AIM Archives - Tag: customer

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).

It won’t be a great customer interview if you only talk to their summer intern.

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You want to get the right B2B interviewees in the room, but setting up great interviews can be tough. Interviewees may think… “I’m too busy… I don’t want to discuss confidential information… I can’t be bothered by a boring survey… I’ll bet they just want to sell me something.” Knowing how to overcome objections is as important a competitive edge as the interviewing skills themselves.

More in article, 9 Best Practices for Recruiting Customers

A great customer interview is all about the customer. You should be fascinated by their world.

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Imagine a fellow on a date that talks about himself for an hour. His only questions are, “What’s your income? What’s your educational level?” Then he closes with, “Will you marry me?” Does this sound like an old-fashioned “qualify-and-then-close” sales call? As in a good date, you should be genuinely interested by your customer and their needs.

Learn more about B2B innovation at theaiminstitute.com