Startup School: Delight the User, Sell to the Decision-Maker

Tom Startup School

Welcome back! This is the third post in a series about market and customer segmentation. Today we will be talking about the end user.

Organizational customers break down to two distinct parts – the end user and the decision-maker. The end user is an essential part of the decision-making process, but may or may not be the most important person within it.

Let’s take a look:

  • End User: The real person who will use your product; usually a member of the household or organization that purchases your product.
  • Decision-Maker: The individual(s) who decide whether the customer will buy your product. These could be:
    • Champions: The person who wants the customer to buy the product
    • Purchasers: The person with the authority to spend money to purchase the product or service. Sometimes this is the end user.
    • Influencers: People who have sway or direct control over the decisions of the purchaser.

If you’ve followed some of the other steps I outlined in earlier posts, you should have a fairly specific market entry point. Even though that market may be narrow, you’ll find that you still have a lot of different end users within it.

As a new business, you will have to exclude many potential customers in order to stay focused on a key group of end users that share the most similar traits (and are most likely to be successful for your startup!!).

Throughout the entire process, you must continually talk, observe, and interact with your target customer to obtain appropriate information and reconfirm it. Your goal is to create a description of a narrowly defined subset of end users with similar characteristics and with similar needs.

Look for that subset the same way you looked for your initial market.

Trying to sell your product or service to a wide group of end users is as unfocused as trying to sell to multiple markets.


About Tom

Tom is a co-founder of The Center for New Enterprise Opportunity (NEO Center) - a small business incubator in Lansing. He believes that by helping entrepreneurs be more successful through education and investment, we enrich both the market itself and our community as a whole. You can follow him @TomforLansing

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