By: Rich DePencier and Jeff Hunt
If you know the difference between a watery, burnt, drip cup of coffee and a delectable, creamy cappuccino, you have all you need to build your business-to-business (B2B) company to new levels of success.
Certainly, it takes more than a shot of caffeine to grow B2B sales, revenues, and relevance – but there’s a story brewing here that we believe holds the secret to relevance in today’s marketplace.
Let’s explain what we mean: We recently encountered a business situation where a coffee equipment company had developed a next-generation coffeemaker. The manufacturer believed it would help countless gas stations and convenience stores improve their profit margins through improvements to speed of service, coffee re-ordering, and easier maintenance scheduling. Despite these benefits, the company was failing to meet its sales goals.
Upon further inspection, they were doing the usual bit of B2B marketing – they had a spec sheet that provided details and measurements for their customers, and a pitch that centered on pricing and maintenance. But what they weren’t doing was discussing the in-store experience that allows customers to “customize” their coffee with add-ons. This unique set of features allowed for greater customer satisfaction and deeper loyalty from enjoying their superior cup of coffee – the “magic” that would allow the machine’s purchaser to charge more for this upgraded experience.
It turns out that the company was missing an opportunity to highlight this point of differentiation – and how improving the overall beverage experience for the end-customer, which would help them improve their ticket ring and transactions. By using more of a business to consumer (B2C) mindset when thinking about the end customer, they could tell a story of a transcendent experience, rather than a piece of commercial equipment that would sit in place of the old Bunn-O-Matic.
Today, more than ever, it’s essential for B2B enterprises to adopt a more market/customer/consumer-driven approach if they wish to drive dramatic growth and increase profitable volume.
Here’s why: Every company that is hoping to sell a product or service is in business to do the same thing – provide solutions to their customers, whether they are the end consumer or not. But if a company cannot harness and leverage all of the benefits it provides – to BOTH customers and the end consumer – they will leave money on the table and fail to optimize their total value equation.
That’s why we are staunch advocates of a market-driven approach where B2B companies adopt – and excel at – the best techniques used by many B2C companies. It starts with an understanding of the needs of everyone in a customer’s universe – all the way down to the end customer.
We realize that this is a Herculean task for a lot of time-honored companies that have baked-in processes. This is why a mindset shift is essential – literally Job No. 1 – from top to bottom. There are two notions we find we need to challenge before a company is ready to change its posture:
Leveraging B2C market-based thinking can open a whole new world of possibilities for B2B companies willing to embrace a broad and “complete picture” thought process. There is a HUGE opportunity for B2B companies – particularly small and mid-sized companies – who can achieve explosive growth, if they can unlock different need states or solve existing problems for their customers.
What’s brewing at your company? If we can be of assistance to you as you seek to leverage B2C skills to drive growth, please reach out.