As we approach the end of 2015, many businesses will be looking at their growth objectives and plans for 2016. While consultants and management all talk about the need for effective planning and execution to achieve objectives, the results of recent studies by Forrester Research and KPMG reveal that while many companies are indeed “doing stuff”, they are in fact failing to undertake key activities which are integral to driving business growth and profitability.
Some of the startling results of these studies are as follows:
- 60% of companies don’t review their growth plans quarterly
- 53% of companies don’t have a detailed understanding of business buyers
- 53% of companies don’t conduct a competitor analysis
- 40% of companies don’t define a value proposition
- 40% of companies are operationally focused and don’t track revenue growth
- 35% of companies don’t have the skills to develop and implement a growth plan
What does this mean for B2B companies?
As discussed in my previous article, one of the key characteristics of B2B markets is the existence of two subset groups within a B2B client/customer: Buyers and Users.
If you want to get your B2B customers to continue to stay with your company, spend more and be your company’s advocate, you must ensure that you know exactly who comprises your Buyers and Users and you understand and are meeting their expectations and priorities which may often differ.
Therefore companies operating in B2B markets must:
Base growth on a “Balanced B2B Insight “Diet”
You will create winning B2B strategies and action plans that result in growth and profitability if they:
- Include a substantial “DIET” of business customer insight.
By business customer insight I am talking about detailed insights into the objectives, priorities, drivers and requirements of business buyers AND users. This will be derived from the analysis of various types of data gained from buyers and users. And no it won’t be only just surveys!
- Are not generic customer strategies but instead specific Buyer Strategies and Users strategies that address the specific priorities and expectations each may have and the experiences they seek
- Evolve as changing customer (i.e. Buyer and/or User) expectations are discovered
Execute and Manage The B2B Way
Doing so involves:
- Regular periodic review of your strategies and action plans
- Updating plans with new information to reflect changes in buyer/user requirements and priorities, market dynamics or competitor activity
- Mechanisms to ensure that the new information captured is shared with and acted upon by senior management, relevant business units and partners that will need to act on the information obtained to change and/or improve product/service offerings, processes and/or service levels
- Providing business customers with multiple opportunities for engagement and feedback across various levels, markets and departments
One such process is Excellerator, my B2B Customer Experience Methodology that I will discuss in upcoming editions of my blog posts and newsletter.
What should businesses do?
Before jumping into spending lots of time and resources having multiple day off sites and creating massive PowerPoint “decks” to develop growth strategies and plans for next year, senior management should take a step back and closely examine their companies to determine if they have the following:
- Identified and have a current and detailed understanding of the priorities, expectations, motivations of both the business buyers and users
- Processes and mechanisms to regularly review strategies and action plans as well as to modify them in response to market developments, competitor activity and/or changing customer expectations
- The skills needed to implement the projects that will likely stem from the plans
Addressing these critical elements, will position your company to excel and achieve its B2B growth targets.