Doug Wendt is a co-founder and senior partner with Wendt Partners.
As a result, you need to focus on strategies that have been proven to work – strategies that can overcome the marketplace challenges and the internal barriers that you cope with every day. Here are ten essential strategies that B2B business leaders can use to drive growth:
Internal B2B Growth Strategies
1. Define Your Change Vision - Most B2B companies are so focused on today's internal issues and tomorrow's scheduling or production challenges that they fail to develop any kind of a clear picture of what the marketplace would look like when their products or services are used. As a result, their innovations or solutions are largely ignored by potential buyers, or dramatically under-appreciated. Paint the picture first, so your market can understand and accept the vision.
2. Craft Your Brand Promise - This is not a trivial task, because it means you're going to back this statement with total commitment. If you define your brand promise as "providing the widest range of industrial components, available overnight", then you have to back it with a stock management strategy and delivery system to support that statement. But before you do that, you need to determine if that promise is the best one for the market as well.
3. Align Systems and Processes - The brand promise should be a central driver of your entire business strategy, and that means aligning everyone and everything behind it. If the company focuses on engineering new solutions, then place investment in engineering at the center of the business model. If the focus is on comprehensive accounting solutions, then make sure your team can truly cover the gamut of what customers might expect.
4. Focus on Learning - To focus your company around a specific market strategy and brand promise, you need to ensure that your people are ready and able to join you on the journey. That means creating and implementing training, development and learning programs customized around your strategy. Don't rely on generic programs and un-detailed curricula when you're trying to teach your people how to be different -- instead, develop content from your own perspective, supplemented with employee mentoring.
5. Commit to Culture - Making your company's culture align with your strategy begins with your own behavior and example as the CEO. When in doubt, walk around the company -- your people need to see you, and you need to hear from them. Break down barriers by spending time with personnel in all areas of the business and at all levels. Then incorporate that feedback to enhance your direction.
External B2B Growth Strategies
Once you've mastered the five internal strategies, you can begin working toward success on the five external strategies as well. These strategies focus on helping you effectively communicate your business strategy to the marketplace. After all, the key to B2B business growth is reaching a specific target market audience with a highly precise message that drives action.
Taking Next StepsNot sure how to begin? Then start with the end in mind, and that means thinking afresh about what your company's best strengths are; how to provide new or enhanced value to customers; future changes you are anticipating in your marketplace; and creative solutions you can offer. To learn more, download the free guide offered at the end of this article. In the guide, you'll have detailed examples and suggested next steps for each of the key strategies, plus insights and ideas to help you get started.
Image Credit: horasis @ Flickr (Creative Commons)