Professional self discovery is an important attribute in the practical application of the customer discovery process.
Customer discovery can determine whether a product or service idea actually marries up with a receptive customer base.
When customer discovery is done well, there is magic. When done poorly – which most often is the case – both startup, as well as sales, success are compromised.
In my work with startups, entrepreneurial business modeling and sales teams, the most important discovery to be made often is professional self discovery.
Why? Because conducting a customer discovery campaign tests the willingness of startup teams (and even sales people) to deal with their assumptions about customers. However, more importantly, teams face their assumptions about themselves.
Many startup founders and entrepreneurs are extremely well-educated. Often, they have technical or scientific backgrounds. In addition, these folks have patents pending and fancy acronyms (like MBA or PhD). Therefore, these MBAs and PhDs can be the most intelligent people in the room during a customer discovery conversation. Or are they?
Reality check: when the startup team is impressed with their professional accomplishments, they often assume the individual they are speaking with should be equally impressed. The majority of the time, that is hardly the case. Subsequently, that professional self discovery moment is an extremely difficult realization.
The customer discovery process is all about the decision maker, not the startup team members or the sales person.
First of all, when teams or sales people engage decision makers in customer discovery, the decision maker is the smartest person in the room. Why? Because the decision maker is an established business leader or technical expert. Even if the decision maker is not as intellectually smart as the startup team.
Why? The breadth and depth of real-world experience and decision-making under duress places that decision maker in the position of Expert. Even if that decision maker never graduated from university.
Consider that a startup team only gets one chance to make a great first impression with a decision maker. Often, a combination of team ignorance about the decision maker’s background, combined with arrogance about their own academic credentials, creates barriers to collaboration. More often than not, the startup team fails to impress and engage that decision maker because the team misses subtleties about that decision maker’s professional backstory.
Reality check: the decision maker has been there and done that as an entrepreneur. Regardless of their academic credentials. Plus, they survived and thrived. Their expert insights are the object of customer discovery desire.
As a result, professional humility becomes the first step in professional self discovery.
Remarkable conversations await startup teams, or sales professionals, when they become more focused on what the decision maker knows, instead of what they know. That humble self-realization moment creates wisdom. Appreciating the value of professional humility creates highly engaging customer discovery dialogues.
Reality check: How successful has your team been in executing an engaging customer discovery campaign? If you are ready to recalibrate your mindset to catalyze your process, contact me and let’s put a program in place.
Take the next steps towards professional innovation and self discovery:
Planning your next team, corporate or association meeting? Searching for a one-on-one catalyst to get you unstuck? Engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person. Contact me here.
I am an extroverted STEM professional and left-brain thinker specializing in professional innovation, cross-functional leadership and client retention. I catalyze professionals to translate across communication and collaboration disconnects. Become more professionally visible, cross-functionally relevant and strategically valuable to your organizations. Better serve each other first so you better serve your clients together. One millimeter at a time. My One Millimeter Mindset™ virtual and in-person speaking programs leverage Voice of the Customer design methodology and storytelling to move individuals, teams, departments and organizations one millimeter beyond yesterday’s tools and today’s professional comfort zones My playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact me here.
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