67 B2B Advantage

An advantage is no advantage unless you take advantage of it.

Here’s the “B2B Advantage”: Your customers can offer more insight than end-consumers due to their knowledge, interest, objectivity and foresight. But if your company uses hand-me-down consumer goods voice-of-customer methods, you’ve ignored your own advantage. Your competitors may not.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 7).

66 Commodity Death Spiral

Avoid the commodity death spiral at all costs.

Imagine your business stopped innovating, your profits declined, and it is now budgeting time. To salvage next year, you’ll likely cut long-term costs, e.g. R&D or marketing, further reducing your ability to create high-value products. Next year, you’ll have even fewer options. This results in death or irrelevancy. If you’ve started this spiral, pull out quickly.

More in article, The Commodity Death Spiral (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

65 Extruder Hopper

Don’t like what’s coming out of your extruder? Better check what’s going into your feed hopper.

Most financial business reviews are like standing around the output die, exhorting the extruder to do better. But nobody’s checking the feed hopper. It looks like an intelligent meeting, discussing gross margins, price increases and growth rates. But these were predetermined years earlier, largely by your new products, what you put into the feed hopper.

More in article, Are You a Builder or a Decorator?

64 Limit Thinking

Don’t limit your thinking with a premature Lean Startup hypothesis.

Lean Startup is a powerful approach for quickly testing assumptions and minimum viable products. But B2B customers can articulate their needs in amazing detail—if you know how to ask. If you start with your ideas, instead of diverging to all customer outcomes, you may be converging prematurely and limiting your possibilities.

More in white paper, Lean Startup for B2B (page 2).

63 What Else

The most insightful interview question is often “what else?”

Most B2B suppliers work too hard during interviews: Would you like this?… How about this?… Would this help? Better to probe a customer problem or desire to full comprehension, and then simply ask “What else?” This allows them to lead you to whatever they think is important. This is a customer-led interview. You should try it.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 11).

62 Scientific Specimen

A customer outcome is like a scientific specimen, waiting to be examined and understood.

Great value propositions begin and end with customer outcomes. It’s like collecting specimens, sliding them under your microscope, and continuing to turn up the magnification. The careful researcher doesn’t have to agonize over the right value proposition. It comes into increasing focus, waving its arms and screaming to be addressed.

More in white paper, Timing is Everything (page 9).

Penny-pinching in the front-end of innovation is sure to hamper your organic growth

Pinching pennies in the front-end of innovation is like night-driving with burnt-out headlights.

Imagine a team spent $50,000 traveling to interview customers about their needs. What would it take to recover this front-end investment? Typically, just one of these… Improve probability of success by 1%, increase market share by ½ share point, accelerate time-to-market by one month, or raise pricing by 0.5%. Buy new headlights and speed up.

More in article, The Harsh Realities of Organic Growth (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

60 Price Decision-Making

You have two options: Ask for pricing decisions, or understand customers’ pricing decision making.

You can ask for pricing decisions using a survey, e.g. Van Westendorp. But it’s hard to get a straight answer in concentrated B2B markets: They know they’ll be negotiating prices later. Better to understand the customer’s world so well you can create a value calculator… to model their pricing decision-making. You’ll have longer-lasting insights vs. a one-time survey.

More in article, Pricing New vs. Existing Products (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

cathedral

You can tell if a business leader is a cathedral-builder.

The cathedral-builder has counted the cost in years and is willing to pay it to create something of enduring value. He recruits and apprentices the finest stone masons and wood carvers he can find. Because these craftsmen know the passion of the builder, they are secure in their employment, and they work with pride. Do you have such builders?

More in article, Are You a Builder or a Decorator?

58 B2B Customers

Be grateful for B2B customers… and thankful your competitors don’t understand them. Do you?

If you were gathering customer insights about belts, would you rather interview someone using a belt to convey iron ore… or to hold up their pants? B2B customers can usually provide more insight than end-consumers due to greater knowledge, interest, objectivity and foresight. But these advantages are no advantage unless you use a B2B-optimized approach.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 6).