Inflation Proof Your Small Business and Thrive in B2B!Inflation Proof Your Small Business and Thrive in B2B! https://c-suitenetwork.com/advisors/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2022/07/Inflation-Image-for-Article.jpeg 275 183 Michael Haynes https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e9beda51e8f725c3011e5d5a945491d4?s=96&d=mm&r=g
As small business owners we have been enduring the pressures and challenges over the past 2 years, fighting against shutdowns, supply chain issues and talent shortages just to name a few.
The road ahead is not getting any easier.
Despite the continued rising costs, labour shortages and other uncertainties, there are several proactive measures that small and medium business (SMB) leaders must do to both survive and thrive in the world of B2B.
LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS—TO YOUR BUYERS!
In such turbulent times, it is more expensive and harder to get new customers than to keep the ones we have. B2B Buyers, like yourselves are also facing more challenges, more uncertainties and have to make decisions as to how to take their businesses forward. Therefore, we must focus our efforts on supporting our current customers.
We must ensure our efforts are BUYER-DRIVEN i.e. aimed at those responsible for providing input to or making decisions.
LISTEN to your customers—to the decision makers both within your current clients and key prospects to understand:
● Where is the business at now?
- ● Current focus and priority areas
- ● Where are they stuck?
- ● What do they urgently need?Three effective ways of gaining an in-depth understanding into your clients and prospects needs, priorities and expectations and building trust is by conducting in-depth executive interviews, customer advisory panels and strategic customer workshops.Each of these is briefly described belowExecutive Interviews: These are in-depth (usually face to face) discussions with the executives of your current or prospective customers. They are an effective way to get a detailed understanding of their challenges, motivations and requirements. A key factor in being able to secure such meetings is that you will need to demonstrate that there will be value to them from taking the time to meet with you. Hence you will need to factor this your outreach when trying to secure the interviewsCustomer Advisory Panels: A panel of usually 10-15 buyers from selected customers to gain their perspective on a strategic level. The panel will meet with the host company 2-3 times per year. These sessions are a 2 way dialogue in which the participating customers will discuss industry direction and trends as well as challenges and priorities they are facing. The host company will share upcoming priorities, company direction, key initiatives as well as how they intend to respond to customer needs. When conducted effectively, customer advisory panels are a powerful listening tool to help you identify growth opportunities as well as new product and service offerings.
Strategic Customer Workshops: These workshops involve cross functional representation from both the B2B product or service provider and the customer or prospect. The aim is to have in-depth discussions about the product and service offerings and what is needed in terms of enhancements, modifications, support and service requirements. I recommend conducting strategic customer workshops in person at least twice per year. If possible, conduct them at your client’s premises so you and your team can be in your “client’s world” and can gain a sense of their organization and how it operates.
GIVE BUYERS THE “A-I-R” THEY NEED
Today’s B2B Buyers are seeking clarity and guidance as to how to navigate through all of the noise and information they are bombarded with as to what actions and decisions (including purchases) should be made to move their companies forward.
Your company’s efforts should be aimed at providing “A-I-R”—Advice, Insights and Recommendations to help them “connect the dots” and work through and make sense of all of the information and options they are continually inundated with.
Don’t simply provide them more content. WORK WITH your current buyers to help them identify new opportunities, threats and challenges not previously recognised and to develop ACTION PLANS to help them succeed. This can be done through a variety of ways including workshops, roundtables, forums and groups.
Doing so will have your small business regarded as the only option for the buyer as you will be regarded as a trusted advisor and partner.
COLLABORATE and CO-CREATE
Seek to join forces with other businesses that serve the same target clients. For instance, if you are an IT company providing managed services to engineering and construction companies, consider collaborating with other service providers that also serve these markets such as accountants, lawyers and finance companies.
Joint marketing efforts are a great way to broaden both of your companies’ reach and visibility and identify more prospects
Some ways of doing so include:
- ● Hosting joint workshops, panels or webinars
- ● Promoting each other’s content leveraging each other’s email and social media
- ● Creating and promoting a joint offering
● Conducting a joint research study on industry/market trends which you then both present and promote via roundtables, breakfast forums—a great way to draw in the “heavy hitters” that you are keen to talk to!
CONSIDER THE ‘STEP’ SELL
In such economic times, B2B buyers may be reluctant to make new purchases. Therefore, you may need to help them to purchase a small component of your offering so they can witness and experience the value before purchasing your full solution.
For example, if you are a service-based small business such as an IT company, you may wish to :
- ● conduct a full diagnostic or assessment to help the prospect identify what gaps and/or opportunities exist
- ● implement a solution (essentially conducting a pilot) to a small group such to just one customer segment or business unit before conducting a complete rollout of the solutionDespite the inflationary pressures and other challenges that lie ahead, your Small or Medium Business can still thrive in B2B markets by listening, engaging and collaborating with the BUYERS of those clients and customers you seek.