With only 2 months until the end of 2018, if you have not started already, you should be setting you growth goals for 2019 and putting plans in place to achieve them.
Your existing customers are the most sustainable source of business growth. This is particularly true in B2B whereby if your start-up or SME can continually deliver value, your company will become a trusted advisor and partner for whom your clients and customers will not only continue to buy (and hopefully buy even more from you) they will also be your company’s advocates and references thereby helping to achieve even further growth.
However, getting your current customers and even your key prospects to serve as the basis for your company’s growth requires that you gain an in-depth understanding of your business customers’:
- Objectives and priorities
- Key challenges
- Pain points
An effective means of gain such an in-depth understanding of your business customers is by conducting ‘Strategic Customer Workshops’.
What is a Strategic Customer Workshop?
A workshop involving cross-functional representation from both your company as well as business customer or prospect. The aim is to have in-depth discussions on your customers’ objectives and priorities, your company’s product and service offerings and what’s needed in terms of enhancements, modifications, support and service requirements.
Participants should be a mix of staff and senior management from key functions and departments such as operations, product development, marketing, client/customer service. Where possible be sure to include buyers, influencers and change agents in these sessions to ensure buyer requirements are being understood and met.
The Benefits of Strategic Customer Workshops
- Enables attendees to “get into the detail” and discuss planning, execution and operational considerations
- Provides your staff and management team with a deep understanding of your customers’ objectives, needs
- Identify opportunities for co-creation and innovation
- Increased customer retention and customer spend
What Kind of Industries Can Strategic Customer Workshops Apply To?
Strategic Customer workshops can be applied to any industry.
They are particularly useful for B2B companies with complex, highly involved and/or technical offerings such as Engineering, IT, Law, Professional Services and Telecommunications
With Whom Should You Conduct Strategic Customer Workshops?
- Key Clients/Customers: that account for a large % of your company’s revenues
- Strategic Customers: that will help your start-up or SME achieve key objectives such as:
- Entering new industries or markets
- Developing new offerings
How are Strategic Customer Workshops Conducted?
- Held at least twice per year
- Conducted as a half or full day workshop
- You may wish to incorporate a site visit of your customers’ premises and operations to help you better understand the environment with which they operate as well as the issues and challenges they may face
- Topics covered include:
- Business strategy and objectives (of both your company and customer)
- Product and service roadmaps
- Your company’s current offerings including:
- Current performance
- Areas for Improvement
- Opportunities to Collaborate
How Should Information Be Captured and Used from the Workshops?
- Take notes/ Record proceedings
- Review and analyse notes
- Where customers seek value from your offering
- Identify requirements (eg. for product/service modifications, process or system improvements
- Identify co-creation opportunities
- Determine action items
- Share findings internally with management, key functional teams and departments
- Communicate actions with the customer
To learn more about how to engage and understand business customers:
Get the book, Listen Innovate Grow: A Guidebook for Start-Ups and SMEs to Acquire and Grow Business Customers.
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