Once you have proven the existence of a problem and tested an MVP to ensure that customers see value, you need to build your product and go to market.
Picking the right channels and using them effectively is critical to your startup’s growth. In this section we will look at traction channels and how growth can be spurred.
It is a fancy term used to describe the route that you are going to take to reach your customer.
Typically when someone asks you what is your go to market? They wish to understand whether you are going to be selling online or offline or through partners to rake in the money.
Obviously each method has its own advantages and disadvantages to each approach. The objective behind understanding the GTM is to be able to evaluate if the sum of the parts is going to be able to deliver.
Very early on in the life cycle of your business, you decide whether you are going to building a solution for consumers or businesses. These are vastly different businesses and need commensurately differing approaches in order to be built out.
B2C – A consumer facing business like an e-commerce business can start finding buyers very quickly. There are a lot of below the line (as discussed in the ‘Getting Started‘ section) activities that can get you started with sales. If the problem and solution are a proper fit, it takes very little to get going.
B2B – Takes a lot more finesse and a well baked product to successfully sell to the business customer. There are a set of challenges that exist when selling to an enterprise.
– Inertia – There is a way in which things have been happening. A new product means a change in the work-flow. Usually there is a pushback on change in any organisation.
– Decision Chain – Almost nothing inside of a large enterprise is decided by one person. Therefore it is important to understand and map out the decision making chain to convince all the stake holders.
– Separation of user and buyer – Just like the parent spends for the child, the person writing the cheque is often not the same as the person who would be using the product. This implies you need to be able to appeal from a cost/productivity stand point as well as a feature stand point.
Selling to any organisation requires the ability to get on top of all of these aspects and having the ability to get the right door opened. A person with deep knowledge of the industry often is able to get the needful done.
Most startups selling to B2B customers start by getting a paid PoC (Proof of Concept). Some even get started with free PoCs just so that they can claim to have a customer but it is always best to get the customer to pay something, even a very nominal amount. It ensures that they are serious.
While B2C selling can be marketing led, B2B is always sales led.
Big businesses grow big because they find the winning formula and use it effectively and repeatedly milk it to grow.
You can call this formula your traction channel or anything else that you may like to call it.
You need to identify the channels that work best for you to acquire new customers for your business. In the early days, it may be just distributing flyers in the neighborhood. Or getting in touch with connections and seeking good references. Depending on the nature of the business and the target market, this channel may turn out wildly different.
Find your channels.
As you can imagine, while references might be able to bring you 10’s of leads; they would not be able to supply you hundreds of leads. Each channel has its time and place. At certain scales, certain channels are appropriate, as you grow, your channels would also have to evolve in order to drive the right numbers towards you.
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In all likelihood, you have not been able to identify the correct traction channel for your business. Getting a few customers can happen by chance. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Being able to get customers consistently is not a matter of chance but a matter of planning. Provided the market needs what you are selling, you need to experiment with your traction channels. You need to find those which will be able to deliver number as anticipated by you.
The absence of consistent growth is the evidence of either a bad product or the wrong traction channel.