Talking to Humans

by Giff Constable

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It is better to challenge your risky assumptions right at the start.

  1. talk directly to your customers and partners, and observe their behavior;
  2. run experiments in which you put people trough experience and track what happens.

„List out the riskiest hypotheses.“

„You need to understand your market. How does your customer buy? When do they buy? Why do they buy? Where do they buy?“

  • My target customer will be?
  • The problem my customer wants to solve is?
  • My customer’s need can be solved with?
  • Why can’t my customer solve this today?
  • The measurable outcome my customer wants to achieve is?
  • My primary customer acquisition tactic will be?
  • My earliest adopter will be?
  • I will make money (revenue) by?
  • My primary competition will be?
  • I will beat my competitors primarily because of?
  • My biggest risk to financial viability is?
  • My biggest technical or engineering risk is?
  • What assumptions do we have that, if proven wrong, would cause this business to fail? (Tip: include market size in this list)

How to find interview subjects

  1. Try to get one degree of separation away (don’t interview your mom, your uncle, or your best friends)
  2. Be creative (and don’t expect people to come to you)
  3. Fish where the fish are (and not where they are not)“

Find a moment of pain Make referrals happen Advice vs selling (ask for advice; do not sell) Look for solution hacks Listen don’t Talk Drill down, five whys Parrot back, misrepresent to confirm Dig into stories first, make people safe to say bad stuff about your product

Lessons Learned

  1. Customer discovery is about gaining much deeper insight into your customer, or your partners, or your market
  2. Being told your idea is cool is not useful; seeing behavior that validates your customer’s willingness to buy is very useful
  3. Prepare an interview guide before you get out of the building
  4. To ask the right questions, you need to understand your risks and assumptions
  5. Get creative when trying to recruit people — if at first you don’t succeed, try something new
  6. Sometimes observation is as powerful as interviews“
  7. Take good notes, especially on your key risks, so that you can calculate metrics later. Even better, set your target goals ahead of time!
  8. Bring learning back and analyze your patterns as a team
  9. Never stop asking hard questions about your business“

Note for b2b „strategic buyer (who is excited about the change you can bring), an economic buyer (who controls the purse), a technical buyer (who might have approval/blocker rights), and then the actual users of your product. Can you identify your champion? Can you identify who might be a saboteur?“

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