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The 12 Most Important Product Discovery Questions

January 19, 2023

11 minute read

Imagine if I turned up at your house one evening and declared that I’d made you dinner. On the surface, you and I might both think that’s a pretty nice gesture, and a problem solved. But – hold up – there’s lots I don’t know here.

I don’t know what food you do and don’t like. I also don’t know if you’ve got any allergies. I definitely don’t know if you have any leftover pizza you were really looking forward to. And I don’t know if you already ate on your way home from the office.

I probably should have asked first, right? 

Building and delivering a product to customers is a similar ballgame – and product discovery is how you navigate those potential issues. 

In other words: product discovery, whether you’re conducting it right at the start of your product’s lifespan or as part of continuous discovery and development, is the process of determining customer issues and understanding how to provide the solution they need. 

Or, as our co-founder Simon Cast puts it, product discovery is the process of “constantly validating that there is a real problem to solve – that it is a real problem, and that solving it is worthwhile.”

So let’s look at how you do that – with a focus on the specific questions to ask, and why.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • What types of product discovery questions should you ask?
  • The 12 most important product discovery questions
  • 25 categorized product discovery questions 
  • Product discovery questions: Methods
  • Product discovery questions: What to do next?

What types of product discovery questions should you ask?

There are oodles of differing ideas on methodologies and ways of conducting product discovery research – some with super elaborate diagrams designed to impress and bamboozle – but let’s take a step back for a second and think about what product discovery is at its core, and what that means.

In its simplest form, product discovery is about asking questions and finding answers. 

With that in mind, job one is to think about who’s going to be answering your questions. And with product discovery, that really leaves us with two outcomes:

Product discovery questions to ask product managers

Maybe this is you? They say the customer’s always right, but there are a bunch of questions that you as a product manager can astutely answer without any external input. Often these questions – around the positioning of your product and its reason for being – can be answered with a spot of good old-fashioned competitor research or SWOT analysis.

Product discovery questions to ask customers

You can’t address customer needs if you don’t know what it is they want. Any successful product is one that’s custom-made to fill a gap, solve an issue, and smooth over a customer pain point, so it’s really crucial to gather feedback from customers on this stuff. And to do so regularly. 

The 12 most important product discovery questions 

Ok; here we’ve compiled a list of the six most important product discovery questions for each audience – product managers and customers – along with a list of supplementary ones that can help you further hone in on your product’s USP. 

Six important product discovery questions for product managers

Let’s take a look at some of the questions you can ask yourself internally to help discern a place for your product…

Three product discovery questions to ask when you are building a new product

1. What problem will this product solve?

The big one. No product really has a place in the market if it doesn’t demonstrably address an existing issue – or solve a problem people didn’t even realize they had.

2. How will this product solve that issue?

The nuts and bolts. How will customer lives be made easier by what you’ve got to offer? This is elevator pitch stuff; as a product manager, you should be able to espouse an answer pretty enthusiastically here.

3. Does anything similar exist, and if so, how does it compare?
Will you be a true disruptor or a new and improved version of something that already exists? Be honest about your competition, because they won’t pull any punches.

Three product discovery questions to ask for existing products

1. Is the product performing as it should?

Your team built this thing to solve a need. Does it do that? You should already have an idea of how things are looking based on your original goals.

2. What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Where can you improve? What facets of the product are absolute game-changers? And how do those strengths and weaknesses manifest as threats and opportunities?

3. How does the product stack up against your product vision statement?

Where did you want this product to be, ultimately? A market leader? A revolutionary service? It’s time to ask yourself where you are along that journey.

Other internal discovery questions to consider…

  • Who is the target customer for the product?
  • What are the key features and benefits of the product?
  • What is the pricing strategy for the product?
  • How does the product fit into the overall company roadmap?
  • What are the key metrics that will be used to measure success?
  • How will you gather customer feedback on the product?
Product discovery questions

Six important product discovery questions for customers

It’s time to get your customers (and potential customers) involved. Here’s a selection of customer feedback and survey questions to have on your list…

Three product discovery questions to ask when you are building a new product

1. What are your current pain points or needs in this product category?

It’s crucial that you conduct customer research or hold focus group sessions that can help you pinpoint where their issues lie. Maybe one area of their work slows them down every day, for example. Or perhaps the software they use currently is too clunky or unintuitive.

2. How do you currently solve these pain points or needs?

It’s unlikely that customers are just sitting around waiting for a solution. Normally they’ll have found workarounds or piecemeal solutions that probably aren’t ideal. Either way, you need to know what their current user habits look like before you can design the answer to their prayers.

3. What features are most important to you in a product like this?

Asking people to hone in on one or two core features is a fantastic way to gain focus. After all, feature creep can be crippling, so it’s often smarter to start out nailing a couple of the core use cases people cite, and build anything extra into your ongoing roadmap.

Three product discovery questions to ask for existing products

1. How have you been using this product?

You’ll be amazed at how customers adapt, bend, and even break your carefully-curated user experience. Understanding the way people are actually interacting with your product can help you see the wood for the trees when it comes to UI and UX.

2. Are there any features or capabilities that you wish this product had?

This line of questioning can essentially build your product roadmap out for you. You may have great ideas of where to go next, but if they don’t align with customer needs, why should they care about any potential new features? 

3. Would you recommend this product to others? If so, why?

Classic CSAT and NPS Score stuff. If people wouldn’t happily recommend your product to a colleague, friend, or family member, something’s going wrong and you need to prioritize finding out what. 

Other external discovery questions to consider…

  • How do you, as a customer, measure the success of a product in this category?
  • What is your budget for products in this category?
  • Have you ever used a product like this before? If so, what did you like or dislike about it?
  • How do you envision using this product in your day-to-day life?
  • Are there any features or capabilities that you find particularly useful?
  • How does this product compare to similar products that you’ve used in the past?

25 categorized product discovery questions

Need even more? No problem! Here’s a bumper list of product discovery questions that can be used or adapted based on whether you’re asking an internal (stakeholder) or external (customer) audience…

Market fit product discovery questions:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • What are their pain points and needs?
  • What are the existing solutions in the market?
  • How does your product differentiate from these solutions?
  • What is the size of the market opportunity for your product?

Customer reach and use product discovery questions:

  • How do customers currently solve this problem?
  • How do customers currently find and select solutions?
  • How do customers currently evaluate the success of a solution?
  • What do customers value most in a solution?
  • What are customers willing to pay for a solution?

Product discovery questions around value:

  • What are the key features and benefits of your product?
  • How does your product add value for the customer?
  • What quantifiable results can customers expect from using your product?
  • How does your product help customers achieve their goals?
  • How does your product improve the customer’s overall experience?

Problem-solving product discovery questions:

  • What problem does your product solve?
  • How does your product solve the problem?
  • How does your product address the root cause of the problem?
  • How does your product compare to alternative solutions?
  • How does your product improve upon those existing solutions?

User testing product discovery questions:

  • How can you validate your solution with potential users?
  • How will you measure the user’s satisfaction with the product?
  • How will you iterate based on user feedback?
  • How will you measure the success of user testing?
  • How will you measure and track user engagement?

As with any market research-related activity, the sky’s the limit, and the more information you can gather, the better. 

Your aim should always be to ask as many questions as people are willing to answer, as often as you can, and to pool all that data into an easy-to-understand bank of solid gold insight.

Product discovery questions: Methods 

Product discovery questions can be answered in a bunch of different ways based on who they’re aimed at and how you think you’ll get the most reliable, objective, or useful information. 

There are six key ways you can undertake this quest for knowledge:

  1. Customer feedback
  2. Customer interviews
  3. User analytics
  4. Competitor analysis
  5. Business modeling
  6. Internal discovery

If you want to know the ins and outs of how each one works, how to set yourself up for success, and which method to use for what questions, we’ve got a full rundown of each method right here.

Product discovery questions: What to do next?

Knowledge is power, right? You should end this process with a heap of answers to interesting questions, and those should point you in interesting new directions. Or, at the very least, confirm that you were heading in the right direction all along. 

That’s an outcome that can really help align teams and provide confidence that your product deserves to exist. Or, you know, that it will deserve to exist once you just make a few tweaks and tighten some screws. 

In a more practical sense, the outcome of product discovery can help you craft a compelling product vision statement – that thing you paint on the office wall in huge letters and look at every time you’re unsure what to do next. 

A product vision statement is your guiding light towards where you want your product to end up, so it’s worth putting some time into. You can check out our free product vision template here

Continuous discovery

Beyond all that, though, the main thing to do after you’ve completed a round of product discovery questioning is to adjust what needs adjusting and then… Do it all over again. 

Product discovery is a continuous, cyclical process; one where answers inform actions, and actions inform new questions.

Your customers’ needs, the market landscape, and your product’s rivals are all evolving at a rapid pace, so your product needs to as well. 

You can learn more about the thinking behind continuous product discovery here

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