Tag, You’re It

At the beginning we had nothing.  No product.  No prospects.  Winston worked the phones diligently until one day he came to me.  “I need something — anything — to show a prospect.  What can you build?”

Tag, I’m it.  While he kept the prospect warm I took a week and cobbled together a simple product demo.  This demo was just a website and no backend.  I could log in during a demo and play the part of the website, shuffling data, pressing buttons, and given the illusion that something really cool was going on.  This was good enough for Winston.

Tag, you’re it.  Winston worked the phones, gave demos, and figured out what pain points and problems are customers were having.  Then one day he came to me.  “I have a prospect who wants to do a small trial.  Kick the tires.  Can you build this for me?”

Tag, I’m it.  Obviously the approach we took for the demo wouldn’t cut it.  Winston gave me a very specific list of what the prospect was expecting to see and would do with the technology.  This was useful since I could build exactly what was needed without guessing anything more.  A couple of weeks later I had a working prototype that could withstand the tire kicking.  It wasn’t general, but it solved this one prospect’s very specific set of requirements.

Tag, you’re it.  Winston went back to working the phones.  He could run very focused demos with the simple prototype and give access to prospects to kick the tires.  Most importantly, he could now gather information about what prospects liked and disliked.  This kept him busy for a few more weeks.

Then he came to me once again.  “I think what our market really needs is analytics.  This is what they are asking for.”  He rattled off a list of specific features.  “Can you build that?”

Tag, I’m it.  I went back to work.  A few weeks later I had the basic analytics working on top of the prototype.  This was good enough for Winston to go away and learn more about our market.

Tag, you’re it.  Winston spent a few weeks demoing the analytics features.  Then he comes to me.  “I have a potential customer.  They will buy if we can do…” and then he rattled off a list of very specific features.

Tag, I’m it.  With our first customer on the line, I spent a few weeks building these specific features while Winston kept the customer warm.  When the work was done, Winston felt that not only would it meet this customer’s needs, but those of a few other prospects in his pipe.

Tag, you’re it.  While Winston focused on selling I made sure that our existing customer’s tech didn’t fall over.  About a month later Winston came to me and said “I have two more customers signed up, but I’m not comfortable with the efficiency of the process.  I’m going to retool a bit.”

Wow — I’m not it.  I have time to fix up issues with the tech I wasn’t happy with before.  A few weeks to pay down the technical debt incurred as we iterated around customer wants.  Then Winston comes to me. “I’m much more comfortable with the sales process now.  I have a dozen companies ready to do paid pilots.  They will covert to paying customers as long as it does what we say it will do.”

This can be worrisome.  I prepare myself for another round of Tag, You’re it.  “And what did you tell them it will do?”  As Winston goes through his list I feel a weight lifting from my shoulders.

“That’s exactly what it will do” I said.

“I know” Winston grinned.

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