New idea: outsourced virtual office and sales management and technical support for start-up technology companies expanding to new countries who can't yet afford to open their own office. Should we do phone interviews with prospective customers or just email a survey?

Did you ever hear that famous quote from Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”? Apparently he never actually said it (shame! it’s such a great quote…) but the message is just as valid: people often don’t know what they want.

There are two main implications to this, as I see it.

First, if you’re going to talk to people, focus more on the problems they’re facing than the solution they envisage. Whether you do the survey on the phone or in writing, you’ll want to ask questions like:
-What’s the biggest problem you’re facing in expanding to new markets?
-How much of a problem is it, on a scale of 1 to 10?
-Would you be willing to pay for a solution to this problem? If so, how much?
If they don’t bring up your point on having the virtual office and sales management and technical support spontaneously then you can prompt them as a second step. Here, as Serena says, speaking to someone in real time will always be more effective in terms of being able to ask follow-up questions and dig that bit deeper.

Second, once you’ve done those stakeholder interviews and you feel you have a strong idea, get it live as soon as you can. Push out your solution, even if it’s not 100% there, and get some of those technology companies to pilot it. They can give you real user feedback to allow you to optimise the solution as you go, while they can also give you testimonials and referrals to help you as you start to advertise and grow the business.

Research is very important, and especially understanding the pain points of your target customer, but avoid analysis paralysis and launch something into the market as soon as possible so that you can learn and ‘pivot’ if necessary - before you’ve invested too much time and money in the wrong solution.

Good luck!

Answered 6 years ago

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