AIM Archives - Tag: customer

B2B Customer needs: From “guessing”… to “understanding”… to “modeling”.

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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

Are you the golf club maker or the golf pro?

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Should your employees learn customer insight skills from an external firm… or should you develop home-grown training? If the external firm has worked with many companies across many global industries, it will probably advance these methods faster and further than you can. Think of them as the golf club maker. The glory belongs to the golf pro… so focus on your practice time, coaching and desire as the pro… not in making clubs.

More in article, You Already Answered 4 Questions, but… Correctly?

The growth you earned may be less than you think.

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“Market Growth” is the tide that lifts all boats… your reward for being just average. “Inherited Growth” comes from great products developed long ago. These are the gifts that keep giving… until they don’t (when you’ve been commoditized). The only one you control is “Earned Growth,” when you understand and meet customer needs better than anyone else.

More in article, Better get used to mediocre growth

Future B2B companies will have a good laugh at our expense.

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We now chuckle at how sales people used to rely on ABC (Always Be Closing) and manufacturers relied on end-of-line inspectors (vs. statistical quality control). But those will pale compared to the way today’s B2B companies test markets: by launching fully-developed products at their customers. When they could have learned customer needs first with some simple interviews. Funny stuff.

More in article, Why will future companies laugh at us?

Delay the urge to converge in product development.

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The human brain likes to diverge first (look at all these deserts), and then converge (the chocolate lava cake, please). We shortcut this highly-effective approach when we begin by asking customers if they like our idea, hypothesis, or prototype. First, diverge with an open-minded exploration of all customer needs in B2B-optimized, voice-of-customer interviews. When you converge in a later round of interviews, do so quantitatively, so your confirmation bias doesn’t kick in.

More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 16).

The front end of B2B innovation is all about one thing. Learning.

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More specifically, it’s learning what you didn’t know about the customer’s world in your target market. If you think it’s about “ideating” to come up with cool supplier ideas—which you’ll “validate” with customers—you’ve got it all wrong. Start with customers and their needs… not with you and your notions. Focus on your solutions after you understand what those who might buy them want.

Learn more about B2B innovation at theaiminstitute.com

You can only help B2B customers two ways: improving their processes or products.

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You can improve a process anywhere down the value chain, or you can improve the ultimate product. (Mid-stream products don’t count.) Equipment and service providers often have their biggest impact on processes. Component or material makers often have a larger impact on products. In either case, you need to pursue these improvements with passion.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 26).