Preparing for a Product Launch?

Why the Sales Ready Product is a better than Minimum Viable Product

Some claim that a startup’s first objective is to achieve Minimum Viable Product (MVP), but Bill Portelli — Managing Director at CEO Quest — disagrees. MVP is simply not enough. The most successful CEOs press on until they have launched a Sales Ready Product (SRP).

The SRP approach looks beyond product features to consider how the product’s design impacts company building.

“A Sales Ready Product is a product that directly contributes to the performance of your Revenue Engine. If implemented thoughtfully, it will accelerate revenue and market leadership,” said Portelli.

MVP vs. SRP: What’s the Difference?

MVP focuses on building the right product features. Portelli explains that it validates product / market fit using an agile and lean, “release-early, release-often” development process, where user feedback is gathered until the product fits the market and user need enough to sell. In other words, an MVP approach tests ideas out until they fit the market.

This is fine as far as it goes. But the SRP goes further. With an SRP, you create a user experience for prospects that enables them to discover value immediately — before they commit to buying the product. It takes longer to launch than an MVP, but the return on that investment in time and money is significant.

If properly executed, an SRP targets specific use cases and for those use cases it makes the trial of your product dead simple. A prospect can enter real data, and discover immediate value. “Focusing in on specific use cases that highlight client-specific data is key,” Portelli adds. “As fast as possible, you want to demonstrate value to the prospect, showing just enough of the product to your user to get them to buy it.”

Why is it worth the extra effort?

With the SRP approach, you don’t wait until you’re halfway down the sales funnel to expose your product to prospects. Instead, you get prospects to experience immediate gratification with your product as early as possible. Then, you nurture greater usage based on persona type and specific prospect activity. With modern tooling, especially in the SaaS world, this persona-based nurturing and conversion can be 100% automated.

“Using an MVP approach, you are in a feature battle with your competitors. Your market leadership is constantly threatened by larger competitors with more development resources, or by smaller companies who are more nimble than you,” said Portelli.

If you use an SRP, you are creating a competitive entry barrier because you are focused on sharply reducing your customers’ time to value using your product — not only for the deals you land at the outset, but for expansion as well. Companies using this approach not only increase their new sales velocity, but they experience much faster existing-customer expansion.

Portelli identifies four different SRP go-to-market approaches that produce consistent “light bulb” moments early in the prospect/customer journey. These 4 approaches are SaaS free trial, product download, in-person demo, or free utility. For detailed decision criteria on which one of these approaches to use, read Portelli’s previous work on the SRP here.

A strategy for virtually any tech company

Portelli explains that an SRP strategy can be employed by virtually any software company of any size.

Startups have some competitive advantage because they can set up their culture and organization for success right from the start, ensuring that their engineering, product, design and sales teams all operate in alignment. An existing company might struggle with this level of change management, especially while juggling existing company priorities and investment decisions in tools, training, and processes.

But established companies have an advantage when it comes to resources: they have deeper pockets to invest in the R&D that will determine the success of the SRP.

Regardless, leadership for this level of DNA change needs to come from the top.

When done right, the SRP can create an enjoyable company-wide culture focused on customer experience.

“The CEO, or an empowered exec team member, needs to drive cross-functional alignment for this approach to work. Company activities and metrics need to be integrated to drive incremental internal improvements at every stage of the prospect and customer journey. At each stage, product enhancements and improvements to marketing and sales activities should become measurable and finely tuned acts of daily customer engagement, focused on research-backed personas and value propositions,” said Portelli.

How to implement an SRP approach

To succeed with an SRP approach, you need to be prepared to build a long-term strategy across the entire customer journey.

Here is what you’ll want to focus on:

  • A killer user pain point
  • A strong competitive product advantage in a specific, highly-compelling use case
  • Persona-specific user journeys focused on that use case
  • The ability to rapidly ingest customer data to provide new insights that create the “light bulb” moment with prospects
  • Customer-centric software development around product conversion moments, from trial to conversion, to expansion
  • Predictive conversion metrics and context-sensitive alerts both in the product as well as in marketing/sales automation
  • A well thought out pricing and packaging scheme that enables the user to upgrade to adjacent product modules that solve additional user pain points with “one-click” conversion
  • A Sales Playbook that guides the sales team and their interaction with the prospect at each step of the customer journey

An SRP approach requires research, time, and investment. Even more importantly, it requires commitment. If followed through to completion, the results will speak for themselves.

Click here to learn more about the Sales Ready Product and how to take it on.

To learn more about Bill Portelli and CEO Quest, visit our website.

As a CEO Advisor, Board Director, and PE / Venture CEO, Bill Portelli accelerates enterprise value and tech-company revenues through the creation of breakout strategies & business models, building award winning products and coaching high impact CEOs and their teams. Along with a combined success founding, scaling and coaching technology-enabled early-mid stage and F1000 companies, Bill was awarded the Davos Technology Pioneer Award by the World Economic Forum for his leadership in DevOps and open source.