We stopped pitching and started listening
When we first started customer development we made a massive mistake. Instead of listening to a customer’s problems we would instead pitch them our solution. What we should have been doing was asking people what their issues were and listening to how we might solve them. What we actually did was wax lyrical about the product and debate with them on whether it really could solve their problems (at the time it couldn’t).
Customer development is a very different process to sales though. Sales is about helping your customer to understand the product. Customer development is about helping the product to understand your customer. Don’t try and sell during the initial exploration.
(1) On getting the balance right between talking and listening in meetings generally, see Startup founders’ most common mistake in meetings — and how to avoid it.
(2) On listening, see also (i) How to be a better listener and (ii) How to listen without judging — a guide for managers.