Bridging the Communication Divide

A friend of mine, Shomit Ghose of Onset Ventures, loves to share his top 3 methods to validate an opportunity:

1. Talk directly to customers
2. Talk directly to customers
3. Talk directly to customers
4. There is no fourth best method.

I love this slide (and his sense of humor). In practice however, there is a divide which often impedes technologists. They may understand the need to speak to customers, they may go speak to customers, but not all are able to gain business-validating feedback from those visits. I’ve seen engineers come back to the office frustrated, saying “customers are no good to speak to”.

Technologists are from Mars and Customers from Venus

It’s often a communication problem. Engineers are from Mars; we think and are comfortable with bits and features. Whereas customers are from Venus; they live on a planet whose language is value. And they are having hard time understanding how the bits we show them translate into value.

We can’t expect customers to learn our language. We are already asking them for a favor: their time, to help us validate our product. Therefore we need to learn to speak their language, and translate our bits into value, so we can have a fruitful conversation.

In future posts, we will explore how to bridge the gap. Comments and ideas welcome.

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