“Get out of the building!”
How many times have you heard lean startup evangelists say that? Steve Blank often comments “There are no facts inside your building.” So, you need to get out and talk to customers.
This is sound advice, but where do you start? How do you find people to talk to? What questions do you ask them? And what do you do with all the answers you receive?
I’ve compiled a list of resources to help you answer these questions, because effective customer development is vital to product management. I hope these resources will be helpful.
Finding Customers to Interview
1. Finding People for Customer Development Interviews – Cindy Alvarez runs through various methods you can use to discover people to interview.
2. 95 Ways to Find Your First Customers for Customer Development – Looking for some ideas about how to find customers to interview? Use this list to help.
3. How to Find Customers to Interview – Want some more help finding prospects to interview? Check out this article, with a video included.
4. Best Cold Calling Script for Setting up Interviews – Don’t know what to say to a prospective interviewee? You are not alone; a Quora answerer gives a script for you to follow.
5. Identifying Individuals for Interviews – Don’t know anyone who qualifies? Or want to know how to find qualified people for interviews? Use this resource to learn how.
6. 12 Tips for Early Customer Development Interviews – Want to know what to focus on early in customer interviews? Read these tips from Giff Constable to get you on the right track.
7. How to Structure (and get the most out of) Customer Development Interviews – Jason Evanish gives his suggestions for “getting out of the building” and interviewing customers for product-market fit.
8. The Art of the Customer Development Conversation – Brant Cooper provides some good principles for interviewing customers.
9. Never Ask What They Want – 3 Better Questions to Ask in User Interviews – Kissmetrics user experience research manager Chuck Liu writes about why asking users what they want is the wrong question to ask, and gives readers 3 better questions to ask.
10. Lean Startup Customer Discovery Interviews – A good checklist of things to prepare for and what you need to know for interviews.
11. What You Should Be Learning – Don’t know what you should be getting out of these interviews? Read this article to find out what your takeaways should be.
12. What Are Your Favorite Methods for Doing Problem Interviews During Customer Discovery? – This Quora thread goes through various tips you can use when talking to potential customers.
13. Should You Offer Incentives for Interviews? – Think you have to give something to get something? Get some insights in this Quora thread.
14. 12 Random Customer Development Tips – Tristan Kromer shares 13 tweetable tips for customer development.
15. How Do You Get Back on the Customer Development Horse? – Been a while since you’ve interviewed customers and want to get back to it? Let Evanish give you some helpful tips.
16. How to Actually Do Customer Development (and not waste your time) – Prefer to view slides? Check out this slide show which breaks down interviewing customers.
17. Tips for a Better Customer Interview Process – Here are some more tips for interviewing.
18. Top 3 Ways to Fail at Customer Development – Want to know the wrong way to approach customer interviews? This article will tell you.
19. Bad Customer Development Questions and How to Avoid My Mistakes – Kevin Dewalt provides some questions you don’t want to ask.
20. When to Stop Interviewing and Start Writing Code – So you’ve done a bunch of interviews. How do you know when to stop, and then start building? Use this article to learn a couple of different methods.
21. You’ve Interviewed Customers. Now what? – You’ve got pages of notes after dozens of interviews. Where do you go from there? Let this article help!
Customer-Driven Product Development – Hubspot employee Matt Bilotti has a collection of posts where he discusses customer-driven product development for Signals, now HubSpot Sales. Included posts are how they handle customer support and how they use live chat for user testing.
22. Four Steps to the Epiphany – A must read (I don’t use that word lightly) for current and aspiring entrepreneurs. Seriously, don’t take the plunge into entrepreneurship without reading this book.
23. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries, pioneer of the lean startup movement, wrote a book. A good compliment to Four Steps to the Epiphany.
24. Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development – Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits are well versed in customer development. Pick up this book as part of your lean startup bundle.
25. The Lean Entrepreneur – Cooper and Vlaskovits’s second book about the lean startup.
26. The Startup Owner’s Manual – The other book written by Steve Blank. Read Four Steps to the Epiphany before picking up this one.
Effective customer interviews are an important skill as you build and iterate on a product. I hope you’ll put these resources to use by either starting to interview customers (getting off to a good start) or sharpening your skills.