Don’t build your B2B product yet. Make a sale first.
Your biggest risk is finding paying customers - not whether you can build it.
“Refine, optimise, user test, just one more feature.”
“It has to be perfect before we sell it to anyone.”
“It’s our baby, our creation - if we can just get it right then it will sell itself.”
I think we have all fallen into this trap at one time or another. Forgetting that no matter how shiny the product is, a shiny product isn’t enough to make a successful product.
Always validate your sales process before undertaking significant product development. Why invest all that time and money if you haven’t worked out whether anyone wants to buy it?
And of course, it's not just a question of whether someone wants to buy it. There’s also the question of how you will reach customers cost effectively and what positioning is most effective.
Selling helps you know what to build
Testing your sales channels lets you to test your value proposition with customers. This will tell you who will give you money (important!) for what perceived value. Successfully testing this isn’t just invaluable for growth purposes. It should be actively influencing what features are in the product or not.
Selling proves you have customers, not just users
You are hopefully speaking to customers before and during product development. But you won’t know if these users are real customers (or just product tourists) until they actually give you money. Maybe they love the product but not enough to pay for it.
This is particularly important with B2B products. Maybe your contact isn't the decision maker. Or the budget holder. Maybe there are eight decision makers and they only meet annually.
Selling forces you to work out where you will find customers
For your product to be successful you not only need to sell it once, you must have a mechanism to repeatably find customers. You may set yourself the goal of taking five sales deposits before you start development. This challenge is useful in two ways. It will prove that a viable channel exists for acquiring customers. It will also develop your ability to be effective on that channel. Time to buy a ring light and up your TikTok game.
This approach isn’t straightforward to apply in every scenario. But I’d challenge you to be imaginative - see if you can reduce risk and increasing speed by applying it where you can.