validating assumptions for MVP and acquiring small business customers


We offer a SAAS and I am at the stage where we have a MVP and are looking to validate our assumptions which is that small shop owners will make more revenue by using our system.

Our target customers are small business owners like wine shops, deli's, restaurants etc. Can someone give me tips on how to approach customers like these? Is walking in to the store and demo'ing the product the best way or should i be cold calling them.

So far I have been walking in to stores and telling them about our product. I almost always get resistance from shop owners in wanting to even see the product. Most of the them believe that they are running their business the best possible way and they already know everything. Eventually from the ones who do agree to look at a demo about 75% of them instantly love it and sign up.

Any tips, suggestions here are much appreciated.

Marketing Small Business MVP Validation

asked Jan 27 '12 at 02:44
42 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


When you're validating assumptions, you must not pitch your solution before discussing existing problems with potential customers.

Your approach should be, "Hi, I'm so-and-so. I'm working on a piece of software that might make something in store management easier. Since I've never run such a store I'm looking for feedback from actual store keepers. Could you spend 15-20 minutes with me to discuss that thing I might improve?"

If they object, reinforce that you aren't selling anything and that you just want to understand their process better & get feedback on some ideas.

If they agree, proceed with your interview of open-ended questions designed to gather as much information about their workflow & thinking as possible.

See this sample customer development interview by Cindy Alvarez for advice on how to structure your questions.

answered Jan 27 '12 at 03:17
1,963 points
  • Hi, Thanks for the answer. I have done this phase and developed the MVP based upon feedback of a few selected shops. Now i need to validate my bigger assumption that most small businesses will increase revenue by using our service. Should i still go in and say that I need feedback or should i be actually selling the product. – User15995 12 years ago
  • "Hi, I'm so-and-so. I'm working on a piece of software that makes store management easier & can potentially increase the store's revenue. Since I don't run such a store I'm looking for feedback from actual store keepers. Could you spend 15-20 minutes with me to discuss how you're currently optimizing your revenues?" Then you proceed to ask them what, how, and why they do, and then you ask for feedback on your project. At the end ask whether they would like to try it and whether they could refer you to someone else. – Dnbrv 12 years ago


One idea is to first send out a mailer to the local businesses with an enticing marketing message about how they can do better.

Within a few days of sending the mailer, call them.

A few days after that show up on site. Be aware of what their busy times are and avoid those. After all, if it's a deli and you show up at 12:15, they aren't going to talk to you.

Follow up a few days later with another phone call.

Try to name drop respectable business names in their vertical. For example, if it's a restaurant drop the name of a high end restaurant they would know that is using your solution.

answered Jan 27 '12 at 02:57
Chris Lively
443 points

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