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El blog de Mikel Niño
Emprendimiento digital, startups, Big Data Analytics y nuevos modelos de negocio

Engaging customers in a B2B customer development process

If our startup is focused on building a certain type of "business-to-business" (B2B) product, we often find that, although we have already identified the kind of organization to address, we have serious difficulties to establish a customer development process, due to how difficult it is to engage some representative of that company with the degree of involvement we would need. And I don't mean that the complication comes from the fact that our proposal doesn't fit their needs (that might happen later, in any case), but because we haven't even reached the point where they concede us some "quality time" to explore their problems and the relevance they have for their business.

This difficulty is usually perceived as a "pace difference": we as entrepreneurs are obviously interested in carrying out our project and validating whether our solution approach is right, but our interlocutor is absorbed in a very different dynamic, most often dictated by their organization's day-to-day priorities, which ranks us really low in their priority list. How can we gain a minimum attention and involvement from their side, so that the process has a minimum value?

The key would be a first attempt of characterizing the targeted customer segment, but focusing on those features that can make our interlocutor grow an interest in taking part in our customer development process. This should be our first priority when modeling our customer archetype or persona in this context: which role do they play in their organization? which can a process like the one we are proposing give to them that is also aligned with their problems or needs according to their role (preferential access to our product/service with respect to their competitors, feeling relevant and knowing that their opinion and experience is valuable, making sure that potential changes in their organization don't make them dispensable...)?

This will require an important dose of empathy and being able to understand some of our contacts' features and needs which give us the key about why they would concede us their time in the first place. In the end, it's all about beginning our customer segment modeling with those features that will guarantee that our customer development process generates value for both sides, looking for the interest or value they can get by taking part in the process and investing part of their time.

[Haz clic aquí para la versión en español de esta entrada]

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