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 2-minute video at 29. Engage your B2B customers
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
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
In our white paper, B2B vs B2C: Organic growth implications for B2B professionals, we cover 12 differences between suppliers to B2B vs. consumer goods markets. Is this just an academic exercise? Not at all. Every one of these differences has implications for organic growth. The news gets better if you’re a B2B supplier: Nearly all these differences are advantages in your favor. Of course, an advantage is no advantage if you don’t take advantage of it. This white paper will show you how.
Also see the 2-minute video, Understand your B2B advantages
The Customer Insight Gap is the difference between what suppliers typically understand about customer needs… and what they could potentially understand. This Gap is usually small for consumer-goods suppliers (B2C): Typical insight is high since their employees are consumers themselves and understand customer needs. At the same time, potential insight is low, because end-consumers often struggle to articulate their true needs.
The Gap is huge for most B2B suppliers: They know less about their customers’ world, but these customers could tell them much, given their Knowledge, Interest, Objectivity & Foresight (KIOF in chart). For more, watch this 2-minute video, Understand your B2B advantages. If you learn how to close the large B2B Insight Gap, you’ll get an amazing competitive advantage.
See white paper, B2B vs. B2C.
Why would a company ever want to be a fast follower? I can only think of one reason: They want to reduce commercial risk, by coat-tailing a competitor’s market success. After all, fast-followers don’t reduce technical risk. This only increases, given the need to work around competitive patents. With B2B markets, you can eliminate most commercial risk through B2B-optimized voice-of-customer interviews. (See e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B.) Turns out the fast-follower strategy is a misguided strategy for B2B.
More in article, Chasing the Fast Follower Myth
Within every new product initiative, we must create a product spec. As a result, engineers need to know what to “build to.” Meanwhile, modern innovation methods begin with customer needs as the input to the process, leaving an important, and too-often unanswered question, “How do we get from a customer need to a product specification?” ... Read More
Did you buy home-owner insurance… even though it’s unlikely your house will burn down this year? How confident are you that you truly understand customer needs when you develop new products? Our research shows most companies do not. So why not have your teams trained in the latest B2B voice-of-customer insight methods? Think of it as insurance. Or better yet… as a strong preventative, like fire-proofing your house.
See video on B2B voice-of-customer at www.vocforb2b.com.
Modern “Jobs-to-be-Done” (JTBD) thinking began with the most popular HBR article ever written: Ted Levitt’s “Marketing Myopia.” It begins this way: “Every major industry was once a growth industry. But some that are not riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are very much in the shadow of decline. Others, which are thought of as seasoned ... Read More
What single new practice can drive your company’s long-term organic growth more than any other? Hint: Few companies do this today, but that’s changing… and someday this will likely be a common practice. The answer: The disciplined use of Market Satisfaction Gaps (MSG) as a required “admission ticket” for entering the costly product development stage. ... Read More
540 B2B professionals—with over 10,000 years of combined experience—responded to our research survey. Here’s what we learned: They were much more eager to improve growth drivers for understanding customer needs (e.g. customer interviews) than meeting customer needs (e.g. gate-review processes). Of 24 growth drivers, what were they most eager to improve? Market insight.
More in article, What Drives B2B Organic Growth? Now we know
The potentially-intrusive nature of consumer “big data” has already caused some mistrust of B2C marketers. Conversely, the best B2B marketers—especially in concentrated markets with fewer customers—are now developing powerful interviewing skills to listen closely to their customers. You can imagine the response: Who among us doesn’t want to be carefully listened to and understood?
More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 15)
Each of your market segments has a unique nature, defined by five qualities of its customers: knowledge, interest, objectivity, foresight and concentration. If you treat all markets the same, you’ll seriously sub-optimize. Better to fine-tune your early-stage marketing (understanding customer needs) and late-stage marketing (promoting your solutions) to each market segment. Use this free service to calculate your market’s B2B Index (how B2B it is) and learn 15 customized marketing strategies.
Calculate your B2B Index at www.b2bmarketview.com
More than you might think. We asked nearly 400 people who had conducted over 1800 B2B-optimized Discovery interviews. Over half agreed or strongly agreed that they had gained unexpected interviews. Only 14% gained no unexpected information at all. (Most of the 1800+ interviews were in suppliers’ existing markets.)
More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 6)