B2Bs: Think about your customer’s customer
Every entrepreneur thinks about their customers. But if you’re a B2B you also need to think about your customer’s customer.
Your customer seldom looks back at her supply chain (you). To her, you’re a cost, an expense, a commodity, even a necessary evil. Time spent thinking about you is time not spent thinking about her customers.
Your customer prefers to look forward at her customers. She thinks about adding value for them, improving her service to them, increasing their awareness of her offerings, enhancing their willingness to pay, expanding her market share. That’s what’s important to her.
And if it’s important to her, it better be important to you.
So put yourself in her shoes and vividly try to imagine her customers and how she works to satisfy them. Then figure out how your product or service can add value to her customers, will improve her service to them, will increase their awareness of her…You get the picture.
Do this and you’ll differentiate yourself from your competitors. You’ll make it easier for her to choose you. You’ll strengthen your relationship with her. You’ll raise your value in her eyes, which may raise her willingness to pay for your offerings. And you’ll adjust your marketing and sales messages, which will help you attract other customers like her.
Here’s an example.
Imagine that your customer sells widgets to consumers and that you’re one of her paint suppliers.
In the past you’ve simply responded to her purchase orders, which always include strict specifications. You value your customer and so you work hard to meet those specifications but, at the end of the day, the biggest part of her purchase decision comes down to price. There are, after all, other companies that can meet her specs. Your job, therefore, has been to meet her specifications at the lowest possible price.
Instead, what if you were to think about what’s important to the people who buy your customer’s widgets? What are they most interested in: durability? style? toxicity? eco-friendliness? After discovering this, what if you:
– changed your formula to create a harder, chip-resistant paint, or
– created a more vivid color, or
– engaged a third-party laboratory to help you improve and certify the safety of your paint, or
– adopted ecologically friendly production practices?
Imagine how it would change the next conversation with your customer if you could say, “We can help you grow your sales by making your widget more (durable | fashionable | safe | eco-friendly)”?
Strengthen your business: help your customer look after her customer.
This blog after was inspired by the excellent article Creating Impact in B2B Relationships by Ed O’Boyle and Craig Kamins in Gallup Business Journal