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Customer centric innovation in B2B organisations

Ilkka Auer

Co-founder, CEO

April 5, 2023

In our previous blog post, we explored the importance of customer centric innovation and the key concepts and strategies necessary for creating meaningful solutions. While these principles apply to businesses across the board, B2B organizations face unique challenges and restrictions when implementing customer centric innovation. These challenges include navigating complex decision-making processes, dealing with multiple stakeholders, and overcoming organizational silos, among others.

In this follow-up blog post, we will specifically focus on addressing the difficulties and challenges that B2B organizations encounter while adopting customer centric innovation principles. We will discuss best practices for overcoming these challenges, and provide actionable insights on how B2B organizations can effectively implement customer centric innovation strategies to drive growth and success. By referring to the principles covered in our previous post and tailoring them to the unique needs of B2B businesses, your organization can unlock the full potential of customer centric innovation and achieve sustainable growth.

Understanding B2B Customer Needs and Decision-Making Processes

Embracing the complexity of B2B decision-making:

B2B decision-making can be intricate, with multiple stakeholders and longer sales cycles. For example, when selling software solutions to large enterprises, you might need to consider various departments, such as IT, finance, and operations. Don't let this complexity deter you! Instead, embrace it by tailoring your customer centric innovation efforts to meet the unique needs of B2B customers and understanding the factors that influence their decisions.

Pinpointing key decision-makers and influencers

To effectively connect with your B2B customers, it's essential to know who the key decision-makers and influencers are in your target customer organizations. For instance, when targeting a manufacturing company, consider engaging with procurement managers, production supervisors, and quality control specialists. Keep an eye out for individuals with decision-making authority and those who shape the decision-making process. By understanding their roles and priorities, you can better engage with them and address their specific concerns.

Gathering insights on customer needs and preferences

Get to know your B2B customers inside and out! Dive deep into their needs, preferences, and pain points to drive customer centric innovation. For example, a construction equipment supplier could conduct interviews with contractors, project managers, and site supervisors to learn about their challenges and requirements. Use various research methods like customer interviews, surveys, or focus groups to collect valuable insights. Stay engaged with customers on social media, industry events, and other platforms to keep up with their evolving needs and expectations. Constantly monitoring and analyzing customer feedback will help you spot opportunities for innovation and improvement.

Overcoming Challenges in B2B Customer Centric Innovation and Validation

Customer centric innovation and validation is essential for success, but it can be challenging for B2B organizations to implement effectively. Gaining access to stakeholders and validating both the problem and solution are common obstacles.

In this section, we'll discuss strategies to overcome these challenges and help your innovation team effectively validate problems and solutions while fostering a collaborative environment across the organization.

Booking validation interviews with B2B clients

In B2B environments, gaining access to customers for problem validation can be difficult due to factors such as long sales cycles, complex decision-making processes, and customers' reluctance to share sensitive information.

Collaborating with internal stakeholders who have direct access to customers can be a valuable strategy for overcoming this challenge. Sales, marketing, and customer support teams can provide useful insights to help refine your understanding of the problem.

Additionally, their connections can help set up interviews with B2B stakeholders, enabling you to gather even more insights from external sources. Leveraging their expertise and connections can help your team overcome the challenges of problem validation in the B2B context.

Read more: "8 Best Practices for B2B Innovation Teams to Access End Customers"

How to make solution validation faster in B2B environments

Traditional approaches to solution validation in B2B organizations can be slow and resource-intensive, often involving the construction of factories, pilot production lines, or the development of extensive prototypes before testing with customers.

Given the complex nature of their business, B2B organizations often tend to focus on whether they can build a solution, but the real questions they should be asking is, 'Is this what customers want, and are they willing to pay if we build it?'"

To overcome this, B2B organizations should adopt lean startup principles, such as creating minimum viable products (MVPs), running pilot projects, or using rapid prototyping. These methods allow organizations to test and validate their solutions with minimal investment and effort, gathering valuable feedback from customers and stakeholders to refine their offering.

Key takeaways

As we've explored throughout this article, B2B organizations can achieve success in customer centric innovation by overcoming the unique challenges they face and implementing the best practices discussed. Here are the key takeaways for B2B organizations looking to excel in customer centric innovation:

1. Collaboration is crucial

Engage with internal stakeholders, such as sales, marketing, and customer support teams, to gain valuable insights and access to B2B clients for problem and solution validation. Foster a collaborative environment across the organization to ensure everyone works towards the common goal of addressing customer needs effectively.

2. Focus on faster, more effective validation

Emphasize the importance of problem and solution validation to ensure your innovation efforts are genuinely addressing customer needs. Challenge the traditional validation methods that focus on building a solution rather than determining if customers actually want and are willing to pay for it. Adopt lean startup principles like MVPs, rapid prototyping, and pilot projects to validate your solution more quickly and with fewer resources.

3. Customer centricity should be at the heart of innovation

Always prioritize the customers' needs and desires in your innovation efforts. By keeping the customer at the center of your innovation process, you increase the likelihood of creating meaningful solutions that resonate with your target audience and drive business success.

By adopting these best practices and focusing on customer centric innovation, B2B organizations can overcome the unique challenges they face and create solutions that not only address the needs of their customers but also contribute to the growth and success of their business.

At Scale Company, we have developed a solution that makes innovation management significantly more predictable.

Our solution allows organisations to start measuring progress and tracking the success of their innovation efforts in a more effective way.

Want to learn how we can help your organisation?
Book a demo with us!