Previous Lecture Complete and continue  

  5.8. Step 3B: Contact the Sample of Customers (6 min.)

Now that you've generated a list of potential customers, it's time to contact them. As you reach out to customers, cold calls or in-person visits often work well for getting the attention of businesses, whereas emails often work better when you try to initiate contact with individual consumers. It is also best to reach out to complete strangers because it removes any biases that might be caused by your prior relationship with people you already know. That being said, sometimes you have to start with people where you already have a relationship.

Cold Calls - Phone calls to complete strangers can make anyone quite nervous. But with enough preparation, cold calls can be a lot easier to make and can reap valuable benefits. Below are some things to keep in mind as you make your phone contacts with potential customers.

David on the phone.png

  • Quickly tell them who you are and what you are doing. Otherwise, they'll lose interest really fast.
  • Tell them how you came to acquire their contact information.
  • Explain to them that you would like their feedback on your ideas and input on what you're looking to build.
  • Ask them if they are available to talk now or if they would rather talk another time.
  • Remember, you're not selling them anything! You're trying to validate customer pain. Don't sell them your ideas!

Below is a sample script of a cold call with a potential customer regarding power plant security software:

Good afternoon. My name is Frank Longbottom, and I'm looking for Scott Tissue. I received your phone number from your company's website. To give you a little background, I am currently developing a software program that helps power plants manage their security processes, and I assumed that you would be familiar with that topic at the company you are working for. Just to be clear, I'm not trying to sell anything. I'm actually just looking to see if I might be able to ask you some questions and get your input on the software I've been looking to build, so I can create something that makes good sense for the market. I don't want to take anymore of your time today, but I'd love to schedule a time when we could talk if that would work for you.

Emails - Although sending emails are not as scary as making phone calls, they introduce a set of complications on their own. But just like with phone calls, good preparation and a well-written script can go a long way.

Below is a sample script that Jared Allgood from ClassTop used in the initial customer contacts he made with university Chief Information Officers (CIOs).

My name is Jared Allgood. I am currently a student, and we are developing a software application that would make it easier for teachers to manage their courses through Blackboard. As I've interviewed instructors and administrators from several schools, I hear some of the same two complaints repeatedly: 1) The first complaint from administrators is that they're paying a substantial license fee to use Blackboard, yet less than 20% of instructors actually use it. 2) Second, from instructors I'm hearing that populating Blackboard with course content is painful. Because of Blackboard's linear process, you can't carry out multiple functions quickly. We'd like your input and feedback on the product we're proposing to build. Do you have a few minutes to meet?

(See Nail It Then Scale It, pgs. 74-77)