Maybe the most challenging part of the customer development process is being able to get enough face time with prospective buyers.
It’s challenging because it means:
- Identifying the right roles and stakeholders to connect to within organizations;
- Building sufficient credibility to get them to talk to you;
- Getting them to share privileged information and their true pain points;
- Getting them to introduce you to the other buying influencers within the organization;
- Creating early adopter partnerships to be able to learn and iterate until you reach product-market fit.
If you can’t do that, your business will have a hard time gaining momentum.
Overcoming Inertia with B2B Consulting
“Speed of learning creates speed of growth.” – Jason M. Lemkin, Entrepreneur and Investor
Now, what if there was a way to drastically cut the time it takes to get this information from organizations?
Although they’re often kept separate, B2B consulting and tech entrepreneurship don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, consulting may be the fastest way to learn about a market or a business opportunity.
In its simplest form, product-market validation means…
- Finding 5 early adopters in organizations;
- Pre-selling them on a standardized pilot project;
- Delivering on the value sold;
- Iterating on feedback;
- Reaching product/market fit;
- Leveraging case studies to attract additional customers.
Seeking out consulting engagements within a single vertical (e.g. construction, banking, etc.) allows you to do customer discovery while working, map the organization, build trust and relationships with influencers, and hone in on their specific pain points. All that while actually getting paid for work.
If your expertise is related to the product or technology you’re hoping to build, B2B consulting engagements give you a first crack at validation. Can you (at least) get paid by organizations if you solve their problem manually?
No Idea, No Problem with B2B Consulting
Once you’re in the organization, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, test hypotheses, map processes, and dig into their business problems.
With several clients in the same vertical, you’ll also be able to learn about the commonalities between client accounts, map the spending, and understand the rationale for selecting specific vendors or solutions.
Casual chats will help you uncover both explicit and implicit problems; the problems business stakeholders are aware of and actively looking for solutions for, and those they may not be aware of.
Keep your eyes out for the most painful problems, those with a high potential impact on the organization and a buyer with budget and buying authority.
B2B Consulting: Productized Services vs Technology Products
Whether you’re looking to turn your B2B consulting into a productized service – a value-added, systemized, “done-for-you” service, packaged as a product with a defined scope and price – or software, the key thing you’re looking for is repeatability.
Are there ways to provide the same value…
- …to different organizations?
- …to different departments within the same organization?
- …in a repeatable manner – monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc – to the same organization?
Starting off with a service business will help you understand how to reach the buyers and create an effective distribution strategy.
In B2B, more proximity and face time with buyers and organizations means faster learning, testing and validation.
B2B consulting allows you to generate income, explore multiple organizations at once, and build relationships.
If your goal is to bootstrap your business and keep your costs low, validation through B2B consulting may very well be your fastest path to product-market validation.
More on B2B Consulting
- How to Get from Consulting to a Scalable Product Business in B2B
- How Cobrainer Used Consulting to Bootstrap and Validate an Enterprise Product
- Our Guide to Finding Business Ideas in Your Workplace
⚡⚡ Enjoyed this content? I go into way more detail on this subject in Lean B2B. It covers the ins and outs of finding traction in the market for B2B products. Check it out »
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This sampler covers the differences between B2B and Business-to-Customer (B2C) product-market validation, shows you how to define your vision for success, find early adopters, select market opportunities and assess a venture's risk. Download The First 6 Chapters Today »