Four steps to strengthening B2B customer connections
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IBM's hot-off-the-press 2010 CEO Study confirms again what solutions marketers already know: getting closer to customers is a strategic priority. An overwhelming 88% of large enterprise CEOs told IBM that getting closer to customers is a top business strategy for the next five years, placing it at the top of the list. An even higher number of the best performing CEOs, 95%, stressed the point.
Is this really news? Isn't this just Marketing 101?
Well, sort of. The idea is basic, but making it happen, especially in large organizations, is not so easy.
The CEO imperative makes sense. Big company CEOs are struggling mightily, as the IBM report notes, with "the complexity of operating in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world."
In this context, and especially from a B2B perspective, close customer connections are essential to:
Creating and sustaining those trusted connections is extremely difficult, though, when our customers are overwhelmed with their own professional demands and tune out most of our marketing.
Social media brings promise of new and potentially more effective ways to build and maintain vibrant customer connections, both individual and communal -- but understanding how to turn that promise into reality is far from clear.
Meanwhile, face-to-face connections remain essential for key customers, especially at the executive level where so many of us need to be working. But our sales people have less time for relationship building and often little credibility in the executive suite. Beyond sales, it is difficult to know which face-to-face programs are worth funding.
A final challenge, especially for large organizations, is simply managing, coordinating, and building synergies across the wide range of programs and activities designed to strengthen customer connections.
Knowing this is a CEO priority, however, should make it at least a bit easier for marketing leaders to push forward with efforts to do what we all know is so important.
Here are four steps to consider:
What would you add to the list? What's working for you?
Photo credit: Marc_Smith
I would just want to add to the steps mentioned above. Apart from the strengthening part, I think it is also important to re-inforce the relationship. What I mean by that is the existing relationship should become so very indispensible to the customer and the solution we provide, so very unique that they are bound to accept our upselling ideas, and also help us make our way into cross selling. This would ensure organic growth which is very important when goals and targets make us forget build a strong foundation.