Awkward Reality #9

“Maximize shareholder value” is the pledge of allegiance recited in board rooms. It is a poor goal.

9-Business-Pledge

This mantra guides the decisions of the business masses. But is it right? Peter Drucker didn’t think so. He said the primary purpose of a business is to acquire and keep customers. I believe increased shareholder value is a good result, but a lousy goal. You’ll have better results if your goal becomes: “Understand and meet the needs of our customers.”

More in article, Why Maximizing Shareholder Value is a Flawed Goal

Awkward Reality #8

The B2B interviewer should have two goals: customer insight and customer engagement.

8-Customer-Engagement

Research shows the best way to sell a product is to probe customers’ needs. But why wait until the product is developed? If you probe beforehand, you’ll create a better product and “pre-sell” your product. This isn’t practical for interviewing millions of B2C toothpaste buyers, but it is for concentrated B2B markets. B2B engagement skills aren’t difficult. Do you have them?

More in newsletter, How to Grow in a Stagnant Economy (Nov-Dec, 2008)

Awkward Reality #7

Overwhelm your competitors by turning a trickle of customer feedback into a torrent.

7-Torrent

Some companies rely on a handful of internal VOC (voice-of-customer) experts to interview customers. You’ll do far better if you train a critical mass of employees—who routinely interact with customers anyway—to gather customer needs. Keep your VOC experts as coaches and trainers, but implement “VOC for the masses.”

More in executive briefing, Seven Mistakes that Stunt Organic Growth

Awkward Reality #6

Awkward Reality #5

If you like confirmation bias, you’ll love “validating hypotheses.”

5-Confirmation-Bias

Think you can validate your new product concept with customers and avoid confirmation bias? In your last performance review, did you disagree with your boss’s praise more than his criticism? If not, you may not have mastered confirmation bias quite yet. So stop leading the witness in interviews. Let them lead you to what really matters… to them.

More in newsletter, Give your Hypothesis the “Silent Treatment” (Nov-Dec, 2014)

Awkward Reality #4

Profitable, sustainable organic growth makes it fun to go to work.

4-Fun-to-Go-to-Work

When you can count on this kind of growth, everything gets better. Employees have stable, rewarding careers… industry-watchers admire your company… investors give you a free reign.  And this irritates competitors. You have but one path to this growth: innovation that benefits your customers. How intense is your focus here? Greater than competitors’?

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 2)

Awkward Reality #3

Your B2B customers are smarter than you.

3-Smart-Customer

It may be OK for consumer goods producers to guess their customers’ needs. After all, their product developers are end-consumers themselves. But your B2B customers know so much more than you about their needs. Isn’t it silly to guess their needs, when they’d love to tell you… if you asked the right way?

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 1)

Awkward Reality #2

All great VOC interviews are alike; every unhappy interview is unhappy in its own way.

2-Customer-Talking

With apologies to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina… all great voice-of-customer 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.

More in article, The Missing Objective in B2B VOC (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter)

Awkward Reality #1

A Primary VoC Tool: B2B Customer Tours

B2B customer tours

How valuable are B2B customer tours? Well – in the early 1980s, Eugene Goodson was the head of Johnson Controls’ automotive seating group, when a Japanese competitor requested a plant tour. The Japanese visitors spent less than one hour in the plant and took no notes. Harmless, right? Years later Goodson and his team were ... Read More