entrepreneurship

How To Fail-Proof Your Business By Asking These Simple Customer Validation Questions

Nathan Wade

Director of Marketing at WealthFit

If you build it, will they come? Maybe. But why take a risk you don’t have to. Before you build a product or start a business, test your ideas with potential customers. Use customer interviews to gain powerful insights on demand and more.

So you have an idea for a product?

How can you find out if it will be worth pursuing?

Customer interviews are the answer.

Customer interviews are a strategy from the Lean Startup Methodology developed by Eric Ries.

Doing customer interviews allows you to create and sell your product a lot faster because you already know what customers want.

The Lean Startup Methodology will save you money, but more importantly, it will save you TIME.

Don’t be afraid to talk to customers. This is the key to succeeding in business.

Don’t be afraid of putting your ideas out there.

Talking to potential customers about your product will give you invaluable insights on your product, your marketing strategy, and the economics of your business.

You don’t want to wait until product launch to find out your customers are only willing to pay half of your asking price.

Customer interviews can be the driving force behind your business decisions.

Here are six steps to help you have successful customer interviews that will give you valuable information about your business model.

Step 1: Figure Out Who You Should Interview

Interview people who fit your target customer avatar in gender, age, race, income, psychological factors, or any other defining characteristic.

Create multiple potential avatars for each product you’re testing. It’s hard to know who the product will be the most helpful for.

Get in touch people in your personal network that fit your customer avatar profile, and start a conversation.

Quick Side Note: If you already have a product out on the market reach out to your current customers.

Step 2: Determine How Many Interviews To Do

Determine how many interviews you are going to do.

You need enough data to make an educated decision that will help grow your business. No more, no less.

At a minimum you should to talk to five people per customer avatar.

Remember, you should have more than one customer avatar per product. The point of customer interviews is to test those avatars.

Step 3: Brainstorm Valuable Questions

Ask the questions that will bring value to your business and validate your business model.

There is no right or wrong amount of questions.

Follow your gut.

Consider having balance in the questions you ask to avoid interviewer bias.

Here are examples of questions that you can ask.

Ask questions that confirm or deny an assumption.

  • “What’s your biggest problem with _____?”
  • “How do you deal with it now?”
  • “Would you pay to get rid of this problem?”

Always end your customer interviews with the following questions:

  • “What did I fail to ask?” Never assume that you have the right questions right off the bat.
  • “Who else should I talk to?” Make the customer feel included in what you are doing and ask for personal recommendations on who else they can talk to.

These are examples of questions that you should avoid.

Avoid questions that can lead to subjective answers.

  • “Do you think our product is doing a good job solving your problem?”
  • “Do you think our product can be better?”

Don’t ask about your product’s solution.

  • “What do you think about our breakthrough product?”

Avoid talking about prices because you aren’t ready to go there. Instead, focus on the customer’s budget.

  • “Would you buy our product if it was cheaper?”

Don’t offer them a multiple choice survey to fill out because you don’t get out of the box or honest answers that way.

  • “Would you mind taking a few minutes to fill out our online survey?”

Step 4: Draft A Script To Assist With The Interview

Use a script as a guide for your interview because it will give you structure and remind you of what needs to be discussed.

But try to stay in the moment. Having a script handy can be a negative thing. Don’t let it distract you from listening to the customer.

You shouldn’t make this interview feel like an employment interview.

Let them talk.

Truly listen to what they have to say.

Show genuine interest in what they have to say.

It should be like you are having a conversation with a long time friend over a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks.

If you build a relationship with this customer based on trust, you will get more value out of the conversation because they will be more likely to open up to you more.

Remember you aren’t selling them anything.

When you are doing your interview make sure it doesn’t sound like you are reading your script word for word.

Sometimes, it is best if you aren’t following the script the entire time because things may pop up that you didn’t think about. These are the precious golden nuggets of information you’re looking for.

So don’t beat yourself up about it if you don’t ask every question IF you were able to get valuable insight about something else.

Step 5: How You Should Do Your Customer Interviews

Find customers anyway you can, but perform your interviews in person or over video chat software.

Quality is more important than quantity.

You will get high-quality customer interviews by chatting with them in person, or on a video call.

By building a relationship based on trust you with the customer, you will get deeper emotional insights that you won’t get from a survey or social media poll.

Customers can tell you everything from how they use your products, strengths and weaknesses of your product, how they felt using your product, and even make suggestions on how to make the product better to address their problem.

Just by listening to them you can get a better understanding of your customer - you can copy their tone and word usage for later marketing copy.

This is all valuable information that you can apply to improve your business.

Step 6: Record Powerful Insights Gained

As you are conducting your customer interviews, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have someone with you taking notes, so you can focus on talking with the customer.

Another option is to record the interview with the customer’s permission and reassure them that their identity will remain anonymous.

Highlight the trends or any patterns that your customers may have mentioned.

Don’t single out answers that aren’t popular. You should still take that information into consideration because it could possibly be a trend in the near future.

With the powerful insights that you have gained, brainstorm ideas that will help improve the current product or create a new product that’s worth pursuing.


Now It’s Your Turn To Take Action

What are you are waiting for?

Start networking and begin having conversations with your customers, so you can gain valuable information that will drive your business to stardom.

Share

Written By

Nathan Wade

Nathan is WealthFit’s Director of Marketing. He's previously worked as an attorney in entrepreneurial law and venture capital.

Read more about Nathan

RELATED TRAINING

 in 

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

article
How to Write a Food Truck Business Plan [Template Included]

Starting a food truck? Learn how to write a business plan that will get you funding, co-founders, and more! Use our template to get started ...

How to Write a Food Truck Business Plan [Template Included]

Nathan Wade

Read Now
article
Business Valuation: How Much is Your Business Worth?

Learn how to value any small business using this simple formula that applies a business’s EBITDA to it’s industry multiple.

Business Valuation: How Much is Your Business Worth?

Nathan Wade

Read Now
article
How To Find a Co-Founder You Like, Respect, and Trust With Your Life

Choosing the right cofounder can make or break your business. Find a cofounder that compliments your skill set and delivers skills that you lack.

How To Find a Co-Founder You Like, Respect, and Trust With Your Life

Nathan Wade

Read Now
article
How To Launch Your Business FAST by Creating a "Minimum Viable Product"

Don’t build the product of your dreams—build the product that solves your customer’s problem. Build an MVP to save time and resources.

How To Launch Your Business FAST by Creating a "Minimum Viable Product"

Nathan Wade

Read Now
article
The 5-Step Process for Rapidly Onboarding a New Employee

Your employees are your most valuable asset. Protect your investment in them with an effective and efficient onboarding process.

The 5-Step Process for Rapidly Onboarding a New Employee

Nathan Wade

Read Now
article
How To Start a Company That's Successful, Scalable, & Sellable

Starting a business is easier than you think. Start with a clear vision and follow the proven WealthFit Startup Strategy.

How To Start a Company That's Successful, Scalable, & Sellable

Nathan Wade

Read Now
High-ROI Content Marketing

High-ROI Content Marketing

How To Rapidly Produce Digital Content That Drives Traffic, Leads, and Sales

Joe Fier & Matt Wolfe

Watch Now
The “Money Train” Method

The “Money Train” Method

5 Steps to Generating Consistent Income as a Speaker, Consultant, or Salesperson

Mike Handcock & Landi Jac

Watch Now
Communicate, Sell, Win

Communicate, Sell, Win

How To Win Clients, Influence Employees, and Grow Your Business Through Effective Communication

Rene Kamstra

Watch Now
live talk
How To Decide On (& Manage) Opportunities

Developing his listeners into excellent conscious leaders, Mike Handcock join’s Dustin on the show and teaches us how to focus on what we’re doing right and live the life we want by following the four G’s: Get, Groom, Grow, and Go For The Gold.

How To Decide On (& Manage) Opportunities

The 60-Minute Business Plan

The 60-Minute Business Plan

A Crash Course on Effective Business Design for Busy Entrepreneurs

Jason Smith

Watch Now
Digital Nomad

Digital Nomad

How To Free Yourself From the Ordinary, Travel the World, and Make Money Online

Laura Petersen

Watch Now
live talk
Dirty Windows, 'The Pit' & How To Decide

Former options trader, Chris Beer, reveals her journey from the trading floor to consulting business owners how to "escape the grind" by optimizing their business, based on numbers.

Dirty Windows, 'The Pit' & How To Decide

live talk
Opportunership, Ideating & Bacon Wrapped Businesses

Growth strategist, Brad Constanzo, serves up unique ideas for creating opportunities and discovering ways to add value... including a discussion of bacon-wrapped business ideas. What's better than bacon? Listen to find out!

Opportunership, Ideating & Bacon Wrapped Businesses

Business Badass

Business Badass

The "One Man Army" Approach to Planning, Leading, & Succeeding at Business

Dale Comstock

Watch Now
live talk
Billion Dollar Branding, Direct Response & Getting ‘em to BUY NOW

Rick Cesari, the mastermind behind turning iconic household products into icons, reveals his strategies for direct response marketing and brand-building.

Billion Dollar Branding, Direct Response & Getting ‘em to BUY NOW

Entrepreneurship 101 for Teens

Entrepreneurship 101 for Teens

How To Start Your First Business

JP Servideo

Watch Now
live talk
Feeling Invincible, Marketing Martha Stewart & Dropping 76 Pounds!

Once Sayan Sarkar finally quit his full-time job, his side hustle business took off and generated 10x the amount of money he was making at his office job. He shares tips and tricks to how he was able to make this happen.

Feeling Invincible, Marketing Martha Stewart & Dropping 76 Pounds!

live talk
Structuring Creative Deals, “Thin Slicing” & Exiting Smart

Roland Frasier is someone who has achieved great success in his life through highly-profitable business deals, yet believes that degrees and certain career paths are overkill.

Structuring Creative Deals, “Thin Slicing” & Exiting Smart

article
Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur?

In her new book “Women with Money,” Jean Chatzky gives us the top 5 traits of successful entrepreneurs. [Excerpt]

Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur?

Jean Chatzky

Read Now
live talk
Closing, Significance & Martial Arts

Dan Lok is someone who has not let his past failures get in his way of achieving success. Follow his story about how he achieved wealth and success using his Wealth Triangle Dynamics.

Closing, Significance & Martial Arts

Idea To Income

Idea To Income

How To Start a Company and Turn Your Entrepreneurial Dreams into Reality

Didi Wong

Watch Now
live talk
Amazon, Future of eCommerce & Turning Down Millions

Find out how the online retail giant, Amazon, developed over the years and where the world of online shopping is headed.

Amazon, Future of eCommerce & Turning Down Millions

article
How to Fund Your Business with Government Grants

Who doesn't want cash from their favorite Uncle Sam? Here's how you can find grants and fund your business with free government money.

How to Fund Your Business with Government Grants

Ian Chandler

Read Now