By Jay Shifley

I’m reading a book called “The Mom Test” by Rob Fitzpatrick that has me very excited. Several people I have talked to regarding their small business idea have asked me for some sort of template for customer survey questions. I am not sure “standard” questions are the way to go, but there are certainly guidelines to what makes a great question. This book lays out some of those measurements.

Let’s try something. I’m going to list a series of questions/statements from Rob Fitzpatrick’s book, and in your head determine, on your own, whether you think it’s good or not. I will give you Rob’s answers below.

  1. Do you think it’s a good idea?
  2. Would you buy a product that did X?
  3. How much would you pay for X?
  4. What would your dream product do?
  5. Why do you bother?
  6. What are the implications of that?
  7. Talk me though the last time that happened.
  8. What else have you tried?
  9. Would you pay X for a product that did Y?
  10. How are you dealing with it now?
  11. Where does the money come from?
  12. Who else should I talk to?
  13. Is there anything else I should have asked?

Ok–here are the answers. Ready?

  1. Terrible. Awful. Bottom line: Opinions are worthless
  2. Bad. Bottom line: Anything involving the future is over-optimistic.
  3. Bad. Bottom line: People will lie to you if they think it’s what you want to hear.
  4. Kind of ok. Bottom line: People know what their problems are but don’t know how to solve them.
  5. Good. Bottom line: You are shooting in the dark unless you understand your customer’s goals.
  6. Good. Bottom line: Some problems don’t actually matter.
  7. Good. Bottom line: Watching someone do a task will show you where the problems lie better than asking your customer where they think they lie.
  8. Good. Bottom line: If they haven’t looked for ways to solve it already, then they aren’t going to look for/buy your solution.
  9. Bad. Bottom line: People stop lying when you ask them for money.
  10. Good. Bottom line: While it’s rare for someone to tell you precisely what they will pay you, people will often show you what your product is worth to them.
  11. Good. Bottom line: Knowledge of their purchasing process could lead to repeatable sales.
  12. Good. Bottom line: End every conversation like this.
  13. Good. Bottom line: People want to help you. Give them a chance to do so.

I love this people oriented approach. What do you think?


Originally written: December 29, 2016
Keywords: startups


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