Next Step Introduction
Every product or service has a lifecycle – often represented using the technology adoption curve below, which plots the proportion of new customers who adopt a particular product or service in a market against time. You first reach out to a small number of Innovators – they just love new stuff, regardless. However, because only a small proportion of people are like this, you then need to switch to other customers as you begin to grow into a mainstream market of Early Adopters You are now in the critical phase: if you succeed in converting some key Early Adopters, and they become your advocates, then you grow the proportion who convert quite quickly. If you don’t – and one of the major causes of this is thinking that your Innovators will stay the journey with you and in reality you never really capture the Early Adopters – then you fall into Dead Man’s Gulch; the graveyard of new offerings. Assuming you navigate this, you then spread to the Early Majority. These people need to see the success of the Early Adopters, and they need the comfort of established and reliable offerings. Somewhere in this stage, you find you have reached the tipping point where 50% of the customer base have converted to your new product. You’ll continue to grow adherents, but at a slower pace, and in fact often you don’t spot this until your pace of growth slows (your total volume is, hopefully, large). By this stage, you are dealing with the Late Majority people. They are different again. They are often conservative, and sometimes price-sensitive. Therefore, your focus should be ensuring product or service quality and repeatability and also driving down your costs as you will be fending off “Me-too” offerings from competitors. Behind these come the Laggards; these are the ultra conservative, ultra price-sensitive customers who will not tender anything unless there are at least three (ideally, more than that) identical offerings from different, equally qualified, suppliers. By this stage, you then want to have something new.
Will you be ready?
This is the challenge. You have no choice but to move forward, but doing that is risky. One of the most dangerous phases for any business is the step beyond the first offering. This is difficult to do, but fatal to ignore! The bad news is that statistically, something like 65% of all products and services fail once they are introduced. The better news is that B2B success ratios are better than this. The best news of all is that this section provides some ideas and approaches that can help you embark on this vital, but difficult step, in a structured way, so that you are in the 35% that succeeds. And, as with everything here, we’ve boiled it down to the essentials, with an approach that links the four vital steps together.