B2B SMEs: it’s time to refocus, reignite, and rise

In case you have noticed, there is no turning back! As businesses resume out of lockdown, they are facing the “new normal”. For those of us operating in a business-to-business (B2B) context, this will be characterised by:

  • Increased number of decision-makers.
  • Purchased decisions made by consensus.
  • Tighter budgets.
  • Highly demanding, risk-averse buyers.
  • Selling virtually.

Unlike the pandemic, these conditions are here to stay. With 2021 on the horizon, now is the time to begin to plan as to how your SME will move forward. Your roadmap to business recovery and business growth should consist of three phases: Refocus, Reignite and Rise.

Refocus: determine where you can win

Get clear as to which industries, markets and business customers you will focus on.

To identify where your company should focus, undertake the following:

  • Make sure your leadership team is aligned as to the company’s goals and mission.
  • Review your company’s performance and understand:
    • Its Key strengths and capabilities.
    • The industries and companies where there has been success as indicated by
      • Revenues.
      • Products/Services Sold.
      • Customer Lifetime Value.
  • Understand the trends, characteristics and economic conditions of those industries and markets where you have had success and intend to operate. These may have changed significantly over the past several months.
  • Meet with your leadership and team members and determine:
    • Can your company respond to these new trends and market conditions?
    • What new investments and/or changes will be required by the company? Is this feasible? Do you want to pursue?
  • Talk to customers
    • Try to speak with a cross-section including those who:
      • Love your company.
      • Hate your company.
      • Stopped doing business with you.
      • Have never bought from you.
    • During these discussions try to gain an understanding of:
      • Who are now the decision makers?
      • Where is their business at now?
      • Where the business is headed?
      • What are their key priorities and challenges?
      • What are their most pressing needs?
    • Be sure you have these discussions with those involved in the purchase decision for your product or service.
  • Consolidate the insights you have gained from your:
    • Internal company analysis.
    • Industry/market review.
    • Customer feedback.
  • Establish a cross-functional team and workshop the insights gained in order to identify the industries, markets and customers that will be the focus of your business recovery and business growth efforts.

Re-ignite: determine how you will win

Identify what changes, improvements and/or introductions must be implemented in order to meet the current needs of your target industries, markets and customers.

Such improvements and/or introductions are referred to as business innovations and can occur in one or more of the following areas of your business:

  • products and srvices
  • organisational methods
  • marketing practices
  • business processes.

As you may identify numerous opportunities to innovate across the business, you will need to prioritise which opportunities to pursue.

Some prioritisation criteria include:

  • Do these innovations help address the needs of your most valuable customers?
  • Do you have the skills, knowledge and resources to implement the innovation?
  • Do they align to your company’s goals and future aspirations?

Rise

Develop and implement the marketing and sales activities to generate revenues and business recovery.

The cornerstone or engine of your B2B business recovery and growth should be customer retention and expansion

Benefits of this strategy:

  • You have solid relationships,
  • Built a high degree of trust,
  • Easier access to obtain input and feedback.

Key components of your B2B recovery strategy engine should include:

  • Customer Retention
  • Customer Expansion via
    • Cross-sells
    • Upsells
    • Referral
    • References
    • Customer Advisory Boards

So, what are you waiting for? Meet with your team and start planning how your SME will reignite, refocus and rise to recovery, growth and future success!

Michael Haynes, B2B Customer Strategy Specialist and Founder, Listen Innovate Grow

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