Many entrepreneurs are so bamboozled about customer discovery that they flail away at whoever has time on their hands and is willing to speak with them. I advise these budding startups to, at the very least, generate a list of 5 core questions they intend to cover with each person they talk to. Otherwise, these nascent startup CEOs end of being tongue-tied and short on conversation.
Customer discovery is a great time to find out more than what potential users of your product, service or platform think about your concept. You can get more oomph out of your customer discovery conversations by getting potential customers to talk about themselves – even if what they are talking about seems to have nothing to do with your startup.
Why get customers to talk about themselves?
Well, it’s the easiest way to do your industry research – the information you were supposed to have gathered prior to meeting with these customers in the first place. It’s the information that will matter most to commercializing your venture. It’s the information that investors will ask you about later on, as you develop and tweak your product as you head towards launch.
It’s always this type of information that you shoulda-coulda-woulda asked. Except you didn’t even know you needed to ask these types of questions. Now you do.
- What’s nice about customer discovery questions is that often, if you are in a university environment, potential customers will make time to speak to you. Do you know how hard it is for real live sales people to get their foot in the door of real, live, paying customers? I’d take advantage of leveraging your position as a university startup.
- What’s nice about customer discovery questions is that potential customers aren’t counting on you to have all sorts of slick presentations, answers, or to know anything about “overcoming buying objections.” These potential customers are so jaded by the proliferation of “this” type of selling, that you are a refreshing walk-in-the-startup-park for them. They are willing to cut you more slack. Understand your advantage. Leverage it into your customer discovery conversation.
- What’s nice about customer discovery questions is that you can be naïve because, in fact, you are. There’s a lot you don’t know about the industry vertical (the kind of information that’s never in some sort of purchased report). This type of information only comes out of having an open conversation with potential customers.
If you are finding that your customer discovery conversations have a lot of information gaps in them, take a chance and expand your repertoire of questions.
The objective of your conversation is a matter of discovering more about your customers and their industry, rather than discovering what they think about your product, service and platform.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, focuses you and your company or startup on cultivating the mindset, skills, markets, customers, and investors necessary for professional and business growth. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business, is now available in eReader format!