The vast majority of people in an enterprise don’t know a thing about customer development, customer validation or anything else related to the Lean Startup methodology. You can stay in the “us vs. them” model or, you can ask your more passionate prospects to help guide product definition through a customer development panel. After all, you’re trying to solve their business problem.
You’ll start by conducting problem interviews with these prospects. After the initial series of interviews, you should be able to tell which prospects are more vocal, passionate and visionary, and which ones have the potential to become enterprise champions — the people who will fight for your product in the organization.
Next, recruit the five or six most passionate prospects and create a customer development panel. Although these prospects must share the same problem, they can have radically different visions.
You can reward your panelists with free or discounted product usage, privileged access to the solution or even equity in your company if you can afford it. The objective is to make them understand that if you win, they win.
Organizing meetings with your full panel once every few months while the solution is being developed will be valuable to your team as well. By listening to the panelists argue among themselves, you’ll learn about the things that really matter; they’ll help you create the minimum feature set. You can also communicate with them one on one and set up a private discussion group to test product ideas and iterations.
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