Blog Category: Business-to-Business (B2B)

When should you use “hired guns” for customer interviews? Consider 4 factors.

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Are there times when you should use an outside firm—”a hired gun”—to conduct your interviews? Consider 4 factors: 1) Hired guns work well if you have a big budget and success is all about this very large product launch. 2) If you have millions of prospects, outside expertise can manage the sophisticated surveys and statistics needed. 3) If you don’t need to gain deep, first-hand insights, a marketing firm’s report is fine. 4) If you’re not already spending much direct face-time with customers, let a marketing firm conduct this market research.

In general, though, when you’re serious about bringing real innovation to a targeted market segment, your people should do the heavy lifting. Understanding market needs is a competitive advantage you shouldn’t try to outsource.

For more, see 2-minute video, When to use “hired guns” for VOC

Beware the “Faster Horse” fallacy.

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Henry Ford is often cited for a reason to not interview customers: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.” But this is flawed thinking for B2B markets. There are indeed B2C cases where customers can’t tell you much about their needs. Ask me what I want in a video game, men’s suit, or snack food, and I’ll probably need to see a prototype. Then I can play with it, try it on, or taste it (hopefully in that order).

Besides, B2C company employees are end-consumers themselves… so they’ve already got a good idea what consumers want. Bottom line: Your B2B customer can absolutely tell you the outcomes they want (desired end results). Once you know the “what,” it’s up to you to figure out the “how” (your new product solution).

For more, see 2-minute video, Avoid the faster horse fallacy

How many “builders” do you know?

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A builder is someone who drives business growth by delivering real value to customers, brushing aside fads, short-term distractions, and financial gymnastics. Others are remodelers, improving efficiency, quality & costs…but if nothing new is built, they lead a race to the bottom. Others are decorators, trying to boost “curb appeal,” as they focus on quarterly financials. They’re engaged in a spectator sport, not a participant sport. Finally, some are realtors, reaping their rewards during M&A… when the work of others’ hands changes hands.

Does this mean you should forget about operational efficiency, financial reporting, or M&A? Of course not. But what is your passion? For the builder, it’s delivering customer value and driving organic growth over the years.

More in this 2-minute video, Be a business builder

How many B2B-vs.-B2C differences are there? We count 12 that matter.

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In our white paper, B2B vs B2C: Organic growth implications for B2B professionals, we cover 12 differences between suppliers to B2B vs. consumer goods markets. Is this just an academic exercise? Not at all. Every one of these differences has implications for organic growth. The news gets better if you’re a B2B supplier: Nearly all these differences are advantages in your favor. Of course, an advantage is no advantage if you don’t take advantage of it. This white paper will show you how.

Also see the 2-minute video, Understand your B2B advantages

What if your company moved faster than “the industry”?

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It wouldn’t be hard to do. It often takes 2 or 3 decades for industry to broadly adopt new practices. This has been true for statistical process control, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, Stage-Gate®, consultative selling, and others. What if your company identified and quickly mastered the next high-impact business practice? A good candidate is reinventing VOC for B2B: Before developing a new product, conduct B2B-optimized voice-of-customer interviews, so customers can tell you precisely which outcomes to improve.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B

How to Ensure Top-Quartile Growth in a B2B Business

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How do you accelerate the organic growth of a business? And can you be confident your growth will outpace most competitors? For B2B businesses today—and the foreseeable future—the answer is yes. The steps you must take are surprisingly low-cost, simple, and ignored by most. To succeed, you need a new mindset, new capabilities, and new ... Read More