How to Get the Buyer Interview
One of the biggest challenges I hear from product managers and marketers is, “I can’t get anyone to talk to me!” How do you get busy people – especially executives or someone who bought from your competition – to talk to you? Following are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years:
Make it Easy for Your Team to Help You
Make sure everyone who touches the market has questions they can ask and an easy way to get you that they hear. Most of your team members probably hate filling out forms – if they can remember where the form is. Set up Slack or Teams channels, email, voicemail and any other collaboration tools your company uses so teams can forward you insights in whatever way is most convenient for them.
It’s a Numbers Game
Don’t get daunted; you’ll have to reach out to a lot of people who won’t even acknowledge you before you get even one interview. My informal polls say that, for tech companies, you’ll have to ask between 5-25 people for every one interview of an existing customer. To get one interview of a non-customer, expect to ask between 25-75 people!
Tuck questions into every interaction you have with the market. People who won’t agree to an interview will answer one question at a time over the course of their buying journey.
Ask Questions That Intrigue Your Subject
You need specific insights, but buyers need questions they can sink their teeth into. What do we all like to talk about? Ask for predictions, opinions, frustrations – topics that get almost anyone to speak up. It's likely that questions like these are exactly the ones you need answers to anyway.
Keep it Short
The second-best tip I’ve heard is to ask for a 10-minute meeting. I’ve had many folks tell me that, if they respect the 10-minute time, their interviewee will extend the interview 50% of the time. What's the #1 tip?
Never Underestimate the Power of a Gift Card
It doesn’t matter if your buyers are executives. It doesn’t matter if they’re scientists, scholars or other serious types. For years I’ve asked product teams what their most successful tools are to get customer interviews, and the answer has been a resounding “offer a gift card!” If buyers aren’t barred by law or regulation from taking gift cards, they love them! So break out the piggy bank and pay for a bit of someone’s time. Use values that work in your world, but as a suggestion, offer anyone who will do even a short interview or survey $50US. An hour or focus group? $100-500. And here's a bonus idea:
Give to Get
Often, the information you gather is interesting to the subjects, too. If so, and if you can maintain individual privacy – share! Survey results, changing strategic concerns, new spending priorities - all of these are valuable insights for not only you but your market.
Innovating on purpose means responding to what the market needs. To do this - you have to get them to talk. Give these ideas a try.
About the Author
Diane Pierson is the Foand Principal Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product innovation for tech companies through strategic focus and powerful go-to-market strategies. Diane is also a visiting instructor at Pragmatic Institute. Contact Diane at email@example.com.