Blog Category: Awkward Realities

A value proposition is simply improving important outcome(s) for customers’ benefit.

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Unlike many B2C benefits, e.g. amusement, comfort, and self-esteem, B2B customer benefits are usually measurable, economic and—wait for it now—predictable. This predictability means B2B suppliers who study customer outcomes, like a science, will be handsomely rewarded. B2B customers will eagerly help you… if you know how to ask them.

More in white paper, www.guessingatcustomerneeds.com

Keep a straight face if you say, “This is the most important quarter in our company’s history.”

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Of course, employees will be laughing; they’ve heard this one before. When satisfying the expectations of Wall Street analysts conflicts with building the firm’s long-term competitive strength, guess which usually wins? Any employee who’s been through travel restrictions, investment delays, hiring freezes, etc. knows the answer.

More in 2-minute video at 5. Shareholder wealth is a poor goal

Validating your hypothesis with customers doesn’t tell you about market needs, just market reaction.

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Many companies think they have learned about customer needs when they visit customers to validate their hypothesis or potential solution. They have not. They have learned about market reaction. To a single idea. Their idea. On top of this, it’s likely this customer reaction was distorted by confirmation bias.

More in white paper, www.b2btimingiseverything.com (page 15)

Never rely on Brownian motion for change management.

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Some executives expect employees to deliver innovation-driven growth without investing in company-wide tools and skills. Either nothing changes, or employees run off changing things in random (Brownian motion) directions. Be intentional about what new behavior is needed, and take unwavering steps to drive it. Tip: Research shows that one of the strongest growth drivers is learning strong B2B voice-of-customer skills.

More in research report, www.b2bvocskills.com

Use FAQS: Separate your Facts, Assumptions, Questions, and Surprises into neat little piles.

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Initially, you are aware of the first three, but completely unaware of the fourth—surprises. When you begin your project, list the first three, and try to convert A’s and Q’s into F’s. Then uncover the surprises through customer interviews, tours and observation. Seek to understand the first three, and discover the last one.

More in white paper, Innovating in Unfamiliar Markets (page 12)

Some businesses are led by Builders. Others by Decorators, Realtors or Landlords.

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Some leaders are Interior Decorators, trying to make the place look good every quarter… but not building anything. Others are Realtors. Their hearts are in buying and selling… reaping reward when the work of others’ hands changes hands. Others are Landlords, who apply themselves at work, but their hearts are elsewhere. Be a Builder if this is within you.

More in 2-minute video at 3. Be a business builder

Don’t hire more R&D resources until you shift existing personnel “up and out.”

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You shift resources “up” by investing manpower earlier in understanding market needs. This lets you be more successful later in developing solutions. You shift resources “out” when employees spend less time talking to each other… and more time directly engaging customers, through interviews and tours. Develop new skills for this, and create a new company culture.

More in white paper, www.catchtheinnovationwave.com (page 6)

It is unreasonable to expect sales calls to drive your innovation efforts.

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Your sales force should play a key role in innovation-focused interviews. But not by themselves. Unaccompanied sales reps seldom attract all the right customer contacts, and they’re not rewarded for the lengthy time horizons required. Besides, market-facing innovation requires central coordination, since a single sales territory won’t contain all the needed prospects. However, your sales force can play a critical role when it also becomes a learning force.

More in 2-minute video at 47. Make your sales force a learning force

Most companies can double their R&D resources… for free.

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Want to add employees who know your technologies and markets, can start work tomorrow, and cost nothing more? It’s easy: Just kill the dead-end projects that tie up half your resources. Free your people to work on projects your customers actually care about. It’s not hard to learn which projects to kill. In fact, strong project teams will halt weak projects on their own. Many will do this using the data-driven evidence that comes from market satisfaction gaps.

More in white paper, www.marketsatisfactiongaps.com

One of the best compliments I ever heard given a business leader was, “He’s a builder.”

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If you see a business that has steadily grown over the years in size, profitability and stature… whose products have surpassed competitors’… that grinds through the hard work of delivering real customer value… that brushes aside fads, downturns and criticisms… look for the builder. If this is you, we can show you some power-tools for your next project.

More in 2-minute video at 3. Be a business builder

Quickly identify any over-served markets. Then sprint in the opposite direction.

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If all customer outcomes in a market are either unimportant or already satisfied, you’ll see low Market Satisfaction Gaps. This is an over-served market, and there’s only one thing that makes these customers happy: Dropping your price. Race to more attractive markets and hope your competitors waste resources here. Have you identified your over-served markets yet?

More in white paper, www.marketsatisfactiongaps.com

Your R&D is probably the biggest resource sinkhole in the company.

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Where else do you invest tens of millions of dollars in personnel, so that many can work diligently on answers to the wrong questions? If your firm is like most, one-half of your product development resources are working on projects that will be cancelled or fail to yield an adequate return. You can stop this innovation malpractice with the science of B2B customer insight. Specifically, you must stop projects from entering the development stage unless you have data-driven evidence of customer needs.

More in 2-minute video at 35. Insist on data-driven innovation