We’re midway through our second month and have made progress on several fronts — fund-raising is behind us (for now, at least), we’ve committed to a direction and timeline for our first product, the selection process for our first hire is underway, and we’ve even started on production code.
So far, so good.
While our focus has shifted to our first (and most important) company milestone of product launch, we will also be spending time building a foundation for marketing, and later, sales initiatives. It may seem premature to expend time and energy to tell our product story at the moment, but, after being involved in go-to-market initiatives in the past, I’ve found it’s far better to start too early than too late.
For both our company and marketing roadmap, we have leveraged the framework offered by Marylou Tyler (author of Predictable Revenue and Predictable Prospecting). These two books provide invaluable insight into the best practices for a successful sales organization.
For example, I’ve modeled our hiring plan, roles, sales ramp, and quota structure on the partnership between Sales Development Representatives (SDR’s, fulfilling a prospecting function) and Regional Sales Directors (RSD’s, a more conventional sales role). At this point — as we’re still pre-product — this is largely academic from an execution standpoint; however, it still serves as a meaningful exercise to understand our funding needs as well as our expense and growth drivers after product launch.
Equally important: now is absolutely the right time to start putting the pieces in place for prospecting campaigns. Waiting for the launch to create a rich library of content is unwise on many fronts; so much of generating genuine, valuable company and product interest is based upon connecting with customers through the delivery of relevant information which demonstrates expertise and empathy for the problem solved by the software. Tyler’s CWC (“Compel with Content”) framework presents an exceptional and valuable guide — both at a theoretical level as well as through specific examples — of how to amass and nurture sales leads.
Interestingly, this analytical and early content generation process also adds value in an unexpected area. While we were motivated initially by the marketing and sales gains following product launch, the Predictable Prospecting framework has also informed and shaped our product development. For example, the discipline of articulating our first product’s value proposition through an Issue Tree framework (nod to McKinsey for this technique) at the onset of product discovery assists with both target persona and feature identification.
The ultimate goal is a seamless transition from product development to go-to-market execution. Bearing this in mind, it’s vital to lay the foundation for marketing even when the company focus is its product development and delivery milestone.