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Healthcare IT

Go to market tips for startups

Based on our work with many SMBs, entrepreneurs and some billion $s giants, we jotted down a few tips for launching a new product or solution.

We’ve managed product development for several clients. We’ve managed product development and marketing for our company. We’ve launched solutions/services offerings for clients. We’ve managed solution development and marketing for our company.

Here’s what we feel could be the steps to follow:

  1. Continue with business as usual and feel the pain. Understand how much it is costing you to continue “business as usual”.
  2. Ask around in your peer industry segment (warm contacts) – how are they solving it?
  3. Implement one or more “off the shelf” solutions to try and solve your problem.
  4. If it solves all your problems, stop and use that solution instead of launching something from scratch.
  5. If it solves some of your problems but requires you to customize parts of the “off the shelf” solution to truly solve your problem, look at how much it costs you to customize things. 
  6. If it is more expensive to customize than to change your business processes.. then stop. You don’t have the right solution. 
  7. If it is less expensive to customize than to change your business processes.. then go ahead and customize. Understand how much it saves you with your “customization”.
  8. Then, realize that others must be in the same boat as you are (remember the industry peer group?). Go ahead and contact all of them telling them about your “customized solution” and how much you will charge them to solve that problem you all have.
  9. Get LOIs (letters of intent) from 5+ of them.
  10. Go to your product development team and tell them to make a version of the “customized solution” that can be implemented across multiple customers without adding to your expenses a whole lot.
  11. While they’re developing the solution as you requested, go ahead and start marketing to your industry segment where you do not have any warm contacts.
  12. As the product development cycle finishes, deliver on those LOIs, close sales, ring the cash register. Create case studies on those new customers. Pour that profit into marketing to your industry segment even more.
  13. Keep growing this line of business until you are contributing enough to this “off the shelf solution” company’s revenues to be noticed. Then, reach out to them and discuss channel partnership so that you can leverage their sales team as well. Hopefully the “off the shelf” solution is a brand name. It has to be – else you wouldn’t have much luck selling anyways 😉
  14. Before this, do not reach out “asking for channel partnership” – you’re not going to be retiring any sales person’s quota.. so how can you expect them to pay any attention to you?
  15. If you have no intentions of selling your business to the partner company, keep growing this line of business and note how much of your profits are eaten up the “off the shelf” solution you are using.
  16. Always have a very good idea of the budget needed by your team to replace the partner product. Then multiply it by a factor of (at least) 2 😉
  17. If you intend to sell your business to the partner, make sure you don’t have a smattering of various business verticals as your customers. That’s a shoddy business plan anyways. Stay away from it regardless. Laser-focus on one or two – nail that segment. Be the go to solution/company for that segment.. to the point where the partner company’s sales reps are always bringing you in for presales calls.

If you’re unlucky (or lucky?) and there’s absolutely nothing in the market that can serve as a solution for you (we find it hard to believe), then

  1. Automated or innovate on parts of it and solve your own problem first.
  2. Make your development team operators, customer support staff and make them use your solution. 
  3. Make your quality assurance team be operators and customer support staff. Make them use your solution and support it.
  4. Watch as the developers slowly innovate on parts they find “idiotic” and mind numbingly boring. Just watch…. It’s bound to happen.
  5. Wait until it reaches a point where the innovation has stabilized.
  6. Understand how much you save with your “innovation” or “automation”. You can try using spreadsheets, zapier etc to automate some parts of your challenge.
  7. At this point, ask the development team the budget needed to create a solution. Multiply that by a factor of (at least) 2. 
  8. By this time, the IT team understands the business problem very well. They understand the operational steps very well. Do not underestimate the importance of this knowledge.
  9. You know how much you’re saving, so you know what to price your solution at. You know how much budget you need to create the go to market solution.
  10. Same as above. Start reaching out to warm contacts whose language you speak and whose problems you understand intimately.
  11. Same steps as above. Market and sell before your product or solution is even ready. It takes a while for marketing and sales to gain traction that you truly want and are satisfied with. What would you do with your free time anyways 😉
  12. Land leads, understand exactly how much each lead cost you to land.
  13. Get on sales calls, understand the objections and start creating a central document/repository with those objections as you’ll be feeding this to your inside sales team as a sales enablement document. 
  14. Close sales, understand what % of leads convert to sales. 
  15. Understand the bigger picture of “marketing to closed business” flow. Understand which levers you can pull to increase closed sales. Understand the cost of pulling each lever.
  16. Budget or raise capital for those levers