You have to really be ruthless with your idea; trying to find any reason to disprove it and not being too emotional with what you’re building. – Pete Koomen, Optimizely Co-Founder
The solution interview phase of the B2B Customer Development process is about learning — learning the value that your solution provides and its place in your prospects’ technology mix while establishing deep relationships to learn how to repeat sales.
It’s crucial that you validate early that companies have money to invest and that you’re talking about a real business problem. You’ll only emerge from solution interviews once you have five lighthouse customers, or five customer successes.
Although this phase is also about getting paid for your solution, it is not about accepting money from any company. Your goal is to validate the existence of a well-defined market that repeatedly benefits from your solution.
For your first customers, honest feedback is more important than sales; you should never force a solution down the throat of your prospects.
With a good personal network, it is possible to ride relationships and land your first five deals without really learning anything. However, riding relationships doesn’t lead to a scalable and repeatable model. At some point, even the best professional networks dry up.
The first customers you seek should genuinely:
- Be willing to spend money for your product;
- Benefit from your solution;
- Agree to endorse your company with a case study.
Of course, not everyone will agree to write a case study. It might take ten to twelve customers in order to get five good endorsements and, that’s alright. You should wait.
The solution interview phase is very time consuming. Don’t underestimate the work and time required to go through it.
You will get rejected a lot, but if you’re following the right process, you will learn what it takes to reach Product-Market Fit in your target market.
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