Blog Category: Awkward Realities

You can only help B2B customers two ways: improving their processes or products.

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You can improve a process anywhere down the value chain, or you can improve the ultimate product. (Mid-stream products don’t count.) Equipment and service providers often have their biggest impact on processes. Component or material makers often have a larger impact on products. In either case, you need to pursue these improvements with passion.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 26).

It’s not so difficult to move from Innovation Maturity Level 1 directly to Level 3.

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In Level 1, you start with your ideas and launch products you think customers will want. In Level 2, you still start with your ideas, but “validate” them with customers. In Level 3, you start with customer needs, using divergent and convergent interviews. You uncover a full range of outcomes and only work on those customers care about.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 7).

It won’t be a great customer interview if you only talk to their summer intern.

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You want to get the right B2B interviewees in the room, but setting up great interviews can be tough. Interviewees may think… “I’m too busy… I don’t want to discuss confidential information… I can’t be bothered by a boring survey… I’ll bet they just want to sell me something.” Knowing how to overcome objections is as important a competitive edge as the interviewing skills themselves.

More in article, 9 Best Practices for Recruiting Customers

There are three types of growth. You can control one of them.

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The first is inherited growth from products launched long ago, which now “carry” your business. The second is market growth… the tide that lifts all boats. You can only impact the third—earned growth—by doing a better job than every competitor in understanding and meeting the needs of a market. This means it’s easy to be lulled into thinking your underlying growth is greater than it is.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 14).

All B2B markets are not created equal. How well do you understand yours?

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The term “B2B” is useful, because business customers can be so different than end-consumers. But it’s a blunt and imprecise term, and we can do better. Check out the “B2B Index” developed by The AIM Institute. The higher your market’s B2B Index, the greater you can engage customers… in both early-stage and late stage marketing. (This is a free service.)

Calculate your B2B Index at www.b2bmarketview.com

A great customer interview is all about the customer. You should be fascinated by their world.

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Imagine a fellow on a date that talks about himself for an hour. His only questions are, “What’s your income? What’s your educational level?” Then he closes with, “Will you marry me?” Does this sound like an old-fashioned “qualify-and-then-close” sales call? As in a good date, you should be genuinely interested by your customer and their needs.

Learn more about B2B innovation at theaiminstitute.com