Chicken and egg · Consumer Products

Product vs. Sales?

Maja Rašić QA Tester

October 24th, 2016

While the most difficult thing about building a business is getting people to convert, the next most difficult thing is to build a product. Classic chicken and egg scenario: if I don’t have a product, how can I sell to customers? It makes sense that we should be naturally inclined to focus our full attention on buildings products as products captivate us as consumers alike. Articulating a sales funnel is every bit as important as building product. With this been said, in your eyes which one of the two should take priority during the early days of a startup?

Rob G

October 24th, 2016

it's not that black and white.  It's an iterative process, but sales should drive/influence your product dev not the other way around.  you should strive to makes sales (ideally) or at least get significant customer commitment before you build your MVP.  

Steve Owens Startup Expert

October 24th, 2016

There are many ways to do this.  The exact strategy depends on the product/market/etc - B2B is very different than B2C.  Best book on the subject is "The Lean Startup".  You may also want to look at the some of the startup websites like 1M/1M.

Basically, build something quick, see what people think, use that to leverage your next step, repeat.  


October 25th, 2016

Depends on what you and your team “REALLY” know about the market/customer you intend to serve.

If the customer does not know "what the product provides", because he/she has no reference or experience, but you think you know, then the product comes first... this was Steve Job's view on what he built at Apple. He did not believe in User-groups, as he was creating something the users did not yet understand or comprehend till they had it in hand.

If you don’t “REALLY” know, then you need to tap the customer experience/insight. Note that in both cases he/she is often not after the product itself, but "what the product provides" him/her. So you could engage with the customer first to find out is the "what the product provides" that the customer is after, then build it.

eg. A Drill is a product that makes a hole... the customer is after the hole, not the drill. If you know he’s after the hole, build the drill, if you don’t know he is after a hole, ask him, then build the drill.

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

October 24th, 2016

It seems odd to sell before you have a basic product. As Rob says, your sales is an outgrowth of that because you need to understand the markets (their pain and pleasure) you are pursuing before you finalize the product. 

Kevin Carney Content Marketing works, but needs better tools.

October 24th, 2016

Read The Lean Startup. Pay particular attention to chapter 6 (MVP) and 7 (Measure). Read chapter 7 twice. Your question is answered by that book, and very well.