Tag Archive for: customer discovery

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?

Having an out-of-body experience helps entrepreneurs in the customer discovery process. It’s easy for people to get used to doing things they already do that they disregard the pain and suffering as a “fact-of-life”. You hear this often when folks recite, “it’s how we’ve always done it”. In this way, people have limited perspective on what is actually a painful or what can be done. People can be encouraged to have an “out-of-body” experience. They can envision watching themselves do work. See where’s pain. Where is there significant process?

In many cases, people “duck tape” solutions together. This is very common in the business world as people use spreadsheets as their silver bullet. Over time, they iterate on the spreadsheets to fit their needs until some threshold breaks. Then, there’s a need for a real solution.

The out-of-body experience is similar to the teaching from Timothy Gallwey’s Inner Game of Tennis. Gallwey talks about the revelation most folks have when they see themselves playing tennis. His tennis students quickly and correctly fix their forms – not by his coaching, but by seeing themselves swing their rackets in reflections.

The point of the out-of-body experience is to be a third-party to how one performs a task or lives the work day. It’s about separating the emotional element of being the person doing the work and the defense people build up. Then, being able to view one’s self as a bystander purely looking at the process. This is similar to what consultants do. They gather their insights from interviews and observations.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Henry Ford famously depicted the very challenge he as an entrepreneur faced when people were not able to have that out-of-body experience. There’s equal parts having that out-of-body experience and the ability to think outside of the norm (dream up the automobile).

Do yourself a favor today, and have that out-of-body experience. Watch yourself as an observer. What do you notice?