How to talk to customers? Top 10 tips.

My top 10 things to consider when you talk to customers to help you validate your idea

 

1. Starting position. Before you start, have a few starting assumptions. Try to phase them as “falsable statement” (e.g. “Tigers have the largest roar on land ”). This will help you validate your ideas and learn.

 

2. Stop pitching. That’s right – you are not conducting a ”pitch” rather you are conducting an interview to validate and learn. Your in a fact searching for answers, not selling.

 

3. Problem first. Before you talk about your idea with customers, make sure you you get a wider perspective. At least initially, focus on problem rather your proposed solution, this way you can discover other opportunities you’d never consider.

Solution interviews are important once you understand and validated that the problem does exist and you can solve it in commercially viable way.

 

4. Script it.  Create a script to ensures consistency and repeatability in the delivery of your engagement (so you don’t bias your results). However, be open to refine it as you go. I often use my first few interviews as a way to “draft up” my script. Ash Maurya has a great structure below:

 

Credit: Ash Maurya, Running Lean

Credit: Ash Maurya, Running Lean

 

5. Extreme users. Find your early adopters. Be picky about who you talk to. Conducting interviews can be costly. It takes time to find, book, attend so you want to make it worth your while. Typically I look for those that feel the pain the most. I often called these the “extreme users” coined from the guys at IDEO. Its also good idea to start with the people you know. This not only helps you practice and refine your script, it’s a great way to get warm leads to interview other people.

 

6. Validate learning. During the interview you are trying to determine whether the problem exist? How do they solve it today? How big of a problem is it?  You also want to know who else has this problem or who else you should go and talk to?

 

7. Have a partner.  Have someone with you. Typically one asks the questions, while the other notes down the key points as well as list any questions. I often suggest at the end, ask your partner if they have any questions.

 

8. Those silent moments. During you interview, don’t try to “fill in those silence moments” with more questions. After you ask a question, be silent and just listen.

 

9. Be consistent.  Remember to use a constant tone and mannerism. You don’t want to bias the results by introducing your excitement on certain answers and disinterest in other answers.

 

10.  Record quickly.   After you have done your interviews (and you start to get repeated answers from your customers); that’s when you know you have reached a point to stop.  Record your thoughts, insight, ideas, pain points or observations straight after!

 

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