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The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you

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The Mom Test is a quick, practical guide that will save you time, money, and heartbreak.

They say you shouldn't ask your mom whether your business is a good idea, because she loves you and will lie to you. This is technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn't ask anyone if your business is a good idea. It's a bad question and everyone will lie to you at least a little . As a matter of fact, it's not their responsibility to tell you the truth. It's your responsibility to find it and it's worth doing right .

Talking to customers is one of the foundational skills of both Customer Development and Lean Startup. We all know we're supposed to do it, but nobody seems willing to admit that it's easy to screw up and hard to do right. This book is going to show you how customer conversations go wrong and how you can do better.

134 pages, Paperback

First published September 10, 2013

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About the author

Rob Fitzpatrick

2 books141 followers
Rob is an entrepreneur of 12 years. He went through YCombinator (s07) with an attempt to figure out social advertising before Facebook managed to do so, which obviously didn’t work out so well. He has raised funding in the US and UK, built products used by customers like Sony and MTV, designed and Kickstarted a card game, cofounded the education agency Founder Centric, rebuilt a little sailboat, and has built and launched countless silly hobby and side projects which have (so far) managed to keep the wolf from the door. He’s a techie who (grudgingly) learned enterprise sales. He now specializes in the gathering of unbiased customer learning and taking an idea from nothing through to its first dozen or so paying customers.

Rob is the author of The Mom Test book about how to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea even when everyone is lying to you. Taught at top universities including Harvard, MIT, UCL, and many more.

Coauthor of Workshop Survival Guide about how to design and run effective, engaging, high-energy workshops.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 853 reviews
Profile Image for Michael Dubakov.
203 reviews123 followers
July 24, 2019
Outstanding book!

Main lessons learned:
1. Don't pitch your ideas to customers
2. Learn facts. Dig and ask more questions till you have exact facts and data
3. Don't mention your solution
4. Don't listen to opinions, collect facts and pain points instead
5. Compliments means nothing. Really nothing. Deflect them and dig deeper.
6. You can’t learn anything useful unless you’re willing to spend a few minutes shutting up
7. If you don’t know what happens next after a product or sales meeting, the meeting was pointless
8. Until you’ve got a working business model and a repeatable sales or marketing process, the founders need to be in the meetings themselves.
February 19, 2020
Either really good or dismally bad. Not sure which one.
Easy read. Some ideas that could sometimes be useful. Or not.

Trying to learn from customer conversations is like excavating a delicate archaeological site. The truth is down there somewhere, but it’s fragile. (c)
Profile Image for WhatIReallyRead.
662 reviews488 followers
January 7, 2019
This book is amazing!

I recommend it to everyone who builds products, talks to customers, works in startups or has the desire to sell any ideas/products they came up with or made.

Why I loved it:

- it's a how-to book that offers concrete methods and tools to solve problems on tour path to a new product with an audience;
- it is full of specific examples of good and bad approaches, and reasons why a certain approach is good or bad;
- it is easy to read, short and funny - a real delight to spend your time on, and simultaneously very useful.

Lots of valuable info compressed in there. Simply awesome.
Profile Image for Cat.
138 reviews
March 24, 2017
This book is about having conversations with potential customers to see if your business is a good idea. It is not written by a UX guy, but someone from tech startups who has learned through mistakes. In some places it's a bit beginner, but it's fun to read, not pretentious, and at times laugh out loud funny. It's a good reminder of the basics and packed full of example dialogues. I actually put down the book I was working on to read this one and devoured it in part of a day.

It starts with a good and bad sample conversation about a new product idea. Key takeaway: try to avoid talking about your business idea, but instead focus on their life, with specific examples from the past (not projections about the future).

Rules of thumb:
- People know what their problems are, but don't know how to fix them.
- Focus on user goals/motivations with questions like "why do you bother".
- Where possible, watch what people do rather than ask what their opinions are. When not possible, ask them to walk through the last time they did that thing.
- If they haven't looked for ways of solving a problem already, they aren't going to look for or buy yours.
- Give people an excuse to help you by asking "who else should I talk to" and "is there anything else I should have asked".

Be wary of bad data in the form of compliments, fluff, and ideas. Redirect compliments by getting specific. Anchor generic claims and hypotheticals in specific examples from the past. Dig beneath ideas and feature requests to find the motivation behind them.

Every time you talk to someone, you should be asking one question that has the potential to destroy your currently imagined business.

Start broad with questions and don't zoom in until you have a strong signal. This avoids wasting time figuring out the minutia of a trivial problem.

Prepare your top 3 questions for each type of person you're talking to - easier to make them unbiased and helps from getting stuck in trivial questions in the moment. Adjust questions as you learn more.

Quick and casual chats work better than long, formal meetings, especially early on. It reduces overhead setup time and means you can keep it short - sometimes 5-10 minutes to learn if a problem exists and is important.

Once you get to the stage of showing your product to customers, you can start asking for commitments. You're looking for commitments of time (participating in a trial or providing feedback on wireframes), reputation (intro to team, boss, public testimonials), and financial (pre-orders and deposits). The more they're giving up, the more seriously you can take what they're saying.

When finding conversations, take advantage of serendipity, find an excuse, or immerse yourself in their environment. Create "warm intros" by using friends of friends, industry advisors, universities, investors, and favours.

Frame meetings by: outlining your vision (trying to solve x problem), framing expectations (what stage you're at, not selling), showing weakness, putting them on a pedestal (showing how much they can help), and explicitly asking for help.

Keep having conversations until you stop hearing new stuff.

Startups need to be especially focused on one segment to filter out noise. If you aren't finding consistent problems and goals, you don't have a specific enough customer segment. Then start with people who seem most profitable, easy to reach, and personally rewarding.

Avoid customer learning being stuck in one person's head by prepping, reviewing, and taking good notes. Prepping - know what you hope to learn and keep the whole team involved in identifying those goals. Review key quotes and main takeaways with the team. Bring a second person along to take notes and jump in if they notice bias or a missed lead. Take notes that are lightweight to capture, but stored permanently - notes are only useful if you look at them again.
Profile Image for Simon Kozlov.
26 reviews65 followers
December 17, 2019
Несколько тредов назад я спросил что почитать программисту-интроверту о коммуникациях, и мне посоветовали https://www.amazon.com/Mom-Test-custo....
Так-то я спрашивал не для себя, но вот эту прочитал - и она великолепна, из разряда "какой же я был идиот" и "почему мне не рассказали этого раньше".

Эта книжка - о том, как у потенциальных пользователей/клиентов спрашивать мнения и фидбек, так чтобы понимать что они реально думают, а не мило тебе улыбаются и врут.

Название "Mom test" - это типа ты пришел к маме и спрашиваешь про свою идею приложения, хорошая она или нет. Мама конечно скажет, что хорошая, а сама начнет подсчитывать во что обойдется еще несколько лет которые ты будешь жить с ней. И вот книжка начинается с примера того, как спрашивать маму так, чтобы реально что-то узнать.

Оно в ретроспективе достаточно очевидно, но доходит не сразу - например, во время таких разговоров вообще не надо говорить про свою идею и как-то ее питчить. А надо спрашивать про жизнь и проблемы людей (которые предполагается приложением решать)
То есть, есть ли вообще у них такая проблема в голове, делали ли они что-то для ее решения, итд.

Всегда в конкретике, а не в общем. "Я иногда такое делаю" - малополезно, надо спросить "расскажи про последний раз", чтобы был конкретный пример.
Спрашивать людей их мнения про будущее - малополезно ("Обязательно бы такое купил"), надо спросить "расскажи когда в последний раз подобное покупал", чтобы было конкретно.

Когда тебе говорят, что идея классная - это 0 информации, надо скипать.

Отсутствие у человека проблемы, которую ты хочешь решать - это отличный результат, потому что важная информация полученная недорогим путем, итд итп. Меньше эго, больше интересоваться мнением других, не спорить, не убеждать, стараться понять.

Он дальше развивает эту мысль на sales process, когда ты сначала убеждаешься что проблема есть и есть бюджет, а потом уже питчишь свое решение.
И там тоже просто позитивный фидбек ничего не значит, значит некий коммитмент от кастомера, он бывает разный.

В общем, ураган. Еще она очень короткая, что строго плюс.
Ближе к концу в ней чуть-чуть воды, но это для меня не испортило впечатления никак.

К концу книжки я уже начал делать заметки, как на самом деле надо было начинать все мои пет-проекты включая Кружочки. Надо видимо и остальные книжки для задротов-программистов из треда почитать.

Всем техническим людям, которые хотят или думают делать стартап - обязательно к прочтению. Вот прям обязательно. Я вроде читал и Стива Бланка, и Эрика Риса, но вот так близко и конкретно как Mom Test - не было.
Что еще есть такое же обязательное к прочтению, про бизнес и его взаимодействие с внешним миром?

Profile Image for JJ Khodadadi.
376 reviews87 followers
April 6, 2022
یک کتاب جالب که با ارائه داستان گونه بهمون یاد میده که چطور برای استارت زدن یک استارتاپ سوال بپرسیم، مشکل رو پیدا کنیم و... اگه به فکر شروع یه کار جدید هستی مخصوصا حوزه استارتاپی اولین کتابی که باید بخونی و بصورت خیلی روان پله های اول رو بهت یاد میده همین کتاب هست
Profile Image for Mahdi Nasseri.
73 reviews22 followers
February 6, 2017
از حدود سال 90 با ورود مباحث کارآفرینی نوین به ایران، تحولات و تغییرات بزرگی در حوزه نوآوری در کسب و کارها اتفاق افتاده ولی این شتابزدگی باعث شده بسیاری از مباحث تکمیلی راه اندازی استارتاپ ها به درستی و کامل منتقل نشه و افراد زیادی با کسب یک دانش سطی از مباحث کارآفرینی خودشون را بی نیاز از یادگیری بیشتر بدونند.
یکی از این مباحث مهم، دانش مربوط به "یادگیری از مشتری" یا "توسعه مشتری" یا "ارزیابی مشتری" یا "گفتگو با مشتری" هست که با وجود رشد قابل توجه محتوای جهانی، به شدت دچار فقر و کمبود منابع دست اول در داخل ایران بودیم. "تست مامان" یکی از این کتاب های خوب بود که مدت ها پیش تعریفش رو شنیده بودم و بیصبرانه منتظر بدم نسخه انگلیسی یا فارسی اون رو داشته باشم. تا اینکه کتاب خود در یک فرایند استارتاپی با محوریت تیم پینگونیو ترجمه شده و به بازار ارائه شد.
سه فصل اول این کتاب به نوعی بخش درخشان اون هستند و در یک ادبیات ساده و روشن حجت رو برای تمام کسایی که می خوان یاد بگیرن چطور قبل از شروع کار روی استارتاپ، از مسیر رشد و مدل کسب و کارشون مطمئن بشن، تمام می کنه. بقیه فصل های کتاب گرچه بسیار مفید و دلچسب هستند ولی به درخشانی سه فصل اول نیستند.
این کتاب مملو از مثال های خوب و قابل درک از گفتگوهاست. نویسنده تجربه خوبی در این حوزه داره و تمام کتاب رو برمبنای تجربیات عملی خودش و نه مبانی علمی یا تئوری نوشته. برای همین فکر می کنم کارآفرینان تازه کار بهتر بتونن با این کتاب ارتباط برقرار کنند.
تنها ایراد وارد به این کتاب (که اون رو با مترجمینش هم درمیان گذاشتم) شکسته نویسی بیش از حد در ترجمه اونه. به نظرم چنین افراطی در شکسته نویسی برای مراجع مکتوب اصلا مناسب نیست و در طولانی مدت باعث سخیف تر و سطحی تر شدن ادبیات حوزه کارآفرینی در ایران می شه. گرچه برخلاف نظر مترجمین این شکسته نویسی حتی کار خوندن کتاب رو سخت تر هم کرده. اینکه شما بتونید تشخیص بدید "سوالای مهم" همون "سوالات مهم" هست برای چشمی که عادت به چنین ادبیاتی در کتاب نداره کاره سختیه.
از این ایراد آزاردهنده در ترجمه که بگذریم، محتوای کتاب چنان مفید و جذاب هستند که تونستم در عرض 3 روز لابه لای این همه مشغله رو بخونم.
Profile Image for Martin Brochhaus.
145 reviews135 followers
June 8, 2019
It’s nice.

Maybe the only downside is, even though it is a super short book, it is still extremely repetitive: 40% of the book is the exact same message:

“DON’T PITCH! Ask about THEIR lives, their problems, their current solutions/workarounds”.

However, given how easy it is to fall back into "pitch mode", maybe it is worth hammering that message into my brain.

We are about to launch a new product soon at my company and we do have an extremely narrowly segmented customer group, so I will sit down with this book on my lap and prepare myself for some customer meetings. This book came just at the right time.

And by the way: Without this book I would 100% guaranteed have performed every single mistake outlined in this book.

I loved the chapter about note taking at the end and adding context via little symbols and emojis.

If you are in charge of a product or company and you often interface with your customers and potential customers, this book is probably worth your time -- and it doesn't demand much of your time anyways!
Profile Image for Zornitsa Tomova.
27 reviews20 followers
November 28, 2017
It's the second time I read this one and once again, I loved every page of it. The book is an amazingly simple, down-to-earth guide on what it means to 'talk to your customers' before you go ahead and build that thing. It's one of those books that you can reread in a few hours every time you're thinking of starting a new project and you'll always find something new and useful. If you want to keep your sight on what's important in the mess of a product's initial research & creation, read this. It's awesome.
Profile Image for Abolfazl Fattahi.
61 reviews12 followers
October 23, 2017
اولین باری که کتاب تست مامان رو خوندم هنوز یادم هست، داغ داغ بعد از ترجمه اولیه بدون ویراش در قالب فایل های گوگل داک بود، اون زمان هیچ تصمیمی نداشتیم که کتاب رو به صورت فیزیکی چاپ کنیم، امروز که برای دومین بار این کتاب رو می خوندم خیلی لذت بردم چون نسخه فیزیکی رو دستم گرفته بودم و می خوندم و خوشحال بودم که با تمام دردسرهایی که برای چاپ این کتاب کشیدیم حداقل خودم حس خیلی خوبی داشتم موقع خوندن این کتاب، جالب بود که حس می کردم برای اولین بار هست که دارم این کتاب رو می خونم و خیلی از نکته های کتاب برام جدید به نظر می رسید، احتمالا این موضوع نسبت به همه کتاب هایی که تا حالا خوندم هم صادق هست.
راستش مهم ترین دلیلی که دوباره سمت خوندن این کتاب رفتم دیوونه بازی های جدیدی بود که مدت ها ذهنم رو درگیر خودشون کرده بود و می خواستم یک بار دیگه فرآیند اعتبارسنجی رو به صورت اصولی یاد بگیرم تا حداقل قبل از اینکه دیوونه بازی جدیدی رو شروع کنم، برم بیرون و با مخاطبین اونا صحبت کنم و ببینم اصلا باید من این کارها رو شروع کنم یا نه، دلیل دیگه اش هم این بود که تو پینگونیو تصمیم گرفتیم اتفاقات جدیدی رو رقم بزنیم برای همین به دلایلی که بعدا می فهمید مجبور بودم طور متفاوتی این بار کتاب رو بخونم، یه جورایی با یک نگاه جدید، همیشه یکی از آرزوهای مشترک من و آرش داشتن یک انتشارات بود که توش بتونیم راحت کارهای هیجان انگیزی بکنیم، به لطف خدا داریم به سمت دنیای شگفت انگیزی حرکت می کنیم که امیدوارم باعث خوشحالی و شادی خیلی ها بشیم.
کتاب تست مامان سال پیش مسیر یکی از پروژه هایی که به خاطر اشتباهات من به بی راهه رفته بود رو تغییر داد و یه جورایی جلوی یکی از بزرگ ترین شکست های زندگیم رو تا امروز گرفته و از این بابت از کتاب و نویسنده اش راب فیتزپاتریک تشکر می کنم، به نظر من کتاب خوب یعنی کتابی که مثل این کتاب تاثیرش رو بشه خیلی ملموس تو زندگی احساس کرد، اگر قصد دارید کسب و کاری راه اندازی کنید حتما و حتما و حتما از اعتبارسنجی ایده تون شروع کنید، باز هم تاکید می کنم، حتما از اعتبار سنجی ایده تون شروع کنید، این کتاب هم می تونه تو این مسیر خیلی بهتون کمک کنه، تو بلاگ پینگونیو در آینده بیشتر درباره این کتاب و اعتبارسنجی و … خواهم نوشت.
Profile Image for Ahmad.
107 reviews28 followers
June 27, 2018
کتاب خوبی بود و ذهنم رو در مورد نحوه شروع استارتاپ مرتب کرد. اما ترجمه‌اش متأسفانه پر از غلط‌های تایپی بود.
Profile Image for Zahra Dashti.
357 reviews103 followers
September 5, 2022
کتاب تست مامان، کتابی در مورد مدیریت بازاریابی و مشتری هست. کتاب با این واقعیت بامزه شروع کرده که اگر ایده استارتاپ‌تون رو برای مادرتون بگین صد در صد ازش تعریف می کنه که دلتون نشکنه! هرچند ممکنه بعدا دلتون یه جایی در آینده که استارتاپ‌تون شکست خورد بشکنه!
کتاب یک کتاب تکنیکی هست که بر پایه مثال و نمونه پیش رفته و همین امر باعث می شه مباحث برای آدم جا بیفته.
این کتاب ۱۶۰ صفحه ای که به قلم راب فیتزپاتریک نوشته شده، توسط تیم ترجمه ۸۵ نفره‌ی پینگونیو، ترجمه شده و اگرچه در رساندن مفهوم کاملا موفق بودن، اما این عزیزان گویا علی‌رغم اینکه زبان متن‌های غیرگفتگوی هر کتابی باید معیار باشه، کتاب رو سراسر محاوره ترجمه کردند که روی اعصاب بود. اما به هر حال در بیان منظور موفق بودند.
این کتاب ربط چندانی به من و شغل من نداشت، حداقل ربط مستقیم. من این کتاب رو که از کتابخونه شرکت برداشته بودم به عنوان وسیله‌ای برای خالی کردن ذهن از دغدغه‌های کاری می‌خوندم و یعنی با کمترین تلاش برای تمرکز و به خاطر سپاری، با این همه نکات جالبی در مورد روند مذاکره به من یاد داد که باعث می‌شد حس نکنم خوانش کتاب، حتی برای یکی مثل من، کار بی فایده‌ای هست.
Profile Image for Zahra Pakdel.
58 reviews27 followers
November 29, 2017
تست مامان!
چطور با مشتری ها صحبت کنیم و با وجود دروغ هایی که از همه می شنویم،بفهمیم که آیا ایده ی کسب و کارمون به درد می خوره یا نه؟
کتاب خوبیه برای اینکه یاد بگیرید تو حوزه استارتآپی خودتون چطور با مشتری ها برخورد کنید و اطلاعات مفیدی ازین گفتگوها بدست بیارید. کتاب رو یه تاجر معروف که فروختن توی خونش باشه ننوشته، بلکه نویسنده به قول خودش یه آدم فنی و درونگراست که چند تا استارتآپ رو به خاک سیاه نشونده تا این تجربیات رو بدست آورده! در نتیجه کتاب پر از تئوری و فرمولای پیچیده ی فروش نیست بلکه کاملا کاربردی با مثال های عینی جلو میره. متن هم صمیمی و سادست و آخر کتاب چند صفحه برگه تقلب براتون گذاشته که کتاب رو توی چند صفحه خلاصه کرده تا بعدها وقتی که خواستید عملی از کتاب استفاده کنید راحت باشید.اگر جوانی هستید که در اول کار هستید و هیچ تجربه و اطلاعی ازین که چطور با مشتری هاتون گفتگو کنید رو ندارید این کتاب میتونه شروع خوبی باشه براتون.
این کتاب رو سرویس ترجمه ی گروهی کتاب پینگونیو ترجمه کرده که با اجازه ی ناشرش نسخه الکترونیکی کتاب رو روی سایت خودشون هم گذاشتند و میتونید بهش دسترسی داشته باشید.
Profile Image for Ali Arabzadeh.
163 reviews54 followers
September 21, 2018
این کتاب به معنای واقعی کلمه یک کتاب عملی (پرکتیکال) است. یعنی همه‌ی اضافات نظری و مقدمات کلی از آن حذف شده است تا هر چیزی که در آن می‌خوانید به دردتان بخورد. ساختار محتوا و جمع‌بندی‌ها هم مناسب همین هدف است.
از یک جنبه‌ی دیگر این کتاب به درستی نمونه‌ی پیاده‌سازی روشی است که در شناخت مشتری معرفی می‌کند. یعنی محتوا را دقیقا برای مخاطبش (کارآفرینان جوان و کم‌تجربه) آماده و تدوین کرده است.
ترجمه هم به این فضا کمک کرده است. اگرچه من انتخاب زبان شکسته را نمی‌پسندم و معتقدم می‌شد با اندکی استادی در زبان فارسی متن پاکیزه و روانی تحویل خواننده داد، ولی به هرحال چیزی که حالا میبینیم هم بد و از حد به در شده نیست.
Profile Image for Sergey Morovshik.
59 reviews11 followers
June 2, 2018
Как задать правильные вопросы и не обманывать себя ответами!!! Для бизнеса, стартапов и всем кто хочет знать правду и не терять время с деньгами!
Если говорят вам комплименты о классном проекте, это ложь...
Profile Image for Viktor Lototskyi.
147 reviews2 followers
March 24, 2021
A short, clear and very practical handbook on how to talk to customers and people in general.
It's when you need to cut through the niceness/bullshit and get things done.
It'll be useful for anyone who meets people on a regular basis, especially in the post-covid online era.

Profile Image for Algirdas Purkenas.
72 reviews15 followers
February 18, 2022
I won't write a review for this book. I am just gonna say that this book is worth re-reading and relistening again and again. And there aren't that many books which are worth doing so. So just please, don't do a start-up, before you spend 4 hours listening to this book. Golden nuggets.
Profile Image for Herve.
93 reviews206 followers
March 2, 2021
The “Mom Test” is an intelligent book for any student of Steve Blank and his “Customer Development” model: validating hypotheses to launch a startup by exploring the existence of customers and of a market, of course. But how do you concretely approach this delicate phase when you are not a specialist?

Author Rob Fitzpatrick says he has faced this situation multiple times and gives excellent advice including how to conduct initial interviews and learn relevant information from them. This is, I believe, the main and rather rare quality of this book. An absolute must-read when you feel helpless on the subject and even more if you do not think you need advice!

This is a small 122-page book that I really recommend reading. Here are some extracts that I hope will convince you

Every question we ask carries the very real possibility of biasing the person we’re talking to and rendering the whole exercise pointless. (Page 3)

And I add a strong statement from Steve Blank: Talking to customers is hard.

The measure of usefulness of an early customer conversation is whether it gives us concrete facts about our customers’ lives and world views. (Page 12)

The Mom Test:
1. Talk about their life instead of your idea
2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future
3. Talk less and listen more. (Page 13)

Blank talks about “a day in the life of your customer”. You need to understand the actions and the interactions, who does, who decides, who pays.

Here is a list, according of the author, of good and bad questions:
“Do you think it’s a good idea?”
“Would you buy a product which did X?”
“How much would you pay for X?”
“What would your dream product do?”
“Why do you bother?”
“What are the implications of that?”
“Talk me through the last time that happened.”
“Talk me through your workflow.”
“What else have you tried?”
“Would you pay X for a product which did Y?”
“How are you dealing with it now?”
“Where does the money come from?”
“Who else should I talk to?”
“Is there anything else I should have asked?”
at page 15 and he lets you think about what is bad and good before giving his views.

What you should have in mind is given page 22: “They own the problem, you own the solution.” And this is so true as Henry Ford or Steve Jobs mentioned, customers do not know what they want!

So (page 49), when interviewing, “Start broad and don’t zoom in until you’ve found a strong signal, both with your whole business and with every conversation.”

How to begin?

In his original book on Customer Development, 4 Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank solves this by recommending 3 separate meetings:
the first about the customer and their problem;
the second about your solution;
and the third to sell a product.
By splitting the meetings, you avoid the premature zoom and biasing them with your ideas. In practice, however, I’ve found it both difficult and inefficient to set them up. The time cost of a 1-hour meeting is more like 4 hours once you factor in the calendar dance, commuting, and reviewing.

If the solution isn’t a 3-meeting series, then what is it? You may have noticed a trend throughout the conversation examples we’ve seen so far: keeping it casual. (Page 56)

Rule of thumb: Learning about a customer and their problems works better as a quick and casual chat than a long, formal meeting.


Then you need to deliver (page 62): “When you fail to push for advancement, you end up with zombie leads: potential customers (or investors) who keep taking meetings with you and saying nice things, but who never seem to cut a check.”

Rule of thumb: “Customers” who keep being friendly but aren’t ever going to buy are a particularly dangerous source of mixed signals.

Ideally you should find a champion as an early customer. Page 73: “Steve Blank calls them earlyvangelists (early evangelists). In the enterprise software world, they are the people who:
• Have the problem
• Know they have the problem
• Have the budget to solve the problem
• Have already cobbled together their own makeshift solution”

Of course to ask questions, you must organize conversations. This is what chapter 6 is about…

A short extract: “The framing format I like has 5 key elements.
1. You’re an entrepreneur trying to solve horrible problem X, usher in
wonderful vision Y, or fix stagnant industry Z. Don’t mention your idea.
2. Frame expectations by mentioning what stage you’re at and, if it’s true,
that you don’t have anything to sell.
3. Show weakness and give them a chance to help by mentioning your
specific problem that you’re looking for answers on. This will also
clarify that you’re not a time waster.
4. Put them on a pedestal by showing how much they, in particular, can
5. Ask for help.”

Rule of thumb: Keep having conversations until you stop hearing new stuff.

And then you will need to focus by doing customer segmentation and slicing. This is chapter 7.

Rule of thumb: Good customer segments are a who-where pair. If you don’t know where to go to find your customers, keep slicing your segment into smaller pieces until you do.


Avoid creating (or being) the bottleneck. To do that, the customer and learning has to be shared with the entire founding team, promptly and faithfully. That relies on good notes plus a bit of pre- and post-meeting work.

Everyone on the team who is making big decisions (including tech decisions) needs to go to at least some of the meetings.

The tech guys don’t need to go to most of the meetings, but you’ll all learn a ton from hearing customer reactions first-hand occasionally. You’ll also be able to help each other catch and fix your conversation mistakes and biases. (Page 99)

What is the number of people that should face customers? 2 is ideal, 1 is not enough to take notes and avoid bias, more is messy.


I still ask dumb questions all the time. You will too. Don’t beat yourself up over it. In fact, just yesterday I screwed up a particularly important meeting by slipping into pitch mode (this was yesterday at the time of writing… hopefully not again at the time of reading). (Page 112)

with a nice final quote : “Having a process is valuable, but don’t get stuck in it. Sometimes you can just pick up the phone and hack through the knot.” (Page 113)

PS: thanks to Laurent and Monica for advising me to read this little gem!
Profile Image for Nikolay.
11 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2021
Finally I've finished the whole book! 100 pages full with practical examples how to talk with customers and to really understand their pains without biasing them with your idea. It also will be very helpful for you if you just want to ask good questions and to receive the feedback which will really help you, not the one which will deceive you!
Profile Image for Aditya.
8 reviews8 followers
February 2, 2022
Read it if you want to learn getting real signals out of conversations, cutting through fluffy opinions and hypothetical answers

I finally understand why I was never confident about takeaways in user interviews or in conversation with friends about random ideas .

Most useful non fiction I have read after thinking fast and slow.
Profile Image for drdy.
122 reviews17 followers
May 12, 2021
How to ask the right questions for the better and more useful answers? You're going to find the answer for that question in this book. It's The Mom Test.

They say you shouldn’t ask your mom whether your business is a good idea, because she loves you and will lie to you. This is technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn’t ask anyone if your business is a good idea. It’s a bad question and everyone will lie to you at least a little. As a matter of fact, it’s not their responsibility to tell you the truth. It’s your responsibility to find it and it’s worth doing right.

Talking to customers is one of the foundational skills of both Customer Development and Lean Startup. We all know we’re supposed to do it, but nobody seems willing to admit that it’s easy to screw up and hard to do right. This book is going to show you how customer conversations go wrong and how you can do better.”

Bad customer conversations aren’t just useless. Worse, they convince you that you’re on the right path. They give you a false positive which causes you to over-invest your cash, your time, and your team.

Everyone likes approval – especially an entrepreneur who may be a bit anxious or insecure about his or her latest idea. But rather than looking for a pat on the back, says tech entrepreneur Rob Fitzpatrick, doggedly pursue the truth – even if it shatters your dream. You can save time, money and lots of grief by asking the right people the right questions and learning whether your concept will fly, or crash and burn. getAbstract agrees that entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart and recommends Fitzpatrick’s sage advice to all entrepreneurs and start-up founders. If you’re concerned about your feelings, you can always talk to your mom. ;)
Profile Image for Amanda Bento.
Author 3 books13 followers
February 16, 2022
Livro obrigatório pra todo mundo que trabalha com produtos digitais, depois de lê-lo você nunca mais vai olhar para as pesquisas e formulários do mesmo jeito. Cada capítulo é um tapa na cara que passa um ensinamento imporantíssimo: pare de forçar seu aplicativo ou site pras pessoas, não vai rolar enquanto voce não resolver um problema.
December 23, 2018
The book is short and quite expensive, but each page of it is full of very, very useful examples and advise.
I wish I read this book before, and not had an experience of a failed startup, cause I asked wrong questions while doing user research.

I acquired each page slowly, processing and applying to life. I even gave three talks, incorporating the knowledge from this book before I have finished it. :)

The most useful book of 2018. And one of the most useful book for people doing products/startups in general.
Profile Image for Sashko Valyus.
193 reviews9 followers
April 14, 2020
Гід по інтерв'ю для ХХІ століття. Дуже коротко, дуже чітко дуже практично. Книга для тих хто розробляє свій стартап, працює в продажах, продає сервіси, або навіть хоче навчитися бути хорошим співбесідником. Я очікував від цієї книги банальні речі про проведення інтерв'ю, а виявилось тут трохи більше ніж це. Книга зачіпає роботу з клієнтами, особливо сейлз-мітинги що будуть обов'язково у пригоді усім хто з цим стикається
Дуже подобається формат коли розбираються кейси діалогів з детальними коментарями.
Profile Image for __amish__.
60 reviews13 followers
August 11, 2017
دو سه فصل ابتداییش فوق االعاده بود . اطلاعات بسیار زیادی بهم منتقل کرد. اما هر چی بیشتر به انتهای کتاب می رسیدم مطلب آنچنان نغزی برام نداشت.
خواندنش به هر کسی که می خواهد کسب و کاری راه بیندازد توصیه می شود.
Profile Image for Nikas.
16 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2017
I can't recommend this book enough. Simple, straightforward and immensely helpful. If you're only going to read one book about validating startup ideas, make it this one.
Profile Image for Saeed Esmaili.
7 reviews21 followers
April 2, 2017
تلاش برای ترجمه کتاب‌های این چنینی، ستودنی است و امیدوارم با دقت بیشتر و کم کردن غلط‌های املایی و نگارشی (که اصلا مناسب کتاب‌ نیست) کیفیت کار هم بهتر شود.
Profile Image for Andrus.
42 reviews28 followers
January 14, 2018
Maybe not a fascinating page-turner, but a crisp very to-the-point and readable book on doing customer (development) interviews.
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