Success for an early-stage venture is not just defined by developing a unique product or raising funds, it is also defined by the ability to sell.
Your GTM strategy should be able to answer a simple question: What do we need to do to get our first 1,000 high-quality customers?
Startup sales aren’t all about prospects, leads, and closing deals. They are about understanding your customers better and fitting your offering to their needs
Success for an early-stage venture is not just defined by developing a unique product or raising funds, it is also defined by the ability to sell. Creating an effective go-to-market strategy and getting people on board is a skill a founder must learn to be comfortable with. This includes convincing your first believers to get on board. They may be clients, users, vendors, investors, cofounders, or even early employees.
A great go-to-market strategy is based on understanding who your customer is, their demographics, pain points, and motivation. Your GTM strategy should be able to answer a simple question: What do we need to do to get our first 1,000 high-quality customers?
After the first two sessions of Huddle’s Young Founders Forum, where founders spoke of their journey towards MVP, and how to onboard your first team and build for scale, the third session explored the experience of building a go-to-market strategy and gearing towards your first sale.
Here are the three important takeaways from the exciting discussion:
The First Customers Are Actually Beta Customers
Behind the conceptualisation of every successful product or a service, there are several factors that come to play — the target audience, understanding their needs and how much the audience can pay.
The first phase in any GTM strategy has to be about understanding your key customer base and their behaviours. Every entrepreneur must understand that their product will not solve everyone’s pain points or please every potential customer. In fact, over 66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations so investing on extensive consumer research is vital.
Kulin Shah, Onsurity’s cofounder highlighted this point when he explained that any successful GTM strategy involves talking to the first free users and incorporating their feedback before the product has even been launched.
It is these early adopters who should act as the testing ground for the viability of a product. It was commonly found that an effective buyer persona requires extensive research and deep insights, and is extremely crucial to understand in any business to keep a founder away from chasing unproductive leads.
Shah actually broke down the first six months of sales into three phases:
- Pre-Sales: The first phase is of the pre-sales, which is the phase before you launch your GTM framework. You need to identify about 25 to 30 users who will sign up for your product on day 1 because they are excited about what you’re building.
- Feedback And Referrals: The second phase is to reach out to people you as a founder already know. Your GTM strategy should always start with people whom you are acquainted with. That’s where you get your feedback from and that’s where you get your referrals from.
- Going Back To The Drawing Board: The last phase is when your product doesn’t meet the product-market fit, you have enough time to go back to the foundation and figure out the reasons behind it and start working on it without damaging your own market.
So, the first six months of your GTM phase are essentially spent on extensive research into your product and market, crucial feedback loops and continuously reworking your product based on the feedback received.
Define Your Goals: Metrics & More
While having well-defined long-term goals is necessary, it can seem quite overwhelming for all when you only have one big target of INR 10 Cr ARR. Breaking it down into smaller and more feasible goals will help you stay focused and motivate you to work harder.
Boldcare’s cofounder, Rajat Jadhav emphasised the need for young entrepreneurs to not get swayed by revenue targets. He mentioned, “It is more important to focus on how my Day 1 is going to look and how I am going to reach that Day 1 target. Since you’re at day zero right now, how am I going to reach there (the annual target)?”
Shah specified that on the business side of things the two numbers that matter the most are retention and month-on-month revenue growth from the same customer. One has to break these metrics down and optimise the sales cycle as that will help to scale the business. In a B2B context, if the product takes one year to complete each sale then there is something terribly wrong.