How to Talk to Your Customers: The Mom Test


This post is about directing you straight in the core of how to do effective customer conversations. Start with ‘The Mom Test’.

Have you ever wondered why talking with your customers isn’t leading you in the RIGHT direction? It doesn’t happen by just talking. Follow some rules to make things better.

Favorite Excerpts From ‘The Mom Test’

It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to show us the truth. It’s our responsibility to find it. We do that by asking good questions.

If they don’t care enough to try solving their problem already, they aren’t going to care about your solution.

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

It’s not a real lead until you’ve given them a real chance to reject you.

In early stage sales, the real goal is learning. Revenue is just a side effect.

Drumming up good conversations from cold leads is hard. It’s doable and sometimes you have no choice, but it’s far from ideal.

Rule of thumb: If it’s not a formal meeting, you don’t need to make excuses about why you’re there or even mention that you’re starting a business. Just have a good conversation.

In summary, after you’ve learned the facts of your industry and customers and designed the solution, you start pushing for advancement and commitments to separate dead leads from real customers.

Before you can serve everyone, you have to serve someone.

Salim Virani

Discovering customers with Salim Virani at StartItSmart @SaintSal

Update: March 20, 2014: Salim Virani did an awesome talk on customer development involving start up teams from the first StartItSmart pre-accelerator.

More reference

How to use industry advisors – p. 81

Proper framing format – end of p. 83

Choosing your customers – segmentation is key – p.89 (great info here)

Also, take a quick look on the summary slideshare presentation below

Summary of ‘The Mom Test’

Here’s a quick summary of The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you.

Rob Fitzpatrick – Getting Customer Development Right

Rob Fitzpatrick, author of ‘The Mom Test’ talking at PioneersFestival.

Smart tips from Rob:

– Never ask if customers like your product

– How much does it cost you always wins vs how much would you pay for that.

– There’s only two types of meetings: a successful one and a failure. How do you know if a meeting was successful. You get commitment to advance to the next stage.


Success in a meeting isn’t immediately to close ’em, but just tо go next stage Tweet this.


It’s a bad sign if they don’t introduce you to other people. Here are a couple of good signs, examples of advancement:

1. Permission to contact again.

2. Clear next meeting.

3. Introduction to decision maker.

4. Commitment to run a trial.

5. Pre-purchase.

*It doesn’t work same way for high ticket products.

If you avoid mentioning your idea, you will automatically begin asking better questions.

My Best Take from ‘The Mom Test’

I value this book mostly about the precious angle it gives to its readers. Especially this: we don’t talk to customers to get compliments and collect gold stars. We talk to them to learn and figure out if our idea for a business fits somehow to their business or life. If we are terrified by answers we receive – that’s a good sign – we save time and money not to build something that no one will buy and use. Now we are closer to the moment of finding where the real pain is and where the good market actually is.

Too different feedback from potential customers – what can I do?

It’s said that you need to stop talking to customers and develop your product when you stop hearing new information. However, what you you have talked to a lot of potential customers, but you still get new information. You may have a too broad segment. Then, if you continue facing the same problem even with a smaller segment, it’s time to ask for help from industry experts. They will definitely give you a good starting point.

What can you do now?

1). Start reading ‘The Mom Test’

2). Make sure to stick around for my next blog post. Why not opt in and I’ll send you a quick notification when it’s online?

3). Share your impressions if you already read it or just share something from your personal experience on talking to customers.

Submit comment

Allowed HTML tags: <a href="">google</a> <strong>bold</strong> <em>emphasized</em> <code>code</code> <blockquote>