Lean in Larger Organizations – Interview with Jay Badenhope

illustration - honeymoon period

Jay Badenhope (Senior Product Manager of JustAnswer) leads product teams that experiment and build things to solve meaningful customer problems.  I reached out to him to chat about his approach to implementing lean startup in large- and mid-size companies. You can find him on Twitter or LinkedIn)

Q: What is the difference between running lean in a very large vs. a mid-sized company? How have you adapted?

A: In my experience, there is a difference but it’s not night and day. I’ve led lean product teams at Intuit and JustAnswer. Both companies have established products and business models for making money from selling those products. To paraphrase Steve Blank, a company is responsible for executing on a proven business model, unlike a startup that is seeking to establish a new business model. I’ve led product teams that were responsible for testing ideas for new business models within these two profitable companies. The main difference I’ve seen is that larger companies tend to be more conservative in supporting the existing business model and smaller companies may be hungrier to try new things.

B2B goals and objectives

Untangling B2B Sales Goals

Setting goals is something startups love to do.

We set aggressive revenue goals, customer acquisition goals, investment goals...

...but walk into a sales call?

Often it seems the only goal is to come out with a feeling of self-congratulation.

"It's going great! They really liked our pitch!"

When it comes to B2B sales, our ability to set concrete goals is lacking. Even when we make a concrete sales funnel, we often have a vague step called "Follow up" or "Get buy in."

This is a fundamentally bad practice.

(Shameless plug: I've been working with Sean K Murphy on combining some of our ideas on B2B sales and will be giving a first workshop on Jan 29: From Customer Interviews to Enterprise Sales)

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Prioritization of sales prospects

4 Categories of B2B Customers

(This is a guest post by Kenny Nguyen, who has spent the last six years helping B2B companies with marketing and sales. He describes himself as a guy who "doesn't like sales, but you have to sell if you're going to help people." You can find Kenny on Twitter.)

It’s hard to keep tab of sales when we’re talking to one potential customer after another. B2B startups founders - with limited sales experience, myself included - have trouble with qualifying leads.

Every customer we talk to ends up being qualified customers somehow, someway.

As a consequence, focus ends up being diluted across way too many leads at the same time. B2B founders could benefit from having a fast and effective qualification process. There are great tools out there to help manage pipelines, ask questions, flowcharts, and analyze potential sales top-down, but there isn’t much available to help qualify potential customers in a no-nonsense manner.

To cut to the chase, you can download the cheat sheet here:

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Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Stupid debates: Qualitative vs. Quantitative

When I was studying marketing I had an arms length list of research techniques like conjoint analysis, surveys, and focus groups. After I read Four Steps to the Epiphany, there was only one: Get out of the building and talk to customers!

At LUXr, Janice Fraser introduced me to a whole new host of tools to gain insight such as hallway usability testing, contextual inquiry, and mental models.

Add this to lean startup standards like smoke tests and it's a pretty overwhelming.

Should we run a Pocket Test with Picnic in the Graveyard to follow up? Should we do a Wizard of Oz or a concierge approach? Would you like a lemon twist with that?

So what type of experiment should you run? And when?

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cookie cutter lean startup

Templates Suck, Here’s Our Lean Startup Template

Every few weeks, someone asks me if there’s a template that they should use to define their lean startup experiments…and I say no.

I’m not a big fan of templates in the broad sense of a one size fits all template to define experiments regardless of the context.

I am a huge fan of having a repeatable process.

We (TriKro LLC & Lean Startup Circle) do use templates that work well for us. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work well for someone else.

Templates are often a means of asserting order over the innovation process in order to measure team velocity in an overly stringent way before it’s appropriate or necessary to do so.

So in an effort to satisfy the requests and not give overly broad advice, here’s the template we use and why we designed it this way.

If you'd like to cut to the chase, you can download the template below. It's licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License so feel free to modify and hack to make your own.

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helpful customer discovery with Kevin Dewalt

Being Helpful – Interview with Kevin Dewalt

Kevin Dewalt (Founder of SoHelpful) is constantly helping startups 1-to-1. When he's not angel investing, playing golf or (allegedly) mangling the Chinese language in Beijing, he's always available to help out someone just getting started with lean startup. So I reached out to him to chat about his approach to early stage customer discovery...being helpful. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or his blog)

Q:  Your SoHelpful approach to early stage startup marketing is essentially, "stop marketing and start helping people 1-on-1." What makes you favor this route when every budding entrepreneur wants to put together a DropBox type demo video, post to HackerNews, and watch the signups?

These approaches are not working for the entrepreneurs I help, mentor, and invest in.

What I teach is based on what I do and what I see working for other startups. I wasn’t working with Drew when he did the DropBox “viral video MVP”, so I don’t actually know what is myth vs. truth. Drew himself probably doesn’t remember.

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The Disappointing Toaster

Killed by Expectations

(This is a guest post by Dan Toma, Senior Innovation & Product Manager at Deutsche Telekom AG and author of the upcoming The Corporate Startup Book. You can find Dan on Twitter, LinkedIn or his blog.)

How much stress, anger and frustration can one simple malfunction or a minute delay in response cause? We experience expectation related frustration on a daily basis with the objects we interact with, the products that we purchase, and the services we acquire.

In order to consistently design better product, services, and experiences for their customers, there is one critical first step any entrepreneur needs to take: understand the customer’s needs better than the customer understands themselves.

Often times, we are disappointed by our peers, by particular experiences, by products that fail to deliver the job we hired them to do, or by services which, for one reason or another, don’t match out standards.

What do we do then?

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