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Doing Customer Interviews Before You Have Customers

A key to nailing your niche and identifying product-market fit is customer interviews. But how do you go about this if you’re pre-release, or don’t have access to actual customers? Here are three ways to find potential customers, and a few tips to getting them to agree to an interview.

  1. Join like-minded LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn has over 300 million users and over 2 million groups. You’re sure to find a group that has the same discussions as your target market.
  2. Search Q&A websites like Reddit or Quora. Depending on your target market, you may be able to find questions that your audience is asking on Quora or related discussions on Reddit.
  3. Professional Organizations. Many of today’s business people are active in professional organizations. Find the right organization and review their membership and leader lists to develop a list of potential users to interview.

So, once you’ve identified key candidates you’d like to talk to – how do you get them to agree?

  • Email: Use the same outbound prospecting techniques to connect with people you’d like to interview. Instead of booking an “Are We A Fit” call, schedule a quick 15-minute interview. This works even better if you can use part of the interview to create a blog post or other content that you can share.
  • Open Calls: On LinkedIn Groups or Q&A websites, you can also post that you’re looking for people to interview. Mention the roles that you’re looking for or specific pain points you’d like to talk about. Don’t just use the responses to learn the right language to craft your outbound messages – share the results back with those who gave you their insights and knowledge.
  • Offer an Incentive: It’s amazing how you can inspire a response rate with even a small incentive. Even a $10 Starbucks or Amazon gift card can inspire many people to give up 10-15 minutes of their day.
  • Ask in smaller increments: Going back to the Q&A websites and LinkedIn Groups, you can also gain a variety of perspectives by simply asking your questions online. You get a wide range of answers (and even a bit of healthy debate) and identify thought-leaders that are worth your time for longer interviews.

Treat these preliminary interviews with respect and follow-through and they could become your first customers and greatest advocates!

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