The seven secrets of success when taking a product to market

SEaB Energy CEO, Sandra Sassow, led the sixth seminar for our 2015 cohort of entrepreneurs in the Catalyst Centre.

Founded in 2009, SEaB Energy is the latest venture for Sandra and Nick Sassow who have both had prestigious careers, initially in global blue chip companies before running a thriving property business and then creating SEaB. The multiple award winning company specialises in renewable energies and energy from waste and is based at the University of Southampton Science Park.

As CEO, Sandra looks after the commercial side of the business, whilst Nick, who invented the technology, takes care of all the engineering. Sandra’s experience, which has seen her fast become acknowledged as an industry leader, provided an excellent insight into the trials and tribulations of running a business. Her presentation on how best to launch a product was well received by the Catalyst team and so here, we summarise her top tips for successfully taking a product to market.

Sell Straight Away

Never wait for the finished product – sell from the outset. No matter whether you’re developing software or hardware, go to market confidentially from day one. Of course, it’s imperative to do your market research straight away so that you have a thorough insight into gaps in the market and how your concept can solve a particular problem for your target audience. Always relate your product to the problem and start selling!

Create Case Studies 

Use your networks and connections to create real life case studies. Be willing to provide your product or solution for free if it means the customer will create a testimonial for you to use for future selling or to help you apply for grant funding. Create your case studies based on the implementation of your product, clearly demonstrating how it has solved a problem and the positive outcomes for your client.

Perfect Presentations 

As the CEO of a company it is a requirement to be confident presenting yourself, your company and your product in front of others, no matter whether they are grant boards, buyers or suppliers. The ability to answer questions on the spot is vital too – it gives an air of authority and reassures the listener that you know your marketplace. This will help them to feel comfortable about dealing with you. So, if you feel you lack confidence when presenting, start practicing or go on a training course.

Understand the Problem

The key to any sales meeting is to understand the customer’s problem and position your company in such a way that they clearly understand how you can help them. Never be tempted to discuss the technical components of your product as the customer is usually not interested. A good place to start is to work out how much money the product will save them and demonstrate how it will achieve this goal.

Always Deliver 

There is nothing worse than a CEO promising the earth and then not delivering the results. Always be realistic, know your strengths and weaknesses and deliver what you say you will. It’s especially important to be honest about these when applying for funding: if you say you are applying to invest in new employees to engineer a product, do exactly this.

Build Reputation

Positive or negative, your reputation can go a long way – so ensure you build a positive one from the word go! Use your network to spread the word and use online marketing at each business stage. Social media is fast becoming the best way to build awareness and reputation so embrace it. Update your channels regularly with news and progression, interact with others in your industry, and encourage customers to review you online.

Interact with UKTI

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) helps UK-based exporters succeed globally and assists overseas companies to bring high quality investment to the UK. As a technology company you should always be interacting with UKTI as they can help in numerous ways.  For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-tradeinvestment.

We appreciate Sandra taking the time to lead the discussion about taking a product to market for our Catalyst Centre tenants. SEaB is an inspirational company and we’d encourage you to find out more about them at: http://seabenergy.com.

Not ones to rest on our laurels, next week the Catalyst Centre will be focused on finance.  Look out for our next blog, where we will be giving an overview of a seminar led by Andy Jay, Partner at Fiander Tovell LLP, Chartered Accountants.