How to probe during customer interviews
  2. Discovery Interviews (Step 2)
  3. How to probe during customer interviews

6. SALT Method for advanced probing

When you use AIM's "What & Why" probing, the "What" questions can be the hardest. But the SALT method can help.

The "What & Why" probing method is highly effective in learning more about customer outcomes during Discovery interviews. You generally ask "What" questions first to better understand what the customer wants to have happen. Then your "Why" questions teach you why customers want this outcome. You can think of these as questions of observation and implication, respectively.

You'll find the "What & Why" methodology summarized on side 2 of your Discovery Interview Quick-Side Card, downloadable at > BlueTools > Conduct Discovery Interviews/Tours. For more on this topic, see the BlueHelp article,

Most interviewers find the "Why" questions to be quite easy... and somewhat "universal":

  • "Why is this important?"
  • "Why is this a problem for you?"
  • "How does this impact you?"
  • "Can you tell me why you want this?" 

But many interviewers can get stumped coming up with good "What" questions. Some common questions are... "Can you describe this?"... or "When does this happen?" The AIM Institute's SALT method give you many more possibilities. This is a collection of "What" questions that fall into four categories:

  • S for SENSES: What would this look like... sound like... feel like... etc.?
  • A for ACTORS: What people, things, interactions and environment are involved?
  • L for LOCATION: Where, where from/to, how big/many, and what shape?
  • T for TIMING: When, how often, how long and what next/order?

SALT Probing MethodYou can download a 2-page PDF called SALT Probing Method at > BlueTools > Conduct Discovery Interviews/Tours for more details on these questions. 

Be sure to check out page 2 of this PDF. You'll see 19 example questions that might be useful if you were interviewing business travelers on their use of taxis. Here are some examples of the Timing questions:

  • When: When are the taxi queues usually the longest?
  • How often: How often is the seat belt missing?
  • How long: How long does it take to get through an airport taxi queue like that?
  • What next/order: What happens after the driver refuses your credit card?

To take your probing skills to "the next level," practice these questions with your team internally. Then consider taking the SALT Probing Method sheet with you on your interviews. It's especially easy to use this with virtual VOC (web-conference interviews)... when you can easily glance at these suggested questions without anyone noticing.


Keywords: SALT, SALT method, Senses, Actors, Location, Timing, What and Why, What questions, advanced probing, Discovery interview probing, interview questions