Research shows top sales professionals ask customers questions such as, “What problems are you facing?” Why not ask this before you develop a new product —not just afterwards? Such questions engage, so customers are often “half-sold” by your launch date. And their answers let you create much better new products. So… one question, two benefits.
More in Leader’s Guide Videos Lesson 17, Engage your B2B customers
Some companies use the front end of innovation to validate hypotheses or make financial projections. Wrong approach. The front end is a time for learning what you didn’t know, not analysis. Successful teams usually pursue a market without a solution but with an open mind. Converge too soon, and you’ll often miss the best fodder for innovation.
More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B
Keep your process… but don’t expect a neat, linear progression for all projects. Product development is like preparing a fine meal: There’s a messy kitchen somewhere. Look at the unpredictable, messy paths of your own company’s earlier blockbuster products. You need nimble, open-minded teams to complete such journeys quickly.
More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B
Don’t let your future be “that time you’ll wish you’d done what you’re not doing now.” You’ll be thankful later if you recalibrate your time horizon now… diverting some of your short-term attention to the future of your business. Besides, what you do this quarter is largely a spectator sport. The prices, profits and margins we wring our hands about during financial reviews were determined years ago by the new products created then for customers.
More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 7).
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
Do you have a true team… or just some “emissaries visiting from foreign functional areas”? Winning teams share these traits: a) Management signals this work is a top priority, b) the team leader is enthusiastic and capable, c) team success impacts personal performance reviews, and d) the team members want to be part of this team.
More in article, What’s Restraining Your Growth? Your Time Horizon
You’re developing your customer’s new product. It’s like this: “Mr. Customer, we’ve assembled a team aimed at developing something you’ll love. As you can see, we even brought a lead R&D person with us to listen to you. So can you tell us everything you think we should know before we going into our labs? We want to get this right so the innovation makes you a hero at work.”
More in article, Reduce Bias in Voice of the Customer
Many think new product pricing is determined by how much value a supplier delivers to customers… but that’s not strictly true. Pricing is driven by customers’ perception of value delivered. Therefore, you need to give prospective buyers a value calculator or similar tool, so they can see how much money they’ll make or save.
More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 12).
B2B producers often take a DIY approach, while B2C marketers hire research firms. Why? For one thing, consumer products often have bigger annual revenues: Think of all the small B2B parts in a big-ticket item like a smart phone. For B2C it’s all about that launch. But B2B companies often “turn the crank” on many smaller new products… so its economical to develop in-house expertise.
More in article, You Already Answered 4 Questions, but… Correctly?
A new product development process with stages and gates provides helpful discipline. But most suffer from two limitations: 1) Internal focus… talking to ourselves instead of customers. 2) Analytical thinking… promoting a checklist mentality. You also need discovery thinking, with a focus on learning. Unlike analytical thinking, this is fragile and must be nurtured.
More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?