The sales strategy hidden in Four Steps. Part 3: being part of the solution

In 2005, renowned entrepreneur and academician Steve Blank published The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Inspiring tons of new ideas for start-ups, the book advocates a renewed focus on customer development as a cornerstone to build a solid business. In this new series, we’ll crystallize Blank’s theory into a few tactical steps, cut to size for young fledgling companies.

Now that you have acquired Problem-Solving Expert status in the eyes of your future customers, it’s time to become acknowledged as a Solution Provider too. That’s why, in this step, you’ll create a Solution Presentation.

Capturing the difference

First, however, you’ll need to assess what makes your (future) product unique. This requires you to go back to your Product idea and assess how well it addresses the Problem. The feedback you’ve gathered during your first presentation is of invaluable importance here, as it gives you insight into how your future customers would prioritize features, enabling you to adapt accordingly. In addition, if the changes are far-reaching, you might have to adjust your development and rollout calendar as well.

Products and services can provide similar solutions, but not to the same target profile. Your product can be different for several reasons: better features, performance, a more adequate sales channel, a lower price…. Whether you’re offering a radically new product or a more subtle innovation, make sure you can explain—in a convincing and factual way—why your solution is unique.

Becoming a Solution Provider

Now, it’s time to update your Problem presentation according to your newly acquired knowledge. Make changes where necessary, so it really hits the bull’s eye, and shorten it to around 10 minutes. This will leave you ample space to add the second part of the presentation, of equal length: the Solution presentation. Since the features of your product are probably not set in stone yet, you will first describe your solution to the problem on a conceptual level, and get into its principles.

This combination of Problem and Solution presentations is called the Problem+Solution presentation, which you will present to a second circle of Problem owners. Handpick them carefully: they will be your company’s ‘mentors’, monitoring your progress and giving you invaluable insights into how to bring your solution to the markets. And, of course, you’ll want to choose those that will buy your solution as well. In this phase, try to obtain three meetings per day, taking into account travel times.

In the next and final episode, we’ll redesign the feedback collection tool to harvest the full value of your Problem+Solution presentation. This will provide you with the necessary information to get started right away. Stay tuned!