Customer Development Challenges in Obvious Markets

Late last week I was talking with a friend who’s thinking about launching a new product in the web application testing and monitoring market. The question he was trying to answer was “If there’s such an obvious need for the SaaS product, why haven’t more companies already purchased one?” To put it another way, there’s such a clear pain solved by the product, yet several potential customers that were surveyed knew they needed something but haven’t purchased anything without a good reason.

As part of the customer development process, one of the most important pieces is to come up with the right questions to ask potential customers. It is more difficult than it sounds. Here were some of the questions asked:

  • Have you looked at any webapp/website testing and monitoring products?
  • What are some issues you’ve had with your webapp/website?
  • What type of system would you be interested in?
  • How much would you pay for a system that provided xyz piece of mind?
  • Why haven’t you already purchased such a system?

It is especially challenging since the answers he shared with me from talking to potential customers didn’t provide any clear resolution. Even with no obvious outcome, customer development is an exceptional process when launching a new company and/or product.

What else? What other questions would you ask a potential customer?

2 thoughts on “Customer Development Challenges in Obvious Markets

  1. I think in this case I would be careful about terminology. I’m not sure I would use the word “Website Testing and Monitoring”…already you are introducing a term that might mean different things to different people and influence the question. Instead, I would step back and focus on the problem that the application is solving and start your questioning there. April Dunford has a good list of questions here http://www.rocketwatcher.com/blog/2010/04/startupcustomer-discovery-questions.html that I often refer to.

    It’s the “piece of mind” answer that is so critical to uncover. Find out what that looks like for the customer and then dive into tools later.

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