“The B2B Executive Playbook”
by: Sean Geehan
First and foremost, The B2B Executive Playbook really resonated well with me. With two decades in the software industry, most of that time in customer-facing roles, it validated much of my own experience and thoughts.
Think of B2B as a complement to Jim Collins’ Good to Great. It is similarly easy to read and well-researched, with plenty of examples. In B2B, Geehan focuses on how B2B companies need to engage with their customers, different from B2C companies.
SPPG is the acronym—and the goal—Geehan uses throughout the book—Sustainable, Predictable, and Profitable Growth.
Here’s a classic situation: You work for a large company (e.g. $1B+), your industry marketing efforts are end-user focused; you hold focus groups; develop your products to solve their needs; and, do a good job at it. Then your key customer(s) drop you to go elsewhere. Why? What happened? You delivered everything they wanted!
The crux of the problem is that B2B differs markedly from B2C. In B2C, the consumer is end user, influencer, purchasing, and decision maker, all rolled into one. In B2B, end users have very little control over the decision-making processes of most B2B companies.
So, What Happened? While racing to make products interesting to end users—which are quite often personally focused and extremely tactical in nature—the needs of the decision makers were ignored—if ever specifically considered at all.
We have all heard about the need to become our customers’ ‘go to’ person, their troubleshooter, later their trusted adviser, and perhaps ultimately their ‘partner.’ Here’s a clue:
Success doesn’t come by befriending every end user in a B2B organization.
The B2B Executive Playbook is just that: It is a straight-forward discussion of:
- The importance of executive customer involvement;
- How to engage executive customers;
- How to plan relationship development;
- How to get executive customers to truly collaborate with your leadership team; and, ultimately
- How to grow both the executive customer relationships driving your own bottom line.
In a business where the software ‘demo’ reigned king, I have been involved in $ Million dollar software deals where software ‘demos’ never even happened. The customer interaction was purely driven based on a relationship and our ability to solve the decision maker’s needs.
Here’s one of the core points Geehan drives home: Executive customers (e.g. that 20% driving 80% of your revenue) need to be directly engaged, on a regular basis, with your senior leadership team. Doing so lets your executive customers feel involved…further cementing your relationship with them; decreasing the chance they’ll leave. At the same time, your senior leadership team gets to hear, from the folks approving expenditures, what it is they need and where the market is going.
This serves to align the leadership team, avoid turf wars, and internal conflict. It also helps ensure your organization delivers the products, the services, that the decision makers need—the proper target for your efforts.
For the CEO, it also has the benefit of increasing your own credibility, since everyone understands the basis for your own decisions (it’s not just ‘you’ coming up with a new idea following a single customer visit).
Who needs to read this book?
- B2B CEOs….
and their senior leadership team(s). If you’re trying to evolve your own executive customer relationships, and struggling, B2B provides a constructive path for you to consider following.
- B2B Leaders…
struggling with ‘deal size growth.’ This approach can help provide the platform for helping your business go from 6-figure sales to 7-figure. Or from 7- to 8-figure, or…
- Junior Sales Team Members…
Who want to quickly gain a broader view of the importance of executive customer engagement. And, why the demo scheduled next week has its place but isn’t the ‘high point’ of the sales process.
(disclaimer: Advance copy provided in consideration for review without remuneration)