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How to do Customer Development Interviews


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A talk I gave at Lean Startup Machine SF on May 27, 2012. This is a bunch of tips and tricks on how to do great customer development

I'm writing a book on How to Build Customer Driven Products based on tactics like the ones in this presentation. You can sign up to learn more here:

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How to do Customer Development Interviews

  1. 1. The Customer Development InterviewJason @EvanishProduct @KISSmetricsLean Startup Machine SF
  2. 2. The Structure 3. SolutionThe MVP House 2. Problem 1. Person
  3. 3. The Structure – 1. Person Learn about them and their role in your industry. • Who are they? What’s their role? • How is your budget handled? • How do you find new products? • How much time do you spend on [Task X]?Goal: Get a baseline background of the personyou’re talking to. Be broad.
  4. 4. The Structure – 2. Problems Learn about the problems they recognize first. • NOT about the problems you think they have. • What are your top 3 challenges you face in your job or life related to [industry X]? • If you could wave a magic wand… what would the solution be?Goal: Get them to say the problem you want tosolve is a problem they have (prefer unprompted)
  5. 5. The Structure – 3. Solution Now you tell them about your product concept. • “That’s interesting” = Kiss of Death. • If they’re not anxious to use right away, they’re not a key target. • Read body language, voice inflection and energy level for signals of interest. • Best reaction is actually following through after the meeting or calls.Goal: Discover if they’re interested in your solutionand gather feedback.
  6. 6. Tips for making the most of Interviews1. Take good notes.2. Involve other team members.3. Be conversational.4. Go off script.5. Ask to see any MVPs they’ve made/use.6. If they’re excited about something, ask if they’ll pay for it.7. Show them mockups or early concepts if you have them and pay attention to their reactions/feedback.8. Always Follow up.9. End with an ask.10. Be open to new problems and opportunities!11. Summarize and review your notes with your team.
  7. 7. Where do you find people to interview?10 – 20% Res pon se R ate
  8. 8. The Best Place to Find Candidates:30-4 0% Res pon se R ate
  9. 9. Help not Sales
  10. 10. Manage Expectations • Only 10-20% of those you reach out to will respond. • Getting started is the hardest, then you can find the channels. • Different target customers often are found in different channels.
  11. 11. Now what?• Interview in groups of 8-10 people per customer type.• Summarize notes and review with others.• Look for common patterns matching C-P-S (Customer – Problem – Solution).• Compare to your high level metrics to see if anecdotes match data.• Iterate if there’s no match.
  12. 12. Contact me…I’m happy to help. On Twitter: @Evanish Other sites: Email:
  13. 13. Further Reading - Books The Entrepreneur’s Guide Running Lean to Customer Development By Ash Maurya By Patrick Vlaskovits & Brant Cooper A practical guide to build a great lean startup from The Cliff Notes for Lean the creator of the lean Startups; a must read for canvas. everyone on your team. The Lean Startup The Four Steps to the By Eric Ries Epiphany By Steve Blank Great high level overview of all the principles of a The Bible of Lean Startups. Lean Startup. Tough read, but excellent content.These books, especially 4 Steps, were key sources in creating this presentation & my learning of this methodology
  14. 14. Further Reading – Lean Related Blogs• Steve Blank, Godfather of Lean Startups• Ash Maurya, Practitioner and action-oriented• Dave McClure, Investor, advisor, badass• Andrew Chen, Metrics and Customer acquisition expert
  15. 15. Further Reading – Helpful Presentations• The Customer Development Methodology – by Steve Blank• Startup Metrics are for Pirates – by Dave McClure• The Top 10 Reasons to not be a Lean Startup – By Patrick Vlaskovits & Brant Cooper• How to recruit and interview potential customers – by Elizabeth Yin• Minimum Desirable Product: Customer Development for the “ Winner Take All” Web – by Andrew Chen