The process of planning and budgeting has begun or is about to begin for many senior leaders returning to post-summer planning mode. Usually, the fixation is on the budget. An exercise some welcome. While others loathe.
While the quantitative budget process is of importance, so may be getting the organization right about their buyers. By right, I refer to getting to know them and help them. Organizations can continue to operate in a vacuum. Sometimes, losing their focus on their customers and buyers. Internal issues and the daily operations dominate each day. Customers and buyers become out of focus.
The Right Focus
Part of planning today should include how to bring customers and buyers into focus. Not just in marketing or sales. The focus should be enterprise-wide. There are many organizations where workers walk about clothed in operations dogma – preventing them from having a full view of customers and buyers. These clothes weigh down the ability to have the right focus on customers and buyers.
Looking ahead, it will not be enough to have just marketing and sales focused on customers and buyers. GE and Intel are examples of two organizations hard at work shifting to an enterprise-wide focus on customers and buyers. Employing the use of customer and buyer insights to inform planning as well get the right focus.
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What To Focus On
As we look ahead to planning, taking stock in how well the organization is versed in customers and buyers is an honest look businesses need to take. This matters, more than ever now, when we consider how transparent every part of the organization can be with technology. Customers considering renewal or re-purchase will based buying decisions on their experiences. Three areas B2B businesses can focus on are:
Get To Know Your Customer and Buyers Of Today
The buyers of today are bearing less and less resemblance to the buyers of yesterday. If your organization is still operating from a view of customers more than three years old, you may not know them as well as you should. It is highly recommended B2B businesses do some form of customer and buyer insight research to get to know their customers again.
Introduce The Organization To Its Customers and Buyers
Some may find this notion absurd. Some may not. However, this can be one of the most tragic assumptions made by B2B businesses. An assumptive belief everyone in the organizations knows customers and buyers. A coordinated and well-thought plan should be put in place, involving HR as well as training, to introduce the organization to customers and buyers. The focus being on how what impacts the customer’s ability to achieve their goals.
Improve Focus On Customer Acquisition
Perhaps not too surprising, many B2B companies continue to approach customer acquisition with a mass database and segmentation mindset. In order to succeed at customer acquisitions, companies need to understand as well as segment by goal-directed buying behaviors. How and why customers and buyers have different goals can reshape customer acquisition. And, afford a very targeted approach based on helping customers and buyers fulfill their goals.
Improve Focus On Customer Retention
Retaining customers for re-buys and renewals is the lifeblood of many types of business models. Neglecting this area can put a company at a serious risk. Thus, the importance of product delivery, operations, productions, service, support, and the likes imbued with a strong focus on customers and buyers. Oftentimes, there is focus on providing a rewarding customer experience. The focus being on getting more efficient and effective with delivery and service. Yet, the connection to understanding exactly who customers are and why such are important to their goals remains missing.
As B2B companies look ahead to 2014, it will be important to not lose focus or be blinded by spreadsheets. In today’s fast moving and rapidly changing course of buying behaviors, companies can lose valuable time stuck in a budget current going in circles. Meanwhile, customers and buyers are moving upstream towards new demands and new ways of doing business.
It is important for B2B businesses to have the right focus on buyers. Not doing so will clearly put them out of focus from the viewpoint of buyers.