B2B Organic Growth Series: Chapter #33

Conduct B2B customer tours

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Supplement your customer interviews with tours. Use them to a) gather context for interviews, b) look for improvement ideas, and c) gather economic data for new-product pricing later.
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Transcript of Chapter 33

There’s much you can learn through keen observation during B2B customer tours. Your goal is to see what others have seen and think what others have not. Consider three goals: 1) gather context for your interview after the tour, 2) look for ideas to improve the customer’s process, and 3) gather data to estimate the value your new product might eventually create.

For good context, you should understand four things: The name and purpose of each major activity… their sequence… the key inputs… and opportunities for your new product. That’s a lot, right? So ask your customer tour guide to first sketch the process to help orient you.

Second, look for ideas you could pursue later to improve the customer process. For this, we’ve developed the AMUSE methodology. All processes are made up of a series of activities… be they a factory process… fieldwork… or a service.

As you look at each activity, try to imagine ways to accelerate it, minimize the input required, or upgrade the output. Perhaps you could simplify the transition between two activities… or eliminate the activity altogether.

Imagine you make nail-guns and are applying this to “overhead nailing.” If you lowered the gun weight, this fellow might be going faster by the end of the shift. A higher-powered gun would let him use cheaper studs full of tough knot holes. If nails aren’t fully embedding, a resistance sensor could ensure uniform depth. If he often sets the gun down on the deck, you could include a hanger on the gun. You could eliminate using the tape measure by building in a 14-and-a-half-inch guide, the standard stud spacing.

For the last goal, you can’t estimate the value of your new product—since you haven’t designed it yet—but you can gather economic data to do so later Use your tour to describe each activity… and gather these 4 types of costs for each. It may take several customer tours in your market segment, but eventually you’ll have the data you need.

So what will you do with this data? I’m glad you asked. You’ll use it to create a value calculator… the topic of our next chapter.