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  7.9. On-site Meetings with Customers (5 min.)


Begin the Prototype Roadshow by arranging on-site meetings with the full customer buying panel. Ideally, you should try to arrange a new sample of customers (who will have a fresh perspective on the solution) and at the same time try to have meetings with the end, technical, and economic users for a particular organization. The customer buying panel represents all the influencers in the purchase decision - your jury, in a sense - and bringing them together at the same time can create powerful buy-in.

As before, you should prepare an interview guide and be ready to record and transcribe the conversation. When requesting a meeting, you should highlight the pain you are addressing, emphasize that you are not selling, and explain that you would like feedback as you create the solution, similar to when you contacted customers to test the Monetizable Pain Hypothesis. As before, your "hit rate" or "response rate" will give you some insight into whether you have correctly identified or verbalized the pain. You might consider using language such as this to request a meeting:

We are going to be in your area. We are talking to so and so (one of your competitors, partners, or another individual at the organization). We would like to talk to one of your team members about this big problem (talk about the pain). We are developing this next-generation product that solves this pain. We aren’t selling anything, but are in the development stage, and before we lock this product down, we’d like to get your feedback, because you are a thought leader in the space. Can we come and talk with you and your team [on this date]?

Whatever language you use, the key communication strategies are to 1) communicate the pain, 2) highlight you are not selling, 3) reinforce that they are an important voice and thought leader 4) identify the members of the peer group or competitors you will also be talking to, and 5) solicit feedback.

When arranging meetings, try to get as many of the relevant customer stakeholders (from a single organization) as possible into one room at the same time. When you have the full buying panel in one room, you will get richer comments and feedback because the comments of one type of stakeholder will elicit a reaction from other team members. Let your customers talk and use the prototype as a prompt to elicit their feedback. Again, there is a fine line between just asking if customers “like it” (which is fairly useless in the end) and using the prototype to really understand if it solves the problem. The purpose of the prototype is to get specific and focused about whether this particular prototype solves the problem or not.

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. 118-123)