Inspiration: We start with the customer and we work backward...

We start with the customer and we work backward. We learn whatever skills we need to service the customer. We build whatever technology we need to service the customer.—Jeff Bezos, founder, Amazon.com.

Jeffrey Preston "Jeff" Bezos is an American entrepreneur who played a key role in the growth of e-commerce as the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Inc. Learn more...


People talk about being market-driven and performing customer development. Every marketing person will tell you that customer interviews provide deep insights on the product, its promotion, your sales team effectiveness, and your company strategy.

Do you need to be convinced that listening to the market is a good thing?

Yet many product marketing and management professionals allow internal issues and daily emergencies to dictate their schedules. They promise themselves they’ll contact customers next month, and then the next month and so on.

When was the last time you contacted a client without a sales or support objective? When did you last talk with a client for the purpose of understanding how to move your product forward? Or called a client to get feedback on a product capability or the company strategy?

“I talked to a guy” isn’t a statistically-valid sample.

Write down the names of three clients you want to meet—by phone or face-to-face—in the next 30 days. Get their contact info, check with the sales team to make sure no deals are in danger, and set up an appointment.

Do it now.

Read best practices for customer interviews in Interviewing clients: a field guide.