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Geoffrey Moore on finding your beachhead, crossing the chasm, and dominating a market

Geoffrey Moore on finding your beachhead, crossing the chasm, and dominating a market


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Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker, and advisor, widely known for his seminal book Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers, which many consider the most important book ever written on go-to-market strategy. Moore’s work is focused on the market dynamics surrounding disruptive innovations, and how one overcomes the challenge of transitioning from serving early adopters to the mainstream. In this episode, we discuss:

• What “crossing the chasm” means

• What steps to take before you try crossing the chasm

• The importance of winning a marquee customer

• The role of executive sponsors in the sales process

• The differences between visionaries and pragmatists, and how to build for each

• Geoffrey’s four go-to-market playbooks based on stage: Early Market, Bowling Alley, Tornado, and Main Street

• The problem with discounting before crossing the chasm

• “Deadly sins” to avoid when crossing the chasm

Some takeaways:

  1. The “chasm” is the gap between success with early adopters and success with the mainstream market. Crossing the chasm requires selling to “pragmatist customers” who, unlike early adopters, will not buy on the basis of a vision. Instead, pragmatists need a “compelling reason to buy” and a high degree of trust in the technology.

  2. To be successful, you want a target segment that is big enough to matter, small enough to lead, and a good fit with your crown jewels.

  3. Create a compelling reason to buy by addressing a critical problem or pain point for customers. Then build relationships with marquee customers and use their success stories as references to attract other customers.

  4. When crafting a GTM strategy, ensure that the entire team is aligned around one playbook (the Early Market playbook, the Bowling Alley playbook, the Tornado playbook, or the Main Street playbook). What works in one stage will likely underperform in others, and combining playbooks can actually undermine success.

  5. The only reason you need venture capital is if (a) the technology is too expensive and you cannot self-fund it or (b) your product is going to catch fire too quickly. If done correctly, crossing the chasm should be inexpensive. Strive for cash-flow-positive and aim to change the value state of your company to attract investors and avoid constant fundraising.

  6. Discounting is not effective before crossing the chasm, as it does not reduce risk. In fact, it might even increase risk if vendors compromise on important aspects, such as support or scope, leading to potential challenges when trying to navigate the unique dynamics of crossing the chasm.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Overcast, and YouTube.

Where to find Geoffrey Moore:

• X: https://twitter.com/geoffreyamoore

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffreyamoore/

• LinkedIn posts: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffreyamoore/recent-activity/articles/

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• X: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Geoffrey’s background

(04:03) What people often get wrong about Crossing the Chasm

(05:58) Finding your beachhead segment

(09:29) The four inflection points of the technology adoption lifestyle

(15:45) Geoffrey’s bonfire and bowling alley analogies

(18:36) Steps to take before trying to cross the chasm

(22:19) Signs you’re ready to cross the chasm

(25:19) Advice for startups on where to start

(27:31) Thoughts on venture capital

(27:53) A general timeline for crossing the chasm

(30:52) What exactly is the “chasm”?

(32:35) The difference between visionaries and pragmatists

(36:05) Finding the compelling reason to buy

(43:45) The Early Market playbook

(45:46) The Bowling Alley playbook

(48:39) Different sales approaches for early market and bowling alley

(51:26) Changing the value state of the company

(53:28) The Tornado playbook

(57:35) Why combining playbooks doesn’t work

(59:10) Using generative AI in different market phases

(01:03:02) The risks of discounting

(01:04:21) Other “deadly sins” of crossing the chasm

(01:09:09) Positioning in crossing the chasm

(01:10:36) Product-led growth and crossing the chasm

(01:13:54) The challenges of software and entrepreneurship

(01:16:35) How Geoffrey’s thinking has evolved

(01:19:30) The importance of entrepreneurship and impact

(01:20:42) His book The Infinite Staircase

(01:23:58) Connect with Geoffrey Moore


Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers: https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Chasm-3rd-Disruptive-Mainstream/dp/0062292986

• Oracle: https://www.oracle.com/

• Documentum: https://www.opentext.com/products/documentum

• Figma: https://www.figma.com/

• Notion: https://www.notion.so/

• Salesforce: https://www.salesforce.com/

• Intel: https://www.intel.com/

• Jason Fried challenges your thinking on fundraising, goals, growth, and more: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/jason-fried-challenges-your-thinking-on-fundraising-goals-growth-and-more/

• The Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/

• Coda: https://coda.io/

• An inside look at how Figma ships product: https://coda.io/@yuhki/figma-product-roadmap

• Dylan Field on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dylanfield/

• Regis McKenna on Crunchbase: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/regis-mckenna-inc

• Andrew Grove: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Grove

• A step-by-step guide to crafting a sales pitch that wins | April Dunford (author of Obviously Awesome and Sales Pitch): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-crafting-a-sales-pitch-that-wins-april-dunford-author-of-obviously-awesom/

Sales Pitch: How to Craft a Story to Stand Out and Win: https://www.amazon.com/Sales-Pitch-Craft-Story-Stand/dp/1999023021

• B2B Go-to-Market Playbooks and the Technology Adoption Life Cycle: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/b2b-go-to-market-playbooks-technology-adoption-life-cycle-moore/

• Juniper: https://www.juniper.net/us/en.html

• Sal Khan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/khanacademy/

• Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/

• How the Star Wars Kessel Run Turns Han Solo Into a Time-Traveler: https://www.wired.com/2013/02/kessel-run-12-parsecs/

• Atlassian: https://www.atlassian.com/

• Martin Casado on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martincasado/

The Infinite Staircase: What the Universe Tells Us About Life, Ethics, and Mortality: https://www.amazon.com/Infinite-Staircase-Universe-Ethics-Mortality/dp/1950665984

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.