2nd call and genenis one!

My next call with a prospective customer started off much more optimistically.  After reaching out to a b-school alum with the same canned email asking if they saw software solution opportunities in their market, the response that came back from the alum was overwhelmingly positive.  So, the call basically started with him already sold on the idea that I could build a software solution for his business… slam dunk, right?  It ended with him saying “We’ll [his business] be your first customer”.  Definitely, one in the bag feels good.

My report card:

Active Listening: B
Follow-Thru: C
Overall Result: B

The takeaways:

When a lead has a pain point, there’s nothing stopping them from giving you money.  It really did feel like he wasn’t gonna be satisfied until I was as excited as him about getting a software solution out there that addressed his needs.

Was offered a solution for $10k/yr, ended up paying $3k/year.  It turned out to be a horrible experience, but anytime someone actually pays for a solution, you know you can trust their word that they need the solution.

The only negative is the lack of connections he has in terms of introducing me to other businesses in his space or other folks that may need his solution.  Though he’s convinced others would buy this, I’m not, yet.  One in the bag is good, but having a lot of leads would be nice.

Posted in customer development

First customer development phone call

Finished my first call with an attorney to learn about software solution opportunities in the legal industry.

My report card:

Active Listening: C
Follow-Thru: B+
Overall Result: C-

The takeaways:

Be quiet and let them speak

When setting up the call, don’t include “if you’ve already know of a software idea…”.  I noticed on this call that he was trying really hard to find a software idea, and that prevented him from seeing anything else.  The focus should be on how they work and from that will come the challenges and pain points.  From THOSE pain points will come the potential software ideas.  If you start at software, it’s very difficult to take a step back and focus on the process.

At the end of the call, there was no clear pain point that we could identify.  I asked for a quick run down of other business processes (different services) and it was the same, no pain points.  However, he did thank me for the chat, because he hadn’t really spent any time thinking about the exact process he goes through when offering a service to his customers.  I’ll want to develop this idea more.

Posted in customer development

How to find a software solution worth building?

At MMappSoft, we follow the Lean Startup methodologies and are big proponents of Customer Development.  To answer the question in the subject requires nothing more than listening to business proprietors.  They’ll tell you what’s important and valuable to them and over iterative discussions/demos of software they’ll let you know how valuable your software solution is.

All nice and good if business proprietors were lining up to speak about their businesses with me.  The challenge is to find business proprietors who are willing to invest their time (~30-45 min.) in a discussion with you about their business and allow you to absorb this information and probe for opportunities.  Lead generation.  That’s one of the most difficult steps in the process for me in answering the question above.

My current strategy is taken from a podcast interview with Dane Maxwell, whom I had the opportunity to meet at a Lean Startup Weekend in San Diego, last year.  Here’s the link:


Specifically, I am following this step-by-step process:

1.  Find a website with contact info for businesses in an industry I’m interested in.  Currently, that’s solo practitioner attorneys or small law firms.  Think yellow pages or some such.  I’m using a local news paper’s website.

2.  Hire someone cheap on oDesk.com to gather emails and first names from those businesses’ web pages in step #1.  They fill out a spreadsheet with clear columns to help in step #3.

3.  Use MailChimp to create an email campaign that imports the spreadsheet created in step #2

4.  Send out the email campaign with the following details:

a. Email with subject “strain?”

b. Send from female name – Lindsey or Jill

c. Email contents: Hey, we’re doing some research on the legal software market. Just curious, is there any software that you’ve been looking for over the last few years that you’re having trouble finding? Great to hear back from you, Lindsey.

I’ll let you know what the results are when I get them.  So far, 24 hours later, there are zero responses to 106 emails.


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