The Key to Developing a Successful B2B Product is Understanding Your Customers’ Business Processes

B2C and B2B are two different animals. That’s not news. But there is something that differentiates them that most companies do not think about — something that can make or break the success of their product.

At Pivot UK, we are a global product development firm that collaborates closely with our clients to deliver profitable innovations for industrial, medical, agricultural, security and defense, sports and entertainment, and construction markets. Leveraging our nearly 50 years of experience, integrative one-source model, advanced DFM expertise, and 320,000 square feet of overseas and domestic manufacturing space, we take your B2B product from proof-of-concept to successful launch.

In this piece, we’ll highlight the primary difference between B2C and B2B products, and why it’s so important to work with a partner who can factor these differences into your NPD.

Understanding the Difference Between B2C and B2B

To understand why many B2B products struggle to gain adoption, we first need to identify one of the defining characteristics of B2C products: the fact that they’re generally intended to drive net-new behavior.

Take, for example, electric cars. EVs were created to promote more ecologically-friendly behavior. Rather than constantly refueling at the gas station, customers dock their vehicles at a charging station and reduce their carbon footprint.

Airbnb is another excellent example. Instead of consumers relying on hotel chains or traditional BnB’s for lodging, they found themselves with a comparable plethora of unprecedented offerings, quite literally at their fingertips.

The takeaway here is that B2C customers are ready, willing, and often eager to change their behavior. In fact, they’re often walking experiments in novel use cases.

And, for the purpose of this article, that is where the similarity between B2C and B2B ends.

Resistance to Change: A Major Barrier to New B2B Product Adoption

Although it may appear otherwise, B2B customers are not interested in changing their behavior. Why? Because it’s disruptive to their business and organizational processes. In fact, McKinsey and Co. have found that when it comes to IoT products intended for the B2B market, this resistance to change represents the most significant hurdle to adoption at scale, especially for enterprises. This is because companies are focused on processes, not products. Companies aren’t looking to change their behavior — they’re looking to run a successful business.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “B2B products are designed for the express purpose of helping them do that…aren’t they?”

Ostensibly, yes. But in practice, this is often not the case.

A Business’s Processes Are A Key Competitive Differentiator

The name of the game in business is productivity and profit. These twin pillars are the alpha and omega of business and where all roads are intended to lead. A business’s processes are those roads. For this reason, almost all successful B2B products are designed to boost productivity and profit by enhancing processes.

Take Zoom video conferencing, for example. When pandemic-related lockdowns and social distancing first took effect and made virtual workplaces the norm, there was mass adoption of Zoom. It could be argued that businesses had little choice, but it’s also true that the platform didn’t require businesses to make any fundamental changes to their core processes. It allowed them to collaborate as usual but to do so remotely. And, as many found, much more efficiently.

The Success of B2B Customers Rides on Processes, Not Products

But here’s the thing. Nobody ever beat out their competitors because they adopted Zoom or any particular product. It’s not the product itself that a business is after. It’s process enhancement (to drive productivity and increase profit).

Businesses build processes around their existing technology, which means you need to build your product around their processes. Your B2B product will only matter to your customer if it’s already a fit. Without factoring in these processes, your product makes no sense because the organizational operating system for running it doesn’t exist. And this is why understanding your customers’ business process is critical to successful B2B product development.

Building a Robust Use Case

At Pivot, when we work with your team to create your use case, we go far beyond simply looking at the nuts and bolts of everyday usage, technology interfaces, or even user experience. We approach product design from the perspective of the entire organizational ecosystem in which your product will be deployed, factoring in business processes into the broader use case equation.

As our award-winning product portfolio shows, when it’s understood that B2B customers are focused on processes rather than products, delivering a profitable product becomes that much easier. If you’re gearing up to launch a new B2B innovation, Pivot is the proven partner you’ve been looking for. To learn more about how we can help your business successfully scale, contact us today.

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