The idea has germinated and some code has been written--you’re confident that your business idea has enough shape to be shown to a few customers and friends. Maybe this is day five, or maybe it’s month five. At any rate, you are now ready to take your work outside of the safe confines of your office.
So, what are you going to tell these potential customers? Please, don’t just give them the demo and “see what happens next.” Your meeting has to have a point.
You give it a point by figuring out who you are. I like to view it through this lens: Is your product a painkiller or a vitamin? The differences are critical to establishing your baseline messaging. First meetings, like first impressions, can set a critical tone going forward.
A painkiller is a product or service that solves a business problem. Painkiller discussions, then, tend to look back. They start with probing questions, including:
Your entire talk track needs to be about producing answers to these questions. Why? Because if you don’t ask the questions in some form, your potential customers might not even understand that they have a problem. And that makes you unnecessary. If your customers don’t recognize the pain and want to make it go away, a demo of your wonderfully conceived solution will kill your meeting.
A vitamin is a product or service that juices some segment of a customer’s business. So vitamin discussions are more of a look forward, and the relevant questions could be:
Vitamins inspire you to dream of better days. They are innately positive; they send you down “what if” talk tracks.
That’s fun, but it has a danger of its own: A vitamin is more a want-to-have than a need-to-have. And it can be hard to sell something that a buyer merely wants. That’s why your questions need to be designed to reveal everything possible about your potential customer’s strategic goals. Ultimately, it will always come down to the question of whether your solution fits their needs.
So, what are you--a painkiller or a vitamin?