A simple way to tell where your customers are on the technology adoption curve is to assess the degree of proof they require prior to making a purchase.
For example, very early in the development of a market, when you are presenting to Innovators and Early Adopters, they will buy after seeing brief Vision Generation demos: “Oooooo, this looks really good – I gotta get me some of that…!”
Early Majority prospects will require a deeper demo – a Technical Proof demo – to make sure that the capabilities they feel they need are present and work correctly.
You’ll know that you are moving into the middle of the Majority group when you begin to get consistent requests for POC’s and similar trials of your tools in their hands.
And you’ve hit the Late Majority, in many cases, when you begin to receive piles of RFP’s (oh the horror…!). Let’s not even talk about the Laggards, who will want all of the above plus written guarantees – and then delay purchase until it is absolutely necessary for them...
Note that each vertical that you sell into may reflect its own technology adoption curve and timeline. Also note that as you proceed from left to right on the curve (Innovators to Early Adopters to Early Majority to Late Majority to Laggards), the degree of proof (and accompanying vendor resources) required increases rather dramatically!
[Note also that if you are unfamiliar with the above terms, it is high time to read a copy of Geoffrey Moore’s seminal work “Crossing the Chasm”!]
[Amusing sub-note: the last time I visited Buck’s Café in Woodside California I happened to note that he is/was still using a DOS-based cash register – full-on Laggard material! And Buck’s Café is, of course, the heart of connecting, company formation and deal-making in Silicon Valley – the irony is delightful! I asked Jamis, Buck’s proprietor, why he is still using a DOS-based system in the center of innovation? He said, “because it works…!”]