The Secret to Shorter Time to Value

Instead of focusing on time to value, focus on time to "first" value, and then build from there.


Joseph Loria

6/3/20232 min read

Time to Value is mostly about Time to FIRST Value. Because you simply cannot deliver all of your value to your customer right away.

Ever read “The 4 Disciplines of Execution?” If not, go educate yourself about the “whirlwind,” which consumes the far majority of anyone’s work day. Your customers have minimal bandwidth for anything new, and that includes you and your fancy new product.

In a prior post, I made the case for Time to Value (TTV) being the primary predictor of Gross Revenue Retention. That premise is simple – if customers don’t see quick (and real) value from their purchase, they’ll cancel at the first opportunity.

Despite this clear connection, time to value still isn’t measured at many companies. Take the recent example of a company selling annual subscriptions of an enterprise application, only to direct those customers to technical support for a chaotic 9-month onboarding, broken up into 1-hour meetings. True story.

But even when TTV is focused on and measured, time to value is still a struggle for many.

Take another example, a company selling a broad suite into multi-location businesses:

  • They get it.

  • They have a TTV focus.

  • They have dedicated resources.

And yet, implementations take months, and months. In fact, customers commonly say they’re “exhausted” after a while and want to “take a break” from implementing more.

  • I asked, “What are you implementing?”

  • “Well, everything they bought.”

  • “Ok, but what are the three things they get the most value from right away?”

  • With no hesitation, the employee rattled off three modules.

  • I asked “And how long does it take to get those three up and running?”

  • “A few weeks.”

And there it was: First Value. And Time to First Value? Weeks, not months.

The key is in understanding those initial first use cases that drive immediate value.

You’re probably familiar with the general flow of business value realization:

Usage -> Process Change -> KPI Change -> Value Realization

The company was trying to drive ALL usage to then drive ALL process change so the customer could realize ALL value. Instead, simply run a series of smaller value realization chains in series, building one value win after another.

Customers only become “exhausted” from implementation because they haven’t yet realized the value. If they realize the value at each step along the way, they’re much less likely to stop and are more likely to keep pushing.

Start with figuring out your FIRST value, and build from there.