Part II Ask your mother: How to communicate with customers and confirm the correctness of their business idea, if everyone lies around?

    Continuation of the book abstract.

    The author tells how to distinguish false information from truthful information, communicate with the user and segment your audience.

    Part I

    Fake information

    Here are three types of false information that you need to pay close attention to, because it gives a false impression:

    1. Compliments;
    2. Chatter (general phrases, hypothetical reasoning, talking about the future);
    3. Ideas


    Disturbing remarks (after returning to the office):

    • “The meeting was excellent”;
    • “We get a lot of positive feedback”;
    • "Everyone I spoke to is delighted with this idea."

    All these are disturbing signs. If you hear something like this from yourself or from colleagues, try to specify the meaning.

    Why did this person like the idea? How much money can he save with her help? How will she fit into his life? What else did he try to solve this problem, but to no avail? If you do not know the answers to these questions, then you heard a compliment, but did not receive real information.

    The golden rule : the compliments you hear from customers are akin to samovar gold - they shine, distract your attention and have no value.


    There are three common forms of chatter:

    • vague statements (“I usually”, “I always”, “I never”);
    • promises for the future (“I will probably do it”, “I will do so”);
    • hypothetical reasoning (“I can”, “I could”).

    When someone begins to talk about things that he does “always,” “usually,” “never,” or “would do,” you know - this is just idle chatter.

    Use the “Test for Mom” and return the interlocutors from a hypothetical future to a specific past.


    Entrepreneurs are constantly drowning in a whirlpool of ideas. We suffer from an overabundance of ideas, and not from their lack. And others with excitement throw us new ones.

    At some point during a well-constructed conversation, your interlocutor can, figuratively speaking, transfer to your side of the table. And that is a good sign. There are bright prospects in front of his eyes, he comes to life and begins to bring down mountains of ideas on you, describe the possibilities and offer various functions.

    Record this information, but take your time to add it to your task list. Startups should focus on one scalable idea and implement it, and not grab at every interesting opportunity.

    List of questions to ask to verify the viability of the proposed idea :

    • “Why do you need her?” 
    • "What actions can you perform with its help?"
    • "How do you deal without her?"
    •  “Do you think we should add this feature immediately or can it be done later?”
    • “How will she fit into your current job?”

    Golden Rule : Ideas and feature requests should be analyzed, not blindly implemented.

    Right and wrong conversations with a potential user

    Very, very wrong conversation 

    You : “Hello! Thanks for your time. We are developing applications for phones and tablets that help people stay in good physical shape, and we want to understand how you manage to do it ”( This start cannot be called a failure, but I would not immediately talk about the proposed idea, since it transparently hints to your interlocutors what answers you hope to hear )

    He : “Ok” ( I don’t do sports at all, so you won’t take much of my time )

    You : “How often do you go to the gym?” ( These are ordinary demographic data that will not reveal anything new to you, but still help to start a conversation, understand what your interlocutor is, and ask the right clarifying questions)

    He : “Actually, I don’t go to the gym” ( Great! And we’ll finish with this )

    You : “And what, in your opinion, is the main problem, why don’t you go to the gym?” ( From this point on, the conversation is not going as it should. Instead of understanding whether maintaining a good shape is a real problem for our interlocutor, you get ahead of yourself and begin to delve into details. Any answer will lead to dangerous misconceptions )

    He : “Probably problem in time. You see, I’m always busy with something ”(Wait a minute, and who says that for me not to go to the gym is a problem? I think I just said that I don't care about going to the gym. But if you need to choose some answer, I’ll say that it’s convenience. And it’s not at all that I do push-ups once every five years. It’s convenient for me to push up precisely on such a schedule )

    You : “Excellent. Wow. Could you put in order of importance these four factors - convenience, individual approach, novelty and cost - in relation to the fitness program? ” ( Please note, you still feel that your partner cares about his form. But by asking such questions, you will not know whether it is important in any way all of the above for the man )

    He: “Probably, like this: convenience, price, individual approach, novelty” ( you asked, I answered. Naturally, purely hypothetically )

    You : “Great. Thank you very much. We are developing an application that will help you engage in physical education with all possible conveniences, without leaving your home. I believe that it is great for solving the tasks that you set for yourself ”( There is a complete misunderstanding and incorrect interpretation of what you heard in your favor. And now you are asking for a compliment )

    He :“ It 's a good idea. I’ll probably try to use it when this application appears ”( Reserved compliment, no obligation, evasive reaction )

    You: "Perfectly. I will give you access to the beta so that you can check how it works ”( We have a user! )

    He :“ Thank you! ” ( I'm not going to use it at all )

    This conversation is terrible, because if you do not pay attention to details, it seems that everything went perfectly. By focusing your attention on one problem area too quickly, you can imagine that the “main” problem is clear to you, although in reality this is not so. You just brought your interlocutor to it.

    Right conversation

    You : “How often do you go to the gym?”

    He : “Hmm. Actually, I don’t go to the gym ”( It seems that we will finish here )

    You :“ And what is the reason? ” ( Let’s try to understand the motives of our interlocutor instead of taking for granted that good physical fitness is one of his most important priorities )

    He : “I don’t even know. You see, it doesn’t bother me too much "( I’m not trying to solve this problem on my own, and it is unlikely that I will buy this application or use it )

    You :" And when was the last time you tried to do physical education? You didn’t try to enroll in the gym, do jogging or something similar? ” (We’ll cling to general information to make sure ... )

    He : “Actually, I went in for sports in high school. But since I started a family, it has ceased to play a big role for me. Outdoor games with children give me all the necessary cardio load. ”

    You :“ Yes, I understand. Thank you for your time. ”

    We had a pleasant chat with this person, found out what we needed, and now we can say goodbye to him.

    The golden rule : move from general to particular and do not go into details until you get a powerful signal. This recommendation applies to your business as a whole, and to each specific conversation.

    Golden Rule: It is better to get to know clients and their problems during a short conversation about simple things than during long formal negotiations.

    Creating custom segments

    Select a segment for analysis and divide it into subgroups until you understand who you should talk to and where to find these people.

    Start with a wide segment and ask yourself:

    • Which people in this group most of all want my idea to be realized?
    • Will everyone in this group or only part of them buy / use the product?
    • Why do they want him to appear? (That is, what is their purpose or problem?)
    • Does the whole group have a motive or only part of it?
    • What are the additional motives?
    • What other groups of people have similar motives?

    T.O. you will form two types of segments: the first is a group of people united by specific demographic characteristics, the second is a set of motives.

    As you can see, some groups turned out to be more blurry, others - more specific. We continue to divide the fuzzy groups, again answering the above questions.

    Who in this subgroup most of all wants your idea to be realized?

    Then we analyze the behavior of representatives of these groups in order to understand where to find them.

    • What are these people doing now to get things done or to cope with the problem?
    • Where can I find representatives of a group that interests me?
    • Where can I find people who are using workarounds now?
    Not sure where to find representatives of one of these groups? Go back to your list and continue to split up your customer base until you figure out where to find the people you need. If it is impossible to establish contact with representatives of one or another client segment, then it will not bring you any benefit.

    The golden rule : until you tune in to the search for clearly formulated, consistent issues and goals, your client segment will remain blurred.

    The golden rule : good customer segments are formed on the principle of "who - where." If you do not understand where to look for customers, continue to divide the selected segment into smaller subgroups until you find clarity.

    The golden rule : if you are not clear what you want to know, you don’t even need to start a conversation.

    Communication with potential users

    Before starting a conversation :

    • If this has not been done before, select a clear client segment, representatives of which you can find;
    • Together with your team, formulate three key questions for collecting information;
    • If possible, consider the ideal scenario for the next steps and commitments;
    • If communication is a suitable and effective tool for you, consider who you should talk to;
    • Try to suggest what concerns your future interlocutors the most;
    • If the questions you want to ask can be answered using the “desk study”, first conduct such a study.

    During a conversation :

    • Clearly state the topic;
    • Ask the right questions that will pass the "Test for Mom";
    • Avoid compliments, keep chatter, get to the bottom of the matter;
    • Take notes;
    • If possible, strive for firm commitments and record the next steps.

    After the conversation :

    • Analyze your recordings and important cues from the client’s lips with your team;
    • If necessary, transfer entries to the information system;
    • Make adjustments to your assumptions and plans;
    • Think over the next "big three" questions.

    Brief summary:

    Test for mom :

    1. Talk about the life of the interlocutor, and not about your idea;
    2. Ask about specific things that happened in the past, and not about perspectives or opinions;
    3. Speak less, listen more.

    Often made mistakes :

    1. You beg for compliments. “I’m thinking about starting a new business ... Do you think this will work?” “I had a terrific idea for an application. Do you like?"
    2. You reveal to others the soul (“the problem of excessive inspiration”). “This is the top-secret project, because of which I am leaving work. What do you think?" “Please, be honest and tell me what you really think about it!”
    3. You act assertively and let the pitch go. “No, you don’t understand me ...” “True, but besides that, another problem is being solved!”
    4. You are behaving too formally. “First of all, let me thank you for agreeing to this interview. I’ll ask you just a few questions, and then you can get back to your business. ” “If you use a five-point scale, how much would you rate ...” “Let's arrange a meeting.”
    5. You interfere with the free flow of information. “Take better care of the product. And I will find out everything that we need. " “Customers told me just that!” “I don’t have time to talk with anyone. I need to write a program! ”
    6. You collect compliments, not facts and obligations. “We get a lot of positive feedback.” “Everyone I spoke to is delighted with this idea.”

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