How do you set up a Discovery interview when the customer expects you to also share information with them?
Consider this special case when requesting a Discovery interview: The customer wants you to make a presentation to them. In some industries, customers have been “trained” to expect a presentation when a technical representative from the supplier visits them. They might even feel that if they tell you their needs and you don’t reciprocate, the meeting will be “one way” (just from them to you).
Of course, you can explain that your intention isn’t to make the whole effort one way. Your plan is take very seriously what they tell you… so later you can return with innovation that meets their needs. It’s just that it would be difficult to do all this in a single meeting.
Still… it’s often better to “go with the flow” and give the customers what they ask for. Will it be a problem if you make a presentation when you’re with the customer for your Discovery interview? Not at all: You can have what we call a Part A – Part B meeting. One session (A or B) can be your presentation covering information of interest to them… such as a technology overview.
The other part is the customer explaining their needs in a Discovery interview. Give a little separation between these meetings with a short break. If possible, conduct the Discovery interview first, so you don’t “taint” them with your views. By the way, this approach also works well if you are already planning on meeting the customer for any other purpose… and want to conduct a Discovery interview while you’re there to optimize your travel time and budget.
Here are some topics to consider when planning your presentation to the customer:
- Technology overview: Make sure you keep this at a high-level, explaining key aspects of technology they’ll find interesting. But make sure you don’t start proposing specific new product solutions. Think in terms of technology possibilities, not product solutions.
- Future trends: Customers find it very appealing to think about what might be coming next. You can download a free set of 16 FutureScene® Trend Sheets from The AIM Institute at futurescenes.com... and use these to build your presentation.
- Market research: If you purchase some secondary market research, you can put together a helpful overview of what’s happening with their customers. Consider supplementing this with information you’ve gathered through interviews with industry experts, e.g. GLG or AlphaSights. These sources are found in the BlueTool, Market Research Tips Sheet, downloadable at blueprintingcenter.com > BlueTools. In some cases, Blueprinting practitioners have even contracted with a consulting firm to conduct market research just for them, which was then very well received at their customer meetings.
You can build off the last approach... a market research presentation. Explain that you’d like to conduct interviews with their customers… and that you’ll return afterwards with quantitative data on their customers’ needs. You could even show them an example: Go to www.blueprintingcenter.com > Open Blueprinter software > open the project “ACME: Demo Project” > open Tool 3.6: Analyze Preference Data, and show them the type of data charts you’ll build. (Note: You may not wish to share this much information with them, so consider your strategy carefully before promising this.)
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