It may be OK for consumer goods producers to guess their customers’ needs. After all, their product developers are end-consumers themselves. So if you’re an Apple engineer, you already know what consumers like you want in a mobile phone.
But your B2B customers know much more than you about their needs. If you make pigment, your customers know a lot more than you about the paper production it’s used in. Isn’t it silly to guess their needs when they’d love to tell you… if you asked the right way? That’s why you need to let the customer lead the interview, not you. Yep, you can put your questionnaire or interview guide away now.
More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B
With apologies to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina… all great voice-of-customer (VOC) interviews are alike in the same way: The customer is talking during most of the interview. And they are talking about those outcomes (desired end results) they want to talk about. Anything else is clutter, much of which leads to unhappiness.
For B2B voice-of-customer interviews, plan on two rounds of interview… first qualitative interviews (called Discovery), followed by quantitative interviews (called Preference). In both cases, the customers will be doing most of the talking… and about matters that interest them. They’ll be happy. You’ll be happy.
More in video, Reinventing VOC for B2B
In the 1970’s, Detroit automakers didn’t realize they were in a battle for quality. but Toyota did. In later years, the battle moved from quality to productivity improvements. But those were both last century’s battles. Today the battle is over innovation… to deliver more value to customers than your competitors.
Does your business leadership team know it’s in a battle for innovation? One way to find out is to wait until a competitor upends your market with a blockbuster new product. A better approach is to start building innovation capabilities earlier and strong than those competitors. More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave
Also see 2-minute video, Catch the innovation wave
You’ll have much better project reviews if they understand this difference. You can only assign a level of risk if you know the probability of an unfavorable event, e.g., 40% chance of a thunderstorm. It’s pointless—even misleading—to assign probabilities of success, net present values, and so forth in a project’s early phase. That comes later, after your team drives dozens of assumptions from uncertainty to certainty. The methodology for doing this isn’t difficult: Check out this 2-minute video at Why risk and uncertainty are different.
More in video, Project de-risking with Minesweeper® software
We see three common shortcomings with B2B product launches: 1) Low-quality front-end work: Suppliers develop the wrong product, so even the best launch is just putting lipstick on a pig. 2) Poor linkage between stages: The launch is not driven by what was learned in the front end. 2) Out-dated promotional tools: This includes poor selection of the many traditional and digital tools available today. It helps to follow these 4 steps: The Right Product delivered to the Right Market using the Right Message through the Right Media.
More in 2-minute video, Launch new products with power
Is your business looking for ways to accelerate its new product development? Here are four ways to do this: 1) Set clear design targets in the front-end. When the team knows what the customers wants early-on, it eliminates second-guessing, dead-end detours and hesitation. 2) Concentrate resources on fewer projects, staff them for speed, and kill any dead-end projects quickly. 3) Focus on “time-to-money” (not just “time to market”). If you engage customers throughout development, they’ll anticipate your new product and begin evaluating it sooner. 4) Eliminate “organizational friction”… travel bans, spending freezes, hiring delays, re-orgs, new initiatives, and so on.
More in 2-minute video, Pursue fast innovation
The Vitality Index (% of sales from new products) is helpful, but it suffers from being a lagging indicator. So how would you supplement it? Any new innovation metric you adopt should satisfy 4 rules: 1) Leading: “If we do more of this it will lead to growth.” 2) Actionable: “Our employees can make this happen.” 3) Benchmarkable: “We can compare to others and year-to-year.” 4) Impactful: “Improvement will significantly drive growth.
Here are two new innovation metrics that satisfy all four rules: Growth Driver Index (GDI) and Commercial Confidence Index (CCI). These measure your growth capabilities and evidence-based customer insight, respectively. (See white paper, New Innovation Metrics.)
More in 2-minute video, Employ new growth metrics