Your startup or small business travels up and down the slippery slope of revenue generation every quarter. You are struggling to sell the products and services you currently have in your arsenal. Now I’m asking you to think about “What’s next?”
Absolutely. Because your customers are asking themselves the same question. Because investors are asking the same question as well.
Your business development strategy should keep all of you continuously in front of your customers. “You” includes the C-level team, your engineering and tech team, your support team and your sales team. Everyone.
Small business new product development results from insights gleaned by continuous customer discovery conversations. You and your entire team must focus on this type of customer engagement.
When your small business is only focused on selling what you currently offer, you miss opportunities to create a loyal and retained customer base. You miss opportunities to grow and expand your business.
Small business new product development tests your business model. Is yours robust yet nimble and flexible? Is your small business organized like a miniature version of a Fortune-something company? Or are you opting for a horizontal and cross-functional workflow model?
Small business new product development tests your corporate culture. Do you marginalize your technical and engineering folks from sitting at the business table with your finance and sales folks? Have you outsourced the sales function to manufacturer’s reps, who also sell for your competitors?
If your small business operates with siloed, Us versus Them mindset, there’s very little opportunity for customer discovery. If your internal team isn’t collaborating with each other, how will you walk that talk into the marketplace?
Here are 3 small business new product development tips for your consideration.
Power Tip 1: New products are developed when you keep the conversation cross-functional. If your internal team doesn’t understand the conversation, your customers aren’t going to either. New products are developed as a response to real-time ergonomic user experience. Are you designing stuff for yourself or for your customers?
Power Tip 2: New products are developed when you create an internal dialogue that carries over into customer conversations. That’s horizontal throughput. That keeps things from becoming sequestered in discipline-driven silos. That keeps you nimble, flexible, relevant and profitable.
Power Tip 3: Small business new product development is a continuous endeavor. It’s a means to an end. It is not an end in itself. Focus on listening more than speaking. Focus on cross-functionally developing and testing with actual customers. Your goal is a continuous feedback loop in order to innovate.
Small business new product development is not conducted in a vacuum, no matter how clever you think you are, not matter how well you “think” you understand your customers. Your customers may tell you otherwise. Continuously engage them in the first place to grow and expand your company.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a management consultant and business coach. Babette develops business, technical and engineering professionals of worth. She remodels startups and small-to-medium manufacturing and service companies experiencing difficulty with unpredictable revenue streams.
A recognized Top 50 Marketing & Sales Influencer, Babette’s blog won the 2014 Bronze Medal, Top Sales & Marketing Awards, Top Sales World. Her book on small business communication and collaboration strategies and tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.