Customer Discovery: when “NO!” is good

Yesterday, I wrote about how customer discovery is done before you build a product or service into a business, because the customer discovery process is how you determine what your customer needs, where their pain is, what your solution should look like. In other words, get customers to tell you what to build before your build it.

However, there’s another side to customer discovery, and that is getting people to tell you that they are NOT a customer.  It’s easy to think of this as rejection, but it is far from it.

When you’re doing customer discovery, and you dig and dig and ask and ask potential customers what their pain points are and what they would change and how they would change it if they could, and what you hear is that there is no pain point in the area you’re trying to cover, that is actually a very good thing.

What?!?  No pain means there’s not a market, right?!?  Well, kind of, but not really.  Here’s why.

You can’t be everything to everybody. Not possible, and not profitable. So finding a piece of your target market that has no need for your service is a wonderful and easy way to narrow your market focus, before you’ve built a product. Again, you can’t be everything to everybody. You don’t want to be. You want to be a huge value to a very well defined (hopefully very large) market segment.

In customer discovery, “no” is a good thing. Remember, customer discover is not sales. It’s research.

What do you think?