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

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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.

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 understand this industry?
  8. 8. Do we understand this industry? Does anybody care at all?
  9. 9. Do we Are we understand building the this industry?right product? Does anybody care at all?
  10. 10. Do we Are we understand building the this industry?right product? Does anybody Will they care at all? pay for it?
  11. 11. ❝ Build something people want! Paul Graham ❞ @paulg
  12. 12. But it’s super easy to screw up these interviews @robfitz
  13. 13. Anybody will say your idea is great if you annoy them for long enough. @robfitz
  14. 14. A man wakes up, turns on the radio, goes upstairs, turns on the lights, and kills himself. Why? (Note: this slide, and several others, are accompanied by mini-workshops which I can’t really replicate without being in the room. If you want to bring me in-house and hear the punchline, ping @robfitz)
  15. 15. (picture of wedding ring for commitment) 1. best: take their money 2. okay: take their email with permission to contact them Image by wstryder
  16. 16. The mom test 1. Never ask their opinion, especially about your idea 2. Ask about their life 3. 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 bad questions? @robfitz
  19. 19. ❝ Do think it’s a good idea? ❞ Us
  20. 20. ❝ Do think it’s a good 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 would you pay for this? ❞ Us
  28. 28. ❝ How much would you 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 budget for it? ❞ Us
  32. 32. ❝ Is there a budget for it? ❞ Us
  33. 33. ❝ Who else should I talk to? ❞ Us
  34. 34. ❝ Who else should I talk to? ❞ Us
  35. 35. So, we just had a meeting. But did we make progress? @robfitz
  36. 36. So, we just had a meeting. But did we make progress? @robfitz
  37. 37. ❝ Sounds great. I love it! ❞ Claudia
  38. 38. ❝ Sounds great. I love 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 tactic They 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. Partial commitment (Is there a valid reason he can’t connect you now?) @robfitz
  45. 45. ❝ I would definitely buy that! ❞ Claudia
  46. 46. ❝ I would definitely buy that! ❞ Claudia
  47. 47. DANGER!!! (A promising signal, but people can’t predict their own behaviour) @robfitz
  48. 48. Opinions are worthless. @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 for commitment) 1. best: take their money 2. okay: take their email with permission to contact them Image by elsie
  52. 52. Commitment is the best signal 1. Ideally, they give you money 2. And if not, the conversation needs to advance
  53. 53. Examples of advancement 1. Permission to contact again 2. Clear next meeting 3. Introduction to decision-maker 4. Commitment to run a trial 5. Pre-purchase
  54. 54. Compliments are not commitments @robfitz
  55. 55. 3 rules for good conversations 1. Ask open-ended questions 2. Which pass the mom test 3. 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 2 One asks questions The other writes down answers
  59. 59. Write down everything they say
  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 out about a whether new people industry or care at customer. 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 @robfitz http://thestartuptoolkit.com http://bootstrapchallenge.com

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