How to unlock product market fit and scale your B2B sales

If you’ve been asking questions like, how will I know when I find a product market fit? How long should I explore before launching? Or what should I initially price my product? These are all questions that founders have asked, and below are the answers from the founders who’ve figured it out.

Wouldn’t it be great if the market lit up like a gameshow when you introduce your product, signaling that you’re onto something with confetti and flashing lights? 

Realistically, this isn’t the case. 

One of the most popular definitions of product market fit is, “You’ll know it when you see it.” But to ​Carol Malakasis, founder of Market Pull, a consultancy for startups, that’s not helpful, especially for first-time founders. “How will you know it when you see it if you’ve never seen it before?”

Thankfully, real founders have seen it (and made the mistakes) to pave the way for others, discussing as much on a panel hosted by Karen Chi, the founder of Karen Chi Consulting, at New York Tech week. 

If you’ve been asking questions like, how will I know when I find a product market fit? How long should I explore before launching? Or what should I initially price my product? These are all questions that founders have asked, and below are the answers from the founders who’ve figured it out.

  1. Aim beyond product market fit

It may feel counterintuitive, but your best bet is getting comfortable with the idea that you will never find product market fit—and seeing that as a good thing. Only then will your product continue to become more valuable over time. 

“I tell our team that we will never find product market fit,” says ​Nick Ornitz, co-founder and CEO at Topline Pro, an all-in-one home service business marketing platform. “It’s important not to get complacent, to think you’re there and stop innovating.”

Yes, there might be signals you’re onto something like there were with Ornitz’s first product, which saw immediate gravitation and genuine excitement from the market and led to referrals soon after (versus the one before that, which felt like pushing a boulder up a hill).

But the mindset of successful founders? “The right mentality is we’re never really going to get there,” says Malakasis.

  1. Start selling as soon as possible 

​Raghav Poddar, founder and CEO at SuperOrder, an all-in-one management software for restaurants, recalls wasting too much time in the exploring phase, trying different ways to make their product more valuable before seeing if the market found value in it. 

His advice? “Start selling as soon as possible.” 

“Even with a bare-bones landing page or a simple Squarespace website, start selling the product and see how the market responds to it,” advises Poddar. “When you hit the market, you will get feedback, and that feedback cycle will improve your product or feature far faster than if you sit and explore.” 

Malakasis sees a tendency among founders to want all the bells and whistles. But the truth is: “Your early adopters never buy because your product is where it’s supposed to be. They buy because they love your story and mission and want to be part of that journey with you.”

  1. Price higher than you think

When Poddar first started, they priced cheaply, then doubled it, and then tripled it. And nothing changed. Conversion rates and close rates all remained the same. Why? The customer values it differently because you’re solving a pain point for them. 

“Until people give you a pricing objection, you just keep going higher,” suggests Malakasis, who served as a Go-To-Market (GTM) coach for both Super Order and Topline. “You’ll be surprised, as long as there’s value, how much people are willing to pay.” She adds that contrary to popular belief, there’s no science behind proper pricing. It’s all just testing. “The market will answer how much people are willing to pay for it.”

And by charging initially, you’re more likely to understand demand. 

One mistake that Ornitz made was giving away his product for free. They got good feedback when the product was complimentary, but when they later tried to charge for it, no one wanted to pay, realizing they had spent six months building the wrong thing. 

  1. Try different sales strategies before giving up

Your ideal customer might love conferences or has never been to one. They might thrive on LinkedIn, or last logged in a decade ago.

The point is, “Try different sales strategies before you write off an idea or the current product iteration,” suggests Poddar. 

For Ornitz, email wasn’t working, and they were seeing a 0.01% reply rate to their first 1,000 emails. Then, they tried a different tactic, embedding videos into their email, and their reply rate went up to 4%. “We were banging our heads on the wall until we tried something different that caused it to work,” Ornitz recalls. 

He adds that you also benefit from trying a few channels rather than relying on one. And it doesn’t always have to be a major investment. 

At the first tradeshow Ornitz attended, he and his co-founder went without a booth, simply walking around and talking to contractors. When they eventually got a booth, Ornitz found the most success in gamifying their presence. What worked? Holding a contest to win a prize. Though the prize had nothing to do with their product, they knew it would intrigue their target audience. So when people would write their names down to enter, Ornitz and his team used the time to ask them questions and do discovery. 

  1. Be honest about your customer feedback

Gather data from conversations with buyers to see whether their eyes light up when they talk about or use your product, suggests Poddar. If they don’t light up or buy, understanding why is essential. 

“If they don’t even want to talk to you, they may not care about your product,” says Poddar, “But if they’re interested in giving you feedback, that means they care about the problem, and maybe your product just isn’t there (yet), giving you the signal to iterate.”

Something that trips up some founders at this stage is mistaking a lack of interest for a lack of need. “If they didn’t sign up, is it because you don’t have that feature? Or is it just that the problem you’re solving isn’t big enough for them?” Ornitz poses. 

His advice: “Be honest about customer feedback, and don’t mask it in feature building.”

Making scaling easier 

Scaling as a founder is tough, but you can make it easier by celebrating the hard parts. 

For Ornitz, that’s cold calling, so his team created a compilation video of all of the crazy things contractors tell their sales representatives and then play at a company all hands to celebrate the absurdity, reminding everyone that they’re together on this journey. 

And if you need a place to celebrate, ideate, and scale, discover why the world’s most innovative companies call WeWork home.

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