Tag Archives: Harvard Business Review

Is Your Point of Contact No Longer Empowered?

One of the recent trends facing B2B companies is the shift in power back up the corporate ladder.  In the past a mid-level manager may have had the authority to purchase your product or service.  That responsibility now exists farther up the food chain where you may or may not have relationships.

So how do you get the ear of the executive suite?  In the March issue of Harvard Business Review, authors Philip Lay, Todd Hewlin, and Geoffrey Moore cover this topic in their cover article called “Provoke Your Customers“.

The article talks about changing how you sell – from solutions-based to provocation-based.  You need to sell by understanding your client’s “critical issue” beyond what your product or service provides them.  What are the bottom line issues that their business faces and how are you the company to solve it?

Once you identify that critical issue, you need to find a path to the executive in charge. Unfortunately, your current point of contact may be a hindrance since most people don’t like admitting they no longer have the influence they once had.

This is where your sales training goes beyond the typical lead generation.  The authors go on to talk about the importance of using your referral network to get you a meeting.  My advice to you is opening your pitch with “this is going to benefit your bottom line” – as return on investment is critical now more than ever.

People mistake marketing as the final product people see. In fact, it is the thinking and knowledge behind the final product that shows you know how to market smarter.

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Filed under Customer Marketing, recession marketing

Strengthen Your Core

I was re-reading a 2001 article from the Harvard Business Review about how to navigate your business in a downturn.  It reminded me that so many companies often try to diversify their products and services to capture revenue from new sources.  Instead of being distracted by new ventures which deplete your resources and invite new competition, strengthen your core services and ensure you maintain your competitive edge.

Focusing on your core customers is equally important.  Reaching out to a wider customer segment is important for growth – but it can take time. For a near-term (and ongoing solution) reach out to your existing customers.  Provide them incentives to use your services or purchase your products again.  Use email marketing, direct mail and/or telemarketing to communicate your offer and bring your customers back.  

In addition, provide you customers an incentive to refer you to their friends.  Word-of-mouth marketing is the one of the most credible marketing tools and providing your customers a reason to talk about you to their friends will certainly help drive sales.

To weather the economic storm follow these steps to solidify your core business and strengthen your customer relationships thus allowing you to market smarter.

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Filed under Customer Marketing