I met with an aspiring entrepreneur recently who was deep into the customer discovery process with potential first customers. He was sharing with me how he was speaking to different customers but they were really of different market segments with different challenges. That was a big reason why he was hesitant around what features to build that would be critical to an MVP.
But one of the more interesting considerations during our discussion was how he identified a truly valuable insight and value that would actually bridge both customer segments due to this one problem. However, when he brought it up with one of the customers, there was immediate push back. What this wantrepreneur heard was really the fear and risk the customer felt when considering this new way of doing things.
But the question is, is this fear a true stumbling block that would make this offering dead on arrival? Or, was this fear just because “it’s how we’ve always done it”?
In these cases, it’s important to present what the value of such a solution would be. Part of this process includes asking, “why?” over and over (5 whys will do the trick) to get to the root of the problem. Then, present why and how the offering brings benefits and value to the customer. But also, consider if this customer can be an early partner to truly discover if this fear will hinder success or be a truly beneficial opportunity that can bring about much greater success to the company.
But also, consider how the risks and fears can be mitigated to enable the partner to keep going.
No one would have thought about people would let strangers in their home. Why would they ever do that? But then, when a company like Airbnb will insure the home for any potential damages + provide income + enable hosts to “vet” potential guests, the reality sets in that this can work. Consider days prior to Uber. Think about upsetting the status quo of taxis and cabs with long established systems with medallions vs. having strangers driver strangers around.
To disrupt established norms, one must only present enough value and benefits that overcome potential risks. Don’t let negative feedback stop the pursuit of something that could be great. Instead, dig in. Find out why that negative feedback exists. What would usurp the risks?