Pay attention to new customer segments.
Startups need to 2x revenue every 12 months.
This creates pressure to keep ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) broad and open. After all, it’s an enormous task to scale revenue at such a fast rate. You’re building out several new marketing channels, scaling up new AEs and SDs, building out BDR teams, analyzing and refining sales process/pipeline, and building out new collateral/messaging, and tuning pricing. It’s hard to build a pipeline and a world-class close rate overnight. I have massive respect for early-stage CROs and CMOs.
That said, it often creates a customer base that’s filled with several different customer types (or segments). This becomes a real challenge for product and customer success. Invariably, you find several segments that don’t fit well with the current product. There’s 60% overlap between their needs and the needs of your original customers. However, the 40% of non-overlap creates a lot of friction and noise. Their business and needs are just different enough that it creates tension.
When this happens, the best thing you can do is create a tight feedback loop with Sales, Marketing, Customer Success and Product. You may need to tighten ICP. You may need to adjust the product roadmap. You may need to proactively prepare for difficult renewal conversions. There aren’t easy answers. This is honestly one of the most challenging aspects of early-stage product leadership. But, if you at least acknowledge it, prepare for it, and act quickly when it happens, then you’re at least doing what you can to make things better for your teams and your customers.
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