Before diving in, check out part 1 of this blog series!
In Product Development, W3 Is A Framework To Figure Out
This is essentially the first chapter of “Sell More Faster.” A company that I was at in the early 2000s called business.com, we had found some semblance of what we thought might be product-market fit.
When I got into the company they’d been doing about $7 million in revenue for a couple of years. It was a really good business and a good team, but they couldn’t figure out how to have that breakout moment.
What I figured out is that we needed to understand and be maniacally focused on these three questions: Who’s your customer, what are they buying from you, and why do they buy it?
Once we figured that out, in 18 months we went from $7 million to an $80 million run rate.
The thing that binds all this together and why I love talking about it in the context of sales is this was about figuring out who is our company, what is our identity, and how do we tie all those things together. It is a crucial aspect of product development.
As a result, the product people understood what to build for who and why. Additionally, marketing knew who they should target, what to market, what to say, and why it’s going to resonate.
Very similar to what was said earlier about how Indeed operates is how business.com operated, which is how do we build the most amazing product for our end users regardless of how much money we make. Because if we do that well, we will make a lot of money and we did.
When I think about the framework of the W3, I do it thinking specifically about early-stage companies. It’s where I’ve spent my entire career. However, this framework works regardless of the stage of your company, regardless of whether it’s a consumer company or a B2B.
The reason this works is that it allows you to deeply understand and be truly maniacally focused on the person that matters most—your customer.
Who Is the Specific Customer Profile You’re Targeting?
When I talked to early-stage founders about product development, I try to get them feeling uncomfortable and the more uncomfortable they feel the better.
When you have a theory of who you want to build your company around, who you believe your customer is early on, I push people to get the most specific definition that they possibly can create of who they believe is their customer. It gets to the point where they feel: “But if I only sell to that type of customer, no one’s going to invest in me and I can’t build a big business.”
However, what I’ll assert is if you only sold to that customer, that might be true, but you’ll be trading value in someone who cares.
When you understand the attributes of that customer, it becomes easy to start testing the other types of customers who are in the peripheral range.
You want to be able to walk into a room and know that you’re going to sell this person on the product because you know it’s what they need.
How do you know you’re building the right product for someone? It’s by truly knowing who they are.
About the speaker
While attending college at the University of Massachusetts in 1992 Amos fell in love with rock climbing which brought him to Northern California in 1993 and eventually a job packing boxes for Shoreline Mountain Project. While there Amos helped turn an old school mail-order company into one of the first e-commerce companies which launched his career into the startup world. After Shoreline, Amos went on to 6 other startups including HotJobs.com, Work.com, Business.com, mySpoonful, Blacklocus and Joust. At each of these startups, his responsibility was always directly related to figuring out product market fit, early sales and building sales organizations. Then, in 2015, he moved over to the investor side as Managing Director of Techstars in Austin. Now after over 70 seed stage investments Amos has become one of the more active early stage investors, via Techstars Austin in all of Texas.