Getting Better at Customer Discovery Conversations

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

Getting better at customer discovery conversations requires preparation, practice, note taking, and follow-up. It can also be tremendously helpful if you can arrange for a partner who can observe, contribute,  take notes, and de-brief with you. Even if you are a solo entrepreneur “trade interviews” with another entrepreneur: agree to help them with one of their interviews if they will help you with one of yours. Here is a recent exchange I had during an office hours edited for clarity.

Customer Development: Scouting A New Market

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, skmurphy

There are no undefended markets. Established markets are characterized by entrenched competitors who have strong brand identify and deep customer relationships. Although Bill Hewlett always strove to “attack the undefended hill,” the reality is that any market worth having is at least lightly defended by the status quo of current alternatives. When scouting a new market you have to determine where you can make a clear contribution that will differentiate your offering from the alternatives currently available–including “doing nothing.”

Recap Customer Development & Pricing For B2B Startups Jan-19-2016

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, skmurphy

I led a very interactive session on customer development and pricing for startups on Jan-19-2016 with the Montreal Lean Startup Circle. I have included the slides and their text but they comprise only about 1/6 of the session, the bulk of which was having different entrepreneurs in the audience present their challenges with customer development and pricing and helping them to walk around the situation.

David Telleen-Lawton Presents at Lean Startup Conference 2015

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Customer Development, Events, Lean Startup, Partner, Tools for Startups

Lean Startup Conference logoIf you missed  The Nitty Gritty of Setting Up Customer Discovery Meetings by David Telleen-Lawton at The Lean Startup Conference 2015, he shared the down and dirty details of setting up meetings for Customer Discovery. Having set hundreds of B2B and B2C discovery meetings over the years, Telleen-Lawton tells how to reach out and set these meetings.

Newsletter: Customer Discovery Interviews

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, skmurphy

SKMurphy Newsletter
for October 2015

This blog post summarizes our October newsletter, you can subscribe to the monthly SKMurphy newsletter using the form at the right

Customer Interviews

Customer Discovery interviews are key to discovering whether or not a market exists for your product or service and the skills and questions you hone in the early market will continue to be refined as you scale. This month we focus on how to start them, techniques for cultivating your curiosity so that you learn as much as possible, and some suggestions for how to review and organize your findings on an ongoing basis.

Asking Questions From A Caring Perspective

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Community of Practice, Customer Development, skmurphy

I used to think it was the advice I offered that provided the highest value to clients and friends. I talk to a number of people in different or challenging situations. Recently I have come to appreciate that it’s when I focus and listen to someone explain their situation, asking them questions from a caring perspective to help clarify their understanding, that I often provide the most value.

Organizing Your Experiment Log

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

In Chapter 9 of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Robert Pirsig goes into an extended explanation of the Scientific Method using the metaphor of motorcycle repair. He stresses the value of an experiment log, explaining how to organize it so that you don’t become lost in exploring for solutions to a problem. I have excerpted it below and intermixed some commentary about applying it to early market exploring and debugging new product introduction problems.

A Serious Conversation Can Change Your Life

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Books, Customer Development, skmurphy

Theodore Zeldin gave a series of six lectures on conversation that were collected in slim book called “Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives.” I found it offered a number of insights on what is needed for a serious conversation. And since serious conversation is one of the primary tools for early market exploration and customer development; I have curated a list of nine excerpts I think entrepreneurs will find useful.

Your First Dozen Enterprise Customers

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, Demos, Lead Generation, Rules of Thumb, Sales, skmurphy

traction-bookMy interview with Gabriel Weinberg was originally published Sep-8-2010. He was doing research for what became his fantastic book Traction. We talked for the better part of an hour and a half and I can remember he kept returning in different ways to what was needed to close your first dozen enterprise customers.

Founder Story: Edith Harbaugh of LaunchDarkly

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Customer Development, Design of Experiments, Founder Story, skmurphy

I got to know Edith Harbaugh (@edith_h) when she was moderating the Lean Startup Circle Group and published two guest blog posts by her: “It’s Your Execution, Not Your Idea” and “Managing Email Conversations With Customers.” I also invited her to take part in a webinar on Innovator’s DNA: Experimenting Skill. During the roundtable conversation she mentioned some lessons learned from a bicycle trip across the United States–I thought to myself, anyone willing to bike across the country is ready to become a technology entrepreneur. So when she emailed me that she had co-founded LaunchDarkly I reached out to interview her. What follows is an edited transcript.

3D Printing: The Next Best Thing But Not Yet

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

3D printing is overhyped and its implications are not well understood. It will be twenty plus years before there is a 3D printer in most homes due to limitations of the cost of the machine, material, obtaining software and learning how to use the software. Other fundamentally problem that prevent 3D printers being adapted by the public are to understanding of design, physics, and material science and a change of behavior of making things at home.

Innovation: the Trick is Managing the Pain

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Customer Development, skmurphy

Any innovation effort is a painful struggle punctuated by false starts and dead ends. Your efforts are met with lack of interest even when a basic invention is working and active resistance when it starts to replace the tried and true. Like any childbirth the trick is managing the pain long enough to deliver.

Step Back To See Yourself In The Problem

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Consulting Business, Customer Development, skmurphy

Normally if you are not getting traction, if you are not able to reliably set and hit goals, then it’s a good idea to narrow your focus and take smaller steps.  Zoom in for traction.  This is a good rule of but you may need to take a step back and look at yourself as an actor in the system (or contributor to the problem).

The Uncanny Valley of Email Automation

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Consulting Business, Customer Development, Sales, skmurphy

Trust is built over repeated interactions between people. If your business requires long term relationships then you have to make sure that investments in automation are not deployed in a way that undercut your ability to have real conversations. Unfortunately, some uses of email automation tools are pushing sales conversations into the “Uncanny Valley” because they strive to simulate–but miss–a genuine personalized touch.

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