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A Preview of Lean Customer Development with Cindy Alvarez

Customer Development

A summary of things you should know about Lean Customer Development according to Cindy Alvarez


Lean Customer Development shows you why you need customer development and its set to arm you with the facts you need to overcome the initial resistance that you might get from your organization. Cindy Alvarez teaches you that customers don’t always know what they want but they can’t hide what they need. Her book provides you with the real questions you need to be asking customers in order to figure out their problems and needs.

The Book’s Unique Quality

I was seeing that when people were going out to talk to customers they had a bunch of steps to follow but didn’t know what to do when there was something different. They were hearing what they should do but really needed to hear how they should do it and why it works. I realized that people need to have that level of understanding.

The Reader’s Takeaway

The one concept that the readers should take away from this book is that customers don’t always know what they want but they can’t hide what they need. It’s just a matter of asking those questions to figure out their problems.

  • VIDEO: Wade’s Two-Minute Takeaway on Lean Customer Development
  • A Deep Dive Into The Book

    The book starts with why you need customer development and its set to arm people with the facts they need to overcome the initial resistance that they might get from their organization. Costumer development can sometimes feel like a challenge to an organization and they might feel like they don’t need it but everyone does. The next step is writing your ideas down and forming them into a hypothesis that is very easy to test and prove or disprove. The last getting started thing is what I call mapping your target customer profile. Once you have these exercises in hand you have a sense that you got something that you can prove or disprove. After this people want to know who they should be talking to and how they can find them. I describe how you are going to think about those target customers, how you’re going to find them and how you’re going to get them to talk to you. When you find people that have a problem that they want solve they will talk to you. Once you’ve got those people you need to know what you should be learning and what you should be asking them. The best questions tend to be narrative, open ended and what you are looking for is not specifically the answer to a question but you want to know about their existing behaviors. What is frustrating them right now? All of that is the startup and preparation.

    After that are the actual interview and a play by play of a successful customer interview. I give a lot of great tips for you to get prepared, for you to start off the conversation correctly and to make it clear that this is about your target customer talking. It’s not a sales pitch, not about you telling people what they should do, it’s really about telling them about the way your world works today. In customer development you want to know what these people do when you’re not looking.

    After the interviews the next thing is what you do with it. I go through and talk a lot about how to interpret what people are saying, how to look for patterns. So these first seven chapters will work for anyone, any company of any size.

    The last part of the book is about how to do this within larger enterprise’s, within conservative or regulated industries. It’s about how customer development works when you already have customers and you already have products. I’ll talk about expectations but within your work and your customers. How you can find the right customers that already exist to test out your ideas on. I’m also going to talk about how you do this when you don’t have a lot of time set aside. I talk about how you fit costumer development into your everyday routine and how you use your interactions that you already have with them to gain more insights.

    Finally there is an appendix of questions that work. These are questions that I have used over the last 10 years. If you are wondering what questions you should be asking, this will be really helpful to use as a reference.

    Notable Quotes From The Book

    “If your customer tells you maybe, write that down as no.” – Cindy Alvarez

    The Credibility/Inspiration Of The Author

    I have been working at startups for the past 15 years and a couple years ago the startup I was at was acquired by Microsoft so now I also have some experience working within an extremely large company. In working with those companies of all sizes I saw that people were struggling to talk to their customers so figured I should write a book about it. I have written the book Lean Customer Development to give companies of all sizes a practical guide to get people talking to customers and challenging their ideas.

    Companies know that they should be forming hypothesis and validating them, but what I have seen is that companies are trying to do that validation with a really outdated tool box. Companies used to use analysis reports, focus groups and those used to work in a world where software was released on 3 , 5 and 10 year cycles but they are just too slow for people to use today. We have companies who want to talk to their customers, who want to challenge their ideas but they aren’t really sure how. I wanted to make sure that they had a guide so that they can read the book and feel comfortable enough doing this.

    Other Books Recommended By The Author

    Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

    More Information About This Book and The Author

    Buy Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez on Amazon today

    Visit LeanCustomerDevelopment.com to learn more about Cindy and her book

    Follow and engage with Cindy Alvarez on Twitter

    More Information About This Episode

    Download the full transcript here

    Listen on iTunes, Stitcher , and SoundCloud

    Related books: Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg | Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Alexander Osterwalder | Moving Targets with Gabriel Aluisy

    Relevant advice and tips: 5 Simple Ways Entrepreneurs Can Attract Customers

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    Wade is a 4-time serial entrepreneur and is the Founder/Host of The Entrepreneurs Library. With a long time passion for reading books, Wade created an online resource and podcast for entrepreneurs who love to read personal and business development books. His long-term goal in life is to start an entrepreneurial home schooling program for children of business-minded families.

    • http://www.theelpodcast.com/ Wade Danielson

      What are some tactics that you use to uncover your customers’ needs?