"If sustainable, predictable, profitable growth is the holy grail you are seeking, you have to build relationships with decision makers," says Sean Geehan, founder of the Geehan Group and author of the upcoming book The B2B Executive Playbook.
This assertion at a recent Columbus AMA Special Interest Group Meeting prompted an interesting question from the audience.
"Are you suggesting we focus all our relationship efforts on decision makers?" asked a B2B marketer.
I like this question because I think it is at the heart of a fundamental change we are making not just as marketers, but as selling organizations. More and more companies are asking for assistance in "moving up the food chain"--being able to call on and have relationships with higher level executives.
They realize that customer satisfaction and NPS scores are only a portion of what we need to do with regard to customer loyalty and retention. To sell solutions, to solve problems, to become trusted business partners means we have to build relationships at the decision maker level. We have to understand their business aspirations and we have to deliver value. And to answer the gentleman's question, we have to do this while maintaining our relationships with users and influencers.
Wow! A big job to be sure. But I think we are up to it. We've mastered expense control and quality management. We've seen our organizations through mergers and divestitures. There's no reason why we can't step up and help our organization's build profitable customer relationships with decision makers.
And, as Sean shared in his presentation, this can be accomplished without spending any additional money. We simply need to re-balance the money we are spending today.
Where is your organization at today? Where do you want to be? What are you doing to help your organization make the shift? I'd love to hear your comments.