As explained by Tony Ulwick in What Customers Want, the term customer “needs” can be confusing. It’s best to separate what customers want into outcomes (their desired end-result, or the “what”) and solutions (your answer to their need, or the “how”). Keep your interview focused on their outcomes, not solutions. If they offer a solution, simply ask, “What would that do for you?” Poof: You’re back into outcome space where you want to be.
More in article, Discovery Interview Blunders that Frustrate Your Customers.
Understand customer outcomes thoroughly before entering solution space. The drill bit is the supplier solution; the hole is the customer outcome. For every job, there are scores of outcomes your product could deliver… how fast the hole is drilled, how accurately, how easily centered, how much mess is created, etc. Outcome insight leads to solution brilliance.
More in article, The Inputs to Innovation for B2B
Customers own “outcome” space. You own “solution” space. Don’t let them into your space… unless you want to become a contract manufacturer. Instead, enter their space to understand desired outcomes better than competitors. This lets you deliver unique value in your solutions, which is handsomely rewarded though premium pricing.
More in article, Should You Develop New Products like Steve Jobs? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).