Business customers are motivated by a variety of forces, many of which may be surprising. A new way of evaluating the dimensions of what a business customer values has been proposed, inspired by psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The research was conducted by Eric Almquist, Jamie Cleghorn and Lori Sherer from Bain & Company, and presented in Harvard Business Review.

The Unexpected Motivators of Business Customers

There are a variety of motivations that drive business customers. Some of these motivations may be surprising, such as the need to feel important or the need to belong to a group. Other motivations may be more practical, such as the need to save money or the need to increase productivity. Whatever the motivation, businesses are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line.

A New Way to Evaluate Business Customer Value

Inspired by psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a new way of evaluating the dimensions of what a business customer values has been proposed. This new way takes into account not only the basic needs that all customers share, but also the more specific needs that are unique to different types of businesses.

For example, a customer who is in need of food and shelter would be considered to have lower-level needs, while a customer who is interested in acquiring new knowledge or skills would be considered to have higher-level needs. The new evaluation system can help businesses better understand what their customers value and how they can meet those needs.

The Three Types of Innovation

In order to be successful, companies need to not only pursue new and innovative products and services, but also find ways to improve the effectiveness of their operations and deliver more value to their customers. But not all innovations are created equal. There are three types of innovation that companies should focus on: product and service innovation, operational innovation, and customer experience innovation.

Product and service innovation refers to developing new or improved products and services that offer value to customers. Operational innovation involves finding ways to make the company’s operations more efficient and effective. And customer experience innovation focuses on creating a better overall customer experience, from initial contact through purchase and use of the product or service.

All three types of innovation are important for companies seeking to stay ahead of the competition, but they should focus on the type that will have the biggest impact in their particular industry. For example, a pharmaceutical company might place more emphasis on product and service innovation, while a hotel chain might focus on customer experience innovation.


The team of researchers at Bain & Company found that the motivations of business customers are far more complex than previously thought. The five dimensions they propose can help business owners better understand what their customers want and need, and create a product or service that meets those needs.

At, we believe that understanding your customer is key to success. That’s why our tool structures collective intelligence to give you deep insights into who your buyers are and what motivates them. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you drive sales with data-backed decisions based on what really matters to your customers.