Tool: Target Customer Identification Worksheet

Market: The Myths and Truths of Customer Validation


About the Customer Validation Tool

To engage potential customers, you must know—with specificity—who those customers are, not in a generic sense, but individually as distinct human beings. Start with the teams involved in the evaluation and decision to buy your product and work your way down to each individual participant.

What are their titles, reporting relationships, and responsibilities? Formally and informally who influences who? Further, develop detailed knowledge about the perception and impact of the problem you’re aiming to solve on each influencer and decision-marker. How does each influencer say it needs to be solved? Who controls or influences the resources and budget required to execute?

Prepare to Use the Tool
  1. Who is the ideal initial contact at the company? The individual may be someone you’re calling on already, or they may be the influencer you’d like to engage with, but haven’t met yet. Either way, you are analyzing this person because they are critical to the acceptance and sale of your solution.
  2. How will you connect to this person? Is there anyone in your professional network, membership organizations, or social groups who can make an introduction? Do you know other employees at the company? What about connections through your college or university, or civic, community, or volunteer activities? Does the organization attend trade shows or industry events? If all else fails, make sure your “cold” calls aren’t cold by researching the individual and the organization before you attempt contact with a compelling message based on benefits.


Step into Your Target Customer’s Shoes

Describe these elements the way you think your customer (s) would. When you meet with the customer, these are the questions you will ask—and then you will listen to the customer’s answers. Later you can compare what you thought you knew with the information you learned from the customer.

  1. The problem environment: What is the perceived problem?
  • How is the impact measured?
  • How is the problem addressed today?
  • Are competing products used at this company?
  • What can you learn about how competitors address the issue?
  1. The technical environment
  • Are there specific requirements needed for your solution to work?
  • How difficult will it be to meet these requirements?
  • Does the customer have the needed talent and resources? If not, is there a hiring plan?
  • What is needed to add required technical changes to approved technical priorities?
  1. Financial/budget considerations
  • Does the customer spend money on solutions or workarounds today?
  • Does your solution require additional budget or reallocated budget?
  • Are there offsetting savings in salary, fixed or variable assets, increased revenue, expanded market share?
  1. Is there a defined buying cycle?
  • Are there times when the company freezes operational or fiscal changes?
  • What is the contract process?
  • Identify recent events, changes, and/or transitions that could lead to an increased opportunity for your solution.

Use this information to complete the Target Customer Worksheet.

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