If plans for the continued recovery and growth of your business into 2021 are lagging, approaching and engaging with your existing strategic customers could provide you with some insights to give things a kickstart.
Your existing customers are your starting point
2021 will soon be upon us, so let’s look at how holding a strategic customer workshop can help your organization. The starting point, whether it be for business recovery or growth, should be to leverage learnings from your existing clients and customers.
By listening to, and implementing these learnings, you can continue to deliver value during these uncertain business conditions. Do so and your company stands to become a trusted advisor and partner for your clients and customers.
Do this, and they will continue to buy from you (and hopefully buy more!) They could also become advocates and referees for your business, thereby helping to achieve even further growth.
Overcoming market uncertainty
However, there is obviously a great deal uncertainty that currently exists in the marketplace that you need to overcome first. Buyers are facing more financial pressures and thus have a higher aversion to risk.
To get customers, and even key prospects, to purchase your services, their decision-makers will need to have a high degree of trust and confidence in your offerings.
You can achieve this by engaging with them and looking to gain an understanding of their objectives and priorities; their key challenges and pain points.
To gain an understanding of where the B2B buyer mindset may be at right now, watch my video on dealing with risk averse buyers
Once you have established your understanding, continue to work collaboratively with your clients to develop and implement action plans that enable them to achieve their desired outcomes and objectives.
At Listen Innovate Grow, we believe an effective means of achieving these outcomes is by conducting strategic customer workshops.
What is a strategic customer workshop?
A workshop involves cross-functional representation from both your company and your client or customer. They are, to a large degree, discovery sessions.
The workshop’s goal will be to help you identify where you can enhance or modify your services to best meet the customer’s desired outcomes. The sessions can also serve as an opportunity to inform clients of key initiatives your company is already working on.
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.
These workshops can be conducted either in-person or virtually.
The benefits of strategic customer workshops
A workshop fosters discussion, allowing attendees to “get into the detail”, talking through the planning, execution and operational considerations that may be missed in other scenarios.
They provide your staff and management team with a deep understanding of your customers’ objectives, needs and priorities. In turn, this helps your SME:
- Determine its key priorities and areas of focus
- Identify opportunities for co-creation and innovation
- Increase customer retention and customer spend
What types of industries can strategic customer workshops apply to?
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:
Who should you conduct workshops with?
Key clients/ customers: who account for a large % of your company’s revenues
Strategic customers: who will help your SME achieve its objectives: entering new industries or markets, developing new offerings, or boosting credibility and social proof (to acquire more customers).
How are Strategic Customer Workshops Conducted?
Customer workshops should be:
- Conducted as a half or full day workshop
- Held at least twice per year, and;
- Can be conducted in-person or virtually
If feasible, you may wish to incorporate a site visit of your customers’ premises. This could help you better understand the environment in which they operate, and also present a more immediate view of the issues and challenges they face.
If conducting virtually, we recommend conducting sessions no more than 3-4 hours in length over multiple days.
Use the workshop to develop the agenda for future consultation sessions with the customer. Potential topics for discussion include:
- Customer key challenges and priorities
- Business strategy and objectives (of both your company and customer)
- Product and service roadmaps
- Your company’s current offerings including:
- Current performance
- Gaps/ weaknesses
- Areas for improvement
- Opportunities to collaborate
To assist you in preparing for these discussions, get your free playbook, Deciphering the Business Buyer
Get your free guide to deciphering the business buyer
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Capturing and implementing information gathered from the workshops
Above all, ensure your workshop space (or software) enables you to take or record notes, you’ll need to review and analyse them later.
Once the workshop has concluded, meet with your core teams to discuss your new plan:
- What are your customers’ key priorities for the next 3-6 months
- Where customers are looking for value from your offering
- Identify requirements (e.g. for product/service modifications, process or system improvements)
- Determine action items
- Share findings internally with management, key functional teams and departments
- Communicate actions with the customer
- Agree on actions and next steps
Congratulations! By following the advice above, you’ll be well on your way to a definitive action plan for your organization’s continued growth and recovery heading into the new year!
Do you need help with how you will manage and nurture your key clients and accounts to build strong relationships and drive business growth heading into 2021? Get in touch with us via the contact form or call 02 9056 5087