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They Can See You, But You Can’t See Them

Our B2B community can forget how vast the B2B sector is.

In fact, I’m not sure anyone has their arms around the number of B2Bs there are – publicly- or privately-held.

For a little perspective, NPR recently did a report on how the use of drones is moving from a wartime use to filling a need, for instance, with police departments. What does this have to do with anything? NPR estimates that there are a thousand+ small companies working on drone technology.

A thousand SMBs working on drone technology? Selling to consumers? Nope. They’re selling to businesses and organizations.

Quirky, right? How many other quirky B2B sectors are there? I don’t know – do you?

Recently, I worked with a technology company who sells super cool healthcare analytics to health insurance companies. Has anyone given any thought to how tricky that sales process is considering how complex that industry’s buying process is?

Do you know how many Managed Services companies are in the US today? Any idea how difficult it is to differentiate Managed Services?

What about companies selling HVAC services to businesses? Exterminations services? Leadership Development? Organizational Development? Air pollution control services?

Tons of variety in B2B with complex buying and selling situations.

And I’d argue that for a healthy majority of real B2Bs, not just the sexy B2Bs, that those folks aren’t on Social Media for business. For many B2Bs, the cutting edge folks may have a LinkedIn profile. But aren’t actively on LinkedIn. Twitter? G+? Forgetaboutit…

It’s fairly easy to get narrow-minded regarding what buyers want when you’ve worked for the same company for years. Or when you’ve just worked in one or two B2B sectors.

But here’s the thing: these folks need advice just like any other business person. And they may be seeing YOUR advice. And struggling to make it work.

But your advice is based on the experiences you’ve had – which are likely incredibly great. And your advice is likely a great fit for organizations that are similar to the organizations you’ve been working with.

However, when you fail to stratify or categorize or FOCUS your pontifications (e.g. “B2Bs should consider X v. Fortune 1000 Technology B2Bs should consider X”) you’re doing a disservice to all.

Wouldn’t it be a great injustice if the medical community simply dispensed advice to PEOPLE? Rather than to:

  • Teen girls
  • Toddlers
  • Senior Men
  • Young Women
  • Post-Menopausal Women
  • Infants

Don’t know about you but I’d rather know the specific Tylenol dose for a 6 month old v. some generic dosage for children. I’d hope that the medical path best for people dealing with obesity wouldn’t be doled out to healthy, young adults. Right?

The same is true in B2B.

So when you’ve done the work to have a relatively public pulpit, understand that you’re preaching to a wide, wide variety of folks. They can see you, but you can’t see them.

But they’re out there, they’re listening, and they generally don’t have the background or the context to understand that what you’re pontificating is not always suited to their needs.

What I’m asking is simple. Rather than just declaring your thoughts on B2B, stratify a little. Tell us where your focus has been (industry, company size, size of salesforce, etc) and then your broader audience will have the context to know if it applies to their team or not.

 

 

2 comments
blaknissan
blaknissan

Thanks. This is the constant challenge regarding focus. A useful exercise is to consider the challenge that every company faces in constructing its public "face": does your website, marketing material, etc. reflect the way your customers think, or do they merely represent the company's internal structure (which customers could care less about). Too often, especially large firms are so dominated by their own hierarchies, that they forget that no customer gives a darn about org charts or internal structure. They want to find products and services that solve whatever problem they have. It's a question one should ask every time one is distributing some new material -- whose problem are you addressing: the customer's or your own?

blaknissan
blaknissan

Thanks. This is the constant challenge regarding focus. A useful exercise is to consider the challenge that every company faces in constructing its public "face": does your website, marketing material, etc. reflect the way your customers think, or do they merely represent the company's internal structure (which customers could care less about). Too often, especially large firms are so dominated by their own hierarchies, that they forget that no customer gives a darn about org charts or internal structure. They want to find products and services that solve whatever problem they have. It's a question one should ask every time one is distributing some new material -- whose problem are you addressing: the customer's or your own?