🎙Podcast: Stop Building! Talk to Your Customers First

10 min read
Şahin Seçil
Sep 5, 2021

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We’re building a SaaS product, heybooster and here's how we learned and

what's keeping us up at night. Looking forward to meeting fellows who had the same journey and helping us continue to grow.

Hey Nesly, hey Sahin.

Sahin: How long have you been developing Heybooster.

Neslihan: I realized yesterday that it has been 2 years since I changed my LinkedIn title to cofounder of Heybooster

Sahin: On this journey, what was the biggest mistake you made?

Neslihan: Assumptions… Assumptions are my biggest mistakes on this journey. When we first started it was just our problem and we knew what we need to build but things changed and we suddenly started saying more frequently that this would be an amazing product if we built this and this and this and you know how messy that became.

Sahin: That means we already know that if we assume the problems based on our limited knowledge, it'll be messier. And I'm sure our listeners know that they shouldn’t assume that they know exactly what's wrong. And today we're gonna talk about how assumptions lead you astray. So Nesly what happened and why didn't we apply our knowledge?

Neslihan: Yes you gotta point, We asked a lot to the users but we were deceived. If we ask Neslihan, two years ago, she would say that she built every aspect of the product based on customers’ feedback. She did ask, and she is right, all the features users wanted, but they never used them .. As a result yes we try not to have assumptions and asked but we couldnt ask the good questions.

Sahin: We thought we were going the right way. And I'm 100% sure what the problem is and how to fix it. I've done that for at least 10 years. I felt like I was ready and couldn't fail at the beginning. But We did! How are we getting rid of the feeling that we know what the problem is?

Neslihan: Facing failure… Biggest lesson I learnt was hardest the product we built is not used and we didn't get even a feedback to improve it for the features our customers asked. So I returned myself to ask where we made mistakes.

Sahin: After hard work for building features, you found out they don't use it. That means you wasted your time building stuff they didn't need.  What would you do if you were there now?

Neslihan: If I start from scratch, I would ask the customers to interview with them, and learn how to interview before building the development team. Development and having a product is amazing ahah actually you may remember that we always say that if we had a product it is quite easy to sell. But it is not

Sahin: In fact we built the MVP version, we built the minimum viable product. We hired a developer from India, Dipen. He built the first version of Heybooster that works in Excel. And how was it?

Neslihan: Quite good!

Sahin: We love it, our users love it. We got lots of positive feedback. But when we opened the beta, it didn't keep going like that. What happened? What did we miss?

Neslihan: We misinterpreted the response, because getting likes for the end result you gave does not mean that they use your self serving SAAS. We need to investigate more about what they like.

Sahin: In reality, we showed them some cool stuff and manipulated them to like it. Right?

Neslihan: Yes you have a point, we present the problem...

Sahin: We showed the problem. We didn’t listen to them or ask them about their existing problems.

Neslihan: The important point here is that it was our problem at that time.

Sahin: Who we’re?

Neslihan: We were agency, that's another story eheheh. Budget tracking for our clients that’s the first seed for heybooster.  Our goal was to design a system to avoid failing to manage client budgets.

Sahin: To find our ideal customers.. And building features.. Who is our ideal customer?

Neslihan: Ecommerce Manager…. Hahaha another lesson I learned. Talk to your target audience rather than anyone from the industry.  

Sahin: So what happened when you showed them features?

Neslihan: They liked it, they said yes we can buy it 's wonderful.

Sahin: They didn't make a payment. (True story) When they said we love it and we paid for HeyBooster, how did we validate?

Neslihan: We offered free plan and ask for feedback, they accepted. But we couldn't validate it and actually we didn't even ask for credit card info.

Sahin: Why didn't we ask for their credit card info right away?

Neslihan: We assume they even don't try if we ask.. But none of us think it might be a problem… We focused on acquiring more users even if they were not our target audience and it causes to investing misleading feedbacks came from the customers who won't buy. Funny story, the accelerator program we were in, they warned us lots of time to put payment info into onboarding and we resisted not to do so for a long time.

Sahin: On the other hand, we thought we needed a lot of feedback from our users, and if we pushed them to make a payment too early, we would lose them. Almost 1000 people used it and got feedback! From the users who won't pay us. We got lots of misleading feedback.

Neslihan: Yes exactly ! As i said before, there is no feature on heybooster which is not based on customer feedback. But the questions, does the feature really matter? Is it really worth it to pay for our target audience?

Sahin: How do you get out of the assumptions and find the real problem? Let’s say you know your ideal customer profile.

Neslihan: I would talk with only the ecommerce managers, not with anyone on behalf of them. Another important point, I would clarify the segment more specifically like ecommerce managers who have an internal digital marketing team and manage more than 10k € advertising budget. After I found 10 this types of ecommerce managers, I would try to understand the real pain by asking good questions.

Sahin: What do you mean by asking good questions ? What makes a question “good”?

Neslihan: Ask questions you don't know the answers.

Sahin: Can you give me an example of a question you don't know the answer to?

Neslihan: For example if you ask the ecommerce manager are you checking out Google Analytics data? 99% sure they will say yes because they don't want to look unqualified. It is meaningless to ask Yes/No questions, especially questions like this.

Sahin: How do you ask it differently?

Neslihan: It may be different for each person, but it may be like “ What is the last insights you got from Google Analytics?” It may make them think a little bit longer and help me to figure out the real answer with their mimics, comments

Sahin: 'Seems like it's valuable to read mimics.'

Neslihan: Of course, After talking to a lot of people, even if you are online, it easier to understand them with their facial expressions,  of course depending on internet connection. Everything may be the input for my interview notes, even the time pass while they are thinking before responding.

Sahin: We should kindly ask the cam to open.

Neslihan: It is about building an intimate connection rather than having a Q&A meeting. However there is another theory that suggests opening just one sense, for instance closing the camera and listening only,   increasing the focus and increasing productivity but in this kind of interview you are the one who gathers information so your job is to hold the conversation.

Sahin: What do you think about recording?

Neslihan: Most of the people like entrepreneurs like to help them when i asked, never rejected.

Sahin: Ok, let’s record but.. There will be so many documents to archive. I'm sure you took tons of notes too. Does having too many documents bother you?

Neslihan: Another problem...It is the job you need to focus on, it is a stage you need to have in the early startup phase. It should be the only work you do so you will not have other documents to look over. So If you have ten meetings, you will have ten documents. We as startup people mostly try to solve a lot of problems together, even if we succeed it is prolonging the process in the long run.

Sahin: Can we get more details to figure out the problems during the interviews?

Neslihan: Yes, to spare time for researching before meeting also increases the productivity of the meeting as well. Like in my last meeting, i knew their exact pain before the meeting, and they started the meeting well we don't think heybooster work for us but after some questions like how they solve right now, what they research before use another tool to figure out, and then they focus more on how heybooster can help and how we proceed.

Sahin: Well, what do you think about telling the customer about the features? Means that.. I get bored when I listen to the product features first. They're telling me how awesome their product is! Without asking for my needs first.

Neslihan:d Yesss rule of thumb: Don't talk about your idea, yes they may like to listen to you

Sahin: Sure, everyone isn't like me

Neslihan: Ahahah yes.. Instead of your idea, it is more helpful to talk about their daily life. What bothers her / him right now? Maybe it is the right audience but not the right time. Like in our case, the challenge right now for an ecom manager may be to increase the product line and not be interested in digital marketing right now. But if you continue to talk about ideas they will say yes, good, quite good, it is an amazing product and they said they would like to try but it will never and with feedback or sales.

Sahin: You’re right. You don't need to talk about what you know. This meeting is about learning from the ideal customer. You should focus on what questions will help you learn.

Neslihan: Yes btw the customer may wonder about your product and just accept your meeting invitation to listen to you. This is your job to turn the meeting from your pitching into the customer's life.

Sahin: In a nutshell, you can learn what resonates for sales but customer interviews aren't sales meetings.

Neslihan: And it is the important stage for your startup journey. We should focus more.

Sahin: You should practice more.. Do some prep before the meeting.. Take your time to interpret your notes. I know today's topic is not about sales, but can we use the customer interview learnings for sales purposes?

Neslihan: These people are your potential customers so it is important to log the notes from this meeting in your CRM. Maybe 3 months later you will again knock on their door with your features which solve their problem.

Sahin: And you can also use it for marketing…

Neslihan: Definitely, if some sentences are used in 5 of these 10 meetings it may get the attention of another person with the same title in the world as well.

Thank you for being with us. To reach more fellows, we need your support. Like us, follow us, and tell your friends about us!

Until next Sunday,



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