Marc Osofsky is senior vice president and general manager at Lionbridge, a $560 million public company, and the global leader in translation services. Osofsky recently spoke with SBI to discuss how he took a groundbreaking new product to market—and became the fastest growing division in the company. For guidance on how to participate in fast-growing product markets, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to the product planning section on page 112 of the PDF.
Lionbridge onDemand is the industry’s first e-commerce solution for translation services on all content types. Osofsky created an entirely new go-to-market model for this innovative product that blended inside sales and e-commerce. In addition, he was able to build a predictive sales model and grow revenues by 500 percent.
Finding the Opportunity
Companies looking to accelerate revenue growth with a new product improve their chances of success if they first get themselves in line with the external marketplace. Osofsky began by looking at the size of the overall market, and growth rates. “My bias is always to look for change,” he says. “It is really hard to get someone to buy a new product when everything’s going fine; they’re not under any pressure to change. That’s a very tough situation to go in and try to have a knife fight and get people to throw things out.” He also paid attention to behavioral changes in the marketplace. What were buyers doing differently? How could he use that to his advantage? Once Osofsky located the opportunity and recognized changes in behavior, he determined whether he would be able to win through testing. Lionbridge tests market solutions with a small investment first. The understanding from this initial assessment instilled the confidence to move forward in the process and invest more.
Turning the Vision into Reality
After locating a hidden growth opportunity, Osofsky collaborated with his CEO to build an entirely new business within the organization. “Not only was it a new business model, it challenged our existing model as well,” Osofsky says. “We took it in a stage-gate process. I didn’t try to go in with some big huge five-year plan asking for a massive amount of money,” he recalls. Osofsky was able to create buy-in and secure enough funding to create a minimal viable product. It was the smallest amount of investment needed to get the product to market and start selling.
Building a Road Map
As Osofsky moved forward with innovation, a consistent theme emerged. Every piece of the road map was designed to do one thing—make it easier for customers to accomplish their objectives. Osofsky operated in an agile way, which allowed him to create the product quickly with very little development effort. “That was key to our success, especially early on,” he explains. “We got to market quickly and avoided letting a big company with all of its interested parties put too much weight on something and crush it.”
The next step was pricing. Osofsky wanted to simplify the pricing model for his new product. He used a single flat price that allowed for instant quotes. Osofsky knew every customer would be buying the same product, so he was able to throw all the revenue and cost into a single bucket, and build the pricing from there.
Preparing to Launch
Once Osofsky realized he had a viable product, he needed to pour some gasoline on the fire. “We took much more of a sales-heavy model, if you’re looking at our mix between sales and marketing, and built the sales team,” he explains. It was challenging to create a predictable revenue model based on sales hires, and get that funded. A new model required proof. For that reason, the first year was all about capturing performance metrics and building a ramp curve for revenue.
Another key aspect of the success was Osofsky’s hiring profile. He understood the type of sales representative that would be most successful in his new model, and hired to that profile. Osofsky also structured his training for the new reps. They engaged in an intensive two-week process to learn exactly what they needed to know to succeed. Immediately following the two weeks, reps were on the phone selling.
Entering new markets with new products in pursuit of revenue growth is difficult. Osofsky succeeded at Lionbridge by using a well-thought out strategy. But don’t confuse simple with easy. Without a documented strategy, Osofsky would not have been able to build his new division, which is now at $100 million in revenue and still growing.
If you would like help with your Product Strategy approach, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to page 108 of the PDF to review the section on Product Strategy.
Make Your Number in 2017 - Special Strategic Planning Issue
Discover how the world’s top sales and marketing leaders meet aggressive revenue growth goals using our 10th annual workbook.