In my B2B Executive Playbook, I take my readers through the four steps that can simplify strategic planning, focus product development and sales and marketing efforts, and most importantly, create a clear path to market leadership. In this four-part series, Avoiding the Pitfalls to B2B Success, I review the common pitfalls that challenge B2B firms. Be aware of them and act quickly if they surface in your company.
Following a single customer
It’s a common story: a new CEO takes the reins and goes to visit the company’s key customers to establish relationships, make sure promises are being met, say thanks, and offer access. On each of these visits, the CEO asks the CEO at the customer company, “What are your biggest issues?” and “What keeps you up at night?”
But then things start to unravel. The CEO hears something at one account that strikes a chord. A big idea; a game changer. He comes home and redirects the company’s development teams, strategy, and resources, based on a single conversation.
Imagine having your entire leadership team, including functional heads, tethered to a single reference point – and that one reference point is a group of 10 to 25 true decision makers from your most important customers. Once or twice a year, they gather offsite to discuss developments in their industries, markets, companies, and specific areas of responsibility.
Executive Customer Advisory Council meetings have a transformative effect of leader-to-leader relationships, both externally and internally. The executive customers who attended the meeting now seek you out because you provided such a valuable forum for them to network and learn from their peers. They want to do more. They have become part of your team.
The CEO of a $10 billion manufacturing services company met with the president of his company’s biggest customer. The president suggested a solution to a problem with which he said twenty other major players in his industry were also struggling. This convinced the CEO to invest more than $100 million in developing the solution. Two years later, no one, including the original customer, was willing to buy the solution. The B2B seller had rechanneled its key resources, lost credibility in the market, fallen behind its competitors, and ended up writing off the entire project.
The only way to secure market alignment is to enlist a market collective to validate direction and major development projects. Most B2B offerings need a market, not just one customer.♦ ©2017 Geehan Group
Read the other articles in this series:
Sean Geehan is founder and CEO of Geehan Group, National Best Selling Author of The B2B Executive Playbook and a celebrated speaker. Sean has more than 25 years’ experience successfully guiding B2B executives to sustainable, predictable, profitable growth for their organizations. To schedule Sean as a speaker, contact him at (877) 226-1621 or visit www.geehangroup.com.
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