What to ask Customers to Validate their Pain Points?

  1. Never tell them about your new product idea. This is not about being secretive. The reason is that in general people tend to be polite, and anyone will say an idea is great if we are annoying enough about it. This will produce a big fat false positive. So when interviewing customers you should give them as little information as possible about the product or business idea, while at the same time you will still be still nudging the conversation in a useful direction. An example is to start the interview with a very broad picture of what you are trying to solve, at a very high level. e.g. “we are working on a service for people who love watching TV but are annoyed by the way current services work today“. It says nothing about what you have in mind, but at least it gives a little bit of context to the person participating to the interview.
  2. Always ask customers at least one question that has the potential to destroy your currently imagined business. This is a pain. Anyone is in love with their idea, and the last thing we want to know is that it’s not a good one. Entrepreneurship has a magic power, it triggers positive energies and it leaves people with an irresistible willingness to start doing things. That’s great, but all this positive energies can be very easily transformed into negative when they not channelled in the correct direction. And with negative I mean: having quit a day job, having spent most of our savings, having re-mortaged the house and ultimately having trouble explaining to our life partner, family and friends why we have done all of that and we haven’t been able to succeed. That’s awful. That’s because it’s much better to know if an idea is flawed (i.e. there is no market need for it) as soon as possible.
  • Do you think it’s a good idea?
  • Would you buy this product?
  • How much would you pay for it?
  • Would you pay £x for a product that did this?
  • Elaborate the problems you are willing to solve, one by one. While doing that, put them in context so that the customer can relate to them
  • Ask them how to show you how they currently solve each problem
  • Let them talk about what they love and hate
  • Ask which other tools/approach they are using
  • Ask how did they find out about the current solution
  • Ask whether there is budget for a different solution



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Davide Turi

Davide Turi


Lean Startup Ambassador in London, helping individuals and organizations to develop entrepreneurial skills @StudioZao