When it comes to customer validation, the idea of getting them to pay in advance is mostly touted as the best strategy. Some recommend putting out a landing page with a fake buy or sign up link. But if we actually talk the customer into making an upfront payment even before the product is ready, that speaks volume on how much the product is solving their pain point(s).
While I do not disagree with this, and will possibly try to do the same thing too when validating my business idea, I also wanna know if this is the best we can do. What more can I possibly do? It’s an important question to ask before we go down the route of investing our time and money building something.
I had the privilege of attending a info session at Flashpoint out here in Atlanta. Flashpoint is a well known management and education program here, that works closely with founders to create companies. Merrick who happens to be the biggest pillar at Flashpoint shared some interesting perspectives at this session.
He definitely doesn’t believe getting upfront payments is a guarantee your product will be successful.
Having helped start many startup companies, he makes his student founders go through a rigorous process of customer discovery and validation which is pretty intensive. He didn’t go through the full details of the program in the info session. But the basic idea is in trying to understand what is the thing that the customer cannot do without.
Quoting his exact words: “You can rely on people to do what they cannot not do. If they can avoid it, they would. The opposite of this double negative is not true. Customers are immune to Change.”
So if they can avoid a product that will force them to change, they will avoid using it. So next time we build a product, let’s build something so compelling that the customer is compelled to make the change in their business to use it. Let’s build something so good, he does not have a choice!