When Revenue Isn’t The Answer — Medium
You became so focused on closing deals and winning customers that you missed finding real product/ market fit. Only after you raised your Series A did you realize that velocity does not equal repeatability when it comes to enterprise sales, and that the latter means far more than the former. Suddenly you’re not scaling as fast as you’d expected and modeled.
Even for seasoned entrepreneurs, this initial taste of success can be intoxicating. The product works, and a few clients are signed up. Money — for the first time — is flowing in and not just out, and a decent sales pipeline seems ample evidence of product/market fit. That’s the good news. At the same time, you begin to feel the weight of competition both real and imagined. Existing investors are pressuring you to think about the next round. Now, you’re sure, is the moment to move swiftly forward.
But here’s the catch: Closed deals and sales velocity are not exclusive measures of product/ market fit. Maybe, among your first customers, there are wide variations in the core use cases for the product. Maybe your team is struggling with lengthy sales cycles.
How do you know if you’ve achieved real, meaningful, and differentiated product/ market fit? Here are a few key questions to test your thesis:
1. Do you know, at a granular level, which potential customers you should target?
2. Who are the influencers? Who are the buyers? Where does their budget come from?
3. What marketing channels should you use to target those customers?
4. Do you have a simple and — most importantly — single marketing message?
5. Do you know what your sales process is, and is it an easy process?
6. Do you have a clearly defined product roadmap that’s aligned to your target market?
7. Can you hire junior sales reps, ramp them quickly, and have them close deals with consistent results?
It’s a cruel irony that while early customers and revenue often feel like the lifeblood of your business, these things might actually be killing you. It’s not ultimately about selling to customers; it’s about fundamentally understanding what core functionality causes customers to buy.