There always has been and always will be one way to command a higher price.

You have to deliver important value that customers cannot get anywhere else to command a higher price. If customers can get this same value from just one other supplier, they’ll use it as leverage for lower pricing. So the difference between delivering new value and matching existing value is the difference between raising and lowering market pricing.

Download our Free white paper to discover how the Innovation Wave will differ from earlier Quality and Productivity Waves.  Catch the Innovation Wave (page 8).

Good probing questions become the light that illuminates the customer’s world.

Many suppliers ask “low-lumen” questions that neither illuminate nor engage customers. They may be biased, close-ended or too complex. Beware requesting sensitive information, or asking, “What would you pay for this?” When you ask for problems, don’t try to “help” with examples. Instead, let the customer choose the next topic to discuss.

Read more in article, Lean Startup: A Great Approach Requiring “B2B Pre-Work” (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth.) Lean Startup wisely recommends testing assumptions and learning from customers at the first opportunity. For most B2B suppliers, this “first opportunity” to learn comes before a prototype is created – through early voice-of-customer interviews that mine the insight and foresight of highly-knowledgeable customers.

Great product development is always preceded by great market segmentation.

Three conditions must be met: 1) A market segment (cluster of customers with similar needs) is clearly defined. 2) The segment is worth winning in terms of size, growth, profit potential, etc. 3) The segment is winnable, i.e., it’s not defended by a well-entrenched competitor. Overlook these conditions and you’ll waste resources.

Read more in article, B2B Customer Interviews: Are They Different?  (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth.) If you are using a one-size-fits-all VOC interviews for industrial goods that others use for consumer goods, you’re sub-optimizing. Collaboration, pre-selling and value capture are wonderful goals, but to reach them you’ll need new approaches.

Can customers help you create a new-to-the-world product?

Could customers help with a product as radical as iTunes or iPod? Sure. If you know how to ask. They’d probably be hopeless on solutions… but helpful on outcomes: access a broad range of music, instantly purchase music, transport music anywhere, purchase single tunes, store music on multiple devices, etc. These would be great insights for any solution-provider.

Read more in this article, Should You Develop New Products like Steve Jobs? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth). Steve Jobs made a good point when he said “you can’t just ask customers for the next big thing.” The customers’ area of expertise is the “outcome”—what they want to have happen, not how it should happen.

Forget a price premium… unless you deliver value beyond customers’ next best alternative.

If you don’t ask customers the right questions, you can’t quantitatively assess their next best alternative. So you’ll have to guess at pricing. Guess too high and customers won’t buy. Guess too low and… well, customers will let it go this time. And you leave money on the table, perhaps for a decade or more.

Read more in this free white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 12), which details how your company can improve customer value and experience a significant increase in sustainable organic growth.

If you don’t use value calculators, you’ll likely suffer “value leakage” in your pricing.

When you give customers a value calculator with hard numbers, you are much more credible and you build their confidence in your new product. And you boost customer “internal selling.” If your unit price is higher than competitors’, you can help your customer purchasing agent prove he’s a hero, not a goat.

Read more in article, Getting Top Price for Your New Product (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth) Resist the temptation to ask a customer, “What would you pay for this?” There’s a little alarm that sounds in the customer’s head saying you’ve stopped trying to help him, and are now trying to help yourself.

Will customers tell you what they want? That depends on how you ask.

Think of a great radio interview. Did the host say, “I have 10 questions about your book”? Or did he listen carefully, asking wonderful questions? Did these questions cause the guest to think deeply? Did the guest enjoy the stimulating exchange, even thanking the host? This is how you learn what competitors miss.

Read this article, Should You Develop New Products like Steve Jobs? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth). Have you ever heard someone say, “But Steve Jobs didn’t ask customers what they wanted.” Understand the flaws in this thinking for B2B suppliers.

Expect more out of your interview with a hydraulic hose buyer than with a garden hose buyer.

You can have an intelligent, peer-to-peer conversation about pressure ratings, fluid specifications, etc. You can expect greater B2B interest vs. B2C, since your innovations can help the hydraulics engineer become a hero with his next new product. Without innovative suppliers like you, his path to recognition is a difficult one.

Read this article, B2B Customer Interviews: Are They Different?  to learn why you are severely under-optimizing if you are a B2B supplier using one-size-fits all VOC… that others use for consumer goods.

Customer value is only created when an important, unmet customer outcome is improved. Period.

Sure, you can develop products that you find exciting. But unless these products address something customers find important and unsatisfied, don’t expect them to buy them. And if customers do buy your product, they certainly won’t pay a premium. If you’re not happy about this, you’ll have to complain to Adam Smith.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 8).

Lean Startup is fine for B2B… but don’t skip this extra “Learn” step.

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).