Big ticket, B2B sales expert for the high tech market. Hardware, software, networking, Saas sales. Long time tech executive now teaching and consulting to some of the biggest names in technology. If you have all the revenue you need, you don't need me. I am also an expert and certified sales consultant for Miller Heiman, the gold standard in sales training. My work ranges from working with sales reps to sales vice presidents and CEOs and dealing with the basics of effective call planning and customer focused interactions, to closing big deals, to managing large accounts.
You answered your own question when you said "I built it for me, but feel that it has commercial viability for many others."
Other than what you said, what problem did you design it to solve? Who are "many others"? What problem do they have?
Why not cruise the Excel forums on the MS support site and see if others have that problem? Enlist some of them to help you find how to market it?
I can't tell you how many times I've written an answer like this before. Never confuse equity and ownership with employment. Although many people have both, they are not necessarily joined at the hip.
Is your question related to what your partner is not doing as an employee or as an owner? As an employee, he can be fired for not performing his duties. An owner can't be fired unless he's an employee. Hopefully you have a partnership agreement that deals with relative duties and what happens if either partner doesn't fulfill his duties.
Do you have a board? If so, then they can intervene. If just you and he are the board, then I'd hire a mediator to help you get through the crisis.
If you don't have a partnership agreement and mediation isn't successful, then, yes, dissolve the company, start a new one and hire a lawyer to draft a bullet-proof partnership agreement. $10k is small money to pay for peace of mind and for a successful company.
There are a lot of good answers here. But, the issue is with qualifying. What you have is a complex sale and in a complex sale, where you deal with many buying influences who have different opinions as to what the optimal solution is as well as the urgency of the problem needing fixing.
There is one quick tip I will give you. And, that is, in your initial discussions ask them bluntly a question like this (use your own phrasing and style): "I know this process might take a while because there are a lot of people involved on your side. Can I count on you to keep me informed as to what's going on?"
Nine out of ten will say yes. Then, when you call, you can leave a message that says "Hey Joe, you agreed to keep me informed as to what's going in. Please return the call to let me know." Their guilt will probably prevail.
Is it foolproof? No, but it will increase your odds of getting a call back.
I also ask a question like this: "I find that when people call me they fall into one or two camps. The first are people who are just shopping and looking for information but aren't really looking to do something. The other is people who really want to solve a problem and want to do something relatively soon. I'm happy to spend some time with you either way, but can you tell me which camp are you in?"
One last thing, you might need a sales methodology for complex sales such as Miller Heiman's Strategic Selling. It's geared towards your type of selling situation. If you want info on this, let me know.
You didn't say what kind of company you have. My experience is with tech companies where the sale is very complex. So, I will give you my thoughts from that perspective.
Pay them a base of what you'd pay a mid-level person at your company. Then give them HUGE upside potential. I've seen software startups pay $50k base and $500k OTE. If your person makes half a million bucks and is the highest paid person in the company you will be wildly successful.
A great book to read is "Selling the Wheel" which is a parable about a tech startup (the guy who invented the wheel) and all the various ways to make sales.
You ask two questions:
1. How to find the "decision maker"
You make a potentially dangerous assumption here. Understand that there may be many "decision makers". Most of them can say no and nix the deal, but (usually) only one of them can say "yes" and the sale will happen.
Is your sale simple or complex? If simple, i.e. there is only one person involved in the buying process, then all the answers here are correct. If your sale is complex, i.e. there are many people involved in the buying process then you have a very tricky problem as each of them may have a different perspective on the business problem, the way to address it and how important it is.
2. Ideal Customer profile
What you describe, "companies based on revenue, geography, etc" is the target market, it is not the ICP. The ICP talks more about the issues and problems that you solve. So, an ICP within a target market would include factors like:
- Companies who are growing rapidly and who struggle with communications among remote employees
- Companies who require up-to-date information to employees while out of the office
- Companies who face tremendous pressure to grow despite a down market
I deal only in the world of complex sales. If you want to talk about selling this this world, then contact me. If you are in the simple world (not that that is a bad thing) then one of the other experts will be able to help you much more.
I don't know what the others think of the concept of MVP but I HATE it. There is no better way to turn off your users than to give them a minimum viable product. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to review or beta a new product only to find it was an MVP (i.e. it sucked). I never go back.
You only have one chance to make a first impression. Don't blow it. Make sure your definition of viable means "knock their socks off".
Now to your question: There are only three milestones you should care about:
1. First revenue ship. i.e. when people will actually start paying you for your products.
2. Break even. When are you bringing in more money than you are spending (you should include paying yourself in this calculation).
With all due respect, you are asking the wrong people. You need to survey your user base, or prospective user base. They will tell you the answer. Whatever you or I think is immaterial.
A simple question like: "If we offered the same functionality on the desktop and on mobile devices, what percent of the time would you use either?"
The fact is that most great salespeople are introverts. Introverts listen more than they talk. And, they internalize all incoming data before they speak.
Embrace your introversion and realize that you may be among the best!
I agree with Mr. Gupta. If it were me, I'd interview at least 100 people (customers of the electricity company) and ask them a bunch of questions. Then you know whether you have a business or not and if so, can approach the company and say "67% of the people I interviewed think this is a problem and they'd like you (the electricity company) to help them with it."
Understand that most public utilities in the US are regulated and most are monopolies so asking them to spend money to coddle their customers may not be something they are amenable to.
There are companies like OPower that do this. They were recently acquired by Oracle.
That being said, almost everyone I know uses the autopay feature with their utility company and it goes directly to a credit card so no worry about low balances, etc.
It would be nice to know if this is B2B or B2C; and if B2B is it a complex sale or a transactional sale? (The difference is that a complex sale has at least more than one person involved in the buying process.)
Don't confuse something that YOU think is viable with what the market thinks is viable. The last thing you should do is to keep it a secret.
My suggestion is to find at least 25 and 50+ is a better number, people who you think might be viable customers for this idea and talk to them. (Note, I did not say PITCH it to them).
The first thing you need to do is to figure out what the specific problem is that your problem solves.
Then, figure out if people are willing to pay for it, and how much. (There are lots of problems that people just deal with daily that are not worthy of fixing).
Then, figure out what the best method is to reach that market, i.e. the people with that issue.
The key here is that you don't have to figure it out for yourself. These 25 - 50 people will give you the answers.
If this is a complex sale then, I respectfully disagree with Lee. Yes, you need "testers" to make sure the product works, but you need to find the "Economic Buyer", i.e. the people who will be the buyers of your products. Testers are "User" buyers and can usually say "no" but they rarely can say "yes" and the sale is done. But, if it's a simple sale and the EB and the UB are the same person, then, Lee is correct.
Good luck and let us know how it goes.