Helpful strategies for getting customers to agree to an interview.
Will it be hard for you to secure Discovery interviews in your target market segment? For some suppliers in some markets, it’s incredibly easy; in other cases, it can be real challenge. It boils down to two questions:
- How interested is your customer contact in the subject you’d like to discuss?
- How confident are they you can help them, by delivering valuable innovation later?
Your first step is to make sure you’re talking to the right contact… the person at the company most interested in this topic. Your sales colleague may already know who this person is… or you might have to engage an industry expert to find him or her. (See How to engage industry experts.)
Once you find the right contact, you need to convince them WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Let them know your want to deliver exciting innovation to their industry, and that you’ll bring one of your top experts to “listen hard” to them. Consider using these concepts in your request…
- Past success: If you’ve had success delivering dynamic innovation to other industries, provide some examples and say, “We’d like to talk to experts like yourself to better understand your needs… because we’d like to deliver meaningful innovation to your”
- Open innovation: Ask your contact if their company practices “open innovation” (vs. closed innovation, i.e., inventing everything internally.) Surely they’ll say yes. Point out that their suppliers—like you—are in a perfect position to help: “We’re already staffed with the right technical experts, these experts want to work on your problems, you can decline their innovation, they only get paid if you like their results, and there’s no risk on your part. We just need to know what you want us to work on for you!”
- Humility: It can helpful if you’re a bit self-critical of your company’s past efforts: “We used to go back into our laboratories and dream up products we thought customers would want… and when we launched them, customers often just yawned. So we thought: Let’s ask customers in this industry what they want first… so we develop something they’ll be excited about.”
In the next BlueHelp article, Tools for setting up Discovery interviews, you'll see many practical tools you can use to request Discovery interviews.
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