How To Understand Your Ideal Buyer Before You Have Customers: Part One

Authored by Kayla Brehm

Published on October 5, 2015

Every great company has one thing in common. Customers. Lots of them (hopefully). But what if you’re still developing your great idea? What if you don’t have customers yet? How do you know who to target?

Understanding your ideal buyer can be tricky enough as it is. If you don’t know who your biggest customer will be, here are a few solutions.


Conduct Product/Customer Development Interviews

With who?

First, consider your product. Who would use it? What pain point(s) are you trying to solve?

If your product is a new software tool that helps folks find email addresses of influencers, you’ll likely want to speak to sales and marketing team members/leads. If your product is a customer service ticketing system, customer service managers and team leads are your target.

Talk to people who are in the trenches, and who can give you true insight. Your goal is to understand if your product could make a difference in their daily lives.

So how do you find the perfect person? Use tools like LinkedIn to search your network. You know more people than you think


I recommend searching by job title and/ or company. Who has authority in your space? Is there a company that you admire? Reach out and ask for a quick meeting/conversation. If you notice that a friend/contact of yours is connected to someone you want to meet, ask for an introduction.

If you know who you’re contacting personally, give them a little background information, but maintain a casual tone. Be clear that you’re really interested in getting their feedback about building the product. People like feeling valued.

Hey x,

I hope you’re well! It’s been awhile since we chatted, but I recently joined y company, [explain company vision]. We’re early in our product development and I’m having conversations with some people in the industry I respect about what they’re looking for from [explain product a bit more here]. Basically, a wish list of “it’d be great if a,b,c.”.

Your feedback is incredibly valuable to us. It’d be great to chat with you about your experiences and pick your brain for a bit if you’re available!

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.



If you’re reaching out completely cold, use a more formal tone and go into more detail about your company. Make it clear that you value their time.


Hi x,

I’m Kayla, [explain job and company]. A bit of background on us, [explain relevance to them]. We’re in our product development phase, and have been sitting down with a variety of companies to talk about their current software likes/ dislikes. No pitching, (there’s literally nothing to pitch quite yet), just a fun and informative conversation.
I’m very familiar with [name company] and think it would be really helpful to chat with you.  I’m happy to accommodate your availability!

I look forward to hearing from you,




What do we talk about?

You’ve gotten through the door, but now what?

Have your interviewee break down the company’s organizational structure. What are they in charge of? Do they have anyone working for them? For example, during’s customer development conversations, we wanted to make sure that the folks we spoke to were hands-on with their CX software. How many people use it?

“If you had feature x, what would that allow you to do?”

Your goal is to figure out if your product will make a difference in their daily lives. What’s their pain point?

Once you’ve identified what they need, ask about their current solution. What are some pros and cons of what they’re using now?  For the negatives, what’s their work-around? It’s also important to gauge how much they’re currently spending. What are they willing to pay for the perfect product?


When should I have them?

Try to get these in as early as possible. You’ll find that you may hear feature or integration requests from customers that you didn’t expect and now want to prioritize. The information you’ll receive is critical, so take advantage.

How do you know when to stop interviewing? When you’re no longer learning anything new. Once we at Help had all of the information we could handle, we set out to build our product. Once our product launched and requested features rolled out, we reached out to folks we spoke to in the early stages to let them know.


Where should I have them?

We’ve all heard it before- get out of the office. Make it as convenient as possible for those you’re interviewing. Do they love coffee? Meet at a cafe. Are they crazy busy? Stop by their office. They’re doing YOU a favor by letting you chat, so be as accommodating as possible.

In person is always better.

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