Customer Discovery: Keep Going

Since I made the decision to pivot from deductmor to c_d8a, I’ve continued the Lean Startup Customer Discovery process for exactly the reasons the creators intended: to learn more and validate my customer(s) and product offerings.  This process has been extraordinarily fun, engaging, and educational for me because I am a generalist.  I’m a tech-leaning generalist, but a generalist nonetheless, and I cannot claim any deep functional or industry expertise.

To that end, doing customer discovery in a brand new market space – commercial construction lending, of all things! – is how I am getting to know the market.  The more people I talk to, the better I understand the processes, nuances, and headaches in this space.  However, I am also very much discovering everything that Eric Ries, et al, intended.

The Lean Startup Business Model Canvas

Earlier this week, I conducted several customer discovery interviews over the phone. These individuals were referrals from my primary client (ok, still “prospect” until the agreement is signed), so there was a strong, warm introduction and just enough explanation to peak their interest in what I am doing.  That made it much easier to hammer them with open-ended questions for 45-60 minutes on our very first phone date.

But I didn’t want to talk to these people. Yes, you read that right, I did not want to talk to these people, and this is my point, at which I’ll arrive shortly, I promise.  I was very much “meh, well, if I gotta”, about talking to these folks to whom I had been referred by a very helpful and influential client user. But from everything I had gleaned from that client, I absolutely knew these folks were not potential customers.  And I was right, but I had to talk to them to learn that.

No, they are not my clients, and never will be; however, they are my channel.  Had I gone with my gut and just kinda gone through the motions of talking to these folks, I never would have found that out.  Instead, I resisted the temptation to assume I was right, that I knew all I needed to know about this space, and that I didn’t need to keep going in the customer discovery process. Instead, I prepared my questions – usually at least 20 – and I asked every one of them. It wasn’t until the 18th or 19th question that it came out that these people – more accurately, the companies they work for – serve the very clients that make up the vast majority of my potential market.

I never would have learned this fact had I not continued with the customer discovery process.

Customer discovery: keep going.

What do you think?