Blog Category: Product Development

The Amazing ROI for Voice of the Customer

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Some would say that investments in Voice of the Customer are “too expensive and time consuming.” After all, does it really make sense for employees to spend time on VoC projects? For them to be on the road, interviewing customers? Instead, shouldn’t they be doing things that “drive sales?” Like working more shows? Assisting sales ... Read More

Do you understand market needs… or market reaction?

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Many B2B producers are stuck at the 2nd of the 4 innovation maturity levels: Solution Validation. When they ask customers to validate their cool new idea, they think they are understanding market needs. They are not. They are simply understanding market reaction… to one idea… their idea. You’ll get far better results by reaching the 3rd maturity level: Market Insight.

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

It’s better if the project team—not management—stops a project.

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No team wants to waste time on a loser: Life is too short. So if management has to stop a project, the team was inexperienced, communicated poorly, or had different expectations than management. All these ailments are addressed by requiring every team to use a common business case template, not their own, start-from-scratch PowerPoint® presentations.

More in article, How Leaders Can Accelerate New-Product Development

Future B2B companies will have a good laugh at our expense.

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We now chuckle at how sales people used to rely on ABC (Always Be Closing) and manufacturers relied on end-of-line inspectors (vs. statistical quality control). But those will pale compared to the way today’s B2B companies test markets: by launching fully-developed products at their customers. When they could have learned customer needs first with some simple interviews. Funny stuff.

More in article, Why will future companies laugh at us?

How to move from unearned growth to earned growth

Weed Growing in patio

A large, unexpected revenue upturn this quarter is good news, right? It certainly feels good, but the satisfaction is fleeting. What you really need is growth that is unrelenting, earned and reliable. When business executives don’t understand the nature of “good” organic growth, they risk three pitfalls. Pitfall 1. “Let’s have a great quarter.” Imagine ... Read More

Delay the urge to converge in product development.

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The human brain likes to diverge first (look at all these deserts), and then converge (the chocolate lava cake, please). We shortcut this highly-effective approach when we begin by asking customers if they like our idea, hypothesis, or prototype. First, diverge with an open-minded exploration of all customer needs in B2B-optimized, voice-of-customer interviews. When you converge in a later round of interviews, do so quantitatively, so your confirmation bias doesn’t kick in.

More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 16).

Close the Customer Feedback Loop

Without VoC feedback, growth stalls.

Quality guru Edwards Deming taught us that “94% of problems in business are systems driven and only 6% are people driven.” With the right systems, a company will grow and thrive. And few are more important than the “feedback loop.” Unfortunately, this term has been used so broadly that the original and powerful meaning has ... Read More

Your “future you” will thank you.

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Don’t let your future be “that time you’ll wish you’d done what you’re not doing now.” You’ll be thankful later if you recalibrate your time horizon now… diverting some of your short-term attention to the future of your business. Besides, what you do this quarter is largely a spectator sport. The prices, profits and margins we wring our hands about during financial reviews were determined years ago by the new products created then for customers.

More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 7).

Don’t get lulled into complacency by “inherited growth.”

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Long ago, clever employees at your company developed industry-leading products. Most of your growth and profits today probably come from these sturdy product platforms. Don’t count on inherited growth continuing: Every year, purchasing agents and competitors are working diligently to commoditize your specialty products. Glad I could cheer you up on this.

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

How much work is “too much” in the front end of innovation?

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Our research asked B2B professionals what drives profitable, sustainable organic growth. The #1 answer was delivering strong, differentiated value propositions. And the #1 differentiator between the best and worst value-creating companies was superior front end of innovation work (www.whatdrivesb2borganicgrowth.com). There are important front-end steps top-performing companies take to strengthen their value propositions. Consider seven steps using this lens: If ... Read More