In our previous articles, we discussed the importance of developing a customer-centric culture and fostering rapid experimentation to drive innovation in a B2B environment. However, having direct access to end customers can be especially challenging in a B2B environment.
This is what we have experienced with every single organisation we are working with. It's not like B2C where you can basically just call any of your friends or relatives for an interview - or stop people on street - to ask couple of questions.
In this article, we have compiled a list of 8 concrete best practices that B2B innovation teams and organizations can use to gain direct access to their end customers and develop effective solutions that meet their needs.
Developing direct relationships with key decision-makers in customer organizations is essential for gaining a deeper understanding of their needs and pain points. It enables you to get direct feedback on your products or services, and it also helps to establish a more trusted relationship between your organization and your customers.
Attending relevant industry events and conferences is a great way to connect with potential customers and gain insights into industry trends and needs. By attending these events, you can also get a better understanding of your competition and learn about new market opportunities.
Creating a customer advisory board or steering committee is an effective way to gather ongoing feedback and insights from your customers. These boards provide a structured way to engage with your customers and gain valuable insights into their needs and pain points.
Involving salespeople in the innovation teams can help leverage their expertise and relationships with customers. While this might seem intuitive we also have data to prove this. From Scale data we see teams with salespeople onboard typically move two times faster on their validation journey. Salespeople have a deep understanding of the customer's business and can provide valuable insights into their needs and pain points. They can also help bridge the gap between the innovation team and the customer, and facilitate communication and collaboration.
Offering incentives for customer participation is a common recommendation for B2C interviews. However, in the B2B context, it's more appropriate to research customer pain points and needs in advance to identify early-adopter organizations. By doing so, you can gather valuable insights that demonstrate you understand their business and needs.
Fostering a culture of rapid experimentation enables innovation and iteration in response to customer feedback. It encourages your team to take risks and try new things, leading to more effective solutions that meet your customers' needs.
Using external interview booking services can be a valuable resource to help arrange interviews with potential customers. These services can save time and effort in setting up interviews, leaving your team more time to focus on other aspects of innovation.
Outsourcing customer interviews to third-party design agencies can provide your organization with valuable insights and benefits, such as expertise, experience, unbiased insights, time and cost savings, and enhanced customer relationships. These agencies can provide fresh perspectives and ideas that can help you to develop more effective solutions for your customers.
These best practices have proven to be effective in helping B2B innovation teams overcome the bottleneck of accessing end customers and foster a culture of customer-centric innovation and rapid experimentation. By adopting these practices, teams can better understand their customers' needs and pain points, and develop effective solutions that address those needs.
Our data shows that teams who follow these practices tend to be more successful in their validation work. So, if you're a B2B innovation team looking to improve your customer-centric approach, we highly recommend implementing these best practices.