Innovation, R&D, and product teams that are fully committed to building a new solution and barely concerned with whether it is the right solution… have you experienced this before? Unfortunately, we experience it all too often in daily practice.

In this article, we are sharing tips about what is involved in conducting a good customer conversation and how it benefits your organization. The worse feeling in the world is that you have built a great piece of technology but no one is waiting for it. Or that you can’t generate revenue with it.

Did you know that research shows that the main reason for the failure of tech businesses is the lack of a market need? A waste of time, money, and energy that could have been avoided! You never have certainty about success, but you can certainly reduce the chance of failure. How? 

Continue reading down here.

Understanding your customer

By first really understanding the intent of the customer. That’s where it starts, so talking to your customers. However, having a good customer conversation about an idea you have is not easy. It turns out to be much easier to screw up than to do it right.

What can be noted about thoughts like: “I love my idea for this new platform…” and “Customers don’t know what they want at all…” and questions like “You just said it doesn’t work well, do you think it’s difficult? ” or, “Would you start using this platform?” A lot! In this article, we explain why and provide insights into what is involved in conducting a good customer conversation.

It takes talent, knowledge, and skills.

Fortunately, knowledge and skills can be learned. In order to increase your skills, you need knowledge about what the approach should be and how to have a good conversation. If you know that, then it is practice, practice, and practice again.

The approach of the conversation

How often do you not hear: “I love my idea for this new platform …”.

That you love your idea is logical and even necessary. So there is nothing wrong with believing in yourself. However, you can be or become blind to reality. And even though you can get other people excited about your idea (if your story is good enough you can sell almost anything, so to speak), it still doesn’t guarantee that they will actually buy it.

And what do you think: “Everyone I know loves my idea for this new platform …”. Unfortunately, a direct environment is rarely objective. People around you unconsciously look through coloured glasses. Or they consciously react more positively than they actually are. Because they don’t want to hurt or demotivate you, for example. It is important to know that others believe in you, but again no guarantee of success.

Testing your idea

The belief and enthusiasm of you and your environment is a valuable spark for the creation of new (online) products. Then it is wise to test, validate whether people are really waiting for your product. And no matter how difficult that may be, let go of your idea and focus initially on the intended customers. The crux is to find out the story behind the needs of your intended customers, the ‘why’.

Learning from your customers

Now I hear you say: “Yes, but I want to know what they think of my idea for this new platform …”. Understandably, by starting your conversation with your idea, you’re likely to get socially desirable answers. But, is that what you should want to hear? By starting broadly on the subject, you create a situation in which they can tell about their experiences from an open mind. And you can learn a lot about and from your intended customers.

And then you might think: “Customers don’t know what they want at all …”. That is indeed difficult. However, they do know what they are doing in the present or what they were doing in the past (or not doing or doing), why they are doing or doing that, what they encountered or ran into at those moments, what the specific circumstances are or where and how they feel or feel about it.

If you can get your finger on this, you will gain valuable information and you will really learn to understand your intended customers better. And then there is nothing wrong with telling your idea at the end of your conversation and having them respond to it.

8 tips for a good conversation

Good, so it is wise to take the tasks that customers want to get done. That brings me to ‘how’ you can then have a good conversation. The following eight tips are a small selection from our daily practice and have proven themselves. So take advantage of it!

Prepare well

In order for a conversation to run smoothly and to get the most out of it, good preparation is essential. Learn about the subject in advance and make a good questionnaire. Mark which questions you think are most important.

Avoid time constraints

When scheduling the conversations, also discuss how much time someone can make available for a conversation with you. Then you know in advance whether you may have to skip some of your questions and you avoid a feeling of rush

Manage expectations

It is nice for your conversation partners if they know where they stand. Therefore, always briefly state at the beginning of a conversation what the purpose of the conversation is, what you will do with the results and what the most important topics are.

Make video or audio recordings

With permission of course. Then you can evaluate your own skills afterward or ask someone else to give feedback. In addition, you do not have to make many notes during the conversations, so that you can fully focus on your conversation partners.

Create a safe and trusted basis

Do not immediately jump into the content, but first, pay attention to the mutual relationship. For example, briefly exchanging some personal information. My experience is that it puts people at ease if you also indicate that you mainly want to learn from them. And that you like to let the conversation lead by their answers, that there are no right or wrong answers, that in their view small things can be very relevant to you and that they can think out loud. It goes without saying that you indicate that you handle the personal information carefully.

Be guided by the answers

You make it easier for yourself if you have all the questions in your head. Then you can be guided by the answers and you do not have to complete your questionnaire question by question. This creates a naturally elaborate conversation. Check occasionally whether the most important questions have been addressed.

Be open and neutral

Think, “You just said it doesn’t work well, how does it feel to you?” In this way, you offer your conversation partners the space to tell from themselves. This means that you do not direct them in any particular direction. Suppose you think someone is struggling with something based on what has been said, do not ask: “You just said that it does not work well, do you find that difficult?”.

You actually suggest that someone finds it difficult, while this may not be the case at all. It takes a great deal of continuous awareness of what you say in a conversation. It is so tempting to put words like this in the other person’s mouth, especially if you think you have a solution for something.

Ask how, where, what, why, when, what, what, and who questions

Like, “How did you decide to buy this product?” and, “What is the reason you use this platform?”. These kinds of questions help your customers think and generally make them more likely to share their stories with you.

About Manno Notermans

I’m a wanderer of the world looking to make an impact and change the world for the better.

I have over 10 years of experience working in various marketing positions and went to University to specialize in marketing.

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