A Road Map to Evidence-Based Startup Success

April 3, 2017

10:30 am

Evidence is vital for a startup to keep growing. Startups are regularly making enterprise-level sales at every stage of the cycle, from initial conversations with potential prospects to account growth, and without a little information, the wrong decision is only a meeting away.

The primary indicator of insufficient evidence is prospects continually asking for validation of a product’s claims. After all, B2B models are rigorous, and there’s no room for hope when the bottom line is at stake. On the flip side, strong evidence can separate you from the competition and give your customers confidence while communicating your startup’s expertise.

The importance of research-based evidence is heaviest in healthcare technology, where decision makers are accustomed to clinical trial-level evidence. That said, evidence is equally important in all industries. Here’s how to utilize it at every step of your startup’s growth:

Getting in the Front Door

Lead with research-based proof of value creation that addresses a current problem for your client. Then, you'll be able to get a second meeting by addressing a long-standing pain point the organization has struggled with. Potential partners will judge your credibility by the level of evidence you cite upfront.

Although the randomized controlled trial — in which participants are arbitrarily sorted into treatment or placebo groups — is the gold standard of clinical evidence, the model can be extended to the rest of the technology world. RCTs tease out variables that could skew your data and can put a prospective customer’s mind at ease. However, the evidence you quote must mirror your audience’s situation.

Budget Approval

Make sure your finance people know to make sure there’s probable ROI for every budgeted line item. Give them what they need! Help them defend the decision to purchase your product with logic and financial modeling.

Use a consultative approach to determine what effects your product can have on the financial people's bottom line and whether an opportunity exists for top-line growth. Build a spreadsheet comparing your product’s value with its cost. Include industry-accepted assumptions with references and the evidence that your product has proven itself in similar situations. Along with price, consider employee allocation — efficiency is the path to large corporations’ hearts.

Users Need to Buy In

After you’ve signed a contract, post-purchase adoption of new tech is how you get users to realize the value of your product. The best-case scenario is that you engaged users during the decision-making process and they’re excited to get started. But that’s not always the case.

If users see your product as something to stress about, testimonials can be the most valuable evidence. Give users a case study, and reference anecdotes of users with similar roles. Your end users generally won’t have budget oversight, so restrict the evidence to how your product can save time and make their jobs easier.

Let Your Accounts Grow

Your ability to scale is how you grow accounts — communication with the lead decision maker is key. Even if you can’t meet with the purchasing authority in person, keep them updated with reports of progress and value created. During implementation, goals should be explicitly laid out for the term of your agreement. These reports should address progress toward achieving those goals.

When you identify additional opportunities for your product’s use, decision makers must be confident your product will continue producing positive effects. This confidence comes from seeing evidence that the product is already providing value.

About half of startup businesses last longer than four years. Beat the odds by building your startup’s own road map to success. Provide evidence that your product works and that it positively affects a company’s bottom line — and that it can grow to meet companies’ evolving needs.

Read more about startup success here on Tech.Co 

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Joe McDonald is co-founder of Epharmix, a company at the intersection of medicine and consumer technology offering interventions that use automated phone calls or text messages to monitor patients’ conditions while collecting disease-specific data. With interventions designed by leading doctors and clinically proven at medical institutions, every patient can benefit from Epharmix.