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.
There are several things you should never lob at B2B customers until you’ve first learned from them. Don’t lob your hypotheses, prototypes, or new products—until you’ve learned what these customers want. B2B customers have high knowledge, interest, objectivity and foresight… so they can tell you exactly what outcomes they want… if you know how to ask. It’s both wasteful for you and insulting to them if you assume they can’t help you.
More in Leader’s Guide Videos Lesson 12, Stop leading with your solutions
First, how interested are they in this topic? Second, how confident are they that this supplier can help them? The first condition puts a premium on your ability to find the right people in the right companies. The second requires you to demonstrate serious intent and—if possible—past successes in market-facing innovation.
More in article, Better B2B Customer Recruiting for Market Research
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
In either case you should ask, “What was I thinking of when I started this?” Especially if you are a B2B supplier with knowledgeable, interested, rational customers, who want you to know their needs. And a science already exists for completely understanding these needs. Maybe it’s time to stop throwing salt and begin learning a better approach?
Learn more in our e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B
Many ventures try to create new products or services under conditions of market uncertainty. This is a huge challenge for B2C. But uncertainty does not exist in the minds of most B2B customers… who have great knowledge, interest, objectivity and foresight. If you know how to access this, your supplier uncertainty will plummet.
More in white paper, Lean Startup for B2B (page 12).
Here’s the “B2B Advantage”: Your customers can offer more insight than end-consumers due to their knowledge, interest, objectivity and foresight. But if your company uses hand-me-down consumer goods voice-of-customer methods, you’ve ignored your own advantage. Your competitors may not.
More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 7).
If you were gathering customer insights about belts, would you rather interview someone using a belt to convey iron ore… or to hold up their pants? B2B customers can usually provide more insight than end-consumers due to greater knowledge, interest, objectivity and foresight. But these advantages are no advantage unless you use a B2B-optimized approach.
More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 6).