Opportunities to innovate your start-up or SME can stem from using the listening tools I discussed in my previous blog and examining the following 5 sources:
Examine what the best companies are doing in both your own industry as well as others. Try to identify:
- What kinds of innovation drove them to success?
- Are those innovations applicable to your industry?
- What could you do in the same way to create a market opportunity?
2. ‘Surging’ Trends
These are trends that are having strong momentum in the market.
Often indicating how a product or service is being delivered creates an industry-wide shift in preferences that business buyers quickly embrace. By identifying trends early, you can identify ways to innovate and meet business buyer needs.
For instance, larger businesses needing specialists and wanting to reduce consulting costs has led to the emergence of online platforms such as Expert 360 and Talmix to connect businesses with contractors and freelancers.
3. Extreme Customers
Obtain feedback from business customers who:
- Love your company
- Hate your company
- Stopped doing business with you
- Have never bought from you
By listening to these customers, you could potentially discover:
- New product or service offerings
- New support or ‘value-add’ options
- Ways to better manage and service these customers
TIP: Be sure to get input from a BUYER perspective
4. Customer Immersion
Spend a day at a customer’s premises “to live in their world.” Using the strategic customer workshop approach:
Observe their operations
- Look for opportunities to improve or change:
- What you deliver (i.e. Your product /service offerings)
- How you deliver (i.e. Your processes, systems, customer support)
- How you engage with your customers (i.e. channels, marketing programs)
Speak with both business buyers (decision makers, influencers and change agents) as well as users to understand their priorities, issues and frustrations.
5. Customer Frustrations and Complaints
Your business customers will likely have some issues or frustrations with your products, services or processes. For instance, the capabilities you promised aren’t being delivered at the speed, quality or service levels they require. Or perhaps decision makers are seeking additional advice or reporting that you are not providing.
Being easy to deal is a key requirement in B2B. So, when a customer expresses frustration with your product, service or support, use that opportunity to learn from their feedback to improve your start-up or SME.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Create ways to get feedback from ‘extreme’ customers.
Identify upcoming conferences and seminars that may give you insights into changing business customer needs and market trends. Have representatives from your company attend to capture key insights to report back to your management team.
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