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How to talk to customers to validate your startup idea. My top 10 tips


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Customer discovery is the iterative discovery process between entrepreneurs and customers to validate an idea or to understand a problem area better. Gathering feedback through customer interviews is a critical step often either not done correctly or not done at all. Help these 10 simple tips help you in your customer discovery journey

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How to talk to customers to validate your startup idea. My top 10 tips

  1. 1. How to talk to customers My top 10 tips
  2. 2. 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 ”) and prove if its true or false and learn why.
  3. 3. 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.
  4. 4. 3. Problem first. Before you talk about your idea with customers, make sure you get a boarder view. At least initially, try to focus on “the why” and, the problems they are facing rather than your proposed solution, this way you can discover other opportunities you’d never consider.
  5. 5. 4. Script it. Create a script to ensure consistency and repeatability in the delivery of your engagement. This will also help not bias your approach. Be open to refine it as you go. I often use my first few interviews as a way to “draft up” my script.
  6. 6. 5. Extreme users. Be picky about who you talk to. Conducting interviews can be costly. It takes time to find, book, attend and have the session 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.
  7. 7. 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 can talk to?
  8. 8. 7. Partner up! 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.
  9. 9. 9. Silent moments. During your interview, don't try to "fill in those silence moments" with more questions. After you ask a question, be silent and just listen.
  10. 10. 9. Be consistent. Remember to use a constant tone and mannerism. You don't want to bias the results by introducing your approval on certain answers or disinterest in others.
  11. 11. 10. Record quickly. After you have done your interviews (and you starting 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.
  12. 12.