A new project should never be a leap of faith. While you may very well have educated guesses on what your customers (or your internal stakeholders) want and need, they are just that - guesses. You are more or less in the dark when it comes to predicting the future. I hope this article will bring some light, help and ideas.
Talk to your customers
When you want to find out if there is market demand for your product or feature, you won’t find the answer within your own company. You have to go out and talk to your existing and potential customers. In the B2B context where the volume of potential customers is fairly low, this means personal interaction instead of running automated surveys, for example.
You might think that your sales and marketing teams are your touchpoint to your customers -- they’ll take care of the talking. If you think this way, I would like to ask you a question: do you think they’ll forward the message back and forth without any interpretation or distortion? Shouldn’t you get the first hand experience of what customers’ are feeling and saying? I bet you want to be tightly involved with the customers while marketing and sales are the door openers introducing you to right contacts.
Customer understanding should be a constantly ongoing process: talk to your customers, pitch new ideas and benefits to pursue. Don’t polish your ideas too much - test them out with your customers as early as possible. Remember that in a social context a person might say something and actually think quite the opposite. So, don’t rely too much on individual feedback, but follow their reactions.
Do your ideas generate questions? Do they want to know more? Are they able to imagine how they would benefit from your product or feature? Do they buy the value to pursue? Ask, analyze, iterate and be systematic.
Once you know how your value proposition resonates with the market needs, you are ready to move forward.
How many boxes can you tick?
The more boxes you can tick, the clearer your project’s goal is.
[ ] You have the vision and each iteration takes you to that direction.
[ ] Customer buys the overall vision, the value to pursue and is keen to have the solution.
[ ] Business assumptions are validated -- there is a strong business case from day one.
[ ] Customer is involved in the project. They test regularly what you have came up with.
[ ] Your project is build on small increments and each of them validates approach, technology and market assumptions.
[ ] Your team is motivated and empowered to learn how to solve business problems rather than focusing on technical details.
[ ] You are brave enough to admit if this project should be killed.
[ ] You have called Insta and asked for advice
How your development partner can help you
If the validation process sounds daunting, your development partner might be able to help you. For example, Insta can coach your sales and marketing teams or conduct field studies to reveal insights from your customers’ or users’ daily work. This helps you in validating your business model and the market demand for your product.
In addition, an agile software partner can get the project going gradually in small steps. For example, a technical proof of concept or a rough working prototype might reveal important reactions from your customer. Discovering these insights as early as possible helps your project keep on track.