You did it!! You completed the entire #gxmxp Series! Take a moment to step away from the startup grind to congratulate yourself and your team.
Ok…now get back to work! 😉
Seriously, though, your work isn’t done simply because you’ve finished your talent roadmap. Money won’t magically start falling from the sky. You have to keep at it. The MXP is a living, breathing, continuously evolving framework that guides your business as it transforms and grows.
The #gxmxp Series can be read in one month (or even one week), but results take much longer. You’ll need to continue to engage in consistent, measured efforts.
Having executed this program for hundreds of companies over several years, we can tell you that the companies that take the framework and the methodical process seriously have all experienced an emotional roller coaster.
The program starts exciting. You have so many revelations and learnings, especially in the early stages, and your energy is similar to when you first started the business. The path from Point A to Point B seems clearer than ever and everyone is invigorated by the new direction.
But Point B isn’t in focus yet. You have no idea how close or how far it is. Remember, before the #gxmxp Series, you’re searching around just about everywhere for product-market fit.
What we’ve taught you is how to identify with a high degree of certainty where you will most likely find product market fit.
We do this so that you don’t waste your precious resources looking for revenue in all the wrong places. So with Point B, you now know something’s there, which is more information than you had before, but you won’t know anything for certain else until you reach it and interact with it. And that’s all part of creating a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis and ultimately finding the truth.
And then the excitement level drops as you journey to Point C. You’ll go through dozens of conversations and iterations as you navigate your way towards the truth. There are most likely several months where you will be so far into the weeds that it will feel as if progress is dragging. You and your team are learning and running experiments over and over and becoming experts in the world your ideal customers live in.
It’s easy to become impatient during this part. Your runway is dwindling and you assume that something isn’t working because progress doesn’t feel fast enough. The knee jerk reaction here is to throw in the towel and to switch gears. Resist that temptation!
Don’t confuse lack of speed for lack of progress. As we talked about with your current account review – operate your business on data not on feelings. What does the data tell you about your progress and how much closer are you to achieving that market milestone you set?
All too often, the startup mentality is to “hack” our way towards big outcomes. While this mentality is not completely wrong, take a moment to think about how practical it is to do anything very quickly while taking shortcuts.
Everything you do needs to be stage relevant. Once you have found the truth about where you product fits in the market, if at all, then you can move quickly and worry about scale. Until then, protect your runway and acquire revenue for the purpose of subsidizing your learning.
The founders who succeed are patient and trust the program. There may be a time in six months when you’re uncomfortable because it feels like you’re going to run out of capital. But stay the course and avoid knee-jerk reactions. If you’ve done everything right, then you have a healthy pipeline, and you’re just waiting for the well-qualified leads to close.
You don’t need to pivot as soon as you feel uncomfortable. In fact, we think the word “pivot” should be eliminated from start-up vocabulary. Constantly using the word makes it seem like it’s okay to change course because everyone else is doing it all the time.
Pivoting prevents you from reaping the fruits of your efforts. You have to give your experiments time to ripen!
All of the documentation you’ve created throughout the #gxmxp Series is in draft form. That is, it should mature and evolve as you learn. Once you’re out in the field for extended periods of time, this documentation helps you remember your origin. It tells you the “why” of what you’re doing.
The documentation also acts as a forcing function to codify your learnings. Otherwise, you can have a great meeting with somebody, do a five minute debrief with your team and then talk about where you’re going to lunch while your learnings from that meeting are forgotten. Every single document we created is meant to be iterated upon as you learn.
Lastly, these documents are important because they serve as an onboarding and training manual for your market development team. If these documents haven’t been updated in a while, then you’ll spend a lot of painful time and energy relaying your tribal knowledge to new hires.
This can then turn into lost cycles, lost opportunities and wasted runway. If the documents are up to date, you can hand them off to a new person, and they’ll be a great training resource.
It’s counterintuitive but once you start to see your ICP prove out it’s time to focus not speed up. Cold, widespread outreach is expensive and time consuming. There is a time and a place to reach out to a large number of decision-makers, but this isn’t it.
Remember that response rates, even for the best email campaigns, are often in the single digits. When you’re considering doing larger marketing efforts to bring fresh contacts into your pipeline, first consider your options in context of cost, effort, resources and time to revenue.
During the early stages, non-scalable, human-to-human contact is necessary to effectively sell your story.
Other options such as referrals, warm introductions and conferences tend to drive not only new revenue faster but also new learnings. Exhaust every single one of these efforts before jumping into the high-quantity cold campaign world.
Once you have a solid playbook and know that your funnel flows smoothly, then you can add that bigger outreach.
As you begin to reach out to these potential customers, don’t assume they’ll ever do any of the work for you. Don’t expect them to make the intro, navigate you to the right person or know what to do with your technology.
Think about how you can be in a leadership position to your customers at every step. Part of that is knowing how to be a consultant. You have to lead them to the promise you spoke about when you first met.
Market development is just proving to people that your unproven technology does what you say it will do.
If you can’t deliver on that, even if it’s the customer’s fault, then they won’t be your customer.
When people ask us if there’s a shortcut for the MXP, the answer is always no. That’s because the MXP is the hack. It is the shortcut.
The MXP was created after years of observing common behaviors among early stage founders that were both costly and totally avoidable. The approach of the MXP is to enable you to succeed by saving you the time and effort of reinventing the wheel when it comes to bringing a new innovation to the world.
By avoiding unnecessary steps, the MXP helps you stay on the field as long as possible to survive the market development stage.
You want to subsidize learning. The fastest way to burn up your runway is by making unsustainable choices that could have been avoided. You’re not the first company to ever do market development.
You’re not the first company to ever try to sell something. There are best practices for doing this, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Successfully executing and navigating the MXP takes patience and persistence. We’ve seen companies find their truth through the program in as little as three months and as long at 18 months.
It’s critical that you put yourself in a position to stay on the field so that you can properly test and validate your hypothesis.
As quickly as you would like to move things along, your customers are simply not on your timeline.
Whether you’re in the weeds for six months or a year, there are clear signs that you can be on the lookout for that will indicate that you are on the right path. The first and most obvious sign is how well your message is received by your ICP as you test and iterate.
In the early days, your pitch might not be very clear, leading your customers to ask clarifying questions and misunderstand your value. If you’re on the path to success, you should notice that your audience understands your value and how it benefits them within the first few minutes of a discussion.
They understand so clearly what you do and how you do it that they are almost finishing the pitch for you in their own words when talking about the eventual business impact. You have successfully moved on from clarification questions to questions about how does this work, how much does it cost and what are the next steps.
Another sign that you are on the right path is a steady stream of new deals closing. That doesn’t mean you are seeing a massive J-curve emerge but in a B2B setting if you can get yourself from no new business to sporadically bringing in a new deal to a consistent customer each month, then that’s progress.
The last and most common sign that we see among the most successful companies to have completed the MXP is hard to describe but you’ll know it if you get there. Let’s say you’ve got a very solid pipeline. New leads are coming in consistently and you have several deals at the bottom of your funnel that are fully qualified and interested.
All of your conversations are going great and the feedback that the market is giving you is better than expected. You feel like you’re moving a million miles an hour but in the right direction, there’s just one problem: no deal has closed yet.
A few weeks pass by, maybe even a month or two. You’re so close but the number in the bank account paints a different picture. It can feel like progress is stalling and you will feel mounting pressure to change gears, do something different or go a different direction.
If you’ve followe the MXP and have a tightly defined ICP with messaging, and value and selling propositions crafted and tested, then your’re likely on the cusp of a breakthrough. The trough is brutal, but stay the course.
Things will get tight and uncomfortable but if you can stick to the process that got you there you will break through that barrier and your pipeline will start to flow and yield revenue.
Success is a revenue funnel that regularly and consistently creates a customer from your ICP prospects after a proven number of steps through your sales and marketing process. You can rely on this outcome based on data, not a gut feeling.
If you get there, then you don’t need to do market development anymore (until it’s time to seek growth from new ICPs). Now it’s time to scale. And you get to choose whether you want to fund that scale with your customer revenue or you can share your investment opportunity with capital providers who can enable you to grow faster and larger than your revenue can support.
The MXP is your framework and a set of tools needed to create a stable foundation for success, strung together with insights gained from working alongside of 100s of founders and corporate innovators.
We can’t wait to see what you accomplish!
Pay it forward and share your learnings and your success stories…and don’t forget to tag them with #gxmxp!