Awkward Reality #174

Even our language exposes our supplier-centric innovation thinking.

When you say you want to pursue a “new market,” do you mean the market is truly embryonic? Or is this just a new market for you? If so, it’s better to call the latter an “unfamiliar market.” The customers were already there. It’s you—not the market—that’s new. This is just one example of supplier-centric thinking that permeates B2B innovation. Customer-centric thinking will take you much further.

More in white paper, Innovating in Unfamiliar Markets (page 2).

Awkward Reality #173

Starting NPD without customer insight is like starting a shoving match with a sumo wrestler.

In either case you should ask, “What was I thinking of when I started this?” Especially if you are a B2B supplier with knowledgeable, interested, rational customers, who want you to know their needs. And a science already exists for completely understanding these needs. Maybe it’s time to stop throwing salt and begin learning a better approach?

Learn more in our e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B

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Awkward Reality #172

Awkward Reality #171

Ignore experts who want you to ignore your sales team during VOC interviews.

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Some voice-of-customer experts recommend you exclude your salesforce from interviews because “they can sell but not listen.” True sales professionals are actually great listeners: You just need to reward them for listening. Strengthen listening and learning by your entire team, and you’ll out-perform competitors who side-line their sales pros when gathering market insights.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 24).

Awkward Reality #170

I get nervous when I hear the words “validate” and “hypothesis” in the same sentence.

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It’s usually a sign the new-product team has a supplier-centric mindset, not a customer-centric one. Validating hypotheses is converging around a supplier solution… which should occur after diverging around customer needs. It’s important to get the sequence right. Look around and study Problem Solving 101: Divergent thinking nearly always precedes convergent thinking.

More in article, Is Your Innovation Supplier-Centric… or Customer-Centric?

Awkward Reality #169

Is it “overkill” to apply advanced B2B customer insight? Was Japanese auto quality overkill?

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I worked in manufacturing in the 1970s, when it seemed like “overkill” to train operators in statistics for quality control. But this is expected today. I met Dr. Deming in the 1980’s and heard him say, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is optional.”  Compared to statistics, the science of B2B customer insight is quite simple. Will you be GM or Toyota in the innovation wave?

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 12).

Awkward Reality #168

Make your decision when you’ve gathered the most facts and spent the least money.

I call this the golden rule of investment. In the case of innovation, it explains why the front-end-of-innovation is the critical battleground. The winning company is the one that most efficiently learns whatever intelligence is needed to drive this important decision: “Should we advance this project into the costly development stage?”

More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?

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Smarketing is not so Smart

Steering for organic growth

What is Smarketing? “Smarketing” is when marketing is only executed with a short term, sales mentality. It’s the unholy melding of sales and marketing. Why is this bad? With Smarketing, the longer term, less urgent, strategic marketing activities are pushed aside. Strategic vs. Tactical Marketing Strategic marketing sets the course and tactical marketing steers the ... Read More

Awkward Reality #167