Working With a Founder Who Is Too Obsessed With His Product

Working With a Founder Who Is Too Obsessed With Their Product

Enthusiasm, passion, and motivation are the pillars on which real companies are built. When this turns into obsession, it can very quickly turn the whole environment, extremely toxic. This needs to be factored in during the prospecting stage of your sales funnel. In this article, we discuss an actual sale that went south very quickly. If you are an agency or an employee, you can completely relate to this, and if you have not been in such kind of a situation then use this as a guideline for prevention.

We were introduced to a founder of a company that used to deal with products in the feminine hygiene space by an intermediary that was scouting for agencies who could execute digital marketing campaigns for product promotions throughout India. We were asked to present our recommendations, based on which we were introduced to the gentleman who built this company from scratch.

The story around the product was great, the founder had a background in the manufacturing space and the idea struck him when he was visiting a village in some part of rural India. Clearly, that was an overwhelming emotional backdrop to this product. Every part of the product had been envisioned and developed in-house i.e. it was completely “Made in India”. There was a lot of Research and Development along with A/B testing that went along. The website, social media, and the marketplace were being handled by the founder.  It would be safe to say that he was a very hands-on person having insight in different stages – research, manufacturing, sales, and distribution as well as accounting. We had 3 interactive meetings in our office when the product samples were shown to us and every time we tried to put our point across, our point was not being taken in the right spirit. This should have been the first yellow flag that should have been noticed. Like always we were confident that we would let our numbers do all the talking and put all unnecessary inhibitions to rest. It took us some to assure the founder that his product was in safe hands and we knew what we were doing.

We bagged the deal and it was decided that we would run some experimental campaigns leveraging the existing data and audience, along with setting up new audiences based on mutually agreed strategies. A roadmap for 6 + 6 months was set up along with the KPI’s and targets.

The team was excited and pumped up, as everyone likes to work on products that actually make a difference and add value to someone’s life. This was an opportunity for us to take a small brand and make it big. After having worked in this space for so long (along with developing 5 products of our own in the past 5 years) and seeing multiple successes and failures, we have a slight idea if the product can be pushed, and all parameters seemed to be in the right place. Little did we know that it is the founder that would prove to be the biggest impediment and roadblock in taking the product to new heights.

 

The action plan included –

  • Revamping the complete website, as the current one looked as if it was built by an 8-year-old.
  • Content had to be created to let the world know about the story of the brand. There was a beautiful story that needed to be told to the world.
  • Packaging of the product needed to be made more in sync wins the modern standards, as currently, it looked like a packed printer cartridge!
  • Creating branding guidelines across all platforms
  • Leveraging social media as the mouthpiece for the brand across various relevant channels
  • Optimization of the marketplace along with reputation management
  • Tying up the online and offline channels to build a better relationship with the client

 

We were planning to improve and optimize all the touchpoints to actually give the user a customer experience that could help set apart the product (other companies were also selling a similar product).

All the above activities were well within the budget that the client had, and even the intermediates (who facilitated this relationship) liked our approach and wanted us to get started.

As soon as the execution began, the founder got cold feet and asked us to stay away from the website as well the marketplace and asked us to work on some sample graphics which for obvious reasons never moved ahead. After 5 weeks of back and forth and multiple variations, we were told by the founder that he would not like to continue. When asked for feedback the email went unanswered, when asked for clearance of dues we had to take a huge haircut for no apparent reason and settle.

Such situations can be extremely demotivating for the team that works for you and you miss on the opportunity cost, along with damaging your top line of revenue.

Post this situation we have created a checklist inside our sales team to ensure that such leads are filtered out during the prospecting stage itself.

 

  • Is the person passionate about the problem being solved or is obsessed with the product? This does not take too long to find out.
  • How comfortable is the person letting go of some control, is there some resistance or huge resistance? Try to ask for credentials to look at some numbers, you will get a fair idea.
  • What is the ultimate vision? You can again find out if it’s the passion that is driving this or obsession.
  • Is he a healthy competitor or a sore loser? Usually, you will get an answer to it when you strike a conversation around competitors. Our best clients not only know their competitors but also respect them, and feel good when they do good. In this case, the competitors were called cheap Chinese exports/copycats.
  • What is your take on negative reviews around your brand (if any)? Any negative review online is called part of a competitor’s strategy or a dumb user. This is slightly hard to believe.

A more detailed list is sent to a lead that shows interest in working with us.

Clearly working with the wrong client can be demotivating, uninspiring, and can make your office toxic. As they say that prevention is better than cure, the same logic applies here. If you have had such encounters yourself, or are currently stuck up with such elements do feel free to share your stories, we understand that this can be hard.

For those who have not fallen for this – either you have gotten your prospecting absolutely bang-on or have been simply lucky for the time being. Nonetheless, if you feel you need a checklist like ours do contact us at hello@dignitas.digital.