The market’s response to the S&P downgrade of American debt was panic. The ‘Great American Downgrade’ is what I’m hearing it being referred to. While the pundits argue over whether it was a ‘crash’ or a ‘correction’, the Senate, ironically, debates opening an investigation into S&P’s “irresponsible” act. The looming question of whether this will trigger a double dip recession depends on how we look at the future.
A glass can be either half full or half empty; it all depends on your perspective. In the frenetic world of 7×24 news, social media, always-connected jobs and maxi-multi-tasking lives we often lose perspective. It is as if we’re racing through a forest as fast as we can, seeing only the blur of the trees and believing we’re on the right trail.
Our economic situation is a sum total of all the activities and perspectives of businesses, citizens, investors, and governments. What plagues our economy is the same thing that hampers growth in our companies – doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. Marshal Goldsmith said it well in his quote “What got you to here won’t get you there” and it is rather appropriate for our current situation. It would do us, and the economy, well if we gained some perspective for we are at a tipping point.
The USA economy can tip into a pattern that resembles Japanese style stagnation or it can redefine and reinvent itself. The same goes for businesses; they can hunker down and experience limited growth in their traditional markets with current products or they can re-evaluate and redefine their value in light of global trends and offshore markets that are growing. We all need to look at growth from a different perspective; one that is rooted in thinking outside the box about how to deliver meaningful value.
For most companies that means tackling the lack of confidence in their Sales and Marketing organizations. We all know Sales and Marketing are broken and it’s time to publicly admit it. The ‘broken-ness’ is evidenced by B2B Marketing struggling to demonstrate its value in terms it has historically never had to. B2B Sales is increasingly becoming marginalized and struggling to meet revenue targets in a world where no one “really” wants to talk to them. One reason we’re in the current situation is because companies (and governments) have been inwardly focused for too long. The quest for great efficiency, effectiveness and productivity has been sought within and between departments; not at the organization’s boundaries between it and its markets and constituents. Protracted inward alignment results in myopia and the general drinking of one’s own whiskey.
Fixing Sales and Marketing begins with dropping the classic definitions of what Sales and Marketing are suppose to do along with the internal tug-of-war associated the zero-sum game mentality. Replace that with a culture and roles obsessed with aligning to the expectations of your prospects, lost accounts, current customers, and target markets. In other words, align to your Buyer.
Begin the alignment process by intimately understanding where Buyers go and what they do on their purchase journey. It takes some elbow grease and tenacity but every company can achieve understand the Journey by interviewing the economic buyer, influencers, evaluators and users of every won and lost account to understand the ‘who, what, where, how and why’ of their Buyers Journey. While the B2B Buyers Journey has three overall stages comprised of ten steps, each role (or persona) follows a slightly different journey path. To align to your Buyer, organizations need to know all the various paths and the destinations along the way, in detail. A high level or generic view of the Buyer’s Journey obscures the actionable information; the data that enables you to deliver a valuable experience made up of meaningful content presented to the right persona at key junctures on their buying paths.
Next align organizational roles to enable, engage and deliver value to the Buyer. The experience a Buyer wants as a customer is often more important in the purchase decision than the actual product they are buying. Structure your organization’s roles into value chains (instead of departments and organization charts) from initial market sensing, Buyer experience crafting, and product development/manufacturing through to market listening, Customer/Buyer success and service. Measure how the Buyer rates their experience along the Journey and set role-based metrics.
The key to growth is two-fold: Accelerate revenue cycles by delivering the experience buyers value and have a company culture focused on continually earn your customers’ business every single day. The bottom-line is we need a fresh perspective on how to do business differently if our economy is to ‘tip’ in the right direction.