How to actually do customer development (and not waste your time)

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Talking to customers takes a lot of time and is super easy to screw up completely.

Half the solution is in knowing what you're trying to achieve, and the other half is in asking good questions.

In this presentation I talk about both. Plus, it features several pumpkins, a riddle, and a picture of my bank balance during my first startup.

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  • How to actually do customer development (and not waste your time)

    1. 1. How to actually do customer development @robfitz(and not waste your time)
    2. 2. Why bother talking to people?(when we could be building!) @robfitz
    3. 3. @robfitz
    4. 4. 2 stages of learning 1. 2.Discovery Validation
    5. 5. 2 stages of learning Learn Confirm
    6. 6. 2 stages of learning “Ask” “Sell”
    7. 7. Do we understandthis industry?
    8. 8. Do we understandthis industry? Does anybodycare at all?
    9. 9. Do we Are we understand building thethis industry?right product? Does anybodycare at all?
    10. 10. Do we Are we understand building thethis industry?right product? Does anybody Will theycare at all? pay for it?
    11. 11. ❝Build somethingpeople want! Paul Graham ❞ @paulg
    12. 12. But it’s super easyto screw up these interviews @robfitz
    13. 13. Anybody will sayyour idea is greatif you annoy them for long enough. @robfitz
    14. 14. A man wakes up, turnson the radio, goesupstairs, turns on thelights, and kills himself.Why?(Note: this slide, and several others, are accompanied by mini-workshops which I can’t really replicatewithout being in the room. If you want to bring me in-house and hear the punchline, ping @robfitz)
    15. 15. (picture of wedding ring forcommitment)1. best: take their money2. okay: take their email with permission to contact them Image by wstryder
    16. 16. The mom test1. Never ask their opinion, especially about your idea2. Ask about their life3. Ask about specifics in the past (“Talk me through the last time you...”)
    17. 17. (Note: This is another workshop slide. It is super fun. The suspense is killing you!) Image by sleepyneko
    18. 18. Good or badquestions? @robfitz
    19. 19. ❝Do think it’s agood idea? ❞ Us
    20. 20. ❝Do think it’s agood idea? ❞ Us
    21. 21. ❝Would you buy a product which solved this problem? ❞ Us
    22. 22. ❝Would you buy a product which solved this problem? ❞ Us
    23. 23. ❝How do you currently deal with this problem? ❞ Us
    24. 24. ❝How do you currently deal with this problem? ❞ Us
    25. 25. ❝Talk me through the last time you had this problem ❞ Us
    26. 26. ❝Talk me through the last time you had this problem ❞ Us
    27. 27. ❝How much wouldyou pay for this? ❞ Us
    28. 28. ❝How much wouldyou pay for this? ❞ Us
    29. 29. ❝How much money does this problem cost you? ❞ Us
    30. 30. ❝How much money does this problem cost you? ❞ Us
    31. 31. ❝Is there a budgetfor it? ❞ Us
    32. 32. ❝Is there a budgetfor it? ❞ Us
    33. 33. ❝Who else should Italk to? ❞ Us
    34. 34. ❝Who else should Italk to? ❞ Us
    35. 35. So, we just had a meeting. But did wemake progress? @robfitz
    36. 36. So, we just had a meeting. But did wemake progress? @robfitz
    37. 37. ❝Sounds great. Ilove it! ❞ Claudia
    38. 38. ❝Sounds great. Ilove it! ❞ Claudia
    39. 39. ❝Brilliant -- let me know when it launches! ❞ Jeremy
    40. 40. ❝Brilliant -- let me know when it launches! ❞ Jeremy
    41. 41. Compliment+ Stalling tacticThey don’t care @robfitz
    42. 42. ❝There are a couple people I can intro you to, when you’re ready. ❞ Jeremy
    43. 43. ❝There are a couple people I can intro you to, when you’re ready. ❞ Jeremy
    44. 44. Partialcommitment(Is there a valid reason he can’t connect you now?) @robfitz
    45. 45. ❝I would definitelybuy that! ❞ Claudia
    46. 46. ❝I would definitelybuy that! ❞ Claudia
    47. 47. DANGER!!!(A promising signal, but people can’t predict their own behaviour) @robfitz
    48. 48. Opinions areworthless. @robfitz
    49. 49. Real learning≫ Concrete facts about customer’s lives≫ Solid commitments≫ Not opinions≫ Not “would you...” questions
    50. 50. False positives cause heartbreak :( @robfitz
    51. 51. (picture of wedding ring forcommitment)1. best: take their money2. okay: take their email with permission to contact them Image by elsie
    52. 52. Commitment is the bestsignal1. Ideally, they give you money2. And if not, the conversation needs to advance
    53. 53. Examples of advancement1. Permission to contact again2. Clear next meeting3. Introduction to decision-maker4. Commitment to run a trial5. Pre-purchase
    54. 54. Compliments are notcommitments @robfitz
    55. 55. 3 rules for goodconversations1. Ask open-ended questions2. Which pass the mom test3. And leave with a commitment
    56. 56. It helps to pre-plan the questions you’ll ask
    57. 57. Questions? (next up is practicalities) @robfitz
    58. 58. Do interviews in teams of 2One asks questionsThe other writes down answers
    59. 59. Write down everything theysay
    60. 60. Use quick emotion symbols≫ Emotions - happy, sad/frustrated, embarrassed :) :( :|≫ Workflow - problem, obstacle, workaround ! [] ~
    61. 61. Sales is scary(but can be learned) @robfitz
    62. 62. Sales is scary≫ You can learn it > It’s a predictable process > Having a framework helps > Read “SPIN Selling” by Neil Rackham≫ Focus on mastering your field > Customers will love to talk to & learn from you
    63. 63. Cust dev is weird! (so keep it quick & casual) @robfitz
    64. 64. Cust Dev is awkward≫ Look for advisors, not customers≫ Do cocktail custdev≫ Organise & host industry meetups≫ Personally email your first 1000 signups≫ Speak at conferences≫ Do free consulting or have office hours≫ Write a book of industry interviews≫ Write an industry blog≫ Host user meetups & product previews
    65. 65. Advisors≫ Earlyvangelists are ideal industry & customer advisors≫ Gives you a reason for talking to them before having a finished product≫ Reframes the conversation with you in control≫ If they aren’t excited enough to join the advisory board, they probably aren’t going to be your first customer≫ Secret weapon of customer development
    66. 66. Cocktail cust dev≫ This ever happen? > Meet a perfect customer > Get their business card > Can’t wait to learn from them > Never see them again≫ Keep the top 3 questions always in mind > Ask one as soon as you meet someone relevant≫ You learn, and they enjoy the interesting question
    67. 67. Learn Find outabout a whethernew peopleindustry or care atcustomer. all. @robfitz
    68. 68. Talking is useful if you...≫ Form good questions > Specifics > About the customer > Which pass the mom test≫ Know what you need to ask≫ Write it down
    69. 69. Boom chicka bow-wow @robfitzhttp://thestartuptoolkit.comhttp://bootstrapchallenge.com

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