We help founders on a mission to fix things and improve the world. Getting a new product to market or defining a sales and marketing strategy that works starts with a good persona understanding and matching of needs with the solution. The key is to not focus on your technology or solution at first but rather on the person you are interviewing. This will have several benefits: it will open the person to give you more deep feedback. Everyone likes talking so you should let them talk and practice as much as you can your listening skills. In addition, you will be able to gage where does your solution stand in terms of their priority. Are you top of mind or more of a nice to have. With the information exchange you will be able to define pivot strategies in case you are not making the top of the list. Stay cool, try to not bias your question. Below is a set of questions that will allow you to interact and gain some intelligence from your target customers.
Example of interview questions:
- What is your role?
- Can you describe me how you spend your time in a week?
- What are the things you like doing the most and the least?
- Any particular items that keeps you up at night?
- Can you describe me the process for…(the process you are impacting)?
- What do you like about it? what are the pain points you wish could be solved if any?
- etc. etc.
From these interview questions you should have got the main point. Start from the top down. Start high level and drill down slowly into the weeds. Not talking, at least initially, about your solution. Once you reach a certain point of understanding of their day to day and what problems they really care about try pitching your solution. Avoid the sales pitch. Instead keep it open for feedback and criticism. Actually encourage for negative feedback or objections. Motivate your interviewee to feel comfortable in doing so. Tell him clearly “I am not looking for you to be polite with me, give me a hard time as it helps me” or “Honest blunt feedback is what I am looking for, I need to know if I am wasting my time with this venture or if there are any opportunities to really pursue with this” etc.
When showing the solution simply show it explaining what it does and why you think it could be useful and then ask for confirmation on the use. “Would you also find this useful or not really? “Is there anything I am showing you that could be interesting to you or your team?” “Any specific use case or other use cases outside your usual area where you would see this useful?”
Finalize the interview with what we call the tough closing questions such as:
- So to finalize, how likely would you be to buy a solution like this? What did you like, not like or not understand?
- Do you think there is a play for us in this market or are we dreaming?
- To conclude, what would you recommend I do as next steps etc.?
- Would you have anyone else you would recommend interviewing that you could refer us to?
Finally, be grateful for the person time and include that person in your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) and keep them up to date of the progress (if they agree of course). People you interview in that manner will often want to help you more. By keeping them up to date you could get more opportunities.