CEO’s and their respective teams are feeling the pinch. Customer acquisition is a top priority. Lead generation is a priority. Effectiveness is a priority. Survey after survey in the last year or two points to the need to not only sustain but also grow. Clarity on how is the apparent missing link.
Many organizations in B2B are driven by the need to meet pressure-cooker short-term objectives. Meetings after meetings throughout are dominated by discussions about quarterly objectives. This is causing an inordinate amount of focus on the internal. Usually, most work efforts are centered on what can get done by the end of the quarter. This means heads are down and no one is looking out into the horizon.
It is within this context businesses are also attempting to understand buyers today. In conversations helping people with needs related to buyer insights and customer acquisition, the trend has been towards supporting an existing tactical effort. Meaning, the search for understanding buyers via buyer insights and buyer personas is to support an already determined tactic. Usually a tactic targeted to get done by the end of a quarter.
In the old days, this used be called putting the cart before the horse.
We have heard plenty about business as usual is over. The response however, has been towards effectiveness versus transformation. Responses, which involve three-month sprints towards email campaigns, landing page campaigns, sales blitz campaigns, offer campaigns, and more. These all taking place within the same structure of organizations which, have existed since the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s. It makes me wonder if business as usual is intact, only businesses are trying to be more effective with speed. Speed made possible by digital technology. Speed does not equal transformation.
Gaining the right perspective about markets and business is critical for any B2B organization. Companies today need to shift the balance of their perspectives away from the internal declaration of business as usual is over – to buyers as usual is over. What is unusual today is the buyer. The real speed is the pace of change in buying behaviors. This is the speed businesses need to get accustomed to.
The outside declaration of buyers as usual is over is what businesses need to voice. And, their balance of perspective should be on understanding the buyer. Lift your heads up and look out into the horizons to see what buyers are doing and why they are changing.
Before businesses can determine how their business as usual is over – they must first determine how their buyers as usual is over. Here are a few suggestion on how:
- Make a commitment. Companies today cannot give lip service to good intentions of gaining the deep understanding they need about buyers. It will not happen in three months entirely. Make a commitment to be on the search for buyer insights continuously.
- Conduct buyer research. Making the commitment involves committing to do adequate buyer insight research. It is foundational to transformation.
- Change your meetings. Most meetings today are internal tactics based. Not buyer-based. Change the nature of meetings by having them guided by buyer understanding.
- Change your decisions. I don’t have a survey to back this up. However extrapolating from my experience over the last decade, most organizations make decisions on strategy and tactics without the buyer present. I do not mean physically. This means having a review of buyer knowledge, insights, and implications in hand as decisions are made.
- Connect tactics to buyer strategy. Strategies are often developed with good intentions of reaching buyers and growth. Without a deeper understanding of buyers, there is a breakdown in tactics to support strategies. This problem is significant. This disconnect is profound.
- Top down is where to start. Making a commitment means it has to come from the top. Leadership has to be courageous enough to dial back the speed a notch to allow for buyer understanding. I often see very tactical levels in companies make bottom up attempts to voice the need for buyer insights. Their buyer persona efforts become mere checklist items offering no real insight about buyers nor towards transformation.
It is my belief B2B organizations are at a critical juncture. The buyers as usual is over trend– is very real. Businesses who fail to adapt to this perspective can be on a slippery slope towards being relevant to buyers.
The short-term focus, running harder to be more effective and efficient, and lack of buyer presence in strategy has a spinning wheel affect. It is like when we go to carnivals. We pay to spin the wheel and we give it a good push. Each push we give is harder and harder. Hoping it will land on a good prize. Taking the chance it will be the one we want.
Are B2B organizations playing this game? Each campaign a harder push of the spinning wheel. Hoping to land on the increase in customer acquisition target they seek. It is time to get off this spinning wheel and take the time to know your buyers. You will discover buyers are playing a different game at a different speed.