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Finding the Back Door to Early Markets

By David Orren

Your company has developed a great product or service that you are passionate about.

And your team is excited and ready.

But sales are not happening as easily as you expected.

You need to win clients, quickly.

What do you do, and how do you do it?

Successful innovator businesses do four key things well in order to break in to early markets:
1. They find the Back Door into the market
2. They establish Compelling Value
3. They Partner with the Key Decision-Makers 
4. They Neutralise the Incumbents 

Find the Back Door

In the business world, the back door is unguarded white space, ie an area of unserved critical business need. Because it is unserved it does not have an array of incumbents, competiors and internal opponents fiercely keeping out newcomers.  Successful companies target their early Minimum Value Product to fit neatly within that white space, avoiding at all costs any ovelap with competitors or incumbents. In this way they reduce the possibility of competiitive friction or resistance from an established incumbeentr, be they internal or external.

Sometimes, inexperienced vendors may expand their product capability, imaginging this will help sales happen more quickly.  But this can lead not only to fierce competiitrve resistance, but also to genuine confusion with the prospect not understanding they might cope with the resulting overlap. At best, buying decisions are extended, at worst, an otherwise attractive innovation may simply fail to gain traction. 

The back door is not advertised. Instead it must be discovered, and every market is different, and changes with time. But be sure that if your company’s innovation has the potential to offer significant value, then there is a backdoor.. you just need to find it.

Establish Compelling Value

Compelling value is established when the client clearly understands how they can digest the proposed solution, and how doing so will uniquely enable them to achieve measurable benefits that are  key to their business success, at a cost and risk that is significantly lower than the benefits anticipated. In most companies, proposals that will secure additional business growth are likely to gain more attention and be considered more compelling, than proposals for investing in cost cutting. One reason for this is that  business growth is often the remit of highly confident and vocal senior executives who have direct access to the CEO.

Partner with the Key Decision-Makers

Designing for white space requires both innovation and discipline. And done well, this rarely happens without close collaboration from within the target market. Successfull innovators seek out thinking partners from within the target market, who are willing to share their frustrations aswell as possible solutions. They will often point helpful vendors to key decision-makers who have the interest and influence to drive adoption of the solutions proposed.   

Successful tech sector innovators learn how to partner with key insiders to ensure that white space boundaries are respected, that the resulting value is sufficiently compelling, and can be properly articulated, and that the solution proposed can be easily digested into the client’s operating model.

Neutralise the Incumbents

Inexperienced sales teams sometimes focus on comparing the benefits their solution may bring, with the price of their solution. But especially in an early market, when there is yet little evidence of benefits and risk, the IT department must also consider the cost to their business if things go wrong.

Systems today are increasingly integrated, and data is more vulnerable to cyber-attack. The IT Department is the first line of defence in the continuing struggle to ensure  that current systems continue to operate safely and effectively. And they do this very often with budgets that are squeezed on an annual basis. This explains their reluctance to consider an enthusiastic vendor’s proposal for ‘yet another unplanned project’. 

Successful innovator vendors develop ways to reduce resistance from IT, as well as from any department that is more vested in the relative safety of how things work today, than with how new solutions may work tomorrow. In the era of Cloud, this may mean bypassing IT altogether. Or it may mean partnering with IT to develop a win/win strategy that dovetails with IT’s enterprise strategy, and which ideally helps IT to accelerate increased budget in their direction.

Accelerate your Success

Navigating growth in the early market for an innovative solution provider is one of the most exciting and challenging activities that a business leader can perform. There are practical ways to accelerate growth, but also innocent mistakes that can inadvertently derail success and lead to market exile. Many promising technologies have lost the race against less exciting offerings simply because of weakness in the four key areas of strategy discussed here.

What might accelerated growth look like in your business?

At TVBA, we haved wide experience of working with ambitious innovators to accelerate early market growth. Why not drop us a line for a confidential conversation on the opportunities and changes you might make to accelerate your growth, and win more clients, more quickly?

Email, or call 0/+44 7914 223 691 for a confidential discussion on what accelerated growth can looks like for your business.

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