Anyone remember vaporware?

November 1, 2009 at 12:48 pm 1 comment

Someone asked me recently – “When you are working on the first sale, in the way you recommend, how do you build up the confidence to sell what is essentially vaporware?”

That was a great question because it gave me some insight into why some people are hesitant to take the First Sale First (FSF) approach.

I remember the word “vaporware” from the ’80s or ’90’s.  It had a decidedly negative connotation.  We used to apply it to products that vendors had described to the press but did not actually have.  This was a tactic often used by the larger vendors to “freeze” the market and buy time by stalling a small competitor that actually had a real product.

The FSF process is nothing like “selling” vaporware.  There is no deceit. In fact, one of the keys to the FSF process is to be honest with the customer and to manage expectations properly.

Back to the issue of confidence.  Why should you confidently pursue your first sale even before you have completed your product?  Three reasons:

First, assuming you have done your homework, what you are going to offer is a solution that delivers more value to your ideal customers than any existing solution.  So, be confident that you are doing the customer a favor by bringing your company, your solution and yourself to the customer’s attention.  Without you s/he will suffer with a solution that delivers inferior value.  Your goal is to save them from that.

Second, if you are going to be successful in a target market, you already understand the problem you are trying to solve better than anyone else on the planet.  You or someone on your team is a world-class expert!  If you have a serious medical condition, wouldn’t you want to be treated by the world-class expert on that condition?  Of course you would.  Similarly, the customers you approach will benefit from your expertise.  Their problem is that they may not know you exist or that you want to help them.  Be confident, know that your ideal customers want you to find them.

Finally, realize that an ideal customer will get more value from buying from you first than they will if they wait.  As the first customer, not only will they get the superior value that your innovative solution represents, which was my first point, but they will have the opportunity to shape the solution.  In many B2B solutions a large part of the total cost is adapting the solution to fit each customer’s situation.  Be confident because in a first sale you can eliminate most of that and make sure the initial solution fits the first customer like a glove — lower cost, faster payoff, better value!

You started your business because you understand an important problem exceptionally well and truly believe that you can deliver a much better solution to a well-defined segment of customers.  If that’s the case, the only problem is finding the ideal customer.  They need you.  That’s what FSF is all about.  That’s what you are all about!  Go with confidence!



Entry filed under: new venture, raising capital, startup.

Drawing the line – walking away from a deal Should the “engineer” or the “salesperson” drive the first sale?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Catherine  |  November 2, 2009 at 11:43 am

    These comments have provided much encouragement. As the lead “marketing” person in a start-up company providing an innovative software solution, it has energized me to pursue that first sale without neccessarily waiting for the finished product.


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