Founders: Close Thyself
If You Build It, They Will Come - Field of Dreams
The biggest letdown for most first-time founders is how hard it can be to find their first leads and close their first deals. They start their business with complete conviction that their product or service is fantastic, which may or may not be valid.
For argument's sake, let's assume their product or service is either novel or at least significantly better, faster, or cheaper than something else in the market. There are still many fatal assumptions that can kill their goto market strategy. Notably:
- People already understand the problem you are solving.
- They already understand the cost of not solving the problem.
- They understand the ROI of adopting your solution.
- They are excited
- They are confident it will work
- They are confident it will work for them
- They can get key decision makers in their company to approve
- They want it (versus need it)
- They believe your product or service can deliver
- They believe it's simple enough to apply within their existing business
These are just a few mental objections a person might have when they visit a product page or hear an elevator pitch. Most people will not offer up said objections in a specific, addressable way. Instead, they'll just leave the page or give a flat 'no thank you' to your pitch.
These initial rejections are frustrating for first-time founders. Why won't they buy!? Don't they see how amazing this is?!
This is where stepping through the buyer's journey from the buyer's perspective is so critical.
- Who is the ideal buyer?
- Where are they hearing about you from the first time?
- They visit your website cold. Is it clear within 10 seconds that your product or service is of interest to them?
- How do they get to know more information?
- How do you answer all of the potential objections in their head?
- How do you make it dead simple to get started?
- How do you reduce the risk of a return or a cancelation?
- How do they gain confidence that this will work for them?
In short, imagine you have NEVER heard of your own company. Try to zero out your memory and look at every single aspect of your webpage with fresh eyes. And if this is too hard (because it is difficult), ask to observe someone step through this process and vocalize everything that is going through their head (there are paid services like UserTesting.com that will do this for you).
You will be shocked at what people think as they go through this journey. Things you thought were obvious are confusing as hell. Objections you've never heard of are voiced as deal breakers.
This brings us back to the Field of Dreams quote: "If you build it, they will come." Not true! You need to ensure that what you've built has a clear value proposition that is communicated to the customer in clear, concise terms. Otherwise, you will thrash at closing your first deals, puzzled as to why others can't see what you can see.
In a worst-case scenario, you may discover that it's not just the wrong messaging; your product or service may have missed the mark. This is critical feedback to know! Only then can you brainstorm ways to modify or even replace your offering to meet your potential customer's wants and needs.
So. Make sure you don't just create a product or service and hope for the best. Make sure to walk through the entire buyer's journey and optimize it end-to-end.
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CXO of Atomic Form. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.