I’m still looking for a B2B industry that does not suffer from supplier-centric innovation.

It would seem obvious that new product development should be focused on those who will pay for these products: customers. It would seem. Yet B2B suppliers routinely pursue their own ideas, concepts and hypotheses, paying too little attention too late to market needs. True customer-centric innovation is a completely different mindset.

More in article, Is Your Innovation Supplier-Centric… or Customer-Centric? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Don’t rely on “hired guns” to understand B2B customer needs.

Professional interviewers can be helpful at times… but ultimately, customer insight skills are a competitive edge your company should own. Your B2B customers want to talk to the people who will innovate on their behalf… not some note-taking middle-men. And there’s nothing quite like hearing new customer insights first-hand, is there?

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 23).

When it comes to B2B customer needs, uncertainty exists in suppliers’ minds, not customers’.

Many ventures try to create new products or services under conditions of market uncertainty. This is a huge challenge for B2C. But uncertainty does not exist in the minds of most B2B customers… who have great knowledge, interest, objectivity and foresight. If you know how to access this, your supplier uncertainty will plummet.

More in white paper, Lean Startup for B2B (page 12).

You can’t live in customer outcome space… but you should be a frequent flyer there.

Understand customer outcomes thoroughly before entering solution space. The drill bit is the supplier solution; the hole is the customer outcome. For every job, there are scores of outcomes your product could deliver… how fast the hole is drilled, how accurately, how easily centered, how much mess is created, etc. Outcome insight leads to solution brilliance.

More in article, Is Your Innovation Supplier-Centric… or Customer-Centric? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

What’s the impact of B2B-optimized customer interviews on product design?

We asked how much B2B-optimized interviews impacted teams’ designs for the products they were developing. Five out of six teams said the impact was “great” or “significant.” Hmmm… makes you wonder what those products would have looked like without these interviews. Do you think your new products could be improved this way?

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 2).

Launching products at customers is an incredibly inefficient approach to B2B customer insight.

Many companies develop and lob new products at their B2B customers without first exploring their needs. There may be less efficient ways to understand customer needs than waiting to see if they buy your product… but I truly don’t know what they would be. Years from now, companies will be amazed that our innovation methods were so supplier-centric and inefficient.

More in white paper, Timing is Everything (page 5).

Market-facing innovation routinely suffers from wrong facts and missing facts.

The #1 culprit for wrong facts is the untested assumption. Someone thinks the customer would like this or that, and the assumption morphs into a “fact” over time. A missing fact occurs when an important question is not answered. The overwhelming reason is… it’s never asked. With proper B2B customer interviews, you can avoid most wrong and missing facts.

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

So many ways to fail. Do you have a favorite?

In the front end of innovation, though, there are just two ways to fail. An error omission is failing to uncover an unarticulated customer need. An error of commission is choosing the wrong customer need to work on. Funny thing about errors of omission: No one knows you erred… until a competitor launches a blockbuster product.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs (page 5).

Never sell or solve on customer interviews.

Send commercial-technical teams on interviews… but don’t let them sell or solve. If you sell during voice-of-customer sessions, customers know you’re not really interested in them. If you solve, you’re jeopardizing your intellectual property. In either case, you’re wasting precious time better used to understand customer needs.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 24).

Skip quantitative interviews if you’ve got extra R&D resources to squander.

After qualitative interviews, seek customer ratings on key outcomes: “How important is abrasion resistance on a 1-10 scale? And how satisfied are you today with abrasion resistance on a 1-10 scale?” This lets you converge with confidence on only those outcomes customers care about… those with Market Satisfaction Gaps over 30% (important and unsatisfied).

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