In B2B customer development, Problem interviews are about emerging patterns, not numbers. You should go through problem interviews until opportunities start to appear and you stop learning, not until you’ve interviewed a certain number of prospects.
Sometimes, with a varied set of profiles it can take up to 40 interviews before seeing any patterns emerge. Other times, when the profiles are very similar, it takes only 12. In general, plan for 20 to 30 problem interviews per segment.
Don’t rush the interview process. You’re doing yourself a disfavour if you’re not being honest with yourself. Collect more data than needed and wait for the patterns to emerge.
As you share back the information collected with the members of your team, it’s normal to have the urge to jump to conclusions and start thinking about solutions. Resist the temptation and take a step back. Be sure to put time between data collection and data analysis.
You’re looking for the bigger picture and the underlying trends. This might mean only listening to some of your prospects.
As an early assessment, ask yourself:
- Did you take a step forward?
- Did you learn?
- Did you enjoy spending time with the people you met?
- Would you like to work with those people again? (if you’re successful, you may be working with those customers day in day out for the next five, ten or 20 years)
- Were there noticeable differences in the profiles of your prospects?
- Do you feel like you can help those prospects?
- Were you able to speak with decision-makers?
Now, if you’ve collected enough data through interviews, take a day off and let the information sink in.