Henry Ford is often cited for a reason to not interview customers: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.” But this is flawed thinking for B2B markets. There are indeed B2C cases where customers can’t tell you much about their needs. Ask me what I want in a video game, men’s suit, or snack food, and I’ll probably need to see a prototype. Then I can play with it, try it on, or taste it (hopefully in that order).
Besides, B2C company employees are end-consumers themselves… so they’ve already got a good idea what consumers want. Bottom line: Your B2B customer can absolutely tell you the outcomes they want (desired end results). Once you know the “what,” it’s up to you to figure out the “how” (your new product solution).
For more, see 2-minute video, Avoid the faster horse fallacy
Who do you admire as a great business leader? Steve Jobs? Henry Ford? Jeff Bezos? And why? Because they were good at financial reviews and quarterly investor calls? Of course not. They impressed you because they marched to a different beat and transformed their companies… and even whole industries. So let’s spend less time pleasing Wall Street analysts and behave like the great business leaders we admire… and could ourselves become.
More in video, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth series, Video Lesson #30
Which business leaders do you admire… Henry Ford… Jeff Bezos… Elon Musk… Steve Jobs? Why do you admire them? Because they were great at slashing budgets, running financial review meetings, or giving quarterly EPS guidance? Here’s the irony: Many business leaders behave quite differently than those they admire.
More from in article, How to become a great business leader
Steve Jobs quoted Henry Ford, who said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’” But these men were end-consumers themselves, so they understood their markets. Most B2B suppliers, typically have much to learn about customer desired outcomes… and B2B customers are willing and able to tell them.
More in article, Should You Develop New Products like Steve Jobs? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).