Research shows top sales professionals ask customers questions such as, “What problems are you facing?” Why not ask this before you develop a new product —not just afterwards? Such questions engage, so customers are often “half-sold” by your launch date. And their answers let you create much better new products. So… one question, two benefits.
More in Leader’s Guide Videos Lesson 17, Engage your B2B customers
Your market is growing at 3% and your operating plan says you’ll grow faster than this next year. Of course, your competitors have similar plans… meaning everyone plans to grow faster than the market served. As TV psychologist Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that been working for you?” Could it be time for a different approach… e.g. understanding customer needs far better than competitors?
More in Leader’s Guide Videos Lesson 1, Recognize your growth challenge
Some companies use the front end of innovation to validate hypotheses or make financial projections. Wrong approach. The front end is a time for learning what you didn’t know, not analysis. Successful teams usually pursue a market without a solution but with an open mind. Converge too soon, and you’ll often miss the best fodder for innovation.
More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B
First, how interested are they in this topic? Second, how confident are they that this supplier can help them? The first condition puts a premium on your ability to find the right people in the right companies. The second requires you to demonstrate serious intent and—if possible—past successes in market-facing innovation.
More in article, 9 Best Practices for Recruiting Customers
In the long-term stockholder and employee interests align. This is also true of customer and community interests. In the long-term, it’s in the best interests of everyone—except your competitors—for your business to develop high-value products, sustain strong growth, provide stable employment, and increase market capitalization. Given this alignment, doesn’t it seem odd that many business leaders seem so fixated on the near-term?
More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 30)
In B2B we can do even better than “understanding” customer needs. We can “model” them. Use customer interviews to understand customers’ key outcomes. But don’t stop there. Ask how they measure these outcomes… and how good is “good enough.” Then create a model so you can test how they’ll react to any product design you imagine.
More in article, How to model customer needs
I’ve seen many new-product teams foiled by organizational turmoil: A travel ban blocks customer meetings… Spending freezes delay critical work… A reorganization creates uncertainty until the “dust settles”… New initiatives overshadow their project… Key team members are given new assignments. Success requires persistent focus.
More in article, The Inputs to Innovation for B2B