Technology Development – Rookie Mistake #1

October 17th, 2014

Technology development can be fun, exciting, cutting edge, and all that good stuff, but you’re nothing if you don’t know your hustle. Selling your technology and the promise of an exciting new frontier is a must. But how competitive is your mojo? If you want to be a player, you’d better get your game on.

Assessing your game position is critical. Don’ be tricked by your ego – a classic rookie mistake. It can make you totally misread your position, leading to missed opportunities.

So I’ve setup a dead easy framework to get your ego out of the way. It’s a method that hits close to home and if it makes you cringe – that’s the idea – to get your honest attention. This is falling off a log simple – no 2X2 matrices, no books to read, no lookup tables – just dead easy. Simply put, just match your situation to one of three positions below. Here’s the lineup:

1. Burning Desire – the obvious position of choice. You have something that your prospects can’t live without, meaning it’s a fundamental part of their product’s value proposition. They will fly across country to see you, get to know your technology, and make it fit in with their needs. They’ll use meaningful resources to help you design and test your product, be highly interested in partnering, and in speeding the development timeline. They love the performance, the cost, and the risk profile. When you’re in this position, you totally know it. No geeky evaluation process required. Yes, you have the mojo. From this point, your move is simple – make sure you totally understand what keeps that flame burning, and make sure you don’t blow your risk profile.

2. Marriage Material – a very respectable position. Your technology solves a problem with some measurable value. More importantly, it is a competitive solution in terms of benefit/risk or benefit/cost. An important distinction between this position and Burning Desire, however, is that your prospects can survive without your solution. Although your solution provides value, they can ship their product and make a profit without it, so small bumps in cost, risk, or schedule can easily result in cold feet; you need to recognize this vulnerability. In this position, ensure that you partner well with your prospects to closely manage performance, risk, cost, and schedule, without over burdening their overall goals.

And now, for the final position, representing classic Rookie Mistake #1…

Drum roll please…

more drum roll…

and…

it’s…

the…

wait for it…

almost there…

hang on…

FRIEND ZONE!!!…

Ohhhhhhhhhhh – Ouch…

3. The Friend Zone – an unfortunate outcome. And it will burn your resources over the long haul with a painfully (did I mention painfully?) disappointing conclusion of zilch. The most important tactic you have here is to stay out of this zone!

The first sign that you’re heading for the Friend Zone, is that your prospects tell you to keep up the good work because your technology is nice, but they won’t commit their time or resources. You need to test the waters – ask if they are willing to buy a small sample, test some aspect of your design, review your technology with their staff etc. Engagement allows them to see you as a real partner, thinking through the real benefits and risks/costs of your technology, to get beyond the “nice” conversation. Without engagement, your technology is simply a fun conversation. Forget that! You want to move toward Burning Desire and stop wasting your time with just the pleasantries!

So just remember – when you’re patting yourself on the back about how many people “like” your technology – do a quick check. Are you in the Friend Zone? Be honest. It could mean the difference between talking about all the pleasantries for months that eventually add up to zilch, or adjusting your strategy to find some real opportunities.

Good Luck!!!

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