The centre of your go-to-market strategy is not your products or services, but the problem that you solve with these products or services. The problem choice informs messaging, of course, but also market selection, the shape of your sales channel, and even the products or services themselves. So you need to get it ‘right’. How, though, can you make sure that your theoretically wonderful problem statement will stand up when exposed in the market? You need to ‘road test’ your language.

Testing a problem statement with your B2B customers can be traversed through a spectrum of approaches ranging from a light touch to a deep, research-infused strategy. In both scenarios, it’s vital to include both prompted and unprompted testing methods to gain genuine and insightful feedback. Here, we detail two extreme paths on this spectrum to guide your road-testing strategy:

Path 1: the light and simple approach

This approach is designed for businesses aiming to get initial feedback without delving deeply into formal research. It typically involves casual conversations with a small number of familiar customers. Here’s how you can proceed:

  1. Clarify your problem statement: Begin with a clear and concise problem statement that outlines the issue at hand.
  2. Engage with friendlies – unprompted: Start with informal conversations with 3-4 friendly customers. Ask them to describe any problems they perceive “like this” without providing them with your specific narrative, to gather their unprompted views.
  3. Engage with friendlies – prompted: Following the unprompted feedback, share your problem narrative explicitly and seek their reactions to understand their prompted responses.
  4. Make adjustments based on feedback: Use the feedback from both unprompted and prompted engagements to iterate on your problem statement.
  5. Integration: Integrate the refined problem statement into initial solution development, keeping open channels for further feedback.

Path 2: the intensive research-driven approach

For those aiming to undertake a more rigorous analysis, this intensive path leverages both qualitative and quantitative research methods for a comprehensive understanding. This process involves the following steps:

  1. Clarify your problem statement: Ensure that your problem statement is well-defined, serving as the foundation for your research.
  2. Develop a hypothesis: Formulate a hypothesis or a set of assumptions that relate to your problem statement, ready to be tested through research.
  3. Segment your audience: Identify different segments of your customer base to analyse varied responses to the problem statement.
  4. Choose the right methods: Select appropriate research methods, including surveys, interviews, and focus groups, to garner detailed insights from your customers.
  5. Conduct the research – unprompted: Initiate the research by asking participants to describe problems they perceive in the area of focus without providing them with your narrative, to collect unprompted insights.
  6. Conduct the research – prompted: Subsequently, share your problem narrative with the participants and gather their reactions to collect prompted insights.
  7. Analyse the data: Analyse the data from both unprompted and prompted sessions to uncover patterns, trends, and valuable insights.
  8. Make adjustments based on insights: Use the garnered insights to refine your problem statement, ensuring it resonates well with your customers’ actual experiences and needs.
  9. Validation: Validate the revised problem statement with a subset of customers to assess its effectiveness.
  10. Integration: Incorporate the validated problem statement into your business strategy, using it as a guiding light for your endeavours.
  11. Feedback loop: Establish a continuous feedback loop with your customers for ongoing insights and iterative improvements.
  12. Documentation and reporting: Document the process and outcomes, preparing a comprehensive report to share with your team and other stakeholders.
  13. Implementation: Utilise the refined problem statement as a basis for developing solutions and strategies that aptly address the identified problem.

Additional tips:

  • Pilot testing: Consider pilot testing solutions based on the refined problem statement with a small group of customers before a full-scale rollout.
  • Feedback channels: Set up channels for ongoing feedback from your customers, encouraging a cycle of continuous refinement and improvement.
  • Collaboration: Foster collaboration with customers during the problem-solving process, cultivating a sense of partnership and co-creation.

Whether you choose a lighter touch or a deeper dive, incorporating both prompted and unprompted testing methods will equip you with a well-rounded understanding of your B2B customers’ perspectives, helping to hone your problem statement to better address real-world issues and facilitate successful solutions.