Every CEO is looking to ensure the success of their business. How does the CEO know where to focus their energy to make the biggest difference? Even though every business is different I’m going to simplify things for you.
Every business needs to address three primary factors in order to succeed. The three primary factors are the market, the solution, and the team. Let’s start with a simple framework before diving more deeply into each major factor.
- Market is shorthand for deeply understanding the target market you’re focused on, the actual buyers within your target market, and the problems those buyers face.
- Solution is shorthand for the product or service you bring to the target market to address the specific problems faced by the buyers of your solution.
- Team is shorthand for the people in your company. Often overlooked, this is the most important factor, as you’ll see below.
When the CEO focuses on these three issues, the company will succeed. Let’s go deeper into each part of this framework.
When you think about the market you serve, you’ll want to get very specific. For example, your target market might be companies between 100 and 1,000 employees in North America that sell a product to consumers via eCommerce. Try to get as specific as possible.
Note that when you choose your target market you are also choosing the markets you are not going to serve. You’re not serving companies under 100 employees, you’re not serving companies outside of North America and you’re not serving companies that don’t sell using eCommerce.
Within this target market, you’ll want to then define exactly who the buyers are. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume you only have one buyer. What is the typical title of that buyer? Choose the one that matters the most.
Next, explore and discover the problems your buyer faces. Once you have a very clear understanding of the challenges that a person deals with, you will know both the solution they seek and how to communicate the value of the solution you’ve created for them.
Often, I’ll talk about product-market fit (or solution-market fit). The second critical success factor is that you address your target buyer’s problem with something they love.
Think not just of the product you offer. Think of the “whole product”, or everything that encompasses the experience of the buyer. When selling something complex like enterprise software, that can include the onboarding process, support, licensing, invoicing, user experience, and other issues that are much more than the software itself.
Ultimately, you want to create a solution that is absolutely fine-tuned to address the specific challenges faced by the buyer within your target market.
But that’s not all. You can’t just build it, you need to promote it. And you need to address it using the language of the buyer, not your marketing team. For example, the buyer of your enterprise software doesn’t care if you use machine learning, run on AWS, and use GPU technology. What they care about is whether or not your solution solves their problem. They will look for companies that speak their language, not yours.
One of my CEO clients runs a highly technical software company. She determined that the most important asset within the company is people. She has adopted an overwhelming focus on talent acquisition and talent management. To prove her point she hired a world-class CHRO and made that person the highest-paid executive in the company.
This is the right approach. The most important thing you can do is attract the best talent and get the most out of that talent.
For the CEO, that work starts with their executive management team. The greatest leverage for a CEO is a highly-talented leadership team. As a CEO, you want to hire a great team that isn’t just great at their particular function but is a team that knows how to also build a great team under them.
A great team will work well together. A great team will come into alignment and focus on the things that are most important to the company. A great team will continually improve the people on the team.
If I had to choose one thing to focus on — the factor with the greatest impact — I’d focus on the team. If the target market isn’t working, a great team can find a better target market. If the solution isn’t working, a great team can design and deliver a better solution.
Most CEOs are continually focused on getting these three things right: the market, the solution, and the team. You can try to do it yourself, or you can get a CEO coach to guide you. When I was a CEO, I had a coach guide me through this. It made all the difference in my success.
Contact Glenn Gow, CEO & CEO Coach
Let’s talk. Let’s do a working session together so you can get a feel for how this works. Worst case, you’ll get real work done within our hour together. Best case, you’ll want to do this kind of work every week. Schedule a chat with me at calendly.com/glenngow.