B2B players: embrace the new rules of the game or get off the field!
Hello again, Everyone,
As we are now midway through the calendar year it is a time for all businesses to take a step back and reflect on how things are going and what lies ahead. We have all seen the news headlines and business journalist commentaries on the state of the global economy, the crises in Europe, developments in Asia not to mention the divergent viewpoints as to whether or not GFC 2.0 is still on the horizon.
With the 2012 London Olympics just a few weeks away, we can learn from the talented athletes and knowledgeable coaches who will be participating. Just as they do not succumb to defeat due to new emerging competitors and their record-breaking performances or sub-optimal conditions, businesses cannot be paralysed by fear due to the economic conditions and simply wait around the next ‘so called’ recovery. We need to wake up and face the harsh reality that chaos and uncertainty are here to stay!
As B2B marketers and strategists, in addition to chaos and uncertainty we are also trying to address the challenges inherent in our markets such as:
- understanding the changing buyer dynamics of business customers
- managing the increasing multichannel engagements and interactions
- gaining insights on existing customers and prospective buyers
- generating more leads, and
- enhancing customer loyalty.
However, it is far from all doom and gloom. B2B organisations can indeed thrive and win in this new multifaceted and complex business environment.
Here are my Gold Medal Winning Tips for B2B success:
Strengthen your core
Review your business to identify what you are good at and how these core capabilities could be expanded upon to strengthen your offering and deliver even greater value to your clients and customers.
Harness your current players
There is often a tendency during such volatile times for management to believe that acquiring new customers is the answer. However, during tough and uncertain times, it is often your best customers that provide you with a greater share of sales and profits. Therefore, you need to closely analyse your current customer base and identify opportunities to increase your share of your customers’ business. The key to doing this will be to really connect with your customers and understand them deeply. As you engage with your key customers, determine if there are opportunities to:
- provide additional value add products and services
- improve operations and processes, or
- enhance service levels or even provide self-service options.
But remember as this is B2B, be sure to ‘know the playing field’ as in who are the key decision makers and influencers within your customers and be sure that you are building relationships and gaining insights from them. Therefore having an effective customer engagement strategy for these customers is critical.
Move fast or fail
Your company must be able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. This will require that you have a systematic process in place to regularly monitor your competitors, customers and markets. You also must understand the developments and trends and then feed this information to both your senior leadership team and appropriate business units.
So, in conclusion, you cannot regard the current economic climate like some insurmountable force that cannot be beat. Like an Olympic athlete, you have to accept the conditions for what they are and focus on your game, your race. Plan, prepare and execute for that Olympic gold! If you do not… you can bet your competitors will.
Until next time,
Your B2B Customer Guy