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).

B2B customers can tell you exactly what they want… but you must know how to ask.

Imagine you’re planning to build a new home: Your architect sees you for half an hour, spends the first 15 minutes talking about sports, and then shows you pictures of other houses he designed. Later, when the house fails to please you, he dismisses it saying, “Well that buyer just didn’t know what he wanted.” Ever treat customers this way?

More in article, What is New Product Blueprinting?

You say your B2B customers can’t tell you their needs? That would be a first.

It’s much more likely you don’t know how to ask them. B2C customers can seldom describe what will entertain them or boost their self-esteem. But B2B customers are knowledgeable, interested, and objective. They may not know the solutions, but they do know their desired end-results. You’ll learn this when you learn how to ask.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 15).

Why take a “leap of faith” when you could take a leap of confidence—more quickly and cheaply?

Lean Startup methodology refers to “Leap of Faith Assumptions,” and recommends testing assumptions with customers at the first opportunity. For B2B, this “first opportunity” to learn comes before a prototype is created… through VOC interviews to mine the foresight of knowledgeable customers. Don’t miss this B2B adjustment to Lean Startup.

Read more in this white paper, Lean Startup for B2B (page 6).

The more uncertain a new-product project, the better.

With a high-certainty product project, you can accurately predict your financial profits. With an uncertain project, you face significant potential downside and upside profits. In B2B markets, you can understand the downside very early. You’ll kill the project cheaply if the downside cannot be eliminated. And reap big upside profits if it can.

You can methodically strip away uncertainty and de-risk your projects. This is done through a four-step process that combines Discovery-Driven Planning with New Product Blueprinting. Learn more in this white paper, Innovating in Unfamiliar Markets (page 5).

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.

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).

If you like sub-optimizing, you’ll love using traditional voice-of-customer methods.

B2B companies have huge advantages over B2C, but they may not be obvious. After all, didn’t the same fellow who bought a rail car of soda ash also buy a can of soda pop? Nope. He changed… a lot. B2B customers are more technically savvy, objective, supplier-dependent, and can predict their needs. Careful reflection of these differences leads to different approaches.

More in article, B2B Customer Interviews: Are They Different?

Don’t confuse yourself with Steve Jobs or Henry Ford.

Steve Jobs quoted Henry Ford, who said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’” But these men were end-consumers themselves, so they understood their markets. Most B2B suppliers, typically have much to learn about customer desired outcomes… and B2B customers are willing and able to tell them.

More in article, Should You Develop New Products like Steve Jobs? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth Newsletter).

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).