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  6.17. Step 2: Test the Virtual Prototype with Customers (2 min.)

Similar to the way you tested your hypothesis of customer pain, you are now going to test your hypothesis of the solution with the virtual prototype.

1. Identify Customers to Contact - you can reach back out to those you have already spoken to about the pain or contact completely new individuals. Remember, there are multiple types of customers. Consider the customer buying panel, which is all the customer stakeholders that will be involved or have influence in buying the product. For a review on the customer buying panel, see The Three Types of Customers from our discussion on validating customer pain.

2. Contact Customers - to re-familiarize yourself with contacting customers, see Step 3B: Contact the Sample of Customers from our discussion on validating customer pain.

3. The interview questions should focus on trying to understand the pain, how the virtual prototype solves that pain, and their general reaction to your virtual prototype and solution. The three questions you used earlier in What to Say in Customer Conversations when validating customer pain can be modified to test the solution hypothesis.

A. Seek to understand - "We believe you have this problem. Is this accurate?" (You are creating confidence in your customers that you are legitimate, while at the same time trying to understand their pain. Specifically, you want to describe yourself as a company working in the area or developing a product, describe the pain, and then search for a customer reaction to tell you whether you are on the right track.)

B. Show the solution - "Does this solution solve your problem?" (Share your virtual prototype and ask them for advice on the solution. The more specific your prototype, the better your feedback will be.)

C. Test customer demand - "What would this solution need to have for you to purchase it?" (Push your customer as to whether they would actually purchase if it were available. However, as you do so, remember the purpose of this question is not to sell but to observe the customer’s reaction. If you close a sale, you have validated the demand for your solution! But, if the customer hesitates, use this question to explore their concerns and understand the hurdles that stand between you and a future sale.)

If you haven't already done so, we encourage you to download the following interview guide, which will help you with customer conversations as you go through the Nail It Then Scale It process.

(See Nail It Then Scale It, pgs. 107-115)