A “good” B2B strategy is one that is buyer-driven i.e. responsive to the needs of business buyers can position the SME as a strong viable player in today’s highly competitive markets. However, it is only through sustained and effective execution that will ensure long-term profitability and success.
Unfortunately, execution is where many businesses fail. A recent global SME study by Salesforce identified SMEs biggest challenges as being:
For many SME firms such as those in technology, accounting and law, addressing these challenges will be harder given the many changes that have occurred in business client needs, expectations and purchase behaviours.
To succeed, SMEs must undertake four steps to win in B2B.
Your management team needs to prioritise on two levels:
These business innovations may occur across one or more areas of your SME including:
Selection of the target customers and the business innovations should be based on a series of criteria pertaining to:
Once you have prioritised your customers and innovation opportunities, you need to create custom plans for each of your target prospects and key clients. These plans should detail:
Note: These plans must into account who are the key decision-makers (also referred to as the Buying Committee) their priorities, expectations and how they buy, all of which may have changed over the past 12 months!
This is where the “rubber hits the road”. Execution occurs on two levels:
A. Managing Key Clients and Prospects: It is important that three key customer management roles are covered:
B. Undertaking the business innovations: This will likely involve establishing cross-functional teams to design and implement the defined innovation initiatives.
Because business client needs and market conditions are changing frequently and new trends are emerging, you should review both your client plans and the innovation initiatives being undertaken regularly (at a minimum quarterly). This will help ensure your SME is both managing customers appropriately as well as focusing resources in the right areas.
Michael Haynes, B2B Customer Strategy Specialist and Founder, Listen Innovate Grow