Doug Wendt is a co-founder and senior partner with Wendt Partners.
What is a B2B Business Consultant?While the management consulting field is wide and diverse, the essential role of a B2B business consultant is to: (a) serve as a valuable outside advisor to your company, (b) bring specific and detailed expertise in working with clients who serve the business-to-business marketplace, (c) focus on the business as a whole, rather than on just one or two functional or operational silos, and (d) work directly with the CEO to formulate strategies and action plans that can solve enterprise-wide business problems.
Why Do We Need a B2B Business Consultant?There are certain situations, challenges or objectives that represent optimal opportunities to engage a professional B2B business consultant. These include the following five situations:
1. Sales Growth is at a PlateauHas your company historically experienced strong growth, but in the last few years either plateaued or even retrenched? Does it seem that the reliable segments you have served faithfully still put food on the table, but seem lacking in new business or growth within existing accounts? Perhaps you've already rallied the sales team, pushed the marketing people and still not experienced meaningful or lasting progress. In this situation, a B2B business consultant can bring a fresh perspective and examine your company's market segments, future opportunities and potential options for repositioning to reclaim growth.
2. Competition is Coming from New DirectionsIt's one thing to regularly face the same three to five competitors in most of your sales cycles. It's something completely different to face customers and prospects bringing new names to the table, rethinking their purchasing processes entirely, or asking you to respond to competitive claims you hadn't anticipated. Industry consolidation, new upstarts and market changes can throw your traditional competitive strategies into disarray. A B2B business consultant can assess the marketplace outside your company, interview customers to determine how they perceive your firm in comparison to others in the marketplace, and examine your strengths and weaknesses to help develop a new strategy that leverages your best advantages.
3. Our Company Culture is StagnatingSometimes the greatest challenge to business growth is a satisfied culture. Employee satisfaction is not a bad thing, but if employees are satisfied yet unmotivated to embrace change, then it is a problem. You need your managers and personnel to be motivated first and foremost -- motivated to suggest new strategies, share innovative ideas, speak up with valuable customer feedback, and express concerns proactively rather than reactively. If your culture is not moving forward -- either because employees are satisfied but unmotivated, or because they are not happy and therefore uncommitted -- a B2B business consultant can help move the change needle. As a third-party advisor, the consultant can bring an unbiased perspective to bear, and clear the air between misunderstandings or false assumptions, and concrete, fact-based issues that can be addressed and resolved.
4. Few or Poor New Product or Service IntroductionsWithout innovation, every company eventually dies. That's true in even the most staid industries. General contractors thought that their industry would not change, until professional program and construction management firms arrived and disrupted their dominance. And certainly law firms considered themselves completely immune to market-driven changes, but eventually the economy, new technology and the business models offered by radically reshaped competitors proved that wrong as well. You need to change -- in what products or services you offer; in how they are packaged and presented; and in how you do business. Without new product or service introductions, you don't communicate your competitive advantages to the marketplace. A B2B business consultant can gather and align market input; customer feedback; internal resources; and a review of your innovation capacity and processes, to effectively drive change.
5. Unclear Exit and Succession StrategyMore than half of all privately owned companies in the U.S. are facing a potential exit planning and ownership succession crisis as their founding leaders retire and a vacuum is created in leadership or direction. Avoid seeing your business come apart at the seams, or slowly decline into disarray. Instead, take proactive charge of this essential priority. You need to have a plan -- one that works for you, and one that works for your company. A clearly defined business and owner strategy for growth and exit is an essential component that will ensure meaningful value in your company. A B2B business consultant will be sensitive to your needs as CEO, while also keeping in mind the unique capabilities, culture and assets of your company. The result is a strategy that can meet your needs while also strengthening the company's market position and future growth potential.
These five situations represent major turning points in the future of your business. The question is, how will you respond to them and make sure that you continue to lead a healthy B2B enterprise? By bringing in a B2B business consultant to assess, examine, benchmark, plan and guide execution, you ensure that you're positioning your company for lasting growth and success.
Image Credit: AIOT @ Flickr (Creative Commons)