Over the last couple of years have come across several entrepreneurs and new start ups presenting product and service delivery models on the Internet and mobile channels. This blog being an extremely vibrant forum for both groups, would like to outline a few observations and challenges faced in converting these propositions to business models and consumer reality. ( and this from a client’s perspective)

1.Detail : It always comes in handy to have a crisp minutes document circulated post meetings. This ensures clarity for all concerned, espescially if new concepts are involved. A detailed product specs document may be submitted at a later stage, but critical that the core proposition and offerings are articulated clearly upfront in the early stages.

2. Target Audience : A critical ingredient in marketing which often gets ignored in B2B sales is in clearly defining and understanding the target group within the client organization. Chants of USSD & J2ME to sections of a client audience struggling to send SMS messages can be rather disenchanting.

3. Adaptability : A key desired benefit of working with young and lean outfits is in being adaptable wrt business models, product roll outs etc. This should ideally be a key USP in the current environment. Re-engineering is critical. There have been several instances where the larger relationship opportunities have been sacrificed as the services required to be re-packaged. Re-engineering can be a complex challenge, but needs to be in the genetic code.

4. Business Model : In the event of both parties clearly sharing their business objectives and revenue streams, the resultant business and pricing models may take on new un-chartered dimensions. Fairly transparent exchange vis a vis cloak and dagger pre-negotiation tactics works rather well. A chunky upfront license fee in the last quarter may just not work!

5. Participative Product Development Process : Let the pre-sales process commence at the product development stage itself. Invite potential clients to participate in the product development process. Invite them in their individual capacities and not merely from the perspective of closing a sale. This could augur well for the client as well potentially resulting in lower lead times to commercial launch if a sale were to materialize.

This also comes in extremely handy to access the clients insights into industry and end consumer trends. Consumer reasearh can be expensive and an extremely time consuming process for start ups, so please feel free to piggy back.

6. Understand the Sale Process : I had an enchanting interaction with a vendor a couple of months back. He constantly reinforced the fact that he was an empaneled and certified supplier. This translated into client speak, meant that the NDA, agreements, vendor verification processes and payment codes had all been sealed or set up. This in effect could save over six weeks of processing time and hence time to market. Quite a unique USP!

You may find some of the observations to be rather rudimentary, but you would be surprised with the consistency with which they are not practiced.

Would welcome your views.