Asking great Questions and Giving great Answers

You can never go wrong if you start the answer to any question with the words…

“…Here is what I know from my customers -”

Every Thursday I spend 2 hours (4 -5 sessions of 30 min each) with new entrepreneurs to understand their market, product or give them some feedback, or help them with Go-To-Market, funding frameworks, etc.

During these sessions, I tend to hopefully ask a lot of questions and usually point them to a blog post for a framework I have already created that can help them think about the problem.

Which is the main reason I write blog posts – to help as many people with the questions they might have based on 2-3 instances of the same question that I get from other entrepreneurs.

Most entrepreneurs answer questions in 3-5 different ways, depending on their experience, background and how thoughtful they are.

The first, tend to be wanting to answer every question with a predetermined answer.  Regardless of the question asked, they will give me a standard response.

The next level tend to understand the nuance and maybe will try to “personalize” the standard answer to the question.

The best ones will begin with “Here is what I know from my customers …” and work backwards from there.

Regardless of the question.

I have found in my experience, that these entrepreneurs are the most experienced, most relevant and very fact based, with some anecdotes.

The vast majority of the rest who don’t base their answers on customer experiences, tend to be defensive, not very metrics or data driven, and rather dismissive.

Even questions about fund raising are customer first.

“Here is what we know from our customers. We are growing at 10% monthly. New customers are signing up but are finding issues in their ability to create templates is making it less productive immediately out of the box. To make it faster, we need to add template modules, which is an engineering effort.

Also our existing customers are opening 7% support requests monthly. So, we need 1 person in engineering and 1 in customer service. We’d like to grow at 20% monthly. So, we need a marketing person who understands SEO and SEM since most of our customers have learned about us via Search.

So with our existing team plus 3 additions for a 18 month period, to support and get to XXX customers, we need $750K in funding”.

Great answer.

Questions about hiring begin with customers as well.

“We are finding that customers are expecting the template module needs to be responsive, since most of our customers use mobile to start a campaign. Then they move to the web for sharing and administration. We also have 30 requests for new campaigns per week from each and every customer.

We will need someone that scales to 40K requests per minute, because our current customer and campaign metrics are trending in this direction. With our current architecture we chose Angular.JS since it was something we knew but also helps our customers by helping build the responsive design faster.

We need to hire someone that has scaled to this level, has an understanding of template management and with some experience with building B2B apps – which is what we are looking for in our JD”.