Selling comes as a natural talent for many entrepreneurs. If you have been developing your startup app idea, as soon as you start interacting with your first potential customers, the urge to pitch and presell may be irresistible. However, early-stage customer interactions are better aimed at listening to your customers’ needs and developing deep insights that can shape your startup idea into a viable product.
By asking carefully designed and specific questions about your customers’ needs and expectations, you will nurture their natural interest and curiosity in your solution. And if you can get your customers to the point of asking about your value proposition, then selling will not only be easy, it will be unnecessary. Here’s how to create a solution your customers will ask to buy.
1. Understand The Value Gaps Left By Your Competitors
Chances are your first potential customers are your competitors’ customers today. Most of the time, they picked a competing company for at least one of these three reasons: cost versus value, strong brand, and or unique solution.
Customers who pay attention to the cost and evaluate the value they will gain for the investment they are making aren’t necessarily looking for cheap options. For example, Fortune 500 companies spend millions of dollars every year on startup products that solve their problems.
If you’re going to offer superior value at the same price, you need to figure out the problems your competitors’ customers face using those solutions. Is there a big enough gap that you can fill and that justifies the switch to your product? Or maybe you can show there is a gap that they weren’t even aware of. That’s the power of innovation by introducing a unique solution.
In a competitive market, brand recognition makes a big difference. If you’re launching a new solution, you will not have this recognition. Niching down and involving influencers in the chosen niche can help you build awareness and recognition faster.
No matter how you choose to differentiate your solution, you must first understand the value gaps in the market. Customer interviews, involving experts in the space, and studying the competition will help you identify the competitive edge that will make your solution a new entrant with a product that must be used.
2. Figure Out Customers’ Most Urgent Need(s)
Customer interviews will start giving shape to your app idea, helping you define the must-have features and functionalities. To generate a more compelling interest in your product, you need to figure out their most urgent needs. A simple yet effective approach is to build a Customer Advisory Board comprised of your most engaged early buyers. By applying design thinking principles, you can gather insights you won’t get with just an interview or survey.
As your interactions progress, try to determine your customers’ gain/pain ratio, which estimates the benefits of using your product versus the cost for the customer to switch to your solution. As a rule of thumb, if customers can gain ten times more from your solution than it would cost them to cancel their existing contracts and memberships, your product becomes your most important, maybe only, sales tool.
3. Build An Irresistible Solution
With such deep customer involvement, your startup idea has the potential of becoming a must-have solution. While the first version of your product may not include all the features and functionalities you wish to build for the customer to have your envisioned experience, you can focus on introducing high-impact features that delight and WOW the customer. If it’s a competitive market, just by focusing on one segment, you can personalize your solution to address their specific needs. This can create the WOW experience with a 10X gain/pain ratio.
In sum, if you focus on building a product customers cannot refuse to try, use, and recommend, even in the presence of solid competitors, you will not need to sell your startup idea anymore.