Route to Market – Finding the Back Door to Tough Markets

how to find back doors into tough markets

Your company has developed a great technology innovation, product or service that you are passionate about. Your entire staff is equally passionate, yet sales are not happening as easily as you expected. You need to find a way in to the market. What do you do, and how do you do it?

Successful innovator businesses do four key things well in order to break in to early markets:

  • Find the Back Door
  • Establish Compelling Value
  • Partner with the Key Decision-Makers 
  • Neutralise the Incumbents 


Finding the Back Door

In the business world, the back door is unguarded white space, ie an area of unserved critical business need. Because it is unserved it does not have an array of incumbents, competiors and internal opponents fiercely keeping out newcomers.  Successful companies target their early Minimum Value Product to fit neatly within that white space, and they avoid at all costs offering any solutions beyond clearly delineated boundaries which may overlap with competitors or incumbents. In this way they reduce the friction generated when an otherwise attractive new solution is resisted by an established competitor, be it internal or external.

Sometimes, the enthusiasm of the inexperienced vendor leads the early product to be mistakenly designed to fit well beyond the white space, and the result is not only fierce resistance from competitors, but also genuine difficulty and confusion at the target client understanding as to how they might cope with or digest the resulting overlap. At best, buying decisions are extended, at worst, an otherwise attractive innovation may simply never be purchased, even though it would bring real benefits to one or other part of the client organisation.


Establish Compelling Value

Compelling value is perceived to exist when the client clearly understands how it can digest the proposed solution, and how doing so will uniquely enable the client to achieve a goal that is key to the client’s business success, at a cost and risk that is significantly lower than the benefits anticipated. In most companies. proposals that will secure additional business growth are likely to gain more attention and be considered more compelling, than proposals for investing in cost cutting. One reason for this is that  business growth is often the remit of highly confident and vocal senior executives who have direct access to the CEO.


Partner with the Key Decision-Makers

Defining the white space and designing a solution that provides optimal value rarely happens in isolation. Done well, it is most often the result of working closely in collaboration with sponsors from within the target market. Quite often middle managers with a long history in the sector are willing to share their frustrations and even point to how improvements can be made. They will often point helpful vendors to key motivated key decision-makers who have the greatest interest in such solutions being acquired. And it is the more innovative ‘early adopter’ minded key decision-makers who arew kewwen to make a mark who will often choose to drive the decision process to buy, through the customer organization.  

Successful tech sector innovators learn how to partner with these decision makers to ensure that the white space is properly understood and that the value resulting is sufficiently compelling and can be easily described as such to the buying executives.


Neutralise the Incumbents

No matter how much we try, it is actually hard to completely avoid treading on toes with major innovations. And so it becomes vital to develop ways to neutralize sources of resistance.

In an age when systems across the business are highly integrated and when data is vulnerable to cyber-attack, the IT Department is the first line of defence in the continuing struggle to ensure  that current systems continue to operate safely and effectively. And they do this very often with budgets that are squeezed on an annual basis. This explains their reluctance to consider an enthusiastic vendor's proposal for ‘yet another unplanned project’. Successful innovator vendors develop ways to neutralize resistance from IT, as well as from any department that is more vested in how things work today, than they are for how the proposed solution might work tomorrow. This may mean bypassing the department altogether…very common with cloud solution vendors who today are often able to initially by-pass IT altogether. Or it may mean partnering with the department to develop win/win strategies that may allow upgrading of skills, function or public profile within that department.

Navigating growth in the early market for an innovative solution provider is one of the most exciting and challenging activities that a business leader can perform. There are ways to accelerate success, and also quite innocent mistakes that can lead to long-term flat growth, or even to market exile. Many promising technologies have lost the race against less exciting offerings simply because of weakness in the four key areas of strategy discussed above. TVBA has wide experience of working with ambitious innovators to accelerate early market growth. Why not drop us a line for a confidential conversation on the opportunnities and changes you might make to grow your business more quickly?


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Author: David Orren

David Orren works with CEOs and executive teams of high-potential B2B technology solution providers to focus on the few things that really matter to achieving break-through business growth.   David brings a wealth of knowledge and experience gained internationally over 30 years ...

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