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Clarify Your Story Excerpt

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 8th

CLARIFY YOUR STORY

For Enterprise- and SME-Facing Businesses: This set of questions will help you through the process of testing and validating your idea while building an effective Go-to-Market strategy for a B-to-B venture.

Product or Service Value Proposition:
• What pain does your product/service address?
• What is the profile of your ideal target customer (company)?
• What is the profile of your ideal target user (within the target company)?
• What is your technology?
• What is the application of this technology?
• What are some compelling use cases?
• What is your differentiated, must-have value proposition to this customer?
• Which market? Which segment? Why?
• How big is the market? Is it big enough? How do you expand, if not? Should you expand, or should you focus within a niche?
• What is the usage model of the product?
• How does the user currently solve the problem in question?
• Who is the buyer?
• How strong is the pain? Does the buyer care to solve the user’s pain?
• How do you prove your value? Pilot? Free trial for a month? Three months?
• How long does it take to prove value?

Competitive Positioning & Pricing:

• Who is the competition, and how do you differentiate from them?
• What are the various classes of products in immediate and related categories?
• What, of those, compete directly with you?
• Which ones are likely to move into your space?
• How do your product features compare with the competition’s? Can you compete on the basis of functionality?
• How does your product pricing compare with the competition’s? Can you compete on the basis of price?
• How do customers and prospects view your offering, vis-à-vis competition? Do they see you as 1/10 the functionality? 1/5 the functionality? 300% the functionality?
• What value does the customer see?
• What are customers willing to pay for your solution? 1/10 the key competitor’s price? Same price? 200% the price?
• What price can you charge based on perceived value?
• What is the ROI for the customer? How long will it take to realize the ROI?
• Can you offer both better performance and lower price?
• Whom do you need to partner with to offer a full solution?
• How do you position win-win deals for partners?
• Can you turn some of the competition to partners/channel/OEM relationships, so not to go head-to-head?

Sales Cycle & Messaging:

• What are the top target segments (verticals, size, geography)?
• What is a typical repeatable sales cycle for each segment?
• Who is the relevant VITO (Very Important Top Officer)/economic buyer (EB)?
• What job title does that correspond to within the target company/segment?
• Who is the technical decision maker (TDM)? What job title?
• Who is the user? What job title?
• Who is a likely champion for your solution? What job title?
• Who can coach you inside an account? How do you gather information required to qualify the lead? Extract the pain? Position the solution?
• What is your value proposition to the VITO/EB? TDM? User? Champion? Coach?
• How do you communicate that value in 20 words or less?
• What pain extraction questions correspond to that value? In other words, if a sales rep gets a relevant stakeholder on the phone, what should she ask? Or, what should she ask in a succinct email, to gain permission for further engagement?

Lead Generation & Qualification:

• What are the top target segments (verticals, size, geography)?
• What is the best way to generate a list of the target accounts within the segments?
• What job titles are we after within those accounts?
• What is the organizational map within the account that maps to the sales cycle?
• What are the names of the stakeholders who correspond with the economic buyer, the technical decision maker, etc.?
• What is the pain extraction question/value proposition message if someone with the right job title gets on the phone?
• What are the criteria for a qualified lead?
• What lead generation programs do you plan to pursue? Google PPC advertising? E-mail campaigns? Tradeshows? Other forms of online advertising?
• How do you plan to qualify the leads? Telemarketing? Outsourced? In-house?

Sales & Business Development:

• What is the appropriate channel strategy (direct, OEM, resellers, system integrators, telesales)?
• Are there channel conflicts? How do you resolve?
• What is your territory plan and prioritization, based on market segment targets?
• What paid proof-of-concept/pilot engagement/evaluation framework will get you to a deal within a short time?
• What are the appropriate sales cycle steps, next steps, and duration breakdown?
• What is the likelihood of a deal by sales cycle steps? How do you forecast?
• What are the must-have key target accounts? Why? What do you need to accomplish in those engagements to be able to achieve high leverage for reference selling, proof-points, and metrics?
• Do you have reference accounts? What is the best strategy to leverage the reference accounts and proof points?
• How do you build new reference accounts? Who is your target? Why? How do you penetrate, sell, and demonstrate ROI?
• Are there must-have channel relationships? What do you need to do to appropriately establish and manage them?
• What kind of channel discount do you need to provide to enlist the channel to perform on your behalf?
• Can you get OEM deals that may help you accelerate adoption?

Corporate:

• What is the product roadmap for the company?
• What is the unifying theme that positions the company and leverages its strengths (technology, product, channel, current customers, references, etc.)?
• Is there a platform strategy? A point-product strategy? A solution strategy? What holds all these pieces together? How do you position to make it into an integrated big story?
• What products/pieces need to be repositioned/repackaged to align with the corporate strategy?
• What is the full story? Is it a powerful, differentiated story that can go beyond a point-product/one-trick pony, to become a category leader?
• What is the category? Do you define a new category, or position within an existing one?
• What technology/product/channel/media elements need to be introduced/influenced to make it into a larger story?
• What broad scale industry trends can you impact based on your offering, and how do you position to align with such trends?
• What is your funding strategy? How do you position, package, and sell?
• What is your exit strategy? How do you position, package, and sell?

Execution Roadmap:

• What is your next major milestone? Product launch, funding round, exit?
• What derivative milestones/related projects do you need to accomplish to be able to stay on track and execute on the strategy?
• What is the project-resource-timeline map tracking to the next milestone?
• What is the messaging matrix?
• What is the collateral map, based on the sales process/sales cycle steps?
• What are the reference account milestones?
• What is the PR strategy?
• Do you have the resources to staff all the projects that lead up to the milestones?
• Who will manage lead sourcing/lead generation/lead qualification?
• Who will manage the PR process, pitches, follow-ups, etc.?
• Who will write the collateral? (Web site, sales pitches, data sheets)
• Who will design and produce the Web site?
• Who will manage events/tradeshows?
• What are the key additional hires/timeframe?
• Does everything align with your operating plan/budget? What tradeoffs do you need to make? What are the prioritization algorithms?

For Consumer-Facing Businesses: This set of questions will help you through the process of testing and validating your idea and building an effective Go-to-Market strategy for a B-to-C venture.

• Who is your target customer/user?
• What is the user experience you plan to offer?
• Does the customer/user care? Why?
• What is your differentiated value proposition to the customer/user?
• Which market? Which segment? What demographic? What psychographic?
• How big is the market? Is it big enough? How do you expand, if not? Do you need to expand, or is staying within the niche desirable?
• What is the usage model?
• How does the user currently accomplish the objective?
• What is the competition, and how do you position against them?
• What is the business model? On-Demand? Subscription? Advertising – CPM? CPC? CPA? Transaction fee – fixed? Commission? Final value fee?
• How do you build traffic? What FREE incentive can you offer to bring users en-masse to your site?
• What premium service can you offer that users would want to pay for? How much would they pay?
• What is your context strategy?
• What is your content strategy?
• What is your commerce strategy?
• What is your community strategy?
• What is your search strategy?
• What is your personalization strategy?
• How do you plan to sell ads? Internal ad sales force? Ad networks? Which ones? What kind of ad rates can you command?
• What ad management system will you use if you do it internally?
• Are you going to advertise online to recruit customers? Google/Yahoo! PPC? On blogs and other sites? Which sites? Using which ad networks?
• What are your search engine marketing/search engine optimization strategies? What keywords are you trying to own/position around? How expensive are they?
• For your category, what are the most influential blogs? How will you get them to talk about you?
• What are the top mainstream media properties that you need to get written up in?
• Whom do you need to partner with to offer a full solution/whole product?
• Whom do you partner with to generate traffic? Under what terms?
• Do you have a widget strategy for Facebook, iPhone, Hi5, MySpace, etc. to generate traffic and visibility?

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