Archive for February, 2014

Part 1 – Why a Problem Elevator May Be Your Problem

February 8th, 2014

If you told me a few weeks ago that my world would hinge on the word “problem” and a lot of the challenges I was having in driving understanding of our business would be based upon the lack of clarity as to what a problem really is, I would have been shocked.

I routinely ask my friends and contacts, “what problem do you solve and for whom”. I usually get a surprised look, a pause, and then something that resembles a value statement. But, it wasn’t till this week that I realized that the word “problem” had a different context. Talk about a loaded word.

When I have been using the word “problem”, I have been asking the question from an uneducated buyer’s perspective. “If I had never heard of your industry, let alone your company, what problem would I come to you for?” But, that has been interpreted as “How we do what we do that helps you.”

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Part 2 – What is the difference between “In-market buyers” and for “buyers with a problem that is yet to become a market”

February 8th, 2014

In-market – if your industry is half-way through its lifecycle, there may be a lot of buyers who don’t realize there is a category out there for their problem. Or, they don’t see the painful issues they are dealing with in their business as related to the industry. Or, they think they need to build their own homegrown solution to the problem. In short, they may have the problem, but the short-hand is not helping them connect to the industry/category, let alone to your approach to solving the problem. You need to be able to build a problem elevator that connects what they are experiencing to the solution you provide. Take to the basics, build bottom-up from the problem and their experience rather than category down through your feature differences.

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Part 3: Why Problem Adoption is Especially Important for Disruptive “New Technology” Companies

February 8th, 2014

For “new” technologies, especially where it is a strategic problem with complex moving parts, lots of people involved, going to cause disruption to the existing business processes to get to fix. May even involve fixing other things. Now add that not everyone agrees as to what the issues are, information is hard to find, very technical, very complex organizational impact, different levels of knowledge on the decision team AND you can wonder why the buying cycle is slow or stalls in no-decision. AND that is when they have connected with you. Imagine what it is like when you are just starting out and you are trying to research what to do to fix a problem in your business.

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Disrupt, Displace, Bleh. Semantics, right? WRONG

February 4th, 2014

I got interesting feedback from my post yesterday. I used very deliberate language to segment a disruptive technology versus a better displacement technology. It was interesting because the people who were in the midst of go-to-market planning immediately gravitated to the difference and the impact on their planning, but those who were involved, but not actively working on a market strategy didn’t see the theorectical difference. I thought I would explain why this was so critical and how it can change your adoption curve dramatically on both sides.

First, let’s clarify what disruption means versus displacement from a buyer’s point of view. Almost all technology companies seem to see this as the same from their perpective hence the go-to-market is the same. “We are going to disrupt the market and displace the leading competitor with our better technology.”

Yes, BUT…. that is from a vendor’s perspective. From a buyer’s perspective as it relates to their adoption, disrupt and displace has tremendous impact on whether they buy or not. Disrupt is perceived as disrupting our current operational processes. The more disruptive, the harder the adoption.

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Disruption and Adoption Are Confusing the Real Issue

February 3rd, 2014

It starts with the dreaded question in the pitch meeting. Usually slide #2 of your supposed 5 slide deck. “I think I get what you do, how are you going to build a market?”

You, at that point, will discuss the extrapolated X number of companies that fit the target, talk about your percentage that of the available that you would like to have within Y years, and then talk about all of the mechanics that you plan on driving to get  that percentage at Z cost per customer in acquisition costs. Numbers are actually irrelevant since the person who asked the question won’t really believe your answer; they just want to see if you understand the variables to the formula.

What is really hidden in the question is the assumption about how expensive it is to build and develop a market. They are looking for your Go-to-market strategy, but really they are looking for your built-in short-cuts. They are looking for ways that you can short-circuit the standard investment model for building a market.

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