Steve Blank: Customer Development Done By Founders

Your best sales manager is never as deep in the product as you are. For successful sales and to get the product on the road, sales is a matter for the boss. Why is that so and why do have to internalize it?

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Sales is work and often knocking on doors. So it's generally understandable why as a CEO and founder I don't like to "waste" my valuable time with it. And anyway, I can just hire someone and criticize them for one or more failures. I sit in my chair, doing all the work I enjoy, waiting for the reports from my sales department to then read that our (potential) customers do not understand it AND our sales department just can't explain it. I can get mad about it or just face the fact that sales is a matter for the boss. At least in an aspiring startup. But why is it that way and why can my sales department not do the same as me?

I am the linchpin, it is my vision, my company, my motivation. But unfortunately it is often the case that I can't see what my customers need from my office chair and my sales department usually can't consider everything as well as I do. They are usually not as deeply delved in the matter. Of course, I can always invite product testers or get a third party on board to test my product with subjects for me and I can let my sales team go out into the world again with the optimizations. But I can also go to the customer meetings myself and hear from real users why they (don't) use our product, what bothers them, what they miss, what keeps them from working with us. I can then incorporate this feedback unfiltered into the development process in order to give the customer the product that is really needed.



Why is it easier for me to do this directly? I can make the decision to adapt my product myself, I can find out where the problems lie unfiltered and I can react more quickly. If I want to build up a certain customer base and adapt my product accordingly to market requirements, I should have my sales department ready at all times so that I can gain new customers.

No matter how good your product is, if you do not bring it to the customers, it will eventually disappear from the market. Sales is a top priority and you must be aware of that! If you are too busy with other things, change that! Get an assistant rather than a sales department and unburden yourself in other jobs. The success and the future associated with it strongly depend on it! I myself am on site at every trade fair, no matter where in the world and present alugha myself wherever possible. I always have at least one or more co-workers who can watch / listen, whom I watch in the presentation and where I can pay attention from the outside to the questions of the interested parties.

This article is written by our CEO, Bernd Korz. With his experience as an entrepreneur, he shares his vision about the lessons provided by Steve Blank. Join us every week for a new article on Steve Blank’s lectures.

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