Below is an 8-step process created by Michael Bertoni from PhillyTech.co that can help tech startups avoid building the wrong product for the wrong customer.
1. Deeply understand the pains and challenges that you solve.
Write them all down and categorize them. You will begin to understand who your potential targets are and the markets where they live.
2. Define and write down the value proposition of your product or service.
Do you increase productivity, reduce costs, increase revenue or increase customer satisfaction? These are essentially what all software and tech products do and have always done.
3. Paint a picture of the top 3-5 potential organization types that can benefit from your product or service.
Group them by market sector, size, industry, and location. Build an organization database. Target 200-400 organizations.
4. Who will gain the most from the value of your product or service?
In other words, who is your buyer within these organizations? To avoid potential failure, start-ups with a new and unique product need to focus on these three groups: Innovators, Early Adopters or Early Majority. Build out your database and add names, titles, and emails.
5. Build compelling messaging for your product.
Base your messaging on the problems, challenges, value proposition, client successes (if you have any). Then target the innovators, early adopters and early majority buyers to take a meeting with you.
6. Attack the list daily.
Make it a habit. Adjust, add and take away organizations as you have meetings, get customers and feedback. Track what you learn.
7. Create a simple and repeatable sales process.
Use compelling content for every step in the sales process: Intro/Pains Meeting –> Demo/Value Proposition/Pricing Meeting –> Closing Meeting. If you have existing customers leverage them throughout the sales process.
8. Be flexible on the costs of your product or service in the beginning.
The key for most startups is to get your first clients in the door quickly. The faster you can get to an anchor client the faster you will scale. An example of an anchor client at a tech startup company I worked for in Philly who provided QA/Testing was Blackboard. We started with a 3 member QA/testing team. At its peak the team had over 300 people. It took 4+ years to get there.