I have built several multi-million dollar businesses using (2) very simple questions: "What makes you say that...." and "Tell me more...."
No matter what someone says to you, you just keep asking one (or both) of the questions. If you do it 4 or 5 times in a row you'll learn everything you ever wanted to know.
Here's my 3 phase approach:
1. Set problem context with a back-story.
2. If problem resonates (or not), ask how they solve these problems today.
3. Shut up and listen.
Another process is to use the 5 why approach to find the pain points.
The best way to understand customer motivation (aka pain aka desire aka wants, etc) is to study human behavior and human nature.
For a VERY simple model study the lowest levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
For more detail study Evolutionary Psychology and Neuromarketing. Type those words in to the amazon.com search box and you'll find plenty to read.
Good marketing is grounded in a firm understanding of human nature. Once you have a good grasp of these concepts you can begin to apply them to your specific market. It's part science and a good bit of art. The key is to, as Steve Blank says, "get out of the building."
It will likely take time to develop this skill but the investment and effort are well worth it.
The "shortcut" is to work with a consultant or coach who has already studied and these things and mastered this skill. They will not only assist you in specifically finding YOUR customer's "pain points" but they will effectively lead by example. And you will no doubt shorten your learning curve significantly. Consider that there are 237 responses in the amazon search for "neuromarketing" - and then consider that a good coach can direct you to the highest impact 3 or so books.... How much time and money would that save you?
Let's talk if you'd like some direction and assistance. I wish you massive success!
Some tried + true questions for discovering pain points:
- What was your biggest challenge, frustration or problem in finding the right product?
- Which questions did you have, but couldn’t find answers to on the website?
- Which doubts and hesitations did you have before completing the purchase?
- What’s the one thing that nearly stopped you from buying from us?
Most of the startups that I have mentored have gotten to their customer discovery/value proposition phase where they are required to prove or disprove their value proposition and they freak right out because they want a list of interview questions.
I always tell them to ditch the questions. Approaching customer discovery with a list of questions will completely limit your responses by setting their thinking around a specific solution and then you miss understanding if your solution is even an answer to the problems they *really* have.
Instead, go back to what is prescribed in the customer validation approach and do a "day in the life" analysis. Don't assume you know what the problems are. Start with a hypothesis and then go to your customers and ask them to describe their work processes, or their buying habits, or whatever it is in the context of your product, but let them drive. Most times, they will quickly get to describing what's challenging about this process and the first things they will describe are the biggest pain points. Of course you want to be armed with some questions you can ask to drill down further, as described in some of the responses above, but listen, listen, listen. Guide them and let them talk. People will complain more than they will rave and with a skilled facilitator or business analyst, you will be able to maneouver the conversation to discover whether they actually care about the problem you think you are solving or whether you need to pivot your offering/value proposition to address what they are *really* struggling with.
Bottom line - ask them to describe their life in the context of your offering. Don't lead them to focus specifically on your solution right off the bat.
Tricks, tactics, strategies, platforms, and so on.
They might pass.
While understanding your customers will always be your KEY competitive advantage in the long run.
So, how do you get the kind of insights that you need to know about your buyers? 🤔
Here's a full list of how to gain this kind of qualitative data, (even if you don't have an email list).
📚AMAZON AND UDEMY REVIEWS ARE PURE GOLD
Check all the reviews from 2 to 4 of books or any kind of product related to what your product is about.
For instance, you want to build an online course on how to Develop an App. Check all the books about the topic, and see if anything is repeating on the reviews like "Good content, but there's a lack of examples and case studies." "Not enough practical" or "Too Basic."
You want to get that kind of understanding of your audience's way of talking and pain points, so that you can reuse them later on for creating more relevant contents, better copy, headlines, and sales pages that convert more. Moreover, you want to spot gaps in your market where your competitors are still not present.
➡️ QUORA AND REDDIT (OR SIMILAR)
Simple as that, check in related questions, or even ask something like "What are your struggling with X?" People generally tend to be honest and personal on this kind of platforms.
Look at how people promote or complain about competitive offerings on Twitter.
🤓SALES PAGES OF THE BEST IN YOUR SPACE
Never copy the content of the sales pages. That's what scammers do. However, more established competitors, even if they don't always have all the answers - probably learned some lessons about which features/benefits/pain points are most critical. You can learn a lot by working backward from there.
Be careful when they refer to something specific like "You've probably struggled along the oceanic information about the topic and never really took actions." Stuff like this is probably something that they've perhaps found a repeating pain point in their researches.
Seems obvious, but, check not only your broad topic like "Digital Marketing," but also "SEO," "Content Marketing."
❓ ASK SMART QUESTIONS TO YOUR FRIENDS, FAM, AND FRIENDS OF FRIENDS
"What have used for X?" "For how long?" "Have you ever thought about X?"
👂 Now... LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN 🙂