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The Art of Asking for a Customer Meeting

Conducting customer interviews is one of the most valuable ways for early-stage startups to get data about their product and market needs. By talking directly to potential customers, you can learn what they need, how to solve problems, whether there's enough interest in your product or service, and what kind of value proposition makes sense for them.

These interviews will set the direction of your product and other critical business-building aspects, such as GTM strategy, sales, and market. In addition, customer interviews allow you to observe customer behavior and preferences first-hand and develop an understanding of their motivations.

Customer interviews are a great way for startups to get feedback on their products quickly and efficiently without having to make major investments in research or lengthy surveys. With the right approach, engaging with customers early on can give you invaluable knowledge that will shape your business plan as you move forward.

Frame Your Meeting Right for Maximum Results

Asking customers for a discovery meeting with the right frame of mind is important to the success of these meetings. It allows you to gain insight into the customer's perspective and create meaningful dialogue. Have an open-minded attitude to understand their needs (functional and emotional) and where there might be room for improvement.

Asking for a quick coffee, lunch, or chat suggests wasting your interviewee's time.

If you have to do a formal meeting, frame it properly following key elements:

  1. Who you are and what problem are you solving. Don’t mention your idea!

  2. Set expectations by sharing your stage. Destress it by saying that you don’t have anything to sell.

  3. Show the gap in your knowledge or understanding with which you are looking for their help.

  4. Show respect for their experience and knowledge by stating how they can help you.

  5. Ask for help!

Here is an example of an effective meeting request

“Hey Mike,

I’m trying to make cloud applications efficient without sacrificing their availability and performance (the problem you are solving). I’m just getting started and don’t have a product to sell. I want to ensure I’m building a useful product (setting expectations).

I have a hard time understanding how developers currently solve this problem (the gap you have). You have been developing cloud applications for years now. You could help me understand it in more depth (acknowledge their experience and how they can help)

Do you have time in the next two weeks for a 20-minute meet-up for a chat? (the ask)”

Final Thoughts

Remember always to make sure the purpose of the meeting is made clear, acknowledge the recipient's experience and expertise, and make a direct ask for their help. Doing this will ensure you have a high chance of success in your meetings.

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