Succeeding in B2B markets requires that you have the right mindset and approach in terms of
- The kinds of business customers you go after
- The products, services and solutions you offer
- How you deliver value to those customers
Many startups and SMEs in particular struggle with acquiring the business customers and ultimately the growth they seek due to what I call “The 3 Flaws” in their Mindset and Thinking
Flaw #1: USERS ARE EVERYTHING
We are continually being told in all of the various forms of content that is being shared online via blogs, social media, podcasts etc that it is all about the USER and you must deliver to USER needs. While this is completely valid in a Business-to-consumer (B2C) context, in a B2B context, this is not completely true.
In order to succeed in acquiring business customers, you must remember a fundamental characteristic of B2B markets: BUYERS and USERS are often NOT THE SAME!!!! This is particularly evident in mid-market, corporates and governments.
On average, the buying group will be comprised of 6-8 people involved in the buying decision. The decision makers i.e. The True Buyers makes the decision whether or not to buy may neither be involved with nor ever use their products.
However, in order to make those B2B sales, it is critical that your startup or SME is BUYER DRIVEN.
This means that you are delivering VALUE to buyers that:
- Provides ideas, information and advice that will help them achieve their priorities and objectives
- Will enable them to decide to buy-referred to as Buyer Enablement
Flaw #2: INNOVATION EQUALS PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY
In order to obtain the business customers, you want and create a sustainable, growing and profitable business, innovation must be a core part of your startup or SME’s business strategy and operations. However, you must not regard innovation as being simply about developing new products and/or technologies, applications and solutions.
To succeed in business markets, you must BUSINESS INNOVATE.
Business Innovation means looking at your entire operations and making new introductions or improvements across one or more of the following dimensions:
Product/Service Innovation: making improvements to existing products, services and solutions as well as developing new ones
Marketing Innovation: such as entering new markets, new distribution channels, new marketing strategies such as Influencer Marketing and Advocacy marketing
Process Innovation: such as new operational processes, new buying, fulfilment and customer service processes-including self- service options
Organizational innovation: such as strategic alliances, partnerships
To drive growth in your company, you should ideally be driving innovation in at least 2 areas.
Flaw #3: THE PROBLEM WITH B2B SALES IS SELLING!
I continually hear from startup founders and SME owners how they find B2B sales to be tough.
There is no doubt that B2B is tough requiring substantial amount of time, effort and money. However, the pays off can be substantial and long term.
The real problem lies in the complexity of the B2B buying process.
Latest research conducted by the “big gun” consulting firms like Forrester and Gartner have revealed the common traits with B2B buying within large organisations:
- There are typically between 6-8 people involved in a B2B buying decision
- Each of these people will typically look at or consult with between 3-5 pieces of information
- Each of these buying group participants are trying to complete 6 jobs within the buying decision
- Procurement departments are increasingly having a role to play thereby adding further steps and complexity
- Over 77% of B2B buyers find the B2B buying process complex, difficult and very highly frustrating and unclear to navigate
Therefore, the key to achieving B2B sales is to MAKE IT EASY FOR BUSINESS BUYERS TO BUY otherwise referred to as BUYER ENABLEMENT.
In my upcoming article, I will discuss exactly what this means and how you can effectively do so.
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