Blog Category: Business-to-Business (B2B)

Be grateful for B2B customers… and thankful your competitors don’t understand them. Do you?

58 B2B Customers

If you were gathering customer insights about belts, would you rather interview someone using a belt to convey iron ore… or to hold up their pants? B2B customers can usually provide more insight than end-consumers due to greater knowledge, interest, objectivity and foresight. But these advantages are no advantage unless you use a B2B-optimized approach.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 6).

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

56 Improving Customer Outcomes

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 article, The Science behind Great Value Propositions (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

The higher your “insight level,” the greater your customer engagement will be.

47 Engaged Customer

Research shows customer engagement is critical to successful innovation. This engagement increases as you move through six “insight levels”: 1) Deciding what customers want in your conference rooms, 2) polling your sales force, 3) conducting customer surveys, 4) qualitative VOC, 5) quantitative VOC, and 6) B2B-optimized VOC. Where are you?

More in article, Boosting Innovation…In One Easy Lesson (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

Doing quantitative voice-of-customer? Good. Now do it “the B2B way.”

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Clever companies realize they’ll “hear what they want to hear” without quantitative VOC. To do it right, B2B companies should weight responses based on customer buying power. And don’t just ask for importance ratings: Ask for satisfaction ratings as well. The only hope for premium pricing is pursuing needs that are both important and unsatisfied.

More in article, Constraints to Organic Growth

If you’re a B2B company, stop using hand-me-down consumer goods voice-of-customer methods.

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Traditional VOC relies on questionnaires, tape recorders and post-interview analyses. That’s fine for B2C, but your B2B customers are insightful, rational, interested and fewer in number. They’re smart and will make you smarter if you engage them in a peer-to-peer fashion, take notes with a digital projector, skillfully probe, and let them lead you.

More in executive briefing, Seven Mistakes that Stunt Organic Growth.

 

Great B2B innovation starts with customer engagement. Are you applying customer detachment?

27-Customer-Detachment

Many suppliers unwittingly detach from customers with a host of risky behaviors: 1) Asking customers to fill in boring questionnaires, 2) using interviews to “validate” their preconceived solutions, 3) failing to probe with insightful questions, and 4) neglecting to follow-up interviews with rich, ongoing engagement. Is it time to learn customer-engagement skills?

More in article, 5 Growth Risks You Can Stop Taking (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

Interview B2B customers in a way that allows—even invites—surprise.

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We’ve coached hundreds of B2B new product teams and here’s the awkward reality: When teams begin using advanced methods to interview customers, they are usually surprised by what customers want. This means the teams had been planning on developing a product that interested them, not customers. This is a sobering experience. Have you had it yet?

More in article, The Cost Cutter’s Guide to Growth (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

Closely examine B2B innovation malpractice, and you’ll see a pervasive disregard for customer needs.

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It’s ironic: B2B customers have the only vote on whether our new product is any good. B2B customers want us to innovate on their behalf. B2B customers are eminently qualified to guide us. Yet many suppliers all but ignore B2B customers when developing their product concepts. Today, this is a global pandemic.

More in article, Is Your Innovation Supplier-Centric… or Customer-Centric? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

The B2B interviewer should have two goals: customer insight and customer engagement.

8-Customer-Engagement

Research shows the best way to sell a product is to probe customers’ needs. But why wait until the product is developed? If you probe beforehand, you’ll create a better product and “pre-sell” your product. This isn’t practical for interviewing millions of B2C toothpaste buyers, but it is for concentrated B2B markets. B2B engagement skills aren’t difficult. Do you have them?

More in newsletter, How to Grow in a Stagnant Economy (Nov-Dec, 2008)

Your B2B customers are smarter than you.

3-Smart-Customer

It may be OK for consumer goods producers to guess their customers’ needs. After all, their product developers are end-consumers themselves. But your B2B customers know so much more than you about their needs. Isn’t it silly to guess their needs, when they’d love to tell you… if you asked the right way?

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 1)