The Mom Test - Cheat Sheet

The Mom Test:

  1. Talk about their life instead of your idea
  2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future
  3. Talk less and listen more

Getting back on track (avoiding bad data):

  1. Deflect compliments
  2. Anchor fluff
  3. Dig beneath opinions, ideas, requests, and emotions

Mistakes and symptoms:

  1. Fishing for compliments “I’m thinking of starting a business... so, do you think it will work?” “I had an awesome idea for an app —do you like it?”
  2. Exposing your ego (aka The Pathos Problem) “So here’s that top-secret project I quit my job for... what do you think?”“I can take it —be honest and tell me what you really think!”
  3. Being pitchy “No no, I don’t think you get it...”“Yes, but it also does this!"
  4. Being too formal “So, first off, thanks for agreeing to this interview. I just have a few questions for you and then I’ll let you get back to your day…” “On a scale of 1 to 5, how much would you say you…” “Let’s set up a meeting.”
  5. Being a learning bottleneck “You just worry about the product. I’ll handle the customers.” “Because the customers told me so!” “I don’t have time to talk to people —I need to get back to coding!”
  6. Collecting compliments instead of facts and commitments “We’re getting a lot of positive feedback.”“Everybody I’ve talked to loves the idea.”

The process before, during and after the meeting:

  1. If you haven’t yet, choose a focused, findable segment
  2. With your team, decide your big 3 learning goals
  3. If relevant, decide on ideal next steps and commitments
  4. If conversations are the right tool, figure out who to talk to
  5. Create a series of your best guesses about what the person cares about •If a question could be answered via desk research, do that first
  6. Frame the conversation
  7. Keep it casual
  8. Ask good questions which pass The Mom Test
  9. Deflect compliments, anchor fluff, and dig beneath signals
  10. Take good notes
  11. If relevant, press for commitment and next steps
  12. With your team, review your notes and key customer quotes
  13. If relevant, transfer notes into permanent storage
  14. Update your beliefs and plans
  15. Decide on the next 3 big questions

Results of a good meeting:

  1. Facts —concrete, specific facts about what they do and why they do it (as opposed to the bad data of compliments, fluff, and opinions)
  2. Commitment —They are showing they’re serious by giving up something they value such as meaningful amounts of time, reputation risk, or money
  3. Advancement —They are moving to the next step of your real world funnel and getting closer to a sale

Signs you’re just going through the motions:

  1. You’re talking more than they are
  2. They are complimenting you or your idea
  3. You told them about your idea and don’t have next steps
  4. You don’t have notes
  5. You haven’t looked through your notes with your team
  6. You got an unexpected answer and it didn’t change your idea
  7. You weren’t scared of any of the questions you asked
  8. You aren’t sure which big question you’re trying to answer
  9. You aren’t sure why you’re having the meeting

Writing it down —signal symbols:

  1. :) Excited
  2. :( Angry
  3. :| Embarrassed
  4. Pain or problem (symbol is a lightning bolt)
  5. ⨅ Goal or job-to-be-done (symbol is a soccer/ football goal)
  6. ☐ Obstacle
  7. Workaround ^
  8. Background or context (symbol is a distant mountain)
  9. ☑ Feature request or purchasing criteria
  10. Money or budgets or purchasing process
  11. Mentioned a specific person or company
  12. Follow-up task

Signs you aren’t pushing for commitment and advancement:

  1. A pipeline of zombie leads
  2. Ending product meetings with a compliment
  3. Ending product meetings with no clear next steps
  4. Meetings which “went well”
  5. They haven’t given up anything of value

Asking for and framing the meeting:

  1. Vision —half-sentence of how you’re making the world better
  2. Framing —where you’re at and what you’re looking for
  3. Weakness —where you’re stuck and how you can be helped
  4. Pedestal —show that they, in particular, can provide that help
  5. Ask —ask for help

The big prep question: “What do we want to learn from these guys?”