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ProductTank #20 Kraków- Customer development, how to validate your product idea

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ProductTank #20 Kraków- Customer development, how to validate your product idea

  1. 1. Customer Development How to validate your product idea? A little bit about early Discovery, Validation and Research
  2. 2. Agenda 1. Why Customer Development 2. Where to find the people 3. How to approach potential customers 4. Preparation and running an interview 5. Post interview actions 6. Materials
  3. 3. Marcin Grajcar ● Role: Product Manager in Codewise ~ 4 years ● Background: graduated Management - Cracow University of Economics ● Interests: Marketing Technology, Analytics, Advertising, Demand Generation, Growth, Ecommerce, Lean Startup, Customer Development, Lean Analytics ● Fun fact: got twin brother, plays electric guitar
  4. 4. You always start with an idea You, your team or somebody from your company comes up with an idea. New feature, new product line, new business. Does it make sense? How to find out? Whom should I speak to? Where to find early-adopters?
  5. 5. Why Customer Development of the building
  6. 6. Why Customer Development 1. A fit in the wider Product Management processes a. Validating the Problem hypothesis b. Validating the Customer hypothesis 2. “There Are No Facts Inside Your Building, So Get Outside.” 3. Helps to prioritize one customer segment/persona 4. Decreases the risk of waste (budget, time, resources) 5. Ultimate goal is finding 6 reference customers - companies interested enough in solving the problem, for whom you build the prototype 6. Manifesto
  7. 7. Early adopters Early adopters are usually people who feel the pain and love to try new products and service. They give market proof to the early and late majorities. Steve Blank recommends talking to mid-level managers/director rather than C-suite - it’s easier to get their time, repeat the conversation and get educated before going up the chain.
  8. 8. Where to find potential customers/users
  9. 9. Where to find potential customers/users 1. Internally a. Referral from professional network of colleagues, your network b. Existing users (spin-off) c. Your customer facing teams - customer queries from Sales, Support, Marketing, CRM/Accounts 2. Events/Networking a. Attending local meetups (MeetUp, EventBrite, local associations of professionals) b. Attending industry conferences c. Attendee list contacting before the gig (scheduling apps, LinkedIn) 3. Social channels a. Activities: posting in relevant groups, asking for advice and expert insights, direct contact of users, starting discussions, replying in threads b. Channels: LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, Quora
  10. 10. Where to find potential customers/users 1. Demand testing with fake product Landing Page a. Running paid campaigns and collecting emails - you’ll validate demand as well b. Facebook, Quora, Reddit, LinkedIn, Google Ads, Bing channels 2. Websites a. Product reviewers: G2 Crowd, Capterra, Trustradius b. Industry specific: specialised websites/publishers, blogs, influencers, experts c. BuiltWith search
  11. 11. How to approach potential customers
  12. 12. How to approach potential customers - process 1. Set the goal - how many people you want to talk to? Target 25-50 (since it’s qualitative) 2. Create 3 variations of the message, use a template, iterate constantly 3. Pimp your social media profiles to increase relevance (summary, skills, job description, groups) 4. Creat your tracking system - file with contacts and status/actions 5. Measure effectiveness of each channel and template - Response Rate, Meeting Rate every 2 weeks
  13. 13. How to approach potential customers - message 1. Short - 5-6 sentences max, nobody’s got the time to read, state who you are and why you’re contacting the person 2. Personal - refer to something from their profile, role, experience, organization, social media activity. Tailor your message using details and wording from profiles 3. Valuable - give a reason to meet, why would they devote 20 minutes of their time, give 1-2 sentence summary what you’re hoping to learn/talk (they may not be able to help)
  14. 14. How to approach potential customers - examples Hi Sam, I read your article on volunteering your professional skills in Guatemala – it was really inspiring. I’m looking to travel more and you’ve got me thinking about incorporating volunteering when I do! I have a software company trying to improve remote medical record coding. I’m not looking to sell anything, but since you have so much expertise with remote coding, I’d love to get your advice on our product so we don’t build the wrong thing. If you’re available, I’d love to chat for just 20 minutes – Thur or Fri morning? Thanks for any help, Justin Source, Justin Wilcox, customerdevlabs.com Hi John, I have been working on some new solutions in the area of expense report management, and I was told that you have a lot of expertise in this area. We started this journey because of personal frustration, and we’re trying to figure out how to make expense reporting much less painful. Would you have 30 minutes to give us some advice, and share some of your experience in this domain? I assure you that I’m not selling anything. I would be happy to come by your office or arrange a quick video conference, at your preference. Jane Doe Source, Giff Constable, Talking To Humans
  15. 15. How to approach potential customers - tips ● Asking for the advice (makes people feel important) ● Be honest and upfront - ‘I’m not looking to sell you anything, just a networking/friendly conversation (about your problems)’ ● Flatter a bit - ‘We're looking to talk with experienced marketing professionals and since you’ve got a really good background in XXX (…)” ● Use courtesy and respect when contacting people — don’t bombard with requests over and over, don’t be pushy ● Give 2-3 options of when, where, and how to meet so the person can easily just pick one ● Ask for their emails, sent calendar invitation, set reminder a day before ● Schedule regular follow-ups with initially engaged and with the ones in scheduling process ● Online meeting is good. Offlines are better - the chance to build rapport
  16. 16. Preparations
  17. 17. Basic tool set Tools are required to standardize and unify the work of the people in the team. ● Scenario of the interview with questions to ask ● Respondent profile - our target/persona ● Observation tool (eg. Google Sheet) - to gather raw data
  18. 18. How to come up with questions? ● Refer to Lean Canvas - you need to validate if that’s your Customer and has the Problem ● Brain dump - make a list of all your assumptions, expectations, believes, hypothesis and perspectives ● Clean and prioritize - it’s exploratory research - most of those questions are here to help us understand the potential customer situation and context Examples: ● Find out more about your Customer ○ What’s the main objective for you in this role / company? ○ What’s are you trying to get done? Why? ○ What’s the metric/KPI you look at? ● Find out more about the wider context ○ How does your current process look like? ○ What do you do in the beginning/mid/end of the day? ○ What are the other teams/stakeholder you work with? ○ What are the tools (both internal and external) you use to get you job done?
  19. 19. How to ask about the problem? The most crucial and the trickiest part. Ask about the problems they face. Not about the problem you think they have. Not the solution they’d wish for. What feature the customers ask for is never as interesting as why they want them. In general, people don’t know what they want unless they see/use the solution. It’s PM’s/Product Team’s duty to develop the right solution. Examples ● What’s the biggest challenge for you day-to-day? ● What’s the biggest blocker/time waste? ● Can you tell me what’s frustrating about your current process? ● What’s the hardest part about xxx? ● How often do you experience this problem? ● Have you tried to solve the problem? How? Can you walk me through it? ● What don’t you like about the solutions you’ve tried? ● How much are you spending to solve this problem now? (time, people, budget) ● How much would you pay to make this problem go away? (note - this can lead to interesting answers as long as you don’t take answer to literally)
  20. 20. Running an interview
  21. 21. Make the interview about the interview “Identify next-gen opportunities for our Q3 roadmap” vs “Let’s learn how Ann works and what are her needs and wishes concerning her work.”
  22. 22. General tips - organization ● Run interviews in pairs ● Take the UX or Dev with you. You as a PM have to be present on all interviews. ● Decide who is the moderator - that person asks the questions ● Another one makes all the notes ● Stick to the scenario - try to ask questions exactly the way questions were designed (standardization) ● If applicable - ask for permission to record the sessions - it helps a lot and most oftenly people are ok with it ● Agree on the timeslot - respect the time of your respondent
  23. 23. General tips - how to run it? 1. Make them talk about their past experience with the problem 2. Always ask open-ended questions 3. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications and the “why” behind the “what” 4. Don’t ask users to talk theoretically about what they might do - get stories, not speculations 5. Don’t talk about your idea/product (while validating demand) - people will feel what you expect, will want to help and be polite - you’ll get skewed results 6. Treat them simply like other human being - the more casual approach the more honest replies you get - it should feel as a conversation
  24. 24. General tips - how to run it? 1. Avoiding rationalization and confirmation bias (a tough one) a. Disarm people’s politeness and ask for honest feedback b. Apply a filter - people want to seem to be interesting even if they are not c. Get psyched to hear things you don’t want to hear 2. Checking commitment a. ‘Sounds great. I love it’ or ‘Let me know when it launches’ - usually means they don’t really care (stalling & compliment tactic) b. ‘There is a couple of people I can intro you when ready’ - better, partial commitment c. ‘How can I buy it? Is it available already’ - proper validation - when they ask about next steps, propose meeting, want intro do the decision makes, want to take part in beta
  25. 25. General tips - closure 1. End with asking for reference (4x better success rate compared to cold emailing + such intros have 80% better response rate) 2. If the problem you hypothesized doesn’t get mentioned during interview, you can still ask about it a. If you have to bring the problem up and they’re not taking steps to solve it, they won’t use your solution. b. It doesn’t matter how simple it is, how well it solves the problem, how cheap it is…none of it matters. c. This problem is not a big enough concern for this customer to take the time to find it, pay for it, learn it, or use it. d. And that’s OK 3. Write up your notes as quickly as possible 4. Share short summary with the whole Product Team 5. Always follow-up and drop thank you note
  26. 26. Post interviews
  27. 27. 1. Do a list of all observations and analyze the results: a. Post its session - write down patterns with the whole team, group it, review with Lean Canvas and see what might need to change or require deeper investigation b. Quantify the results (spreadsheet) - remain skeptical, don’t obsess with any particular metrics 2. Look for the patterns. 3. Look at the cohorts (customer types, companies size, different role, demographics) 4. Observe the image from a further perspective. Is something missing? What is the general conclusion? 5. Prioritize from the most important/common to the least relevant observations 6. Don’t abdicate the role of Product Team - customer can’t design the product for you. As we’re gathering information and making decisions, act like a intelligent filter, not an order-taker. Processing the results
  28. 28. Context independent Understanding Understanding relations Understanding patterns Understanding principles Being able to apply
  29. 29. Post analysis - what now? Are you armed with knowledge and feedback? Are your Customer / Problem hypothesis: - Invalidated? - congrats (and bummer). Good news is, you’re doing it right. Time to find a new customer segment, or a new problem - Validated? - good job. For now. Gather 6 reference customers. You’ve just started. Get more insights. Start building prototype and test it.
  30. 30. The Truth Curve
  31. 31. Summary
  32. 32. ● Is it hard? ● Is it tedious? ● Is it time-consuming? ● Is it uncomfortable? 4 x Yes Customer Development is not the easiest thing. But still it’s the fastest way to confront your ideas with real word and it’s much cheaper than devoting months of work and resources to deliver something that’s not needed.
  33. 33. Materials Books ● “Talking to Humans” - Giff Constable ● “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” - Steve Blank ● “The Startup Owner’s Manual” - Steve Blank ● “The Lean Startup” Eric Ries ● “Validating product ideas” Tomer Sharon ● “Lean Analytics” Alistair Croll, Benjamin Yoskovitz ● “Inspired” Marty Cagan ● “Interviewing users” Steve Portigal ● “Traction” Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares How to find customers? ● https://customerdevlabs.com/2013/10/08/finding-customers-to-interview/ ● https://jasonevanish.com/2013/08/11/95-ways-to-find-your-first-customers-for-customer-development-or-your-first-sale/ ● https://www.slideshare.net/dunkhippo33/lean-startup-circle-boston-april-28-2011 ● https://blog.asmartbear.com/stop-customer-interviews.html How to approach customers ● https://www.cindyalvarez.com/3-1-ways-to-request-and-get-a-face-to-face-meeting-2014/ ● https://customerdevlabs.com/2014/02/18/how-to-send-cold-emails/ ● https://ask.goodproductmanager.com/2011/10/11/how-do-i-set-up-customer-interviews/ ● https://www.quora.com/Customer-Development/What%E2%80%99s-the-best-cold-calling-script-you%E2%80%99ve-found-success-with-when-setting-up-customer-interviews ● https://www.slideshare.net/TechWellPresentations/at4-bankston?next_slideshow=1 Running interviews ● http://giffconstable.com/2012/12/12-tips-for-early-customer-development-interviews-revision-3/ ● https://jasonevanish.com/2012/01/18/how-to-structure-and-get-the-most-out-of-customer-development-interviews/ ● http://www.market-by-numbers.com/the-art-of-the-customer-development-conversations/ ● https://medium.com/user-research/never-ask-what-they-want-3-better-questions-to-ask-in-user-interviews-aeddd2a2101e ● https://www.cindyalvarez.com/10-things-ive-learned-about-customer-development/ ● https://www.quora.com/Customer-Development/What-are-your-favorite-methods-for-doing-problem-interviews-during-Customer-Discovery ● https://www.quora.com/Customer-Development/When-asking-early-adopters-for-customer-development-interviews-would-you-recommend-offering-payment-or-other-incentives ● http://blog.kytelabs.com/?p=17 ● https://grasshopperherder.com/top-3-ways-to-fail-at-customer-development/ ● https://customerdevlabs.com/2013/11/05/how-i-interview-customers/ ● https://customerdevlabs.com/2013/09/10/customer-development-notes-finished-post-its/