The MOM Test - How to talk to customers

Note: Whenever I read any book, I take notes to make sure I don't miss or forget its key learnings. These notes are a way for me to come back and read them to refresh them in my mind. I hope you find it useful as well

Link to book - The MOM Test

5/5 stars.

Recommended for all entrepreneurs and product managers.

The book is about how to ignore all the fluff in customer conversations and focus on the real matter. Ignore all their

  • Compliments
  • Ideas
  • Fluff (theoretical, futuristic statements etc - like “I would definitely buy it”, “I always did that”)

    Rather just try and understand what are their real problems, when was the last time they dealt with it and what were the problems they faced then?

  1. The MOM Test:
    • Talk about their life instead of your idea
    • Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future
    • Talk less and listen more
  2. Anchor the fluffy answer like, “I always do X” to a better question like, “Oh, that’s interesting! When was the last time you did X?”

  3. When some one says, “They should build X”. You should point out that another version of X exists. Why don’t they try that? and they don’t immediately look at that and start using - it means they’re just a complainer; not a customer and the problem isn’t big enough for them.

  4. When someone asks for a feature request, in place of just building this feature - ask why exactly do they need this feature because you would want to understand their goals, and you could achieve it in a faster, better way.

  5. Learn to love bad news. Even at the cost of finding out that your entire idea was garbage. Because truth will emerge out one way or the other. You can spend 2 years trying to shut your eyes off to the world or embrace truth and shape your business accordingly.

  6. We go through the futile process of asking for opinions and fish for compliments because we crave approval. We want to believe that the support and sign-off of someone we respect means our venture will succeed. But really, that person’s opinion doesn’t matter. They have no idea if the business is going to work. Only the market knows. You’re searching for the truth, not trying to be right. And you want to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible. Learning that your beliefs are wrong is frustrating, but it’s progress. It’s bringing you ever closer to the truth of a real problem and a good market. This hit me hard because of things I’ve done when I was evaulating startup ideas

  7. Always pre-plan the 3 most important things you want to learn from any given type of person.

  8. A meeting just never goes well. It either succeeds or it fails. A meeting has succeeded when it ends with a commitment to advance to the next step. But you have to force this resolution or the meetings drift along in la-la-land while performing their ancient duty - wasting everyone’s time. 

  9. How to get a meeting when you have nothing to show? The framing format mentioned in the book has 5 key elements.
    • 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.
    • Frame expectations by mentioning what stage you’re at and, if it’s true, that you don’t have anything to sell.
    • 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.
    • Put them on a pedestal by showing how much they, in particular, can help.
    • Ask for help.
  10. Preparing for customer interview - (probably with your cofounding team)
    • If this company were to fail, why would it have happened?
    • What would have to be true for this to be a huge success?
    • I recently asked these questions to myself and our founding team for the product I’m building, and I was surprised to find answers which weren’t in my priority for next 2 weeks.
  11. Notes are useless if you don’t go through them.
Written on July 16, 2020

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