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The common way companies look at “go to market”

You develop a product (or minimum viable product) or service idea. Now you need to start making money from it. So you go hire a salesperson, probably based on their geography, career history, or experience within your industry. The thinking goes like this: Now that we have this salesperson and this minimum-level product, the money shall flow! Let the salesperson run in the wild! We are good here. He/she is a senior salesperson and will work contacts and bring in the business and everything will get going in the right direction.

Obviously, this almost never happens. Why? And what could be done better?

The first step is not sales

Sales is a later step. You cannot marry someone until you’ve built the relationship, and you cannot sell until you’ve built the basics.

In sales, the “basics” means product-market fit.

What goes into product-market fit?

A partial list:

  • Market segments
  • Buyer personas
  • Needs of those personas
  • Their desired end results- What do they want to achieve in their business?
  • How are they mostly being approached now?
  • How do they want to be approached?
  • What value do they see in solving a specific problem? {this can go to pricing}
  • What are they worried most about as regards their business?
  • Who currently has market share?
  • Where is their weakness?
  • How many different channels (touchpoints) will you be reaching these personas on?
  • What’s the overall strategy or map here?

These questions get resolved at an ecosystem level: Executives, marketing people work with sales people to define some of these answers.

This stuff is important to get right before you try to sell. Even if you have an amazing salesperson for your specific industry, his or her relationships and connections will only get you so far without understanding personas and pain points. At a certain level, the connections of the salesperson will run out. Don’t get this wrong, they might sell because of their credible personal connections and not because of the value you bring to a specific market segment. If you don’t actually understand the market and the problem that your product is fixing, you cannot sell anymore once the connections die out. That’s why “relationship selling,” while talked about a lot by supposed “thought leaders,” does not work as well as people think. It cannot be scaled effectively.

Crawl, walk, run

You start with the basics (crawl):

  • What does our product/service do?
  • Who are we helping? Whom can we help most?
  • What pain point are we relieving them of?
  • How relevant is it at all?
  • How much is that worth to them?

Then you start to walk (with business development or external experts):

  • What titles do they have?
  • What messaging do they respond to?
  • What are the weaknesses of the other companies selling what we sell?
  • What channels are they on?
  • Where will we reach them?

And then you can run:

  • Bring in a salesperson
  • Give them the above information
  • Let them go work the market
  • They can start with their pre-existing connections but now they have a more robust picture of where to look and who to talk to
  • Because you crawled and walked first, the running is effective
  • Without the earlier steps, the running — > the salesperson trips over their shoes and breaks a bunch of adult teeth and you don’t see any annual recurring revenue. You only see frustration.

Get the basics right first with product-market fit and personas and then you can engage a salesperson in the process.

Take a look at our product-market-fit DACH workshop when you want to successfully sell your high-ticket offer to the German-speaking market.

Ted Bauer
About the author

I help companies to market their content in the most effective way.