Customer Engagement

To influence the market, be part of the networks

Those of us who operate in the B2B world want to believe that when we have a GREAT product the “control the market” myth left over from the 20th Century will work for us. We want to believe that controlling the market is simple; our perfect product, the “right message,” a great website, SEO, well-placed ads, outbound emails, a talented team on the phone and skilled sales people will convert directly to money.

Companies are organized around this myth. They invest big money to support the myth and fire anyone not doing their part. When we are the seller with our GREAT product, we want to believe this approach to “controlling the market,” and when it does not work as we scripted, we can point at the person who failed and replace them.

BUT let’s reverse the script- you are not the seller of the GREAT product. In this picture, you are the company who might be the buyer. In this picture, think about how many people approach you each month with the “Perfect Product.” How many unsolicited emails do you get a day? To what degree do you believe an ad, how much time do you reserve for sales people to pitch their “Perfect Product,” and how much of what they say in the pitch do you believe?

When you are the company that might buy, most of the time you or your team are in a constant state of exploration. Your team may not even know they are looking for something to buy. They are looking for ways to improve every part of the business.  Constant exploration comes in two general cases:

  1. They may be looking for a better product or vendor. Better might mean more or better product choices. They may need better delivery. They may want JIT inventory practices, less spoilage, or better contracting terms.
  2. Your team may also be looking for ways to solve problems, fill gaps, leapfrog the industry, make the world safer for their staff, their customers, their customer’s customer, or a partner who brings new thinking and engagement models to the market.

Regardless of which type of exploration is going on, it is mostly happening in the various networks where your team are members. The networks can be paper based (books, magazines, papers), electronic, virtual, person-to-person, in the company, in the industry, by discipline, by professional association, alumni group or from non-business groups.

These network conversations are mind-expanding and may include “perfect products” or things not yet invented or combinations of products, services, work-arounds, etc. The information in the network may support the story told by the company with the “Perfect Product” or may contradict every word that “Perfect Product” company said.

Regardless of what the network(s) says, who do you expect the buying team to believe? Will they believe the story from the “Perfect Product” company or their network of peers?

Going forward if you really want to sell your “Perfect Product,” don’t try to apply the myth to control the market. Instead, influence the networks in the market based on the value the product can really provide. Influencing networks will let you influence a lot more people with less effort and budget; plus, the networks will teach you something allowing you to get every element of the network(s) to help the buyers buy your “perfect product.”

Category: Customer Engagement


About the Author: Rick McPartlin

Rick McPartlin is the CEO of The Revenu

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