0
talking to
customers
http://startupmba.foundercentric.com
hello@foundercentric.com
foundercentric.com
@foundercentric
!
Mailing list: http://bit.ly/fc-list
What is Customer development?
Find early customers and
confirm their intent to buy
before building everything
!
(without bi...
Paul Graham
Until you’ve launched, the
only 2 things you should be
doing are writing code
and talking to customers
...
Pets.com (and everyone)
“I wish I’d
known that
sooner!”
We can’t plan under
uncertainty.
We need a way to
search.
Talking to
people is a
great way to
learn if our
business will
work
But it’s
hard to do
right and
easy to
mess up
When we do
it wrong, we
get bad data
to convince
us we’re
right
And when
we believe
those false
positives,
we get in big
trouble
Part 1.
What does bad
data look like?
Types of bad data
1.Compliments
2.Fluff
3.Ideas
4.Trivia
Compliments
Most meetings end
in a compliment.
Is that a good sign?
Mr. Compliment
“Sounds great, I
love it!”
Compliments are
bad because they are
false positives
Two types of compliments
1.Sincere
2.“Polite”
Remember:
Even VCs are wrong most of
the time. If their opinion doesn’t
matter, nobody’s does! What
matters is whether cus...
Mr. Compliment
“Looks great!
Keep me in the
loop.”
Ignore & deflect
compliments.
Then get back to
gathering real data.
Types of bad data
1.Compliments
2.Fluff
3.Ideas
4.Trivia
3 types of fluff
1.Generic claims
2.Future promises
3.Hypothetical maybes

Anything generic
is a lie.
Get to the truth by asking
for concrete examples.
Mr. Generic Fluff
“I usually...”
“We always...”
“I never...”
You
“Can you talk me
through the last time
that happened?”
Mr. Future Fluff
“I would...”
“We will...”
You
“How did you
make this decision
last time?”
Mr. Hypothetical Fluff
“I might...”
“We could...”
You
“Why can’t we
just get started
now?”
Types of bad data
1.Compliments
2.Fluff
3.Ideas
4.Trivia
Ideas
Everyone will have an
idea for your business
!
But you’ve already got too
many!
Shawn Carolan Menlo Ventures
Startups don’t
starve; they
drown.
Don’t take ideas at
face value.
Dig beneath them to
get to the motivations.
Mr. Feature Request
“You guys should
definitely have
feature X!”
You
“What would X
let you do?”
Mr. Feature Request
“When are you
going to let me
do task Y?”
You
“How are you
accomplishing
task Y today?”
Types of bad data
1.Compliments
2.Fluff
3.Ideas
4.Trivia
It’s trivial data if...
1.You could have googled for it
2.You could have surveyed for it
3.It’s demographics or percents
4...
Bad Founder, proudly reporting trivia
“80% of people
say they have
this problem!”
You, getting to the motivations
“SO WHAT? Do they care
enough to fix it? What
else have they tried? Will
they buy our produ...
Trivia can’t give you
the “why”.
Just google for it and save
interview time for
questions that matter.
Tip:
Don’t choose customers who
you aren’t able to talk to in
person, or you’re guaranteed
to get 100% trivia.
Bad data in
review
Types of bad data
1.Compliments
2.Fluff
3.Ideas
4.Trivia
Fixing bad data
1.Deflect compliments
2.Anchor fluff
3.Dig beneath ideas
4.Google for trivia
Part 2.
How conversations
go wrong
When we
ask
people
about our
idea...
We feel
like we’re
being
scientific
But really,
we’re just
fishing for
kind
words
Conversations
go wrong by default.
It’s your job to
fix them.
How conversations go wrong
1.Being too formal
2.Exposing the ego
3.Being pitchy
Stuff you DON’T need
1.A formal meeting
2.Business cards
3.An interview script
4.To pay them
5.An hour or more
What you DO need
1.To know what
you want to learn
2.To ask about
their life



Tip:
Pick customers you have
easy access to. Then it’s
simple to have quick, casual
conversations without
wasting time.
You don’t need a
formal meeting to
learn from customers.
Just chat to them.
How conversations go wrong
1.Being too formal
2.Exposing the ego
3.Being pitchy
Bad Founder, fishing for compliments
“I had an awesome
idea for an app...
So do you like it?”
Bad Founder, exposing his ego
“So this is that secret
project I’ve been
working on...
What do you think?”
Why do they lie?
1.They don’t have a strong
opinion about it
2.They don’t want to discourage
you
3.They don’t want to see ...
=
Mentioning your
idea
Exposing your
ego
If you mention your idea,
they’ll lie to you about it.
Talk about their life,
not your idea.
How conversations go wrong
1.Being too formal
2.Exposing the ego
3.Being pitchy
Remember the stages of a startup?
1.Discovery
2.Validation
3.Customer creation
4.Company building







Remember the stages of a startup?
1.Discovery ← You are here
2.Validation
3.Customer creation
4.Company building







Remember the stages of a startup?
1.Discovery
2.Validation ← or maybe here
3.Customer creation
4.Company building







Learning matters more than selling
1.Discovery ← Learning
2.Validation ← Learning
3.Customer creation
4.Company building

...
Real sales start way later
1.Discovery ← Learning
2.Validation ← Learning
3.Customer creation ← Selling
4.Company building...
Bad Founder, being pitchy
“No no, I don’t
think you GET it.”
Convincing folks
your idea is good
=
Forcing false
positives
Remember:
Unless they are holding a
checkbook, you have nothing
to gain by convincing them
your idea is great.
Bad Founder, being pitchy
“Yes, but it also
does THIS!”
You, recovering from starting to pitch
“Oops, sorry, I just
slipped into pitch
mode. I get excited.
You were saying...?”
If you’re talking,
you’re not learning.
Talk less, ask more.
Part 3.
Let’s review
People lie to us for
a bunch of reasons
People lie to us
1.We exposed our ego
and they’re being nice
2.We’re being pitchy and
they’re getting rid of us
Bad data is
dangerous and
must be fixed
Remember:
Anyone will say your
idea is great if you’re
annoying enough
about it.
Fix bad data
1.Deflect compliments
2.Anchor fluff
3.Dig beneath ideas
4.Google for trivia
Ask good questions
which pass
The Mom Test
❝
❞
Us
Do think it’s a
good idea?
❝
❞
Us
Do think it’s a
good idea?
❝
❞
Us
Would you buy a
product which
solved this problem?
❝
❞
Us
Would you buy a
product which
solved this problem?
❝
❞
Us
How do you
currently deal with
this problem?
❝
❞
Us
How do you
currently deal with
this problem?
❝
❞
Us
Talk me through
the last time you
had this problem
❝
❞
Us
Talk me through
the last time you
had this problem
❝
❞
Us
How much would
you pay for this?
❝
❞
Us
How much would
you pay for this?
❝
❞
Us
How much money
does this problem
cost you?
❝
❞
Us
How much money
does this problem
cost you?
The Mom Test for good questions
1.Talk about their life
instead of your idea
2.Ask about specifics in
the past
3.Talk less,...
Bonus.
Strategic heartbeat
Question
What’s most likely
to sink your
business?
Question
What has to be true
for the next big push
to be a huge success?
Question
What can you do this
week to resolve one
of those questions?
Customer development
transitions naturally to
sales/partners/funding.
!
The same skills apply.
Questions?
Startup MBA 2.3 - Customer development and early-stage sales
Startup MBA 2.3 - Customer development and early-stage sales
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Transcript of "Startup MBA 2.3 - Customer development and early-stage sales"

  1. 1. talking to customers http://startupmba.foundercentric.com
  2. 2. hello@foundercentric.com foundercentric.com @foundercentric ! Mailing list: http://bit.ly/fc-list
  3. 3. What is Customer development? Find early customers and confirm their intent to buy before building everything ! (without biasing them)
  4. 4. Paul Graham Until you’ve launched, the only 2 things you should be doing are writing code and talking to customers
  5. 5. ...
  6. 6. Pets.com (and everyone) “I wish I’d known that sooner!”
  7. 7. We can’t plan under uncertainty. We need a way to search.
  8. 8. Talking to people is a great way to learn if our business will work
  9. 9. But it’s hard to do right and easy to mess up
  10. 10. When we do it wrong, we get bad data to convince us we’re right
  11. 11. And when we believe those false positives, we get in big trouble
  12. 12. Part 1. What does bad data look like?
  13. 13. Types of bad data 1.Compliments 2.Fluff 3.Ideas 4.Trivia
  14. 14. Compliments Most meetings end in a compliment. Is that a good sign?
  15. 15. Mr. Compliment “Sounds great, I love it!”
  16. 16. Compliments are bad because they are false positives
  17. 17. Two types of compliments 1.Sincere 2.“Polite”
  18. 18. Remember: Even VCs are wrong most of the time. If their opinion doesn’t matter, nobody’s does! What matters is whether customers are going to use & buy it.
  19. 19. Mr. Compliment “Looks great! Keep me in the loop.”
  20. 20. Ignore & deflect compliments. Then get back to gathering real data.
  21. 21. Types of bad data 1.Compliments 2.Fluff 3.Ideas 4.Trivia
  22. 22. 3 types of fluff 1.Generic claims 2.Future promises 3.Hypothetical maybes

  23. 23. Anything generic is a lie. Get to the truth by asking for concrete examples.
  24. 24. Mr. Generic Fluff “I usually...” “We always...” “I never...”
  25. 25. You “Can you talk me through the last time that happened?”
  26. 26. Mr. Future Fluff “I would...” “We will...”
  27. 27. You “How did you make this decision last time?”
  28. 28. Mr. Hypothetical Fluff “I might...” “We could...”
  29. 29. You “Why can’t we just get started now?”
  30. 30. Types of bad data 1.Compliments 2.Fluff 3.Ideas 4.Trivia
  31. 31. Ideas Everyone will have an idea for your business ! But you’ve already got too many!
  32. 32. Shawn Carolan Menlo Ventures Startups don’t starve; they drown.
  33. 33. Don’t take ideas at face value. Dig beneath them to get to the motivations.
  34. 34. Mr. Feature Request “You guys should definitely have feature X!”
  35. 35. You “What would X let you do?”
  36. 36. Mr. Feature Request “When are you going to let me do task Y?”
  37. 37. You “How are you accomplishing task Y today?”
  38. 38. Types of bad data 1.Compliments 2.Fluff 3.Ideas 4.Trivia
  39. 39. It’s trivial data if... 1.You could have googled for it 2.You could have surveyed for it 3.It’s demographics or percents 4.You can put the results in a pie chart or graph
  40. 40. Bad Founder, proudly reporting trivia “80% of people say they have this problem!”
  41. 41. You, getting to the motivations “SO WHAT? Do they care enough to fix it? What else have they tried? Will they buy our product?”
  42. 42. Trivia can’t give you the “why”. Just google for it and save interview time for questions that matter.
  43. 43. Tip: Don’t choose customers who you aren’t able to talk to in person, or you’re guaranteed to get 100% trivia.
  44. 44. Bad data in review
  45. 45. Types of bad data 1.Compliments 2.Fluff 3.Ideas 4.Trivia
  46. 46. Fixing bad data 1.Deflect compliments 2.Anchor fluff 3.Dig beneath ideas 4.Google for trivia
  47. 47. Part 2. How conversations go wrong
  48. 48. When we ask people about our idea...
  49. 49. We feel like we’re being scientific
  50. 50. But really, we’re just fishing for kind words
  51. 51. Conversations go wrong by default. It’s your job to fix them.
  52. 52. How conversations go wrong 1.Being too formal 2.Exposing the ego 3.Being pitchy
  53. 53. Stuff you DON’T need 1.A formal meeting 2.Business cards 3.An interview script 4.To pay them 5.An hour or more
  54. 54. What you DO need 1.To know what you want to learn 2.To ask about their life
 

  55. 55. Tip: Pick customers you have easy access to. Then it’s simple to have quick, casual conversations without wasting time.
  56. 56. You don’t need a formal meeting to learn from customers. Just chat to them.
  57. 57. How conversations go wrong 1.Being too formal 2.Exposing the ego 3.Being pitchy
  58. 58. Bad Founder, fishing for compliments “I had an awesome idea for an app... So do you like it?”
  59. 59. Bad Founder, exposing his ego “So this is that secret project I’ve been working on... What do you think?”
  60. 60. Why do they lie? 1.They don’t have a strong opinion about it 2.They don’t want to discourage you 3.They don’t want to see you cry

  61. 61. = Mentioning your idea Exposing your ego
  62. 62. If you mention your idea, they’ll lie to you about it. Talk about their life, not your idea.
  63. 63. How conversations go wrong 1.Being too formal 2.Exposing the ego 3.Being pitchy
  64. 64. Remember the stages of a startup? 1.Discovery 2.Validation 3.Customer creation 4.Company building
 
 
 

  65. 65. Remember the stages of a startup? 1.Discovery ← You are here 2.Validation 3.Customer creation 4.Company building
 
 
 

  66. 66. Remember the stages of a startup? 1.Discovery 2.Validation ← or maybe here 3.Customer creation 4.Company building
 
 
 

  67. 67. Learning matters more than selling 1.Discovery ← Learning 2.Validation ← Learning 3.Customer creation 4.Company building
 
 
 

  68. 68. Real sales start way later 1.Discovery ← Learning 2.Validation ← Learning 3.Customer creation ← Selling 4.Company building ← Managing
 
 
 

  69. 69. Bad Founder, being pitchy “No no, I don’t think you GET it.”
  70. 70. Convincing folks your idea is good = Forcing false positives
  71. 71. Remember: Unless they are holding a checkbook, you have nothing to gain by convincing them your idea is great.
  72. 72. Bad Founder, being pitchy “Yes, but it also does THIS!”
  73. 73. You, recovering from starting to pitch “Oops, sorry, I just slipped into pitch mode. I get excited. You were saying...?”
  74. 74. If you’re talking, you’re not learning. Talk less, ask more.
  75. 75. Part 3. Let’s review
  76. 76. People lie to us for a bunch of reasons
  77. 77. People lie to us 1.We exposed our ego and they’re being nice 2.We’re being pitchy and they’re getting rid of us
  78. 78. Bad data is dangerous and must be fixed
  79. 79. Remember: Anyone will say your idea is great if you’re annoying enough about it.
  80. 80. Fix bad data 1.Deflect compliments 2.Anchor fluff 3.Dig beneath ideas 4.Google for trivia
  81. 81. Ask good questions which pass The Mom Test
  82. 82. ❝ ❞ Us Do think it’s a good idea?
  83. 83. ❝ ❞ Us Do think it’s a good idea?
  84. 84. ❝ ❞ Us Would you buy a product which solved this problem?
  85. 85. ❝ ❞ Us Would you buy a product which solved this problem?
  86. 86. ❝ ❞ Us How do you currently deal with this problem?
  87. 87. ❝ ❞ Us How do you currently deal with this problem?
  88. 88. ❝ ❞ Us Talk me through the last time you had this problem
  89. 89. ❝ ❞ Us Talk me through the last time you had this problem
  90. 90. ❝ ❞ Us How much would you pay for this?
  91. 91. ❝ ❞ Us How much would you pay for this?
  92. 92. ❝ ❞ Us How much money does this problem cost you?
  93. 93. ❝ ❞ Us How much money does this problem cost you?
  94. 94. The Mom Test for good questions 1.Talk about their life instead of your idea 2.Ask about specifics in the past 3.Talk less, listen more
  95. 95. Bonus. Strategic heartbeat
  96. 96. Question What’s most likely to sink your business?
  97. 97. Question What has to be true for the next big push to be a huge success?
  98. 98. Question What can you do this week to resolve one of those questions?
  99. 99. Customer development transitions naturally to sales/partners/funding. ! The same skills apply.
  100. 100. Questions?
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