90% of the results you get when launching a business come from understanding people’s needs.
And believe it or not, but, 35% of startups fail because they don’t manage to do so.
The reality is that without a proper process and the right methods to reach out to potential users, it’s nearly impossible to guess what people truly want.
Lucky you, in the last 6 years, I built, grew, or sold 6 profitable businesses making all more than $1M in Annual Recurring Revenue.
In this article, I will share the exact process I used to build something people truly want.
1- We will see why the best founders always talk to users, no matter how big the company gets.
2- I’ll share how to find potential users and how to talk to them.
3- I’ll give you access to my secret questionnaire so you’re sure to ask the right questions and know what NOT to ask too.
And as a bonus, I’ll give you access to a secret Notion file with all the templates used in this article, so you don’t have to take notes, and you can just copy-paste everything!
How to do something that people want?
So let’s assume that you have watched the video on how to get a great idea, and now you want to validate whether or not you should start building your business.
The best way to do so is to talk to potential customers or what we call persona or even Ideal Customer Profile.
A persona is essentially a group of individuals with a similar problem that also share common traits like their role in a company, the type of company they work at, the location, etc.
When you talk to customers, your role is to find what is the most important problem they can’t solve at the moment.
Because if you do, I can assure you that building and growing a business is a lot easier.
But how exactly do you find potential customers and manage to talk to them?
I usually divide this into 3 categories depending on the degree of connection I have with them.
Category #1: The easy to get in touch with.
In that category, I’ll look at all my first-degree connections.
So first, I’ll look at my existing contact on my phone or email.
And I’ll look at all the people that actually match the persona I want to reach out to.
I’ll also go on LinkedIn to do the same.
If, for example, I target founders of startups, I’ll search for “founder,” and then I’ll specify to only take into account the ones that are also part of my first-degree connection.
To show how I would actually do it - let’s say that I want to solve the pain of leveraging people’s networks in growing a business.
So I’m gonna reach out to people with this exact message:
Here’s a template of a LinkedIn sequence you can use to reach out to your first-degree connections.
Here the goal is to mention the problem you want to solve in order for you to maximize the amount of people who would be qualified during the user interview.
By asking for only 15 minutes of their time, and since you know these people, the reply rate should be pretty high.
Category #2: “The connection point”
This is when you don’t know the person you reach out to personally, BUT you can find a connection point.
For example, if I know someone who has a super large network of startup founders - I could ask them for an intro to relevant people.
And please, please please DO NOT ASK intros like this 👇
When you ask for an intro, you want to make people’s lives as easy as possible. Which means that you don’t want to waste people’s time.
So here’s how I usually do it:
Here’s a template of a LinkedIn sequence you can use to get an intro.
As you can see, the effort is super limited here, and you can also leverage the intro message to build a bit more social proof along the way.
As a little trick, it’s always important to add what I call the push pull method.
You ask for something, so the push part, and then you offer a way out, the pull.
The reason you want to do this is that from a psychological standpoint, people don’t like being told what to do especially when you ask for a favor.
But that’s not it for the second category.
You can also have a connection point that is NOT a person.
For example, you could leverage people from your school or past jobs.
That’s still an emotional connection, and since you’re asking people for help, the more emotional connection you can build, the higher the reply rate would be.
So here, for example, on LinkedIn, I could look at all the people who went to HEC and have in their title “founder.”
Here’s the exact message I’m using:
Here’s a template of a LinkedIn sequence you can use to reach out to your first-degree connections
Simple, but super efficient.
Category#3: “The Unknown”
At that stage, you have no points of connection whatsoever, so obviously, it gets harder to get a reply.
So the only way for it to work is to create a point of connection.
And that’s where communities are a true goldmine.
Building up on my previous example, I decided to join all communities with startup founders.
Whether it’s on Reddit, Facebook groups, or Slack communities.
There are tons of ways to find communities online and it’s a bit of a manual process to join them all but at least you’ll learn a lot faster about your audience.
Once you’re part of a community I would first try to answer and help as many people as possible for at least 2 weeks.
The goal here is for people to start seeing your name all over the place.
And then, I’d post the following 👇
In that case what you want to do is have a few friends, like and comment your post so it will get more initial reach and social proof.
That’s what I call the “priming.”
The idea of the priming is to start creating a little bit of virality of your posts so more people see it and then more people are inclined to start helping.
The first step is always the hardest, so you want to create that “priming” so more people can actually comment and that you can reach a lot more people.
Now, with all these different approaches I can guarantee that you’re gonna get tons of interviews scheduled.
If we recap the process, there are 3 essential parts 👇
1- “WHO” am I talking to
In our case we chose founders at startups and scale ups.
2- “WHAT” am I looking for
Here I wanna know if they care about leveraging people’s network to grow their business.
Understand why they care or not care?
And also know who in the company might care about it?
The reason why you want to map out all the stakeholders in a company is that you might realize along the way that the problem is the right problem to solve BUT that the targeting is not right.
3- “HOW” are you gonna interview people
I’ve seen a lot of people talking about questionnaires and things like that but in my opinion they’re inefficient.
Building a business is all about relationship and trust.
So do it either in a video call or in person.
But how exactly do you structure your interview?
Before I give you the list of questions you must ask during an interview - there are 3 things you need to be careful about:
1- Do NOT talk about your product or service
You want to focus only on the problem because if you start talking about the solution people will already have a bias.
So don’t ask:
- Yes or No question
- Will you use our product/service?
- Which features would make our product better?
2- Listen don’t talk
This is exactly the same as during a sales call. The more the person talk, the more you’ll learn about their problem and the better you’ll know what solution to build later on.
3- Always ask open-ended questions
That’s what I call the child curiosity framework.
So for example, if someone comes to tell you that they want to lose weight.
Following the child curiosity framework you want to ask “why” as many times as necessary so you can identify what we call the root cause of the problem.
Going back to the person who want to lose weight, if I ask them “Why” they might say that they want to look “good.”
But if I ask “why do they want to look good”, they might say that’s because they recently met someone they want to date.
Then I can keep asking “why” until I find the root cause.
And from that point I will know what’s the true problem I want to solve.
It might be losing weight. Or it might be feeling more confident so you can date the person of your dream.
That’s why the child curiosity framework is extremely important.
The 6 questions you want to ask during an interview and what to expect from it
1- Tell me how you do X today
2- What is the hardest thing about doing X?
Here you want to understand the pain point truly.
3- Why is it hard?
4- How often do you have to do X?
5- Why is it important for your company to do X?
This is to understand whether a solution would be a must have OR a nice to have.
Ideally the best problems to solve are must haves because the willingness to pay is a lot higher.
Stripe is an excellent example of must have. Without Stripe people can’t process payments online and therefore don’t have businesses so it’s definitely a must have.
6- What do you do to solve this problem for yourself?
Here you want to understand what I call the “fake solutions”.
Going back to our weight loss example, you could ask “What have you tried so far to lose weight?” And here someone might say that they watch online videos and it didn’t work.
The more you learn about fake solutions - the better your targeting and conversion rate will be because you can use it later on in your marketing copy.
For example you could say something like “If you’ve tried online videos to lose weight and it didn’t work - you came to right place. Our program has an accountability partner with real coaching that is custom made for your needs”
Each interview should be recorded so you are 100% focus on the conversation.
Ideally when someone did not give you a full answer you can use the following questions to get more details:
- What do you mean by that?
- Can you tell me more about that?
- Why is that important to you?
Then you can go through each interview and see what are the common traits and how important the problem is.
And from there, start building a solution to that problem 🔥🔥🔥
You will be able to find all the important parts of this article, including unique checklists and resources in this notion document: How to do something that people want?
Every week I’ll publish new articles on how to build and grow a B2B business that generates millions of dollars.
Without any BS and giving you practical templates that you can steal.
Peace, love, and profit ✌️