Many U.S. businesses have been idling since the first quarter of this year — they’re still running, but due to closings, reduced demand and an atmosphere of uncertainty, they haven’t gained the traction they had originally planned or projected to experience this year.
In fact, organizations across a broad mix of industries have confirmed that due to the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, they’ve adjusted their forecasts and budgets, and are rethinking their approach to nearly everything from marketing and business development, to new products and services, pricing and supply chain management. A recent survey by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) demonstrates why such adjustments may be necessary, reporting that more than 53% of members were anticipating changes to their operations and 36% expected disruption to their supply chain.
While scores of B2B companies put their hypothetical cars in neutral, some sensed potential and seized the opportunity to “thread the needle” and accelerate. At present, countless other business leaders are asking themselves, their teams and consultants two crucial questions, “Is it possible to restart growth now?” and “What can we do to protect our business from the risk of future hardship?”
Keith Pigues, CEO and Founder of Luminas and co-author of Winning with Customers, advises, “The only way to answer these questions and be prepared for unexpected — yet inevitable — challenges is to know with certainty the answer to this all-important question: ’Do your customers make more money doing business with you?’”
It’s an interesting question. One that stops most business leaders in their tracks. However, Pigues and Luminas assert that you can know with certainty whether your customer relationships are healthy and mutually beneficial, or at risk. The first step is an internal appraisal — identifying an inhouse perspective on what’s truly driving customer value today and creating the most opportunity for future growth. Is it …
- the right mix of product and services (at the right price),
- good marketing and communications,
- a sales team full of rock stars and exceptional customer service, or
- skillful strategic planning to serve the right markets and customers?
Once you’ve pinpointed your “secret sauce,” it’s time to look outside the company and ask your customers for their point of view — invest in gathering their specific insights on what your company does that enables them to accelerate growth and profitability. Then, compare notes — how does your internal perspective match up to the customer feedback? By going through the rigor of this process, you’ll discover your company’s differential value and become better equipped to set priorities and make more confident business and investment decisions. Ultimately, by helping your customers realize success and achieve their desired outcomes (“make more money”), your company will reap the bottom-line benefits and establish long-term partnerships that will enable you to pivot more easily in the future when industry shifts or competitive challenges, economic downturns or global crises threaten to strike.
Disruptions like what we’ve seen in 2020 are unavoidable and the ongoing pandemic is undoubtedly causing changes and shifts in your B2B relationships. Therefore, it’s prudent for every supplier to take a fresh look at customer priorities; seek to understand their needs and learn the facts about what really adds value to their business. Doing so will help you to ReStart Growth and win with your customers now, and in a post-COVID economy.