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, B2B Customer Needs: Predict the customer’s experience with modeling
You can miss an important customer need… pursue the wrong need… over-design and add unneeded costs… measure customer success the wrong way… overlook a competing alternative… over-estimate what customers will pay… under-value your product… use improper messaging. So many chances to err. Fortunately, B2B producers can use a “science” to avoid all of these.
More in article, How to Avoid New-Product Commercial Risk
In both cases models are used to predict future behavior. Barometric pressure and other data are the “raw material” for weather models. For you, it’s quantitatively measuring key customer outcomes in the front-end of innovation. Your model lets you replicate the customer experience… so you can know with confidence how they’ll react to any of your product designs.
More in article, How to model customer needs (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).
The “Build-Measure-Learn” cycle in Lean Startup begins with a hypothesis, and is great for B2C. End-consumers can seldom tell you what will amuse them or increase their sense of self-worth. But knowledgeable B2B customer can predict their desired outcomes. So start with a “Learn” pre-step. Customers will tell you all you need if you know how to ask.
More in white paper, Lean Startup for B2B (page 3).