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How do you develop products that people will actually use and buy? This practical guide shows you how to validate product and company ideas through customer development research—before you waste months and millions on a product or service that no one needs or wants.

With a combination of open-ended interviewing and fast and flexible research techniques, you’ll learn how your prospective customers behave, the problems they need to solve, and what frustrates and delights them. These insights may shake your assumptions, but they’ll help you reach the "ah-ha!" moments that inspire truly great products.

  • Validate or invalidate your hypothesis by talking to the right people
  • Learn how to conduct successful customer interviews play-by-play
  • Detect a customer’s behaviors, pain points, and constraints
  • Turn interview insights into Minimum Viable Products to validate what customers will use and buy
  • Adapt customer development strategies for large companies, conservative industries, and existing products

Cindy Alvarez

Cindy Alvarez is a product manager who turns understanding the customer into competitive advantage. Currently the Director of User Experience and Product Design for Yammer (a Microsoft company), she has worked with early- and mid-stage startups as well as Fortune 500 companies to make customer development an ingrained part of company culture and product development process.

  1. Chapter 1 Why You Need Customer Development

    1. The First Challenge Is Inside the Building

    2. What Is Customer Development?

    3. What Is Lean Customer Development?

    4. What Customer Development Is Not

    5. Why You Need Customer Development

    6. Answering Common Objections

    7. Let’s Make This Work

    8. Next Step: Get Started

  2. Chapter 2 Where Should I Start?

    1. Exercise 1: Identify Your Assumptions

    2. Exercise 2: Write Your Problem Hypothesis

    3. Exercise 3: Map Your Target Customer Profile

    4. Next Step: Find Your Target Customers

  3. Chapter 3 Who Should I Be Talking To?

    1. How Can I Find Customers Before I’ve Even Built a Product?

    2. The Importance of Earlyvangelists

    3. Three Things That Motivate People

    4. How Can I Find My Customers?

    5. How Should I Conduct My Interviews?

    6. Following Up

    7. Interview Troubleshooting

    8. Next Step: Get Ready for Customer Development Interviews

  4. Chapter 4 What Should I Be Learning?

    1. Get Started with These Customer Development Questions

    2. Customers Don’t Know What They Want!

    3. What You Should Be Listening For

    4. Next Step: Get Ready to Do Your Customer Development Interviews

  5. Chapter 5 Get Out of the Building

    1. The Practice Interview

    2. To Record or Not to Record?

    3. Taking Great Notes

    4. Immediately Before the Interview

    5. The First Minute

    6. The Next Minute

    7. Keeping the Conversation Flowing

    8. Tangents Happen

    9. Avoiding the Wish List

    10. Avoiding Product Specifics

    11. Going Long

    12. The Last Few Minutes

    13. After the Interview

    14. Get Out (Now!)

  6. Chapter 6 What Does a Validated Hypothesis Look Like?

    1. Maintaining a Healthy Skepticism

    2. Keeping Organized Notes

    3. Rallying the Team Around New Information

    4. How Many Interviews Do You Need?

    5. What Does a Validated Hypothesis Look Like?

    6. Now What?

  7. Chapter 7 What Kind of Minimum Viable Product Should I Build?

    1. What Should My MVP Do for Me?

    2. MVP Types

    3. Pre-Order MVP

    4. Audience Building MVP

    5. Concierge MVP

    6. Wizard of Oz MVP

    7. Single Use Case MVP

    8. Other People’s Product MVP

    9. We’ve Built an MVP, Now What?

  8. Chapter 8 How Does Customer Development Work When You Already Have Customers?

    1. Adapting the MVP Concept

    2. Finding the Right Customers

    3. Customers Say the Magic Words

    4. Once You’ve Found Your Customers, Explain, Explain, Explain

    5. The Storytelling Demo

    6. Incognito Customer Development

    7. Show Me How You’re Using Our Product

    8. Here’s How to Use Our Product

    9. It Can Work For You, Too

  9. Chapter 9 Ongoing Customer Development

    1. Who’s Already Out of the Building?

    2. Who Can It Be, Knocking at Your Door?

    3. Closing the Loop

    4. Now You’re Ready

  10. Appendix Questions That Work

    1. Questions for Any Customer Development Interview

    2. Questions for an Existing Product

    3. If It Works, Keep Asking It