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El blog de Mikel Niño
Industria 4.0, Big Data Analytics, emprendimiento digital y nuevos modelos de negocio

"Emergency kit" for Customer Development interviews

Although we always try to have a good preparation and a good list of questions before a Customer Development interview, the kind of conversation or the context where it takes place may lead us to not be very strict about following a script, for example because the chance to explore an unknown problem with a potential customer arises from out of the blue, and we don't have any detailed script of questions to be posed. In such occasions I recommend some sort of "emergency kit" of questions in order to react immediately to the opportunity, containing four filters that can be applied to any exploration, as a "sieve" to detect whether what that potential customer is telling us can be a problem worth exploring.

Let's suppose that during the conversation our interlocutor mentions a specific situation that we consider interesting to explore and that may have a certain "business potential" that we want to validate, in order to know whether it is worth working further on it. To do so, we can use this sequence of four filters:

Filter #1 - What are they specifically complaining about?
From everything they tell us about that situation, we have to look into the specific complications they experienced ("What was the most difficult thing when you...?") and whatever they highlight as being specially annoying ("What annoyed you the most when...?", "What did you miss when...?"), so that we have a first selection of unfulfilled needs.

Filter #2 - When and how do they experience it?
If we have identified any "unrelieved pain", first of all we have to validate whether it is just a mere anecdote or, on the contrary, something with a significant presence in their day-to-day life. To do this, we need a minimum idea about the context and frequency with which they experience this complication ("Has this happened to you again?", "When was the last time you experienced it?", "How do you expect it to work out the next time?", "Does it always happen when... / at the same time as...?", "Has somebody else told you about the very same problem?").

Filter #3 - Have they actively searched for any solution?
From those unfulfilled needs where we see a particular potential due to the conditions under which they are experienced (e.g. they are very frequent; they happen under certain circumstances that make them optimal for our exploration; we have confirmed that other people also experience them and there seems to be a targetable market), we have to select those for which they actively searched for any solution ("Did you look for any information or reference to...?", "Did you ask [some relevant source] to check for...?", "What recommendations did you receive?", "Did you contact with those recommendations?", "Did you try them? Which one(s)?"). This allows us to check whether they have a minimum motivation or interest to solve that problem, because if they just "let it be" it is highly probable that they would do just the same with any solution we could come up with for that problem.

Filter #4 - Can we improve existing solutions?
From the questions in the previous filter we can get a rudimentary version of a "market research", identifying which kind of solutions they have explored (that is, our "potential competitors") and the key features of those businesses: how they found them (channels), how their experience with them was and which features the offered solution had (value proposition), how much they cost (pricing strategy), which objections they found about those solutions, why the offer was not interesting enough or, in case any solution was bought, why they didn't follow using it (customer engagement). This gives us a first reference to compare what we could offer in that market, looking for our differentiation strategy and competitive advantage.

[Haz clic aquí para la versión en español de esta entrada]

4 comentarios:

  1. This is a really good list, I have added it to my roundup of tips for B2B interviews at

    1. Thanks very much for your positive feedback, Sean. I'm very flattered that you included this resource in your roundup, I really appreciate it!

      I include below a clickable link:
      Sean Murphy's roundup of Tips for B2B Customer Development Interviews

  2. Thank you for the insight. We need the help in going "off-road" as needed with each customer interview. Your points helped motivate a broader perspective for our team.