It’s OK To Ask “Would You Use This” in Customer Discovery

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy

Q: Should I ask prospects if they would use my product? How do I interpret “yes”, “no”, and “maybe.”

My focus is on selling to business so from that perspective it’s a useful question as part of  customer discovery for problem exploration and customer needs analysis. You have to bear in mind that “Yes” is not validation.

The challenge is to continue to explore:

  • After  a No :  What’s missing? What’s unnecessary? Are any aspects or feature likely to be useful or do we have a complete misunderstanding of what’s needed?
  • After a Maybe: What’s missing? What’s unnecessary? What sounds useful or applicable? What would the impact be on your business?
  • After a Yes: What’s missing? What’s unnecessary? What did we get right? What seems especially useful? What do you think the impact on your business will be?

Before you ask this question think it’s also useful to understand their current work flow or process and what your product enables and/or removes so that you can explore what the “before and after” might look like. From that you can then say it would like this might save you 3 calendar days a quarter in cycle time or 3 person days a month or reduce the risk of X by a factor of 2 to 4 or allow you to do N more of X task than you are doing now with your team.

The risk with jumping to asking “would you use this” or  “would you give me X $” is that you have not laid the foundation for the value calculation or developed a common understanding of the likely impact on the prospect’s business.

Asking would you use it and assuming that you will close the sale will lead to tears, but it’s not a bad diagnostic question in the context of a real customer discovery or discovery-driven sales conversation.

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