In the previous post of our #gxmxp Series, we reviewed your current marketing and sales processes. We used the Marketing and Sales Process Review template to document what you’re doing now to attract and convert customers, which channels you’re using, and what each step in your sales cycle looks like.
Today, we’re going to complete your roadmap of the people, processes and technologies necessary to create and support a functional learning organization.
This is the last step in the Market Foundation phase. We’re going to review the technology and collateral you’re using to perform and measure your sales and marketing efforts.
Before we begin, scroll over to the Resources/Downloads area above (or scroll down if mobile) and download the Marketing and Sales Tech Stack template. We suggest filling it out as you read this post.
The goal of this exercise is to identify what tools and collateral are working and what essential pieces of collateral need improvement.
What’s a tech stack?
Traditionally, the term “tech stack” has been used in product development circles to describe the combination of programming languages and software required to develop a new product. Everything you build for your product will rest on the foundation of your initial stack.
The same logic applies to early-stage market development. The tools and technology you choose for sales and sales learning (i.e., testing and validating various market hypotheses) will have a significant impact on your path toward market development.
Your goal is to build a sales and marketing tech stack that enables you to execute on short-term goals while maximizing long-term scalability and flexibility.
The tech stack review
Use the Marketing and Sales Tech Stack template to answer questions about the systems and tools you use to execute and measure market outreach. Remember, these early Market Foundation stages are for gathering information about what you’re currently doing. Even if you aren’t measuring anything, it’s okay. There are different starting points on the road to success.
According to Max Altschuler, a noted startup sales expert and the founder of Sales Hacker (acquired by Outreach.io), “a well designed and implemented sales and marketing tech stack should allow you to track every interaction and step in your marketing and sales process, giving you the insights to make sound, data-driven decisions about how to approach your early customers.”
“Whether your market development activities are outbound or inbound, you can’t respond and iterate rapidly unless you can measure market feedback.” (Max Altschuler)
For most early-stage companies, few tools and collateral will be developed or even relevant at this time. As your company and market development efforts become more robust, you will need to have more pieces of collateral and better tracking software at every stage of the funnel.
As you begin to evaluate market and sales tools you use or are considering using, think about:
Collateral review and development
Part two of the tech stack review is the collateral review. It’s important to avoid creating lots of collateral if you haven’t validated your ideal customer profile or your market messaging (two critical and upcoming posts in our #gxmxp Series).
Every startup that is about to begin market development only needs these three pieces of collateral:
It may sound insufficient or too basic, but keep in mind that this is the minimum viable stack for market development not scaling revenue!
As you collect feedback from early customers, you want your toolkit to be as lean and flexible as possible.
As you develop your market messaging, the next most important pieces of collateral will be:
These four pieces of content serve as tangible proof to potential customers that your product or service has crossed the threshold from theoretical value to real-world value.
Here are some of the additional key details we want to understand in the collateral review:
Once you’ve completed those important steps, you’ll want to revisit your existing collateral. You’ll have a new perspective on your customer profile(s), what they care about, and what you do for them.
We’ve seen so many founders wasting valuable time and energy on developing superfluous marketing and sales collateral. It’s a common mistake that we want you to avoid making, so one of our Founding Partners, Max Menke, published an entire article detailing specifically what collateral you need at each stage of market development. (A link to that article is waiting for you at the bottom of this post.)
A quick note on “referential revenue.” Your first revenue is often from a known source or a source that was referred to you by someone you know.
Contrary to what you might hear from people that push the “scale” word too early, referential revenue is great early revenue.
Referential revenue affords you the opportunity to efficiently test and validate your early customer hypothesis. Just make sure the revenue fits into your working hypothesis about your ideal customer profile(s). (We’ll cover ICPs in three weeks; sign-up below so that you don’t miss that, or any, installment of our #gxmxp Series!)
With a referential customer, you can get an introduction and sell your product or service with a website and a deck. However, outside of your network, the burden of proof is higher than ever just to earn the first meeting.
By leveraging referential revenue early to acquire these proof points, you will be more equipped to engage in scalable go-to-market activities with unaffiliated buyers.
It does not matter that referential revenue is not scalable! Nothing you’re doing at this stage is scalable (at least not by design).
Congratulations – You’ve finished Resource Review!
Thoroughly completing an entire resource review creates the foundation for every other stage of the Market Acceleration Program (MXP).
In each phase, you were challenged to ask critical framing questions:
Before completing Resource Review, it’s easy to imagine a wide range of go-to-market possibilities because the resources seem endless. After completing it, you’re empowered with the sobering reality that there are just a few options for market development at your disposal.
Do not mistake the lack of options as a problem. What they actually provide is clarity and focus.
As you continue to progress through the #gxmxp Series, you’ll have a clear idea of your “Market Development Budget” because of this resource review. Moving forward, every strategy, task, idea, initiative, tool and human resource will be balanced against this budget.
It’s a clear, tangible way to cut out the noise and focus on what matters, what’s possible, and what’s optimized to succeed.
This sets the stage for developing your Ideal Customer Profile and figuring out what it’s going to take to market to those people. Few market development concepts are as important as the Ideal Customer Profile.
Before we get there, though, we need to first review your customer account mapping and sales pipeline. That’s our next post!
In the meantime, here’s that link to Max Menke’s article helping you create collateral for every stage of your market development journey.