How to Truly Validate Your Product in B2B Customer Development

Double diamond process Lean B2B

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:

  1. Be willing to spend money for your product;
  2. Benefit from your solution;
  3. 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.

⚡⚡ Enjoyed this content? I go into way more detail on this subject in Lean B2B. The book covers the ins and outs of finding traction in the market for B2B products. Check it out »

Download the First 6 Chapters for Free

This sampler covers the differences between B2B and Business-to-Customer (B2C) product-market validation, shows you how to define your vision for success, find early adopters, select market opportunities and assess a venture's risk. Download The First 6 Chapters Today »