In-Depth Interviews (IDIs), a foundation of qualitative research, can go beyond just surface-level answers and dig deeper to find more substantial underlying motivations. They are helpful because, especially in B2B, they can discover a critical, unconsidered gap in the marketplace where a customer may genuinely feel pain. Uncovering insights through an IDI can uncover issues, or opportunities, that a traditional survey may not be able to capture.
A recent book sheds light on the power of the IDI methodology, Different Rules: The B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation by Chris Wirthwein. It shows how the power of good questions and listening intently can produce remarkable results for B2B focused organizations, often revealing groundbreaking and compelling insights that can transform a product from a commodity to one that is truly differentiated.
Preparing for IDIs is a process and involves several steps: finding and recruiting the right audience, scheduling the interview, and preparing a moderation guide (outline of questions to ask). The best interviewers empathize and listen intently to the answers to the questions. They express genuine curiosity and desire to learn about the customers' pain points and enjoy learning about their experiences.
Starting with a broad approach and then homing in on specific questions about a particular concept usually produce some of the best results. The best conversations uncover “attitudes and mindsets” and don’t veer into trying to solve problems or defend a solution. A good resource for finding questions is the book “Power Questions” by Andrew Sobel. “Good questions are far more powerful than answers,” and finding the right people to ask questions can unveil a literal gold mine of insights.
Companies that embrace IDIs have learned that asking questions, and listening to the customers' responses, will do more to help you differentiate your business than any amount of technology, marketing, or sales. Have you embraced IDIs within your organization? Will you start asking questions today to help you make more informed decisions for your future products and services?