To start, be creative by understanding new use cases in a variety of industries for a certain product or service, which has a wealth of possibilities. However, it is easier said than done for niche-market products, like global SMS messaging (typically used for authentication, KYC, collection, marketing, notifications, reminders, transactions, etc.) I’ve found that the best source of idea is speaking with your customers. Talk to them about ideas that they might have, as they are the people using the product and you might come up with a novel idea (see Barking case study.)
Take a look at SMS use in logistics, for example: Package delivery is the most common use case, but there are alternative uses, such as sending tracking codes and links to the delivery progress. Now, how many other companies exist that could give their customers the option to track their package with an SMS tracking code? Or send a specific link? This type of deductive thinking can lead to new industries, or sub-industries, that have a need for a specific way of utilizing the product you sell.
It’s also important to keep an open mind at all times. For example: A very common product for banks has a place in agriculture as well. SMS is a regular tool that banks use for customer communication and payment reminders, but is also used in agriculture --for farmers advice, weather updates, or production related reminders. Here, I’ve taken a broad use case, reminders, and narrowed it down to another industry that most people wouldn’t think of.
Next, our sales lab dedicates time to finding new details and information about potential clients, giving us a better understanding of their business needs.
We recently acquired Alexa’s Site Overview tool (from Amazon) to better understand where a prospect’s core website traffic originates. This gives us insight into their client's’ specific needs, and gives us an opportunity to contrast our services to their market. In regards to SMS delivery, for example, we compare how we know clients use the service (hence why I recommended talking to you current customers earlier,) to possible problems the service could alleviate with prospects (i.e., shortcodes, alphanumeric sender names, or detailed delivery reports.)
The same applies to any expansions that might have been mentioned in the company’s news, social media accounts, or in any other medium, as these actions need valid intel on new markets. A proven positive history in the region can directly help the client optimize their product use, and avoid potential increases in costs (i.e. short-code registrations costs that tend to be quite expensive, and might require the client to reconsider their product use).
Any idea that helps expand the scope of research, find new businesses we could help, or industries whose problems we could tackle, is worth dedicating a chunk of the 30% of sales lab time. The same goes for information about companies that gives us knowledge of the difficulties they currently have, or might have, since it enables us to validate our own abilities to help. This way, the approaches we do are more relevant to prospects and have an actual business value now (or maybe in the future.)