Clouve is a B2B startup that provides subscription based cloud IT services (DevOps) on any of the major cloud service providers (AWS, GCP, Azure). We need an advise on how to acquire customers. Should we go strait to sales? or do we have to have to marketing strategy first?
If you still haven't done any sale yet, I suggest you to first focus on testing and validating the riskiest assumptions of your idea:
- Who are your customers? I'm not talking only about demographics, but also, role, thoughts, pain points, feelings, attitudes, etc.
- How relevant is the problem that you are addressing? How much do they really care about the problem or about finding a better solution (than the current one)?
- How valuable they perceive your solution? How much better is your solution when compared to current alternatives? How will your solution make their life better? How much would they pay for it?
- What are the most efficient channels to reach your potential customers? Testing several marketing channels will help you on understanding those with the best ROIs and, consequently, help you on your marketing strategy.
Maybe, you already have answers for all of these questions. But, remember that you need clear evidences coming from the customers to validate those assumptions. Otherwise, they're just guesses.
@Dane is right, since you skipped the most important step in your business, your sales efforts and your marketing efforts look almost identical right now. That doesn't mean it's right, but it is how it will manifest.
Marketing strategy is supposed to come before your product, not after. It is supposed to define your product details, test what method of acquiring customers will be effective, and predict your product-market fit through several validation steps that direct product development to meet a need in a way that people will spend money to get it.
It isn't too late, but it is late. So yes, by all means, marketing strategy comes before sales. Some effort from your salespeople will inform marketing. And it's unclear how desperate you are now that you've put resources into developing your product/service to earn revenue quickly. Product before strategy increases the risks for any business. And you may discover that you need to revise your product and/or your target audience before it will sell.
If this is your company https://www.clouve.com there is currently nothing unique or persuasive about it. It appears you are "me too" business and you offer no credibility to potential customers.
I recommend you immediately stop everything else and focus exclusively on defining and validating your market, describing your unique value proposition, and building your credibility. Your salespeople today will have a tremendous struggle without completing these steps, and you are likely to burn through your prospects quickly when you can't set your company apart from others doing what you do.
I would suggest you begin to test your marketing plan and strategy with small spends and A-B testing of copy / creative. If you can afford it, You may want to bring in an outside marketing team to test and validate for you.
I would not hesitate to also take the direct approach to try try and get direct sales. Success on that level, will hopefully lead to satisfied customers that can be used to generate new leads and testimonials for future marketing.
I would strongly suggest that you check out CoFoundersLabs StartUP accelerator; Here is the Accelerator landing page with the link to the application: http://info.cofounderslab.com/cfl-accelerator-lp
" Go sell ! Unless you are pretty far along, you don't know enough to craft a marketing strategy yet. "
" If you still haven't done any sale yet, I suggest you to first focus on testing and validating the riskiest assumptions of your idea: "
"I would suggest you begin to test your marketing plan and strategy with small spends and A-B testing of copy / creative."
Put together a standard 10 foot trade show booth and take it to the trade shows. Use that as a multi-thousand person focus group.
After a few trade shows, probably even one, you will know what you need to do. It most likely will not look like anything you currently envision. I will bet a dollar on that LOL
Focusing on sales can be a great way to determine market fit, which can help your marketing strategy down the line. Throughout the sales process, you should be querying your potential customers on what does/doesn’t appeal to them about the product, how they would use it, and general value and role related questions.
At this stage it is the same thing. Your effort to sell anything will provide critical market feedback that needs to be considered in your product.
If you were asking if you should hire a sales team, the answer is no. Founder sales is marketing for the reason above. Until you "know" the product and the roadmap, user pain, and support expectations, you are effectively doing market research by trying to get users.
Finally, not to be rude but I agree with @Ian - if you are trying to tackle an English-speaking market, you must be perfectly fluent in your pitch and content to get an audience.
Go sell ! Unless you are pretty far along, you don't know enough to craft a marketing strategy yet. You may think you are selling to Engineering Management but the individual engineers may actually be the decision makers. Or you might find that channel sales are most effective. You don't know until you meet people and sell your product to several customers and know who the real customer is and who the influencers of the sale are. NIHITO stands for Nothing Important Happens In The Office !
Looks like you provide Devops/support for the cloud providers, right?
So a company uses AWS but needs more expertise, they hire Clouve.
How will you get leads to provide to sales?