Does your customer feel that she will be judged negatively if she tries your solution and it is not successful? If so, how can you reduce her sense of risk in decision making? Does your customer feel that she needs permission before changing behaviors? If so, you’ll want to focus heavily on the other stakeholders who she perceives as granting that permission. (See “How Your Customers Make Decisions, Spend Money, and Determine Value” later in this chapter.)


Another cultural obstacle is that a product may conflict with how the customer wishes to view herself. A couple years ago, They were working with a startup team that wanted to solve the problem of people losing expensive items. They asked people in their personal networks if they knew anyone who was always losing things and quickly found dozens of professionals who routinely lost iPhones, laptops, ski equipment, and other expensive items.


The interviewees admitted that they wasted hours each week and spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars replacing lost items. But when the team started investigating how much these prospective customers were willing to spend on a solution, they ran into resistance. One customer finally admitted, “I’ve just gotten used to budgeting extra money to replace the stuff I’ll inevitably lose. They’re OK with that.” Even if you objectively know that you lost your laptop last month and your keys twice this week, you may not think of yourself as a careless person. Buying a product to keep you from losing things is akin to admitting that you are.