Wendy Kennedy has a good reminder on her blog this morning to understand (amongst the many things you need to understand about your customer) ship cycles. Many industries have fairly rigid ship cycles, and you need to be ready to insert yourself into them during the short windows that open up. For instance,
Telecom players (in Canada, anyway) tend to introduce new products in the 3rd quarter. They don’t touch their networks at all during the last quarter, because the holiday season is their heaviest selling season. They conduct trials of new products in the first quarter. Armed with that knowledge, you know that you need to be educating them about your product in the second / third quarter, negotiating the trial deal in the 4th, and getting the trial started in Q1 of the following year. It’s a minimum 12 month cycle to bring a new product to market with these guys.
Similarly, PC manufacturers introduce new products in the third quarter (for the back to school season). You need to negotiate any OEM deals in Q1, and deliver code before the end of Q2.
Keep your eyes open for Wendy’s new book, by the way. She’s been dropping hints about it on her blog.