Updated: Sep 20, 2022
How do we want to proceed concretely from the idea to the product? The following, further process flow is described using the terms from the sales strategy, since sales takes on the key function in the practical day-to-day operations of the company. All other areas of the company are subordinate to the sales process. Due to the dominance of the sales process we automatically work with the customer based approach.
I can't sell and present.
There are people who can do this very well. Other people already compare themselves to this and describe themselves as bad salespeople who don't like to talk to business partners on the phone or sit in a negotiation in person. On the one hand, this does not play a decisive role in the innovation process at this specific point. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to participate in presentation training and negotiation training. We learn techniques such as how to speak freely in front of a large group or how to conduct a very tough negotiation. As we evolve from person to entrepreneur, every conversation is a negotiation, whether it's a phone call with an investor or a face-to-face meeting with a customer. Through practice and trial and error, we move away from the internal mindset that we are not good at selling. Whether it's an elevator pitch in front of investors or a long extended conversation with a supplier for individual parts of our product, we want to be able to present and articulate ourselves, our company and the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of our product or service in any situation, understandable to everyone.
How do we define the USP? This concept is the starting point of our thinking from idea to product innovation. The USP, as a need perceived by consumers to solve a problem, originates in the mind of the consumer and separates us, in the execution we choose, from the competitor's offerings. This is why the described empathy and the intensive phase of observation and understanding play such an important role in the creation of innovations. Thinking past the market, in which we simply develop solutions that we or an investor like so much, is the fatal fallacy that must be avoided.
We notice that people particularly like a certain orange juice because we have learned that it has achieved enormous sales and turnover in the 1-liter bottle at a low price this year. We observe on the shelves of a supermarket the variety of smoothies made from cold-pressed juices or pureed fruit. In a trade magazine we read an article that the entire market for juices and soft drinks is growing enormously. Should we now launch a juice on the market that is particularly rich in healthy additives from pureed fruit?
No, we should not do this.
Even if there is a market that reflects certain demands and needs of the users of a service or a product and is very well suited for competitive analyses, the merely differentiated design or the variation of, for example, the packaging or individual ingredients of the product is not an innovation. What sounds so self-evident is sold as innovation every day and is often referred to as innovation in startup presentations.
Again, the detachment from one's own world of attitudes, subjective evaluations and one's own opinion plays the decisive role. The mere observation of existing market conditions in an existing market is not enough. We want to find the fields that represent a problem for a customer today, for which we offer future solutions.
Formulating the USP in one sentence represents the goal of this stage of the process. Taking into account all the information we can obtain through observations and surveys and the detailed analysis of the market, we will first find the real problem. What does the consumer demand most in which area of life? What business-to-business solutions do companies want in which department of the company or for which customer concepts?
In our observations, interviews and overall research work, we should also ask the opposite questions in our methodological approach.
What would you want to avoid at all costs?
What product would you never consume?
By reversing the questions, in many cases what is actually desired only becomes visible. This often involves the smallest details. This is why asking and looking closely is so crucial in all interactions with users and consumers. A very appropriate question in this context is also:
In order to?
With this line of questioning, we ask the interviewee even more precisely about his motives and motivation, what his ideas are for a solution, and how a new solution can help him.
Formulating our idea as a USP in one sentence is very relevant for the innovation process. We discuss this sentence intensively in the team. We want to discuss the lead-up to the USP as a unique sentence in an intensive brainstorming session in the team until we have found the one sentence that is crucial for our business model and describes the USP for our new idea as a product. A similar concept is the customer value proposition (CVP), which is a clearly defined statement related to a particular product or service that lists the reasons a consumer might benefit from purchasing the product or service. Similar to the concept of USP, it is a clearly defined statement that aims to convince customers that a particular product or service, compared to others, adds value or solves a problem better than other products or services.
Even my grandma must have understood the USP, it must be that simple.
This assumption or similar assumptions are often formulated. But they do not help us in the process of defining the USP. Because the grandma can belong to the target group relevant for our idea, but she does not have to. However, the assumption contains a correct thought. The wording of the USP must be simple enough that every member of our target group understands it immediately. We don't want to leave the sentence unclearly formulated, but ask questions and discuss this in the team until we have formulated a clear sentence. In the interviews when surveying the target group, we therefore ask the open and hypothetical question
What do you think a solution in this area might look like?
With this, we let the interviewees formulate the USP. Following the Design Thinking idea, we also let the interviewees visualize the idea. All results of the interviews are compiled, compared and in no way evaluated positively or negatively. In the formulations from the interviews, we use different colored pens to mark the repeating keywords that form our USP sentence. The sketches of the interviewees graphically support the USP thought. The keywords are also the word building blocks that we will use in our digital applications, such as creating content for our website. When pitching to investors or prospects, we refer to this unique phrase, clearly worded, to describe our new idea. The future users formulated our idea, not us and not an investor. The sentence forms the basis and the starting point for our innovation. This will lead us the way to our sales targets, with a quantitative sales plan and a plan for all sales targets.
If you want to know more about this and want to work on your startup sales strategy, contact me by using this link. :-)