Rule of 30

If your product concept solves a B2B customer’s problem, then a Rule of 30 customer research study can:

  • Help you understand the complex, often hidden, buyer practices at desirable customers.
  • Discover relevant, potential differentiators you didn’t even know your concept has.
  • Provide a quantitative forecast of demand for your new product.


Our new product launched into a growing market. But, the only response from potential customers was silence. Why?  

Fresh out of graduate school, I landed into a firm’s “crash” product development project. The resulting new product “crashed” in a commercial sense a few months after launch.

 What happened?

A competitor launched a product that met customers’ needs far better than ours. The competitor’s product soon dominated a $1b market
Financial and psychological damage to our R&D division was heavy. Executives lost their positions. Technical talent left for greener pastures.


Our firm followed a technology-push approach that pushed our technology innovations to the market.

 Our competitor used a market-pull approach. They learned first what profitable customers in the target market really wanted. Then they developed a proprietary product meeting the customers’ needs.

Source and evolution of the Rule of 30 system

It appeared that technology-push and market-pull were two sides of the same coin. I began to explore market-pull tools and skills that could amplify technology-push tools.

Prime tools and skills used in Rule of 30 System


Blind study: Interviewees do not know who is paying for the research 

Critical Limit Theorem: for analyzing adoption data scores1 collected in elicitation conversations. Two essential conditions for confident analyses:

      • Random Sampling
      • Sample Size = 30 or more elicitation conversations. 


Elicitation: “Is a technique, through conversation, to discreetly gather information. It is a conversation with a specific purpose: to collect information that is not readily available and do so without raising suspicion that specific facts are being sought.”2 

Recognizing Early Adopters:  Early adopter firms know what they are looking for ,,, an edge in a growing market in which the early adopter firm is already a supplier.

Discovering Latent Needs: Latent Needs are needs that prospects don’t articulate early in an elicitation conversation because they don’t know what’s possible. Seasoned elicitors, near the end of the dialogue, draw out this unarticulated need. 


  1. Statisticians refer to such numerical data as scores.
  2. Accessed 10-04-2019 Elicitationpdf, U.S. Dept. of Justice › file-repository › elicitation-brochure