Tag: Customer Discovery

The harder customers are to interview, the harder they’ll be to monetize. The process of finding customers to interview is a preview of what it will take to sell to your customers.

How to Find Customers to Interview

We know we need to “get out of the building”, but where do we go? From personal experience, finding customers who are willing to be interviewed is daunting.

Turns out, that’s one of my favorite things about interviewing customers!

The harder customers are to interview, the harder they’ll be to monetize. The process of finding customers to interview is a preview of what it will take to sell to our customers. Will we need to stand out on the street, do cold calls, create meetups? Just getting customer interviews is a test in-and-of-itself!

With that in mind, Customer Discovery Hack #2 is all about finding customers to interview, whether you’re B2B or B2C. This video, in partnership with Startup Weekend NEXT, will explain it all but the text version is below:

Before I get into the hacks, let me say introductions are almost always the quickest way to get customers. If you can, get introductions for the first couple interviews. Once you run out of introductions, give these a try.

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Don’t know anyone who qualifies for customer interview ? Or want to know how to find qualified people for interviews? Jeff Lash tells you how to do it.

How do I set up customer interviews?

I am a new product manager working on developing a new product. One thing that I am struggling with as a product manager is how to get out there and set up time with potential buyers / users who would fit within my product demographic. Since I don’t have an existing product, I can’t interview current customers, since there aren’t any. I am trying to find ways of being able to reach out to the target market segment without coming across as too “salesy” and in a manner that is approachable and efficient.

I know that understanding the market first-hand is an important part of being a product manager, but I’m not sure of exactly the right approach. What are some methods I can use to identify potential customers and users?

Answer from Jeff Lash of How To Be A Good Product Manager:

Congrats on the new role, and on focusing on the most important (yet too-often) ignored part of product management — understanding the market and potential user/customer needs.

It is easy to get hung up on the logistics of customer interviews (and I use “customer” broadly, to refer to any current customers, competitors’ customers, or non-customers in the target market), and it is a shame that many product managers use challenges setting up customer interviews as an excuse for not conducting enough market research. Yes, there are challenges, but the reward is well worth it.

There are a few general rules when reaching out to set up interviews, regardless of the method you use:Continue Reading..

Many entrepreneurs think they understand the Customer Discovery process, but fail in execution. Customer Discovery relies on the ability to recognize common themes and to possess the self control, objectivity, and realism to be honest about addressing them. Mastering this art is what makes or breaks a great entrepreneur.

Paul Graham of Y Combinator  writes, “In a sense there’s just one mistake that kills startups: not making something users want. If you make something users want, you’ll probably be fine, whatever else you do or don’t do. And if you don’t make something users want, then you’re dead, whatever else you do or don’t do.”

People are building products faster than ever due to the reduction in technology costs over the last few years, but they are building products no one cares about. Aspiring technology entrepreneurs are quick to forget the value of actually talking to potential customers before building something that no one ever uses.

One way to prevent this is by accurately conducting Customer Discovery. Many entrepreneurs these days think they understand the Customer Discovery process, but they fail at executing it properly. Customer Discovery simply begins with gaining empathy — that is, developing a deep understanding of a customer’s needs and motivations.

Often times, entrepreneurs are biased by their own envisioned solution, product, or ego, and end up searching for personal validation rather than remaining open to a real discovery process.

Below are a few actions you can take to make sure you don’t build something no one will use.

Build Customer Segment PersonasContinue Reading..

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for customer discovery. This cycle of testing and verification is a continuous process with many iterations, and while it requires a lot of hands-on work, it is the first (and arguably most critical step) in achieving a sustainable business model at which point a startup officially crosses over to becoming a company.


There’s never a perfect time to start a startup but if you are planning on it, understanding the basics of the customer discovery process is crucial.

Startup gurus Eric Ries and Steve Blank are both proponents of getting customers involved in the product development process from the very beginning. The adoption of the customer development model in parallel to the product development process has had a seismic effect on startups and their evolution.

In the past, startups would begin coding and development based on their perception of market opportunity, blindly pumping money and time into developing a product that potentially had no market need. This is a path littered with failed startups.

Get Out of the Building

Today, “getting out of the building” and discovering customer wants and needs, a practice known as customer discovery, is aggressively being taught at accelerators nationwide. Startup accelerator Y Combinator puts it best with its mantra: “Make something that people want.”

The concept is deceptively simple: form hypotheses around the problem that your product solves, and around the product itself, test these hypotheses with those who could be your potential customers to verify, iterate or exit. This discovery process is part of the larger customer development model where the minimally viable product resulting from customer discovery undergoes validation testing among customers.

Customer validation testing verifies or refutes the product’s value proposition, its sales roadmap, business model, etc. This cohesive framework takes into account market factors to shape and form the revenue models while allowing customers to be kept in mind at all stages of business development and growth in a process that never ends even; after a product has been built. In short, the customer is along for the ride.

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Gone are the days of “if you build it, they will come.” It’s easy to build software products today, but very challenging to market them. While it is convenient to rely on friends and family to validate your market, it is a dangerous and ultimately useless way to test and validate your idea.

In short, market validation is the act of simply proving that people want what you plan to offer them. Gone are the days of “if you build it, they will come.” The danger of ideas are that we’re inherently biased regarding them – it’s simply human nature. Nine times out of ten, we’ve created a “revolutionary idea” to solve a problem we personally have experienced.

Although the solution you have created sounds like its worth a million bucks to you, and perhaps your friends and family* – you’re going to need a significant amount of others to agree in order for you to have validated your market. Market validation can and should be conducted using a variety of methods:

  • Reviewing the data available regarding your prospective market. Annual value, market size, projected growth, etc.
  • Validating the problem you aim to solve. If you’re developing a software to help people find, review and book barbers in the area, you need to first ensure people are dissatisfied with the current methods available.
  • Validating your proposed solution to said problem. Which you should have already validated. This is a fundamentally critical step in starting a company!

*Relying on friends and family for market validation is a dangerous and ultimately useless way to test and validate your idea. Friends and family know and love you, they’re wonderful for many things; however, they can’t be trusted when validating a business idea. They support you and want to see you succeed, causing them to be far less likely to poke holes in your idea. If that’s not enough to discourage you, no investor is interested in what Uncle Eric thinks of your idea (unless Uncle Eric is Eric Schmidt).

“What and How Important is Market Validation” was originally published Dec 10, 2014 on Quora.
By: Nicolas Nezhat, Hardware Connoisseur; Traveler; Foodie; Founder (Fynd)

Expect:  30-50 quality market validation/customer discovery meetings with target customers. 500 new quality connections and a robust LinkedIn profile and network that will enhance your career. Dramatic increase in social selling score.
Ideal for: 
Product marketers who require real-life input from potential customers in order to build successful products. Use for problem/product discovery and validation, positioning and continual product optimization.

Cost: $1,750/mo. plus $229/meeting.
Type: 6 month contract, 30 guaranteed meetings.
Required:  A LinkedIn Premium Plus membership  (approx. $45/month).
Includes: LinkedIn social selling optimization and management,  target list development, daily outreach for professional connections and engagement, thought leadership content, appointment setting, monthly reporting.
Ask us to do it all: No time to talk? An experienced product marketer will conduct your meetings for you and deliver a complete transcript of the interview. $159/meeting.
Ramp: Immediate LinkedIn activity, with first meeting in 9 weeks.

Savvy Customer Discovery Meetings

Every product marketer has received this advice — the conversation goes a bit like this:
Advisor: “Get out of the office and talk to customers!.”
Product marketer: “How many?”
Advisor: “100, or more, in person.”
Product marketer:!@#$%^&*?”

For a typical B2B software product marketer who juggles many demanding projects, this advice is absurd. Identifying, engaging, scheduling, meeting and reporting customer discovery results is a full-time job stretched over many, many months.

Yet, it is absolutely true that talking to customers early, and often, is the best investment you will ever make.

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