We understand the effort and time that goes into building a product, but do you understand the effort and time it takes to get people to care enough about your product to buy it? It is a long trek many aspiring entrepreneurs don’t fully consider or understand. In fact, you may have a fantastic, truly unique product and when you release it, you might get nothing but crickets. The growth you envisioned is non-existent, and now you’re second-guessing yourself and wondering what you did wrong.
Launch day can feel like the end for the founding team of a startup. However, in reality, it is the beginning. The launch is when your real work starts, and this is the time you need the right sales strategy. Do you have one? But here’s the thing about selling, it always makes us a little nervous. We are creators and builders. Most founders are, too. We go into business because we enjoy building great products, not sell them. But what if I tell you, you shouldn’t have to sell anything to be successful? What if your only strategy was to make your customer as successful as possible? Is your product there yet?
What does launching a product really entail?
Technically, if your product is doing what you wanted it to do, you are ready to launch. If you are lean, your product reflects only what is necessary to validate your concept. This works. But what you're really looking for here with the launch of your product is to get people using your product and gather a lot of feedback from the enthusiastic early adopters.
Now, what if you’re launching a B2B SaaS product? Are you looking for some publicity and a bunch of new customers right? Chances are, not many will notice your launch, and it leads to no new business. If that’s case, don’t be taken aback. Learn from it. The second most likely outcome will be drawing in some early users to try out your product only to discover it's not solving their problems as you envisioned.
But we need to launch to find all this out right? Not necessarily. When you're launching, you must have a clear idea of who your potential customers are and what problems your product is solving for them. Else, you're walking into the arena blindfolded.
Is your product ready to be launched?
They say if you’re not embarrassed to launch your product you’ve waited too long. This is true enough since we can always find things to tweak in our products forever as there’s always some room for improvement. Nevertheless, before you launch, you must have done your homework to figure out what's critical for your early target users. You don't need a lot of users while you are still validating your concept. All you need is a handful to validate your concept. Do not launch before you know for sure your product works for a certain target group, and don’t forget to ascertain whether they are willing to pay for your product.
Think of your MVP as a basic pizza. It doesn’t have to have all the toppings, but you do need to have one solid base and some cheese to demonstrate. Even a slice of the basic pizza does not allow room for shortcuts on anything that could have a significant negative effect on how your users will experience your product. You may have all the functionality in place, but if your users don't know how or understand why they should be using those features, you have failed. In SaaS terms, you should’ve worked not only on technology but also on things like integrations, easy setup, documentation, usability, online guides and a whole bunch of things.
And don’t employ shortcuts like substituting functionality with dummy mockups, or even by doing a ton of manual work behind the scenes. Not if you’re aiming to provide good or even great, user experience, which might lead to positive reviews and many signups, and eventually, happy customers. End of the day, adjust your mindset. Merely putting your product out on display is not going to be enough. No matter how much you like your product, it's not about you. It's about your users.
What you need is the ability to demonstrate value.
In the end, it boils down to providing real value for the users from the moment they start a free trial. While signing up, your users expect your product to solve a certain problem they are currently facing. Your MVP's purpose should be to find the simplest solution for that particular problem, which can demonstrate value. This doesn't mean you build the simplest thing that works, but one which solves some real pain points and your target customers are willing to use.
You may not be there yet. At least, not on a level you'd like to be. That's why most of us haven’t officially launched our products yet and are in some beta state for the last couple of months. But the important thing is to be busy making your way through the checklist and finally get the product out of the door for a wider audience.
Timing is crucial.
I’m sure you’ve been forewarned about this but doesn’t hurt to drive the point in. When you launch too early, your product might not be refined enough to stand out from the crowd. Remind yourself, your MVP shouldn’t be the simplest version of your product, but rather the simplest version of your awesome product. The MVP should still be awesome.
On the other hand, when you wait too long, the market may already be flooded and taken by competitors. Or worse, you could run out of cash with no paying customers in sight.
So finding the balance is key here. Taking shortcuts is quite unavoidable. Just make sure you’re choosing which shortcuts to take carefully. There’s a thin line between a slight inconvenience and pure frustration when it comes to customer experience.
We see so many startups so afraid of selling that they wait too long before they rope in their first customer. They spend all their time designing their logo or working on their website, and not enough time scouting for prospects.
Don’t read me wrong. We understand the importance of representing yourself well professionally. And to that extent, logos and websites are great. However, when you’re starting out, your priority must be working on getting customers. So enough with the stalling and the planning. Start selling.