Butterfly, Customer Development, People

Talking to the “right” people

images (1)

from @gapingvoid

Upon reading my post about engaging youth (found here) @MBWonderWoman asked through a tweet “How do you consistently get the right people in the room to build these ideas?”.

Given that talking to people is pretty important in general – and it is absolutely essential for our Customer Development approach (more here) – I thought this question deserved a fuller answer than the confines of Twitter allow.

I will primarily be speaking about my experience developing Butterfly (details here) in answering the question.

I’ve broken the question into its component parts, hoping that by doing so I can better explain the concepts. Please note that I’m really a “let’s do stuff and see what works and develop the theory afterwards – if at all” kind of guy.

Consistently Getting The Right People

As stated by Protegra’s Terry Bunio in his response to the tweet, “Acknowledge that everyone is important and has a voice. Then truly care about them and their opinion.” This is the fundamental rule for all of our interactions with people, whether internal to Protegra or otherwise. The importance of this is that people who have interacted with us in the past know to expect this from us and tell others about who we are and how we treat people. Those who know us are not worried about referring us to others in their network.

For Butterfly specifically our development approach from the start has been centred around learning, and not on selling. The focus needs to be on both you and them learning through the interaction. What this means is that through continual and repeated meetings and referrals we learn who our customers are, what their needs are, and where else we should be looking. There has not been one “cold call” throughout this process – everything has been done through referrals in our networks.

If your approach is to learn and empathize, anyone you are talking to is the right person. Treat them well and with respect, listen to them and focus on their needs, and they will introduce you to others from whom you can learn. Everyone is equally important – there are no “VIPs” or “special guests”.

In The Room

We go wherever they are. Whether it’s a classroom, going for a walk, restaurant, their workplace, their home, a boardroom, a classroom, an empty field, etc. Wherever the people are is where you have to be. Get out of the office, make it easy for them to talk to you in environments they are comfortable.

To Build Ideas

Not everyone is going to buy your end product, but the information they can provide you while you develop your idea is both essential and priceless – their story is sacred. We do not approach people with solutions – we share our ideas with them and invite them into the story to help us develop the idea in a way that provides meaning and value. This way it becomes their idea as well, one that they will in turn share with others.


I hope this post was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or anything.


images (3)

from @gapingvoid


Butterfly Website here.



  1. Pingback: Planting Seeds, Customer Development, and Patience | Protegra - August 18, 2014

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