B2B Organic Growth Series: Chapter #28

Persuade customers to be interviewed

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Many B2B companies struggle to convince customers to be interviewed. Here are our four favorite approaches, which have been proven effective all around the world.
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Transcript of Chapter 28

One of the biggest interviewing concerns I hear is this: “What if customers don’t want to be interviewed?” It’s seldom a problem interviewing existing customers, but may be challenging in unfamiliar markets. Consider four approaches:

First, ask them if they use open innovation? They’ll probably say they indeed seek sources of external innovation.

So you say, “You know, we could be one of your sources. We’re staffed with industry experts… we’re eager to work on your problems… we expect no up-front payment… and there’s no risk on your part. But here’s the thing: We just need to understand your needs!

For the second approach you say, “We’ll be sharing the results of our “industry research” with those we interview.” How much should you disclose? It could be a lot—or very little, if you’re nervous about your interview insights getting into competitors’ hands.

Your “research” could just be 10 popular outcomes you’ll share during Preference interviews anyway, that came from your Discovery interviews. Or you could share your entire Market Satisfaction Gap chart… and you have many choices in between.

The third approach is especially helpful when those you want to interview don’t know you: Industry Expert Consultations. You locate these experts using services like GLG or AlphaSights. They’re normally one-hour phone calls, but you should conduct an engaging Discovery interview via web-conference, and ask these experts to respond as real customers would.

This lets you preview likely customer comments… gives you safe interviewing practice… and most important: They’ll be more willing to introduce you to their industry friends if you haven’t bored them with a questionnaire.

A fourth approach is offering a monetary incentive like a gift card. This would be inappropriate for many corporate settings, but works well with nurses, skilled tradespeople and others too busy during work hours. Interview them at a nearby hotel conference room or trade show hospitality suite.

So yes, it takes some work to set up B2B customer interviews. But there’s usually a way. Besides, the harder it is for competitors, the greater your advantage when you succeed.