From Dave Youland, Senior Consultant
Business-to-business marketing has always been challenging. In this article by Forester, the author sheds light on the increased difficulties brought about by the convergence of intense competition, more discerning customers and channel disintermediation. Successfully targeting demanding business buyers has become an even more formidable task. The solution, of course, lies in the widely acknowledged principle of being “customer centric.” While this phrase is often touted as a panacea or cure-all without providing any practical or actionable steps, this article offers tangible approaches to achieve that goal. These include emphasizing the creation of value for customers and fostering alignment among functional teams based on customer-oriented value rather than internal company-centric processes
Luminas has worked in a broad range of industries and has achieved impressive results helping our clients define their differential value proposition by enabling them to take an outside-in approach (both for-profit and nonprofit organizations). Then, because knowledge is power, we help them to gain alignment on the value they deliver. The result? Accelerated organic growth.
(original post written by VP, Group Director Srividya Sridharan and appears on Forbes.com)
B2B companies won’t win — today or in the future — with outdated short-term strategies. The competition for growth is fiercer than ever. Business buyers are restless and hard to please. Routes to market are diversifying to encompass more self-service options. Younger business buyers have very different expectations from the buyer experience than older generations do. B2B buying motions are becoming too difficult to predict, with longer sales cycles.
Don’t despair. Centering your leadership, strategy and operations on your customers — the very definition of customer obsession — is precisely what will help you not only navigate this complexity and uncertainty but also thrive and grow. In fact, the business, marketing and IT decision-makers we’ve surveyed at customer-obsessed B2B organizations estimate a 10% or higher growth in revenue, profits and customer retention, that’s three times than that of their non-customer-obsessed counterparts.
B2B organizations need a customer-obsessed growth engine — a perpetual business motion designed to grow revenue, profit, and customer retention efficiently and consistently.
How do you launch this B2B customer-obsessed growth engine?
- Prioritize creating value for customers instead of extracting value from customers. Customer-obsessed companies think differently. They design strategies that create value for the business and the customer across the entire customer lifecycle. B2B leaders must focus on the needs, aspirations, and goals of their buyers. Value is realized by the buyer, not gifted by the supplier. B2B marketing, sales, and product leaders must establish the connection between buyer value and growth, lead their teams to think differently about value, and encourage the development of new behaviors.
- Align on buyer value instead of overemphasizing internal constructs of alignment. Improving alignment between revenue teams could mean getting bogged down with inefficient processes, excessive collaboration meetings, and irrelevant goals and metrics. Instead, aligning marketing, sales, and product to buyer value releases each team’s unique contribution to growth. B2B marketing leaders are steeped in buyer needs and likely have the best understanding of the customer lifecycle. Sellers know which opportunities they’re winning and how they’re helping the buyer purchase. And product teams are continually solving problems and identifying future unmet needs that can spark future sources of value.
- Invest in a future fit tech strategy instead of harboring haphazard tech sprawl. The temptation to acquire the latest technology has led to a haphazard approach to tech strategy at many B2B organizations. Marketing, sales, and product leaders must tie tech investments directly to the customer journey, focus on tech value-adds as a source of differentiation, and invest in an insights-driven approach to uncover counterintuitive nuggets in vast amounts of B2B data.
The organizations that thrive in an uncertain economic environment will be those with revenue-building functions aligning around providing value to buyers.