All companies that have been in business for some years say they know the needs of their customers. They mention needs like «quality», «flexibility» or «service» as being the key drivers for purchase and usage.

There is only one little problem: Those needs don‘t resonate with customers. That‘s why most products are perceived as equal. And bought on price.

Where is the issue? Executives are trained to conceptualize. They think in abstract terms in order to cope with the increasing complexity of business. In contrast, consumers and customers think in concrete terms. They only buy or use a product if it solves a concrete problem they have better than an alternative product. That‘s why abstract business concepts like „key purchasing drivers“ or «need states» never make it to the heart of customers.

Let‘s illustrate that for a B2B example:

An OEM manufacturer of trains knows very well that his customers – the train operators – don‘t want trains that break down (as this leads to unwanted repair costs). That‘s why this OEM manufacturer promises to offer high quality. «High quality» though is a vague concept that anyone can claim.

Another train manufacturer is a bit more advanced. He knows that breakdowns are not just a pain for the train operator, but also for the train passengers. And he also knows that it‘s not about a train that stops operating. It is about doors that don‘t close or toilets that clog. So he can show his customers precisely the potential trouble areas in trains. And – most importantly – he can promise concrete solutions to address those trouble areas better than competitors. That‘s more convincing as it builds on concrete knowledge and customer insights.

But still not good enough. The next OEM manufacturer goes even one step further. Because by now, everybody in the industry knows that more efficient doors need to be developed. This OEM has a new insight that train operators might not have: Train doors in the middle of a train break down more often than the ones at the two ends of the train. And bingo. He can demonstrate that he truly understands the market and design an innovation with a specific promise for the customer.

Conclusion: The concrete wins over the abstract.

During our work we regularly find many examples of deep and concrete insights, believed as true by the customer and therefore serving as a basis for clever strategies. For a convincing sales argumentation, for developing compelling value propositions or for designing successful innovations.