401-423-2400 Kristin@Zhivago.com

Stop reading all that advice. Start interviewing.

If you stopped reading EVERYTHING you read about marketing and sales, and spent that time over the next two weeks interviewing your customers, you’d be so far ahead, you would barely be able to contain your joy and enthusiasm.

I know, because I do this for my clients, and that’s what happens to them. I just did this for a big organization and several very small ones. In each case, the CEOs, partners, managers, and VPs were flabbergasted and thrilled, all at the same time.

“Now we know what to do!”

“Oh, wow – no wonder that wasn’t working!”

“Finally – direction. This is so helpful.”

“This is priceless stuff.”

The eyes open. The fog lifts. The uncertainty vanishes. The pride swells, although it is tempered with the humiliation of all those things that seemed so important, which turn out to be unimportant – or even an impediment to growth.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, can take the place of the advice that your own customers can give you.
They went to all the trouble (and it was more trouble than you can possibly imagine) to find you, figure out what you’re selling, and buy from you. They are now experiencing your company, products, and services.

They have plenty to say about how you presented yourself, what actually happened, what they wish would have happened, what the tradeoffs were in their minds as they were considering you, why they bought from you after all, and what they are now telling others about you. Yep, that’s priceless stuff, stuff that sends you running in the RIGHT direction.

I make a point of keeping up on the latest advice dished out by all the pundits out there. And I find myself cringing every time I see an article that says that doing X will result in more leads, or this company did Y, so you should do it also.

Yep, you could imitate what others are doing or suggesting. It might work for you. It also might be a big, fat disaster.

Why? Because you are unique. Your company is unique. Your customers – and how they perceive you, are unique. Your competitors, and how they compare to you, are unique. Your products and services are unique. Your character, your motivation, your processes, your policies, your people, your pricing are unique. I could go on, but you get the message.

What your customers expect from you is completely different from what they’d expect from someone else. How can you possibly make generic promises or apply generic methods, and expect them to resonate in their hearts, and then inspire confidence in their minds, when everything is different?

If you really want to take my advice and interview customers, you should read my book first – because that’s where you will find precise instructions on the whole interviewing/discovery process, and then advice on how to put what you learn into action.

It takes about two days to read the book, according to my readers. Usually they do it in two sessions, one session per day. Then, after that, given a little bit of prep work, and scheduling phone appointments with your customers, it will take you about two weeks to conduct the interviews (seven to ten customers of any given type).

As the data starts to accumulate, you, too, will barely be able to contain your joy and enthusiasm. When it’s all gathered and analyzed, you will know exactly what to do. It’s a great feeling.

You don’t have to hunt for the answers. You don’t have to waste money experimenting. You don’t have to imitate others, hoping it will work for you. You just have to know how to ask your customers the right questions, the right way. They will then show you exactly what you should be doing.

Stop reading what everyone is telling you to do. They don’t know you. They don’t know your company, situation, customers, products, services, etc.  Instead, turn to the very source of your revenue: your customers. They have the answers. Buy this, read it, do it.


P.S. I read an article recently where someone said that interviewing customers will not help you figure out what to do; that their advice will be all over the map. Thousands of customer interviews have convinced me that this is an outright lie. Your first five interviews will bring the top three or four “ah-has” into perfect focus. Subsequent interviews will confirm these issues, and add some texture to them, but that’s all. That’s what is so great about this method. A half-dozen phone calls from now and you would be able to RUN in the right direction.


  1. Great post – half-way through the book and already implementing with much success! Thanks!

  2. This is wonderful to hear, Elke. After you’re done reading, I’d love it if you posted a review on Amazon. And let me know if I can answer any questions for you as you implement the Roadmap revenue-growth method. My email is kristin at zhivago dot com.


  3. Hello Kristin,
    Once again the information you have presented in this Revenue Journal is so very “Common Sense” that part of me says “Gosh, if that’s really all there is to it, why haven’t I taken your advice and started interviewing both my active clients as well as clients who no longer do business with us.”

    Well by golly, I am going to make a pre-New Year’s resolution to do exactly that. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

    Business has picked back up considerably in the last month or so and time to do the interviewing will be limited; However I feel it will be very fruitful if I just ‘ Do It!”

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and keep up the good work.

    Robert L Johnson Pres.
    Circle J Construction Inc.

  4. I am so glad to hear this! I can’t wait to hear what you learn, what surprises you, and what you decide to do, based on what you’ve learned. This is yet another Wonderful Thing to be thankful for tomorrow.

    Thanks, Robert. Always great to hear from you, but this message really warms my heart.



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