Interviewing Target Customers to Deliver, Market & Sell Higher Value Solutions

The ultimate goal of interviewing target customers (existing customers included) is to align your organization from top to bottom with the needs of your target markets from top to bottom. That alignment allows your organization to consistently deliver, market and sell maximum value through your products and services. Make the following interview approach a routine business practice and your organization will grow faster and deliver greater value.

Three Questions for Three Audiences

To get a complete picture of customer needs, you should ask the following questions to senior executives (CXX, SVP, EVP), senior managers (VP, Director), and managers and staff that do the work in the trenches. Here are your three questions:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish/what are your top priorities?
  2. Why are those goals important?
  3. What’s stopping you/what’s making those goals challenging to meet?

Conducting the Interviews

1. Senior Executives

The goal of interviewing CXXs, SVPs and EVPs is to align your strategic initiatives with the strategies of target customers in key markets. If you understand how they view the market and how those market perspectives translate into goals and strategic initiatives, it becomes a simple exercise to define and prioritize your strategic initiatives.

2. Senior Managers

When interviewing VPs and Directors, the goal is to connect the dots between strategic initiatives established at the executive level and operational goals at the department level. Ultimately, you want to understand how the operational priorities of senior managers support the organization’s strategy. Their goals and objectives become the focal point or themes for your product/service solutions.

3. Managers & Staff

The third layer of interviews is about understanding the job responsibilities of those who will ultimately be your users. In addition to the three questions above, it’s also important to understand how the job performance of your users is measured. Ultimately, your products have to make them successful in their jobs.

Too many organizations attempt to implement a customer interview process at a product level only. It’s a surefire way of solving legitimate tactical problems with little or no strategic value. A strong product management discipline consistently creates solutions that deliver strategic impact to senior executives,  operational impact to senior managers tactical impact to the users. Collectively, they deliver differentiating value for your organization.

During the business requirements conversations, products are are at the bottom of the food chain. When it’s time to design the solutions, they’re top dog! Customer interviews are all about creating the bulls-eye that your products should aim for.

Contact Proficientz to discuss how our framework and product management training courses help you interview customers and get higher fidelity business requirements that result in solutions with greater strategic value.