Posted 15.02.2018 09:13 by Magnus Tvedt
Through our 2 year adventure we have been talking, planning and coding, but not selling software. How do we know we are ready for sales?
Feedback has been honest and direct as we have discussed with our potential customers, and we have learned a lot, but when you get to the point where you exchange product for money - that is the moment of truth for a startup.
We had promised our investors and customers to release our Early Phase Well Planning platform in January 2018, and we did. This was the first time we released a product. In this article I will share some thoughts about the process.
Sales is a trade you need to learn, and practice to get better. For us, we have been challenged on sales by the board since the first meeting we had, and we built a sales strategy with personas, features and values from early on.
With a strategic approach to sales, we saw our products in a new perspective - from the customers view. This shift was valuable for further product development, and for building up a sales strategy on pitching and values. We challenged each other on how will our customers meet us, talk about us, and make decisions about us. Online, in meetings, reading about us, after demos, when they use our products the first time, and when they run into trouble.
We tried out arguments in meetings with potential customers, investors and friends. When you ask questions, you always get an answer. And our strategy has been to push ourselves out of the comfort zone early so we are ready when the real game is on.
In a meeting we asked for a large study without really knowing what we would do if they said yes, but we wanted the experience of asking. Now it almost feels natural to ask for a picture when we meet with clients.
We think our key challenge for entering the market is trust. So in many of our internal meetings, we have questioned ourselves how we can gain our customers trust, being a startup. Our customers are oil companies, highly educated people with enormous know-how and experience under the hood.
We believe in modern content marketing and content sales. We also know that we must be patient and show great stamina to build trust and rapport with our customers.
When we are in meetings, we always try to give of our knowledge and insight.
When you let your product go, you start getting to know it. When you are developing, you continuously think of improving and bringing in new features, but when you have released a product, you start seeing all the value you added.
I guess it is normal for product owners to have to get to know your own product as a released one, but it was at first strange, then a very positive experience. Strange because we should no longer fix whatever wasn't perfect, and positive because not only the latest features we put in would get our attention, but all the perks of the products were out there and shining, together.
And as responsible parents for our products, we also had to work on customer support, bug reporting, issue tracking, further releases. So there wasn't that much time to cry over our teenager moving out.
This was scary, Who will come? Will they like us? were questions we asked ourselves. Do we have enough friends to make it an interesting session for the ones who come?
It boiled down to who we want to be. Do we want to play safe, and wait until we have customers and maybe released more products, or do we want to expose ourselves and give our friends a chance to show their support? We chose the last, and invited for a release party in our co-working space.
And it was truly a great experience to see people coming in, listening to our talk, asking questions, and we had customers trying out our software live for the first time.
If no-one would have come, I think it would have been a good experience, and definitely out of the comfort zone.