Helping your clients buy
B2B firms can accelerate organic growth through an outcome-based approach — that is ensuring that they provide their customers the outcomes that they seek. To do this requires demonstrating client value, active listening and joint collaboration early on in a buying journey that is innately complex and non-linear.
B2B buyers typically average 7 involved stakeholders and can be as high as 30. The work that Gelst does with our clients' buyers makes it clear that the decision makers have knowledge gaps all along the purchasing route. And they are looking for help.
By engaging with the right stakeholders at the right time, you help them to buy a solution they trust because they've already experienced getting to the right outcomes with a team which not only listened, but demonstrated collaboration with their own team.
Providing the right information along your client's buying journey remains a challenge despite the best data-driven intentions. Especially early on, before your client has even defined the problem they seek to remedy.
°Gelst believes B2B organisations have many opportunities to really help their clients at critical points of the buying process — which will make all the difference.
Are you creating the right discussions early on with the right people?
Based on the hundreds of interviews that °Gelst has done in our clients’ buying teams across Europe and North America, the size of a team depends on the organization and the complexity of the solution and investment required.
For large firms looking to change the way they do things by bringing in significant new software products or undergoing a digital transformation in some part of the organization, the buying team will typically be split into a sponsorship level and a more tactical level who often make the decision to be confirmed by sponsorship.
Sponsorship – which can be the CIO, CFO, business unit lead or senior VPs – are focused on the what and why. They can tell you how the programme came to be and what it aims to achieve. The team actually making the buying decision – who will be closer to the implementation and change – can be from supply chain, finance, sales, marketing or HR. IT is often involved, as many programmes involve a substantial, innovative digitization element. As is procurement, a function with increasing sophistication and influence to help reduce risk in these large-investment decisions.
Ensuring that your firm is being considered early on isn’t about creating or inserting awareness of your capabilities into a buying team’s path. It’s about creating the right discussions early on, asking the right questions and drawing out those on the buying team to help them choose an outcomes-based solution which you’ve demonstrated in your discussions.
There is a lot of focus in sales and marketing about building awareness, and not enough about building discussions based on stellar questioning which not only positions your team as interested and interesting experts – it helps the buying team generate and clarify their own thoughts.
If your team manages to help the buying team clarify their questions on why buy now and why buy your solution really, really well, sole source can be more of a possibility as your team is already demonstrating outcomes through collaboration.
Getting your ducks in a row
Three core elements make the difference to buyers when it comes to choosing who they will partner with to help deliver a successful project:
1.Perception: A powerful, well-executed brand goes a long way. Big brand or not, perceptions are based on more personal characteristics that can can make or break a deal.
2.Expertise: Potential clients are looking for more than a specific skill set, years of practice, industry accolades or a winning track record. They are trying to determine if you have what it takes to open their minds to new ways of thinking. To suggest new possibilities for their business. And to guide them to new opportunities.
3.Relationships: People buy from people. That truism underscores the fact that every business is built on relationships. Relationships are, in fact, at the very heart of client-centred marketing. They also play a major role in winning – or losing – client work.
Your marketing team is no doubt hard at work to ensure that your firm is perceived as the preferred option in the market to key industries, a company/group of companies within these, specific functions, and perhaps even individual stakeholders. At the same time, your business development team is connecting with your major client contacts and have their ears to the ground on impending projects and external market drivers.
Are your marketing and business development efforts paying off? Are you making the right investments? What percentage of your efforts are you sure about?
Focusing on client accounts individually and what the typical buyer journey looks like is not new. Adding a structured approach to consistently focus marketing and business development activities at the account level – which addresses a multi-stakeholder buying team with different questions and needs at different times – may not be totally new either. But like any large client project, it takes some doing to prepare, implement and run.
If you adopt a customer-centric account approach and it’s underpinned with the three core elements – perception, expertise and relationships – you’ll be on your way to organic growth. The combination will help to bring energy and consistency to your marketing and business development efforts increasing your ability to start discussions with key stakeholders early on, stay connected and expand these connections.
FOCUS on a select set of clients
STRUCTURE your approach, for impact and efficiency
Approach your clients CREATIVELY
Client Experience - what's in it for your clients?
Clients are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to choosing professional services. For many, that’s because they have brought in-house people who have professional services experience. Gelst's research confirms that clients' increasing sophistication is really good news for those firms with a well-structured approach to their key clients.
- See you as close and approachable
- Notice your expertise
- Recognise your demonstrated understanding of their business and their needs
- Appreciate your ability to help them, in a collaborative fashion, grow their business