(Photo by Victor1558)
If you have an idea of a new product or service you want to offer, it doesn’t mean that your prospective customers will want it or care. So, before you start spending significant time & money, identify a niche and schedule a series of informational interviews to get the answers to the following four questions.
Remember that the goal of an informational interview is to learn by listening. An informational interview isn’t a sales call (but it may result in a sale). It’s not a long-winded presentation (in fact, limit the interview to ten minutes – and don’t go beyond the time unless it’s a mutually beneficial conversation). There’s no gimmick. It’s one-on-one since you want to hear individual voices, and not collective ones (i.e., it’s not a focus group).
Here are the key high-yield questions to ask:
1. Are they aware of the benefits of your offering? While you may know why what you’re selling is dramatically better, it doesn’t mean that the benefits you’re focusing on matter. So, first ask if they know what you know about your (unique) benefits. You’re not asking, “Do you believe that my offering has these benefits?” If they reject the benefits as useless or not valuable to them, your interview is basically over. If they’re interested in learning about the benefits, offer to share the knowledge – but do so quickly. If your interviewees don’t care about your benefits, rethink your marketing approach.
2. When would they use it? How often? Just because they know about the benefit doesn’t mean they personally want the benefit. So, qualify the potential sale. By knowing when they’d use it you know how to market it best. And knowing the frequency you have the makings of computing a lifetime value of this potential customer/market.
3. Would they use it in-house, or offer it as an add-on to their offerings? If your offering fits into your niche’s business model, it’s possible that what you’re offering is something they (or you) might be able to sell to their customers (as something value-added).
4. Would it be okay for me to contact you again? Your goal is to keep the door open for further communication.
By showing respect and interest during your interviews, you’ll establish yourself as someone worth staying connected to.