Business-to-consumer companies have tried to invade the business-to-business space in multiple instances, almost always with disastrous results. The logic for B2C companies is always there: move up the value chain with great big accounts that require no branding efforts. But they don’t work.
What are the secrets of B2B? That’s what our former BIA/Kelsey colleague Sean Geehan tackles in “The B2B Executive Playbook,” which reached No. 1 on the Amazon business bestseller list in January. Since leaving Kelsey, Geehan has built the The Geehan Group, an 18-member firm that advises top B2B players in a variety of areas, including best practices for building advisory boards.
Geehan recounts the worst thing a B2B company can do: hire a P&G executive. They’ll spend a fortune on new logos and advertising and entertaining end users, such as sales and marketing personnel. But they never get to the point of their B2B company — it’s all about the engagement, collaboration and advocacy of your customer decision makers: top executives.
It is really more of a symbiotic effort to achieve sustainable, predictable, profitable growth — the goal for any company. But in a B2B company’s case, “customers are your brand manager.” And typically, they’re more knowledgeable about what they need then the B2B company itself.
To be successful, you have to move up the special B2B value chain: beyond being a commodity supplier or reliable supplier or problem solver to the golden land of being a trusted advisor or business partner. You know you’ve made it if you pass Geehan’s “phone call test”: when the admin openly shares the decision-maker’s schedule and availability with you.
I don’t normally read business best sellers and have little patience for platitudes. But this book is full of insights, case studies and practical tests.