Why Customer Discovery & Sales are Different: Week 1, 2018

Customer Discovery is so often misunderstood. Many first time tech entrepreneurs just tend to have a lot of resistance to the concept to begin with. Even if they buy into it though,  customer discovery is regularly viewed as the logical first step to generate to sales.  If a company is already generating $30,000 MRR, then the concept can often be even further misunderstood as simply a waste of time all together. The reason this confusion exists is that counter to common belief, customer discovery is not simply the process prior to sales. Customer discovery is the continuous pursuit to better understand your customer throughout the entire lifetime of the company.

I remember when I first learned about customer discovery that I also thought it was a total nuisance. Like many entrepreneurs I was impatient to make progress and it just seemed like a huge waste of time. What I've since learned is that I had a fundamental misunderstanding of what customer discovery was and why it is so crucial in the modern days of the Internet.

The goal of customer discovery is not to beat around the bush about sales, it's to generate data. The purpose of that data is two fold:

It saves time. I think this is best illustrated with an example. Let's say you're building a CRM system for the food truck industry and your hypothesis is that when they need is a better platform to communicate with customers after a sale. You could spend months or maybe even years building this feature only to find out after speaking with a number of food truck vendors, they're primary concern isn't customer communications at all! They're worried about the quota they need to make each day and where in the city they should be parked. All that effort spent building the CRM tool, was the real huge waste of time.Individual sales help keep the company afloat today and that's important. It's only when you generate data by pattern matching 10's - 1000's of customer interactions however that you're now armed with the knowledge needed to scale.

Customer Discovery is an opportunity for you to work on your business rather than in your business. View it as a controlled experiment for you to gain important insight about your market. Afterwards you will use that data to your advantage when it comes time to double down on your marketing efforts. Without that data, you may grow sales linearly but you are leaving exponential growth to chance.

James Shomar
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