Investing in a new line of business requires some basic steps, including identifying the target customer and building a robust customer pipeline. Building the pipeline, however, is not enough–you also want to prioritize that list of potential customers.
How to prioritize your best prospects? When we consider launching a new line of business, we start with three core questions:
We want to identify customers with whom we already have goodwill. With these customers, we can potentially take some risk on providing new products/services, because they may be willing to invest and learn alongside us.
We want to identify customers where we can build success stories that will help us market our new business more broadly. Clearly, then, larger and more well-known customers may better serve as the best brand-building success stories.
We want to identify a diverse mix of customers that will allow us to test our approach to the market and learn as we go. We want to learn:
Selecting customers for the "pilot run" is a critical step in working out the kinks of a new business model, and for building the confidence internally that the new business can succeed. We take an experimental, test-and-learn mentality that seeks to lower the cost of trialing and quickly identify the key success drivers in the business.
What has been your experience in building a business? How have you prioritized your "pilot" customers? What would you have done differently, knowing what you know now? Please let us know in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.