As small business owners and operators we have been enduring the pressures and challenges over the past 2 years, fighting against shutdowns, supply chain issues and talent shortages just to name a few.
The road ahead at least for the balance of 2022 is not getting any easier. Many experts are predicting that tough times lie ahead with many markets around the world already experiencing inflationary pressures.
However, despite the continued rising costs, labour shortages and other uncertainties, there are several proactive measures that SME must do to both survive and thrive in the world of B2B.
LOOK AFTER YOUR CURRENT BUYERS
It’s more expensive and harder to get new customers than to keep the ones we have especially in such turbulent times. Therefore, we must focus our efforts on supporting our current customers.
However, we must remember we are B2B! We must ensure our efforts are BUYER-DRIVEN i.e. aimed at those responsible for providing input to or making decisions.
Today’s B2B Buyers are seeking clarity and guidance as to how to navigate through all of the noise and information they are bombarded with as to what actions and decisions (including purchases) should be made to move their companies forward.
Your company’s efforts should be aimed at providing “A-I-R”—Advice, Insights and Recommendations to help them “connect the dots” and work through all of the information and options they are continually inundated with.
And don’t simply provide them more content. WORK WITH your current buyers to help them identify new opportunities, threats and challenges not previously recognised and to develop ACTION PLANS to help them succeed. This can be done through a variety of ways including workshops, roundtables, forums and groups.
Doing so will have your small business regarded as the only option for the buyer as you become a trusted advisor and partner.
COLLABORATE and CO-CREATE
Consider ways that you may work with other businesses to help you both grow.
Seek to join forces with other businesses that serve the same target audiences (i.e target decision makers). These could include some of your own service providers such as your accountants, lawyer or IT services provider.
Joint marketing efforts are a great way to broaden both of your companies’ reach and visibility and identify more prospects.
Some ways of doing so include:
- Hosting joint workshops, panels or webinars.
- Co-creating content such as an article or hosting a livestream.
- Promoting each other’s content leveraging each other’s email and social media.
- Creating and promoting a joint offering.
- Conducting a joint report on industry/market trends which you then both present and promote via roundtables, breakfast forums – a great way to draw in the “heavy hitters” that you are keen to talk to.
CONSIDER THE STEP SELL
In such economic times, buyers may be reluctatnt on making new pruchases. Therefore you may need to help them to “walk before they run” by helping them to purchase a small component of your offering so they can witness the value before purchase your full solution.
For example, if you are a service-based small business such as an IT company, you may wish to;
- conduct a full diagnostic or assessment to help the prospect identify what gaps and/or opportunities exist given today’s current, or
- implement a solution (essentially a pilot) to just one customer segment or business unit before a complete rollout.
ALWAYS BE LISTENING TO YOUR BUYERS
B2B Buyers, like yourselves are facing more challenges, more uncertainties and have to make decisions.
It’s important to check in with the decision makers both within your current clients and key prospects to understand:
- Where the business is at now?
- Current focus and priority areas.
- Where they are stuck.
- What they urgently NEED.
DON’T use Surveys to gain this input.
Have conversations with these decision-makers be it virtual or in-person.
The discussions need not be long – tons can be revealed in 15 or 20 minutes.
Be sure to record these conversations. (I would suggest doing so using the Record functions on your phone or video communication tool if using the likes of Zoom or Google Meets.)
Share and workshop these findings with the rest of management and your teams.
Despite the inflationary pressures and other challenges that lie ahead, your B2B based Small Business can still strive by listening, engaging and collaborating with the BUYERS of those clients and customers you seek.
Need help in determining the right action plan for your business to move forward in these conditions, get in touch and let’s chat.