Exhibit A is an attractive market and Exhibit B is a documented need within this market. Most companies do OK with Exhibit A… identifying a market segment that is winnable and worth winning. But most are terrible at Exhibit B. This is being sure of which customer outcomes (desired end-results) companies will be rewarded for satisfying with a new product. Increasingly, companies are using Market Satisfaction Gaps to do this. (See 12 case stories)
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Here is our #1 recommendation for innovation success: Don’t start development stage work without quantitative evidence of customer needs. You can use Preference interviews followed by Market Satisfaction Gaps… or some other unfiltered, unbiased evidence. Two tips: 1) Don’t do this for very small projects, just those requiring 1+ person-year of development. 2) Don’t do this for technology development. Just product development, where you’ve targeted a specific market segment.
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In B2B-optimize quantitative interviews you ask customers to rate importance and current satisfaction for key customer outcomes. Without these convergent interviews, you’re essentially “guessing” what customers want. You simply cannot trust qualitative insight alone, as we all tend to “hear what we want to hear.” This is called confirmation bias… and the only antidote is to ask customers to think in a structured manner, giving you quantitative data in an unfiltered fashion.
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Without well-executed, qualitative, divergent interviews, you can expect errors of omission… failing to uncover unarticulated customer needs. Are teams criticized for these errors? No, because no one realizes something was omitted at the time of the error. A second problem is the failure to engage customers. You miss the chance to impress them as a supplier that wants to better understand and meet their needs.
More in article, The Front End of Innovation: How much is “too much”?
Congratulations! You’ve been promoted! On your first day as a new B2B exec, your company’s Director of Public Relations wants to chat. Something about a press release. She says you’ll want to address stockholder concerns. To provide hope despite the weak economy and sluggish sales. To give a reason to believe. A reason to have ... Read More
What should be done if highway traffic slows to a crawl? Probably not put more cars on the entrance ramp, right? With every month of delay, a typical B2B new product loses $80K in net present value. So reduce your number of active projects and accelerate those that remain. The best way to kill dead-end projects—or stop them from even starting? Better up-front work. Then your R&D only works on customer outcomes you know they want, not hope they want.
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More than anything else, short time horizons restrain B2B organic growth. And this leads to “internal friction” in your growth machine, specifically in 4 areas: 1) available time, 2) required skills, 3) team motivation, and 4) organizational disruptions. ... Read More
If your NPD teams are confident of customer needs, your projects will go faster for 3 reasons: 1) Bad ideas are killed quickly, freeing up resources. 2) Dead-end detours and diversions are avoided. 3) Hesitation—with second-guessing, delays and debates—is squelched. As Netscape founder, Jim Barksdale, said “If we have data, let’s use it. If we have opinions, let’s use mine.” B2B innovators can find the data they need in Market Satisfaction Gaps.
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Far too many B2B customers are still using “Voice of Ourselves” for product development. Diagnose your VOO vs. VOC behavior in 10 areas: 1) interview scope, 2) interview objective, 3) types of questions, 4) note-taking, 5) interview skills, 6) observation skills, 7) companies interviewed, 8) deliverables, 9) engagement timeframe, and 10) interviewing staff. ... Read More
We asked this question of 540 B2B professionals—with over 10,000 years of combined experience. Of 24 possible growth drivers, what were they most eager to improve? Market insight. We defined this as “Obtain market insight proactively to drive strategic decisions (vs. being just customer-reactive).” Just as quality and productivity each had their waves of popularity, so market insight is increasingly sought today. Here’s a short video on one way to succeed: Focusing the fuzzy front-end of B2B product development.
More in research report, What Drives B2B Organic Growth?