I have an idea and I'm trying to develop it, however when it comes to receiving feedback from companies, I am not getting a response. They don't even notice me. I know they need my product as I encountered this problem many times in the past with many websites. How should I approach them? How do I know if they would use my product or not?
I've worked for years in business to business sales and consulting.
You need to find out who works or makes decisions in a company in the area that your potential product could be useful, ie customer service. LinkedIn could be useful for this.
Call them on the telephone. Don't e-mail. Open the conversation by asking for help, 'Hi, I'm wondering if you could help me find the person who would be responsible for customer service? I'm looking to get feedback on an innovative new idea I'm considering developing that may be useful to your company.'
The most important thing you could ask them during the call is whether they've ever identified the problem that you're proposing to solve as an issue themselves. If they've never noticed, or don't care, then your new product will have a more challenging sales cycle since you'll have to do a lot of education. If they already know they have a problem, you'll need to act quickly because they may be already looking for a solution.
Best of luck.
I am a startup founder and have faced this exact scenario several times in the past. I have also advised dozens of other startups and given public talks on the subject of going from 'idea to revenue'.
The good news is that you are doing the right thing. Getting customer feedback is extremely important when validating your product.
I ran a Linkedin feedback campaign for our product that got a 51.22% response rate. Below, I have listed the process that I used, the results received and the exact template I used to break the ice.
1. Make a list of high-level executives at companies in your target market. High-level is important because some people at that level love to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs. They also sometimes refer you to someone below them in the company who will typically follow through with you because their boss said to.
2. Send an Inmail message (see example below) through Linkedin to each of them.
You must personalize the note with their first name & a short comment about their profile so they know it is not spam. I put << >> around what you should personalize.
Choose a subject of “Expertise Request” for the reason for contacting them. (Linkedin gives you this option when sending an Inmail message).
3. Once they responded I sent them a very short message thanking them and included a link to a one-page website explaining the product. I also asked them to fill out a google form with 5 questions. I sent 1 follow up message to each respondent if they did not fill out the form after 1 week.
We are working on a new iPad application for security system integrators. <<You seem entrepreneurial>> and given your experience with security, I think your insight would be particularly helpful.
I certainly admire your immersion in the space and would love to get your general feedback on what we are doing. I would be grateful for your time.
Do you mind if I send you a link?
Linkedin Messages Sent: 41
Message Replies: 21
Feedback forms completed: 5
I also followed up with the respondents and made 1 sale when the product was ready. I also got a high-level advisor from this campaign.
Good luck and let me know if I can answer any further questions on the subject.
The issue is the feedback is important and urgent to you, but not to your target market. They've been surviving to this point without your idea, so any requests go to the bottom of the pile. Plus "A million other people must be answering this" is the response people give to a bland mass email.
Information interviews are some of the most important things you can do, and I've written several posts about them here:
Finding out the truth of what your target market is really thinking is the number one thing you can do.
Don't leave it to email. Do it live; people will be more flattered than you might think to be asked their opinions--provided you ask on an individual basis rather than what looks like a mass message.
While you surely have made sure, that you are solving their #1 problem instead of #24 I'd suggest you check out Rob Fitzpatrick's book "The Mom Test" which will help you easily review your questions and strategy: http://www.amazon.com/The-Mom-Test-customers-business/dp/1492180742
You've got several options, and what works best will depend on where your clients prefer to engage with you (ex. email, phone, social media, live chat, etc.).
We’ve all seen them: pop-up messages or slide-in CTAs that appear as we scroll through an article or open a new page. Why not put these tools to good use and ask your customers a question or encourage them to fill out a survey? You can even offer them an incentive to give feedback like a free downloadable whitepaper.
An even more instant option, live chats are a great way to get the conversation started in real time. While live chats are an ideal outlet for customers to ask you questions, you can also use this feature to send a few their way. Maybe the chat box pops up when they visit your site and asks how they found your business or what they are looking for. It’s like a two-for-one sale where you can improve their experience and collect feedback.
Here are more tips on how to ask for and use customer feedback: http://www.fieldboom.com/blog/customer-feedback/.