Tag Archives: sales momentum

Eliminate This Risk to Your Sales Momentum

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Avoid the ‘out of stock’ pothole on your road to success.

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

Your team has pushed hard to get a successful product launch.  There is intense focus on Sales & Marketing to take the ball now to close on ever greater numbers of sales.  There is nothing like being ‘out-of-stock’ to put a crimp in your sales momentum.  With a little bit of post-launch effort, the risk of this happening can be minimized.


  • Assemble a team made up of some of the technical people from your product development team, someone from Operations and a product manager.
  • This team will initially be tasked with the following:
    • For Consumables – Identify all critical raw materials.  These are key components like antibodies or other biologicals or chemicals that are critical for the proper functioning of your kit or reagent.
    • For Instrumentation – Identify components with particularly long lead times.

For consumables, pay especially careful attention to sole suppliers of a critical raw material.  What would happen if this company went out of business or decided to discontinue the product?  Alternatively, what would happen to your business if they doubled the price of this component?

Use Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) to  help you and your team assess not only impact of what delays in instrument components  or loss of a source for a key reagent would have but also how likely it would be for that to happen.  This will allow you to compile a prioritized list with the biggest risks to your business at the top.


  • For Consumables – Have the technical team find an alternate source for the critical raw material.  This alternate source might be more expensive but it is much better to have a validated alternative source than to run out of it when your demand is growing.
  • For Instrumentation – Make sure that your agreement with component suppliers include options for rush shipments.  Find out what the lead times and additional costs are for this.  With good Sales forecasting you should not need to exercise this option but it is good to have this in place (just in case).  Consider keeping some additional inventory of critical components to buffer risk.

You cannot eliminate all of these risks to your business but it is far better to know what they are and have contingency plans in place in the (hopefully) unlikely event that some of them come to pass.   Remember that some of these risks can be mitigated by solutions provided by your technical team and others using business tactics.

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Three Tips to Insuring That Your First Sales Are Not Your Last

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Upward sales momentum is rarely smooth, especially in the early days. Use insights from your first customers to win the larger number of pragmatic customers that dominate your market.

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

Growing sales from your initial product launch requires a special approach with disruptive technology in the Life Sciences.   In a typical Life Science or biotech startup, your very first sales will likely come from some (hopefully most) of your beta evaluators.  Often, you will have a slew of sales at the beginning followed by a very frustrating period of time where every new sale takes a huge amount of time and effort to win.  Some have called this the ‘Valley of Death’ since it looks like your sales momentum has fallen off while you are burning through your capital reserves.

What’s going on?
Geoffrey Moore discusses this situation perfectly in his book “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers” (This book has become a classic and is a valuable source of insight to any entrepreneur with new technologically advanced products).  The premise here is that most if not all of your first customers are ‘Early Adopters’ but the market that you really want to reach and where the success and failure of your company hang in the balance is with ‘Mainstream Customers”.  There are never enough Early Adopter customers to be an attractive market.  However, these customers are valuable since they will help you to figure out how to reach the bigger market later on of the pragmatic ‘Mainstream Customer’.

Know thy customer
Knowing the difference between the characteristics of an ‘Early Adopter ‘ from  a ‘Mainstream Customer’ holds the key for getting across Moore’s ‘Chasm’ or the ‘Valley of Death.’  Here is how he defines both customer types:

Early Adopters … buy into new product concepts very early in their life cycle … they are people who find it easy to imagine, understand and appreciate the benefits of a new technology, and can relate these potential benefits to their concerns … [They] do not rely on well-established references in making … buying decisions, preferring instead to rely on their own intuition and vision…”1

“[Mainstream Customers] … are driven by a strong sense of practicality.  They know that many of these newfangled inventions end up as passing fads, so they are content to wait and see how other people are making out before they buy in themselves.  They want to see well-established references before investing substantially.”1

Tips for winning ‘Mainstream Customers’
The following tips have been field tested and shown to work.  They are based in part on the insights gained from knowing the difference on what it takes to appeal to your first customers and what is compelling to all the rest.

      • Build early credibility using Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s). – Learn who these people are from your first customers (you might think that you know who they are already, just validate this with these customers first).  Engage with these Key Opinion Leaders through collaborations, sponsorships and other ways (see  blog post ‘The Key to Key Opinion Leaders’ ) and get their endorsements and testimonials.
    • Get published – There is no better way to validate the impact of your new product though publication.  Work with your beta-evaluators and early customers to help them to publish.  Academic journal publications are most desirable but look to get poster presentations, articles in trade publications (printed and electronic) as well.  As good as the papers that your own scientists are publishing, the ones by outside investigators will hold the most value for the ‘mainstream customer’.
    • Stay visible while building credibility – Start a blog where you r scientists can showcase their mastery of this field of study and how your products are impacting your customers. (Be sure to keep your blog posts free of anything that looks and feels like an advertisement, keep this about the science)Where possible, see if you can get early customers and Key Opinion Leaders to be guest bloggers for you by submitting a post or two.


Picture Credit:  © Poscreate | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos