations, in competition, etc.
  3. When people in your organization cannot give a short and simple answer to the questions: “what does your product do?” and “who are your potential customers?”

Getting started

So far, it’s safe to say that GTM strategy sounds like a pretty intuitive plan. So, where’s the catch? There are two main reasons why GTM strategy is hard to design and execute:

  1. Because everyone that knows marketing, product or sales, knows how hard it is to align these three functions and get them to work well together.
  2. Because in startups, the GTM process is often driven by the founders, who are usually too completely and utterly in love with their technology (i.e., their product) to notice anything else such as market, target audience, or customer pain points.

However, despite it being a challenging task, we all have to begin somewhere, and the first step is –


The very basis of every GTM strategy is finding the right relation between the product and the market, and start from the market. This point is tragically important, as many young start-ups start with their product, working their way down to the market. But this is a crucial mistake, as we hope to explain here.

#1 Start with the market

The first step to be taken in every GTM strategy is finding the right market for your product. This can get especially tricky for technology start-ups because when it comes to software, one product can potentially be positioned in various markets.

Going for the wrong market is a classic and painfully common mistake. In fact, it’s the main reason why start-ups are so often get stuck after a few successful pilots.

The ultimate example to emphasize this point is YouTube. This popular platform actually started out in the dating industry, offering singles to upload videos of themselves to find a date. Formerly known for using the slogan “Tune in, hook up,” the platform failed miserably. But it only took them 10 days to figure out there might be something wrong with their market-pick, and so they changed it to offer anyone with a funny cat to upload their videos and share them. This took them right into the multimedia -web market, and the rest is history full of cats and dogs and Britney Spears support fans.

But not everyone is that lucky…

#2 Target audience

After narrowing our markets down, now is the time to focus on potential customers, and more importantly, our ideal customers. And though a common misconception in the B2B space, it is not enough to target companies; you need to target specific people in those companies: the buyer, the user, and the influencer.

Once you know who your potential and ideal customers are, it’s time to learn everything there is to know about them. Because (and this is too often overlooked) companies are made of roles and positions, and these are occupied by people; real people with feelings and pains and frustrations and desires – they are your real target audience, even when targeting B2B markets. And only when you truly understand your potential customers, can you start talking to them, which brings us to –

#3 Messaging hierarchy

The messaging hierarchy is the basis of every content strategy in the company. It organizes the main messages and unifies them across the different departments so that everybody says the same thing in the same language. Why a hierarchy? Because the bottom part is the basic product description, which can’t (or shouldn’t) be changed easily. The next stop right above that is the value proof, describing why you should be trusted. Right on top of that comes the differentiator, explaining why your potential customers should pick you out of the competition, which brings us to the top part- defining your value proposition, which can vary more easily.


The second part of an excellent Go-To-Market strategy must be the planning, which helps us reach our potential customers, and actually sell them our product. Sounds like a plan, right?

#1 Defining our strategy

But in order to actually “get there,” we have 5 necessary stages to go through. For the sake of simplicity and space, here’s a (really) quick summary-

  1. Defining our business objectives (what we want to accomplish, in numbers!).
  2. Establishing our business model (how we plan to make money).
  3. Deciding on the best sales strategy (direct sales or channel sales; that is the question…).
  4. Building our pricing model.
  5. Determining what our best territories are (where we have the most chance of succeeding).

After defining (and redefining) our basic strategy, every function in the organization focuses on aligning their planning & strategy accordingly. However, when we’re talking GTM, we’re talking teamwork, and though every department should concentrate on their own objectives, there’s one place sales, marketing, and product should come together, and that is the joint marketing and sales funnel –

#2 Marketing & Sales Funnel

A pretty popular marketing methodology, this market & sales funnel helps define how the process of converting a potential buyer into an actual buyer – should work. Though it’s called “the sales and marketing funnel”, it’s really where the three functions – sales, marketing, and product – come together. Without getting too deep into an already widely common methodology, let’s focus on two essential points to remember here:

  1. By the end of this process, we need to be able to thoroughly and meticulously describe our customers’ purchasing process, as well as the channels and assets we are using at every single stage of that process.
  2. Different assets will be under the responsibility of various functions (sales presentations should be under sales, social media activity under marketing, product tour under product, etc.). And that is precisely why this funnel not only creates the customers’ process, but also regulates the connection between the different functions.

After planning the funnel, we also need to describe the process, which should result in a messy-looking but meticulously planned diagram, including everything from stages to responsibility, assets, and everything else mentioned above.

Managing GTM strategy

Behind every GTM strategy, there’s an incredibly detailed table of tasks for each of the company’s functions. It is a long and well-thought-of journey that should be defined, redefined, managed, and monitored proficiently and dedicatedly.

But when it’s done properly, it’s your ticket out of some of the biggest and most common failures in the innovative technology industry.

Have a specific Go-To-Market challenge to tackle? We’ll be happy to talk.

Why Answering The Question “Why Now?” Is Crucial For Your Go-To-Market

To prevail, answer this one question

You‘ve got it under control. You feel you are 100% ready. You’re about to step into your soon-to-be customer’s office, equipped with a product that will undoubtedly increase their ROI. This is a big sale. You go in. It feels like it’s going well. They really like your product, and it seems they understand the benefits. But what you hear at the end is what you feared most “Come back in a month or two. We’ll think about it”.

You got it wrong.

Wondering why? Because you didn’t ask one simple question.

Ask yourself “Why Now”?

A go-to-market plan is comprised of many questions you must answer. Yet, the importance of your answer to “why should a customer purchase my product NOW?” need not be neglected. “Why Now” ultimately means business opportunity. It is understanding what will drive your target audience to purchase your product as soon as possible, before the customer needs have an opportunity to change.

As consumers, we meet the “Why Now” in many of our shopping experiences. In consumer goods, “special deals” is a common tactic for “Why Now”, creating a sense of urgency and driving consumers to buy. Let’s take the real estate market as another example. If you’ve ever shopped for real estate, your agent must have said that “there is a very high demand for condos in this area, prices are absolutely going to rise”.

In B2B technology markets, things are much more complicated. Let’s take for example a ticketing system for an airline. It’s obvious that an airline cannot be relevant these days without a good ticketing system. What would convince the decision makers to allow for a web-based ticket reservation system? How about adding a mobile app software? Or maybe moving the reservation system to the cloud? The answer lies in market trends. As long as technology changes people’s buying habits, airline companies must follow it in order to stay in business.

Business leaders are always afraid to lose if they don’t follow market trends, especially when it comes to technologies that are already adopted by their competitors, and, of course, when they have a potential to disrupt their business.

The importance of market trends

The business opportunity is closely tied to the most recent trends that can be identified within the market. As business pace gets faster and market shifts occur often, your customers’ attention shifts accordingly. As a result, these ever-changing trends have a direct effect on your positioning, messaging, sales strategy and the product or service features, and are crucial in order to keep your offer at the center of attention. Before you decide to enter any market, you must understand what promotes a sense of urgency among your potential customers. This will diminish your chances of losing the deal.

Market trends may be in many times a good “Why Now” reason: If you don’t follow the trend, you are going to lose, while following the trend early enough creates an opportunity for you to extend your business and become a market leader. The sense of urgency is achieved by identifying a strong market trend that pushes decision makers to take action.

When your product is a ”Nice To Have”: Getting it wrong

Failing to identify what drives immediate consumer engagement and customer commitment can lead to an unwanted outcome – willingness to use your product or service, but no inclination to pay for it. Customers might view your offering as a nice-to-have rather than a pain reliever which they simply cannot get by without. Changing your target audience’s mind about their perception of what you represent will become a great challenge, which not all companies are able to overcome.

Trends, customer needs, and your product: What it means to get it right

As people search for ways to improve their professional and personal lives, new trends are formed. These trends disrupt technological, financial and many other markets, causing the existent equilibrium to shift. If the trends have a strong impact they might even lead to the rise of entirely new markets, such as mobile phones which replaced landline communication, allowing us to be connected at any given moment. To understand the business opportunity, you must first identify the trends in your market. Next, try to understand your customers’ needs as a result of these shifts. Eventually, in order to create a truly effective go-to-market plan, you must find an irrefutable justification for a sense of urgency in choosing your offer over any other available option.

How To Create A Great Sales Presentation For B2B Tech Products

Developing a good sales presentation to sell B2B tech products is one of the most difficult challenges for a content marketer. Sales and marketing see things differently, and a sales presentation is the place where the sales-marketing misalignment is most commonly taking place. If a marketer is successful in developing a sales presentation that the sales team is happy to use – that is already a good sign that the organization is aligned. And if the sales presentation helps move a lead up the sales funnel – that’s a win.

Here are a few tips to marketers when creating a sales presentation:

Tip #1: Interview thoroughly the sales team

Most marketers know the organization’s messaging in and out. After all, they created it. But the truth is, unless you are talking to potential clients and prospects day in and day out, you don’t really know what ticks them. And that’s when you need your sales team. You need their feedback before you start.

Here’s a list of some of the questions you need answers to, assuming you know the product and the market:

  • How is this sales presentation going to be used? Face-to-face, through Webex, as a send-out?
  • Is the sales presentation the first touch point between sales and the prospect? What does the prospect know before getting this sales presentation?
  • What are the sales team expectations from this presentation? What does it intend to achieve?
  •  The prospect/potential client – how many sales presentations from competitors does he get to see? How hard is it to stand out?
  •  What works best when pitching the product offering to potential clients?

Tip #2: Start with the pain

Marketers have a tendency to aim high, think big and inspirational. Sales tend to ground their pitch in order to sell. Sales presentations need to be very grounded, and should speak to a very specific pain. A good place to start is the pain point of the potential client.

Tip #3: Take it down to the ground – Be specific about the next steps

Whomever the buyer is, in whatever type of organization, they need to know that what they buy can show impact within a very short timeframe. That’s not always possible with Enterprise products that take a while to deploy. But the important thing is to show very clear next steps and a path that is both impactful and efficient. Oh, and of course, your buyer within the organization should feel like it’s not going to be too hard on him. You – the vendor – will do the heavy lifting and support the organization along the way. When you develop your presentation remember that the buyer wants to be accredited for doing something meaningful for the organization.

Tip #4: Leave room for personalization – one presentation does not fit all

We’d like to think that if we are specific enough about our audience – industry, role, etc. – we can create just one presentation and run with it. It’s not like that in one-on-one sales presentations. For example, we sell content marketing. But it’s a different presentation when we approach a potential client that has an in-house marketing team, versus someone that relies mostly on outsourcing marketing initiatives.

Always leave room for the sales person to change the presentation based on the individual needs and challenges of the potential buyer. Create the presentation in a way that’s clear where the information changes.

Tip #5: Don’t forget any of the core components of a sales presentation

…and they are:

  • The need
  • The solution
  •  The product
  •  Why us
  • Implementation process
  • Next steps

These sections can be interpreted in different ways, of course. The product section can be a demo, or just a good description. The “Why Us” can be testimonials, or case studies, or hard numbers that support the product benefits. But you need to ensure that you have all of these in mind when developing your presentation.

Got any other tips for developing a great sales presentation? We’d love to hear them.

Marketing And Sales Performance: Are You On The Right Track?

Often we encounter organizations, especially on the SMB side, having a hard time with the term “marketing-sales alignment”. Sometimes they see marketing as an after-thought, not focusing on marketing as an integral part of the sales cycle. We think marketing-sales alignment is top priority for any organization that is interested in improving its bottom line.

For this reason, we created the Forabilis Sales effectiveness Assessment. Forabilis Sales Effectiveness Assessment goal is to help organizations evaluate the effectiveness of marketing and sales operations and their ability to meet revenue goals.

Forabilis Sales Effectiveness Assessment is based on L2RM methodology established by Forrester Research and on Aberdeen Group Consulting Research on Sales Enablement Effectiveness.

A short assessment process helps you realize how you stand as far as your sales performance compared to industry benchmarks, and where you can do better. Based on your results, we identify specific areas of improvements within your marketing and sales efforts. We make recommendations that impact your bottom line.

How does the Sales Effectiveness Assessment works?

Step 1: Assessment Questionnaire

We have you fill in a short assessment questionnaire that examines marketing and sales area related to your different products or services.

Step 2: Sales Performance Calculator

Using our proprietary sales performance calculator, we establish your sales effectiveness report through different parameters.

Step 3: Sales Effectiveness Analysis and Recommendations

We set up a feedback meeting with decision makers in you organization in which we answer the following questions, and more:

  • Does your organization produce the right amount of sales opportunities?
  • What is the quality of sales leads and how to improve it?
  • How effective is your sales team in terms of opportunity to deal performance?
  • What should be the size of your sales team?
  • How to setup revenue goals to the sales team? Is your overall budget is reasonable?

As Lori Wizdo, Forrester Analyst, said: “It is critical to learn how to create a way to take a single lead through a process that is optimized to convert and help increase the buyer’s engagement through a managed process. Then, repeat that process hundreds and thousands of times.” As marketers, we need to realize that our goal throughout the process is not leads, or leads conversion. It is sales.

Applying this managed process and optimizing it takes time. Understanding where you are and how you can do better – takes very little time. Contact us for more information on the Forabilis Sales Effectiveness Assessment.


Marketing And Sales Misalignment: 3 Principles For Effective Change

In an interview earlier this year, Lori Wizdo , a B2B marketing analyst at Forrester Research, claimed that in large global companies, only 5 to 15 percent of the sales pipeline comes from marketing. On average, Wizdo claims, the number is around 50 percent.
Sales and marketing misalignment is not a new topic. What’s changed is the way customers buy – sophistication level is up, and the customer now gets through a substantial part of the sales cycle without engaging with a sales person, receiving most of the information from 3rd parties.

What also changed is marketing technologies and the way companies can now generate leads, qualify and nurture them. The marketing discipline is changing, but there is still way to go.

What can you do to align sales and marketing in your organization? If you are a decision maker, whether in marketing, sales, or another executive position, here are 3 principles you can start implement in your organization:

Principle #1: Collaboration

Encouraging collaboration between sales and marketing involves active steps that managers of both teams can define, among them –
– Weekly meetings
– Structured, consistent sales feedback to the marketing team about marketing content, tools, and campaigns
– Have marketing sit on sales calls and attend some sales meetings to better understand needs and hear the client
– Develop a library of sales materials for everyone to use and ensure sales are updated with new materials
– Involve sales in messaging and content development

Principle #2: Accountability

Both teams should be able to discuss openly alignment issues and use data to support their cases. Marketing and sales goals should also be discussed openly, while each team understands the way they support the company’s business goals.
Topics to be discussed should include –
– Leads flow
– Leads quality
– Close rate

Principle #3: Integration

To be able to support collaboration and accountability, it is recommended to integrate sales and marketing software. It is easily said than done, especially in smaller companies, but the benefits are substantial. This kind of integration helps everyone invested in the company’s sales goals see the entire lifecycle from lead to  customer. It helps both sides – marketing and sales – to better allocate time and resources to optimize results.

Do you have any other principles you go by to better align sales and marketing in your organization?

The Magic Of Low-Touch Sales

The concept of a low-touch sales approach is not new, it’s been around for years. David Skok named it a few years back “the touchless conversion sales model” – a most accurate name.
However, in the past year, this concept seems to have some sort of a revival. We meet entrepreneurs and startups on a daily basis, and we hear from them over and over again “we want our product to be sold low touch”.

When we ask them what they mean, they basically say they want their product to be sold online with very little (if any) sales personnel. It almost sounds like magic. You put your product on your website, you drive traffic, and it miraculously, effortlessly sells.

Like most things magic, there’s an illusion behind the no-touch sales approach. Companies like ZendeskMailchimpSurveymonkey and others that are identified with low touch worked very hard to get to a successful sales model. And they continue to fine tune it.

What does it mean to be low-touch or no-touch?

It doesn’t really mean that you eliminate your sales team. The touchless approach is not touchless at all – it differs in the way it places the necessary gentle touch of the sales team. the low touch sales approach eliminates or minimizes the sales team at the beginning of the sales cycle, while beefing up customer success reps after free trial. Call them however you want to call them, those customer success reps are doing sales. By showing value during a free trial, they upsell. So cost-per-acquisition is not necessarily low – it is basically customer support that drives conversion. That’s where the “hidden” sales costs are.

One interesting fact to note that all those great examples for low cost sales success stories: they have all added sales team later on. Mostly, Zendesk and likes started by targeting SMBs, and when they’ve outgrown their market, they added formal sales teams to target bigger accounts.

If low-touch or no-touch sales is the right approach for your startup, what are the basic requirements to make it a success?
1. A strong layer of customer success reps – less selling, more about trial success and showing value
2. Clear value proposition – a must, in order to shorten time-to-value in trial
3. Pricing needs to be very low, no more than $499/month on the expensive package (credit card limit), with a clear value to a free trial
4. You need to be able to generate large volume of leads

And, more than anything else, it is in a company’s DNA than anything else to be able to be successful with low-touch – it requires a certain approach to the market, the product, the pricing,  and only then the marketing.

If you have any examples for successful low touch sales strategies, please share them with us.

Scale Or Die

You have no choice: it’s either scale or die.
Charles Baden-Fuller and Ian MacMillan wrote skillfully on the matter in the Harvard Business Review: “Many ventures fail to capitalize on successful prototypes because they make one strategic error: they do not understand scale-up. And failing to scale swiftly can be the difference between life and death of a product or company in a fast-moving world.”
At what point is it right to scale? The easy answer is: as soon as possible. But too fast can have long-term implications. There are a few things you need to do before scaling. Product-Market fit comes first, starting with your product discovery, followed by product and market validation, after which you test and improve the efficiency of your product within your market. Then and only after then, you can scale.  Once you scale, you have a whole different set of pains that revolve around creating a scalable and repeatable business model.
A great example of a company that scaled right is Akamai, a company that had a big idea – accelerate and manage Internet traffic on a global scale – but tested it first in a lab setting with no funding. After discovery and validation, the Akamai team went ahead and commercialized the product, reaching Product-Market fit within a year, with revenue of $4 million in their first year, then $90 million the second year. As a result of the quick growth, the company had to scale fast. Costly mistakes were made, but ultimately Akamai was able to overcome them. In addition, Akamai had to scale its product – from one product to a platform. Akamai had a strong enough product development process that allowed them to successfully scale their product offering to a line of products.
You may only be validating your product’s value proposition. Or you may be in early discovery. But you should already be thinking about what it would mean to scale. Your 10 existing pilot customers will have to be thousands or tens of thousands or millions one day. You have the power to create the right kind of business structure that can take you places – take you towards scaling up.
A few things to keep you in the right mindset of scaling – even if you’re not there yet:
• Realize that customers are not the same as users
• Recognize that first users are not the same as scaling users
• Anticipate that first products are not the same as scaling products
The evolution of your product also means the evolution of customers and users. Be mindful of your next steps and ensure that they take you where you want to go – towards scale.
Do you have any tips on successfully scaling your business?