Struggling for Traction

It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of the hamster wheel inside the fishbowl of building your business and forget about the overall opportunity parameters.

If you are struggling for traction, it indicates that you may be:

  • Experiencing a mismatch between what you believe to be the opportunity and the reality of the opportunity (this is very common in the immediate-post-bar-napkin, just-keep-grinding and true-believer phases)
  • Building a solution looking for a problem (this is typical of engineering driven companies)
  • Not understanding who your ideal customer is and what their pain is (this is also typical of engineering driven companies)
  • Lacking sufficient ideal customers who are willing to pay for a solution to their pain at a price point that supports a sustainably profitable business model (this is a strategic leadership error, typically a variation of “it’s my idea so it must be good”)
  • Not effectively creating the perception of need in your prospects (this is marketing’s job, and this is fairly common when building solutions looking for a problem)
  • Not closing on the perceived need (this is sales’ job, and this one is rare compared to the others in this list)

If you are truly building a solution to important-metric, move-the-needle business pain for a viable number of ideal cusstomers, then:

  • The marketing writes itself
  • The sales cycle is ridiculously short
  • The challenge is handling the growth not seeking it

It that is not happening, then don’t be afraid to go back to the basics and re-examine the market and the model.

  • Is this a nice to have or a need to have?
  • What is different on a Tuesday afternoon a year from now for somebody politically important in this company if we buy your product?
  • Whose life are you saving with this solution and does it really matter if you save their life? (Asked another way, “Are they politically meaningful?”)
  • Is the person whose life you are saving directly connected to an adequate, sustainable, funded budget and do they have signing authority for that budget and this transaction?
  • Are you marketing and selling directly to the politically most important, directly affected stakeholder?

It’s never easy, nothing is easy.

But, at the intersection of customer pain and your solution, there should be zero friction and lots of smiles.

If you are not seeing that—if you are struggling to identify people in pain and to convince those people they have the pain and you can solve the pain and close the sale and be sustainably profitable—that’s a flag.

If you are cycling through the “why are we not getting traction” question on an endless loop all day between eyes-open and eyes-closed, then you should pay very close attention to these issues and questions.

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