Product Development & What Your Customer Is Buying

In product development, it’s all about what your customer is buying. This is not what you’re selling to your customer, but what your customer is buying from you.

Think about that as a product person for a second. This is the thing that you’re creating. Don’t you want the thing you’re creating to be valuable to the person who’s buying?

The example I like to use is a simple one. Google sells lots of products. One of the products Google sells is search.

The end-user isn’t buying a search. They don’t care about search. What they care about are the customers who they’re buying, the sales that they’re buying from Google. They care about the research that they’re buying from Google. That’s what they’re buying. It’s a subtle contrast, but that is a difference between how a product person may think about building a product. And it’s the difference between how a salesperson thinks about how they’re talking about their product with someone.

Enjoying this article? Check out parts 1 and 2.

Why the Customer Buys Your Product

There’s an obvious why, which is: what is the business need that we’re solving? Why does this matter to the company? Are we making them more money? Are we saving them more money? Are we creating a time efficiency?

It’s important to understand those whys and how they will measure the results. As product people, you think about measurement all day and your customers do the same—it’s how they make their business decisions even if they’re not overtly speaking about it in that way.

However, there’s a second why that is almost always overlooked, which is: Why is the individual going to buy your product?

You might hit every business requirement possible and there is no question the company needs this product. However, if you have a user who already met all their goals, think about what it takes to make them want to use your product. Now, the question there is maybe the product isn’t for them, and that’s good to know. Or maybe there’s something about your product that needs to change to create it for them. This is part of the learning, especially in the early stages.

What Is Your Next Action in Product Development To Figure Out Your W3

Let’s assume that you believe this framework is a good framework for you to work from. What do you do next? 

You have your theory of your three Ws. You think you know who your customer is going to be, what they’re going to buy from you, and why they’re going to buy.

Reflect With Your Team 

Make a list of who you believe your targets are. This way you can find not just the companies, but the people inside of those organizations who fit who you believe your “who is,” and then go out and talk to them and collect a whole bunch of data to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong. You might get it right the first time, you probably won’t, but hopefully, if you’re listening, you’ll learn. 

The most important part is how do you get to being intellectually honest with yourself and try to avoid confirmation bias.

Once you’re pretty sure you’re correct, try to disprove your belief. Figure out with the data that you collect why it might not be right. That’s one way to try to be intellectually honest. Also, think about the path that you’re on and what you’re trying to do before you get to sales is how do you figure out how before my product can get to a scale, I have to get to a repeatable product that people want to use and want to use all the time and that they can’t live without.

About the speaker
Amos Schwartzfarb Techstars, Managing Director Member

While attending college at the University of Massachusetts in 1992 Amos fell in love with rock climbing which brought him to Northern California in 1993 and eventually a job packing boxes for Shoreline Mountain Project. While there Amos helped turn an old school mail-order company into one of the first e-commerce companies which launched his career into the startup world. After Shoreline, Amos went on to 6 other startups including HotJobs.com, Work.com, Business.com, mySpoonful, Blacklocus and Joust. At each of these startups, his responsibility was always directly related to figuring out product market fit, early sales and building sales organizations. Then, in 2015, he moved over to the investor side as Managing Director of Techstars in Austin. Now after over 70 seed stage investments Amos has become one of the more active early stage investors, via Techstars Austin in all of Texas.