Crossing the Chasm
Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers
Author: Geoffrey A. Moore
Genre: nonfiction; business, sales, marketing, management, strategy
In one sentence: great when you’re doing b2b business development for a tech company, less so for an early-stage and/or b2c startup.
Perhaps the greatest insight anyone can take away from this book is how to think from the perspective of the buyers of your product. Moore brilliantly illustrates how different people within an organization will respond to your product, depending on what stage it is in and what it is they are looking for.
For the target audience of this book, larger organizations are the ultimate b2b sales target. Within such companies, the author defines Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards. Each of these groups contain sub-personas (e.g., Visionaries) and they all have their own reasons for buying (or not buying) your product — they all possess a unique psychographic as Moore calls it (a combination of psychology and demographics).
Moving from one segment to the next can be hard. It requires you to unlearn the sales and marketing methods that worked for the previous group, just at the moment you seem to have mastered them. This is especially true when moving from the Early Adopters (a small group) to the Early Majority (a larger group and the key to conquering the mainstream market). This represents the so-called chasm where many tech companies get stuck (and the book found its’ title).
Besides teaching you to think in buyer personas and their reasons for buying, the other main take-away from this book is the strategy required for crossing the chasm. It involves being highly focused by targeting a specific “beachhead” within a market segment that you have a good chance of wrestling away from the incumbent(s); Moore explains in detail how to accomplish this.
For those in management, marketing and sales at b2b tech companies this book is a must-read. For others, it still holds interesting insights, but there might be better alternatives out there for other reader segments (e.g., The Lean Startup by Eric Ries for (very) early stage startups).
“If the goal of visionaries is to take a quantum leap forward, the goal of pragmatists is to make a percentage improvement — incremental, measurable, predictable progress.”
This quote exemplifies how Moore makes very specific and useful breakdowns of the different market segments and the persons who represent and operate in these segments. These observations teach you what matters to them and, most importantly, how to sell them your product.
Goes well with: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. While Crossing the Chasm is mainly about sales strategy, it also touches on how to position your products in the mind of your customer. The classic Positioning is therefore a great complement to this book, to get a better understanding of the workings and origins of the art of positioning.
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