Could “Feedback” kill your business?
We’re all conditioned to solicit a broad base of opinions about our offerings, and to incorporate that feedback into adaptations. After all, we need to ensure that our product has vast, broad appeal, right?
And business owners often use a similar approach with their business strategy. They “bounce it off” employees, professional advisors, board members and family / friends.
That’s not a bad idea, per se. Direct feedback from intelligent, capable folks and the resulting vigorous exchange of ideas and perspectives can often identify holes in a plan; uncover opportunities that were overlooked; and help to more tightly weave the fabric of the strategy. That’s all good.
The problem is that we tend to live in an echo chamber. We’re surrounded by people with similar perspectives and experiences. And that means the feedback is self-limiting.
Your buyers, not your ‘friends’
A higher priority ought to be gathering feedback from buyers – not from your close circle of friends, acquaintances and advisors.
The right buyers, not generic ones
And the real objective should be to solicit opinions from ideal buyers.
But before we go further – some feedback from you. Have you really built a profile of an ideal buyer? I don’t mean retrospectively profiling customers with whom you’ve been successful in the past. Rather looking forward and considering various factors including:
- length of sell cycle
- lifetime value (repeat purchases)
- ability to leverage you into other customers
- existing / scalable resources for selling & servicing
- market environment (situated in growing, stagnant or declining geographical and vertical markets)
- where products on your road map will fit
Experience tells me that there are better than even odds that you haven’t done this. Many times in my discussions with even very expertly managed companies, the understanding of potential customers is predicated on a very shallow and cursory reflexive analysis of past customers.
So get this done – and get outside assistance to facilitate the process and provide perspective and clarity.
Then, armed with necessary insight, you’ll know which buyers’ opinions will be particularly relevant.
Innovators in strategy & execution
Then take it further.
So obvious it barely merits saying, is the need to identify and emulate innovators. I assume you closely follow technical innovations in your product space. That’s a given. In this context, though, I mean the companies and business people that are defying the common wisdom – turning the “that won’t work for our industry because….” crap on it’s head.
Find the B2B manufacturing company that grew international sales to 50% of it’s revenue in 5 years and learn how they did it.
Follow industry blogs and groups to learn what techniques and methods of B2B marketing are creating engagement.
(And in case you’re wondering, those aren’t two random examples. In today’s world you have two viable approaches to growth. Leverage the incredible opportunity of digital marketing to attract, engage and convert new B2B prospects, and select appropriate global markets where you can profitably build diverse revenue. It’s simple – #SellMoreHere and / or #SellMoreThere!)
Don’t fear the ‘haters’ – embrace their confirmation!
That nagging voice in the back of your head is right. As a business owner you’ve learned to balance gut feeling against common “wisdom.” And many of your “wise” advisors are going to suggest you’re veering off the rails. You’ll hear:
- that won’t work for your industry
- you don’t have the resources
- social media doesn’t work
- blogs are for B2C companies
- global is too risky – it’s only for the F1000
- you can’t guarantee payment by international customers
- content marketing doesn’t work for manufacturing sectors
- if you don’t speak a foreign language you can’t sell internationally
You’ll probably even hear more extreme versions – that your ignorance will doom your business.
Ultimately the choices are yours. You’ll enjoy the fruits or bear the burdens of the positive or negative outcome. Just keep in mind that most of your close circle have a strongly vested interest in the status quo. You know the same status quo that has you schlepping to work each day with that knot in your stomach. You sense that things have changed and know intellectually that your business development approach must as well. But emotionally, you haven’t made that leap yet….maybe the ‘haters’ are holding you back?
So here’s an idea. Start to log the warnings. Note the essence and the source. Don’t discount the ‘haters’ out of hand (the crackpots for sure, but not those close to you) but observe the trends while you explore the options.
My guess? You’ll quickly find an inverse relationship between your innovation/success/progress and the pace and pitch of the ‘haters’ messages.
Add your ‘hater’ index to your standard management dashboard and track it. Monitor it….but don’t fear it.
Want to learn how you really can adapt your B2B business development to today’s market environment? Here’s more info.
image – nytimes