The most overlooked innovation practice? Understanding customers’ alternatives.

Sure, the most important practice is understanding customer needs. But most overlooked? Few suppliers ask customers 1) for the most important, unsatisfied outcomes, 2) what test methods measure these outcomes, and 3) how satisfied customers are by various test results. Without these questions, you cannot properly assess competing alternatives.

More in article, Four Steps Needed for New Product Differentiation (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Consider an important—if awkward—question to ask new-product project teams.

If any process in your company should be customer-driven, it should be the one developing products for customers, right? So try this at your next review: Ask team members how many hours they spent talking to customers… and how many hours working internally. You may be surprised at how little time was spent understanding customer needs.

More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?

You can stop “lobbing and hoping” with prototypes and samples.

If you ask B2B customers the right questions, you can replicate their experience within your operation. Learn which outcomes they care about, which test methods simulate those outcomes, and how much satisfaction would be delivered by any test result. Do this properly and you’ll know how they’ll react before they react.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 11).

You probably have great “improvement potential” in 3 of 4 value propositions steps.

Consider four steps: 1. Understand value, learning which important outcomes customer lack. 2. Quantify value, estimating the potential value beyond customers’ next best alternative. 3. Build value, by developing a new offering. 4. Communicate value, with a dynamic launch. Most companies can get much better at steps 1, 2, and 4.

More in article, Three Steps to Unbeatable Value Propositions (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).