Four ways to validate products, services and experiences for B2B customers

Most of us and our clients are accustomed to validating products, services and experiences in a B2C setting. However, a lot of clients provide and make products, services and experiences (further referred to as products) that are used in a B2B setting. When asked to support them, clients frequently ask us: “how do you validate products, services and experiences with B2B customers?”

Today, we’ll provide you with a concrete answer and share four different ways to validate in a B2B setting:

  1. A company employee uses the product
  2. Directly with end users
  3. Through experts
  4. Through company employees

There is little difference between someone using a product in a B2C or B2B context. Furthermore, your employees or co-workers will expect the internal CRM or logistics planning tool to have exactly the same UX patterns as their weather or social media apps. Anything that falls short of this standard will be a bad experience. The same applies to physical tools (e.g. a power drill), services (e.g. internal ordering tool) or experiences (e.g. employee onboarding). In such cases, we’d validate the B2B product with the same methods and manner as other products that we helped to create.

A lot has been written about Employee Experience, but we view employees and co-workers as humans. In our human-centred approach to design, we make no distinction between their capacities. If it is human, then we’ll design for humans.

A B2B setting is sometimes a bit more complex than simply having someone within a company use a product. In this case, we seek out end users or even stakeholders to test the product with. This approach can also be a unique selling proposition (USP) for clients who offer B2B2C products. It enables them to approach their clients with end user and stakeholder validation, which facilitates their selling process.

In cases where what has been conceptualised is radically new or disruptive to a market, having a prototype may not be concrete enough for validation with end users. We’ve found that this occurs especially when we’re helping to design a vision or strategy. In addition, when designing a vision or strategy, the elements that require validation differ from the aspects that need to be validated for a specific product. Therefore, we look for experts who can help us with validation.

Expert validation is a tool that we often default to in our Vision Sprints or Strategy Sprints. A key consideration is to find experts that are familiar with the vision, strategy or product you are seeking to validate. On the other hand, it’s also necessary to look beyond the obvious and search for experts that can help to push you beyond the boundaries of what is already out there. With radically new products in particular, going to the obvious choice of experts may actually invalidate your product. Always bear in mind that most people, even the ones that are innovators, are change-averse.

There are times when we can tap into a wealth of potential users directly through our clients. This can come from a variety of settings: sales people that go out on a daily basis to interact with (potential) clients, business managers who oversee a specific department, C-suite roundtables, close networks, etc. By reaching out to these people directly, the quality of the input for your validation efforts will increase dramatically since you’ll be tapping directly into the minds of those who’ll be buying the product.

Remember: a successful product maximises design, business and technology! The business side is often forgotten but, in the end, it can’t be a success if no one buys your product.

Builder, designer, innovator, entrepreneur, husband and father.