Cust Engagement

Post Covid, 6 Ways TechCEOs Can Jumpstart Customer Engagement

COVID-19 has been one of the biggest global challenges of our generation. Customer behaviour is changing at a staggering pace, and digital adoption has become necessary for survival. When the pandemic eventually recedes, your customers will have to continue to adapt and accommodate new business models, attitudes and behaviours in engaging markets. Leaders must take immediate action to meet customer expectations in the post-crisis era.

 

As a TechCEO, You have a unique opportunity in engaging differently with your customers and help them navigate this crisis.

 

Last month we covered how TechCEOs can respond to the Covid-19 event and take control of your business in H2 2020. Now, let’s explore how TechCEOs can engage their customers differently and deepen their relationship.

 

Let’s be clear. By now customers have accepted the fact they are bang in the center of a prolonged recession, at the same time they are seeking a level of certainty which allows them to move forward with caution and renewed hope.

 

Most important thing they want from any vendor is to assist them in establishing a sense of clarity. As a TechCEO, if your selling team has reach across a broad swath of customers, industry verticals, and geographies you can help your customers by providing evidence-based perspectives. There is a clear opportunity for vendors to make sense of rapidly shifting conditions and bring clarity to their customers.

 

As a TechCEO, you can offer your customers some of these information:

  • Assess impact on customer businesses and potential areas to offer support.
  • Create near-term commercial messages that help customers more effectively manage their business through the pandemic and aftermath.
  • In lieu of data-backed perspective, engage customers with a hypothesis-led approach. 
  • Position and arm sellers as “Sense Makers,” helping customers understand rapidly shifting dynamics.

 

Let’s elaborate.

 

Customer Engagement Strategies

1. Help re-visit the long-term plan or strategy. 

“How is your long-term strategy changing or evolving given current conditions?

Have you had discussions with your customers to understand the impact of this recession on their business strategy? As frightening as the current crisis may appear, if you can help your customers respond better to it will decide how well their organisations will thrive once the economy starts recovering. You will deepen your relationship with clients if If you can give them ideas whereby they can utilise the slowdown to step back and take some strategic measures that will pay off in the long term.

 

2. Explore hypothesis on coming changes to customer or market behaviour. 

“Here’s what we’re seeing and what we think it means. What do you think? Would you agree?”

To some extent if you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes and help them analyse their current situation, outlook, the forces shaping the next normal, and the new organisational structures that can help them keep pace with the changes – it will be really welcome. Instead of pushing your products and solutions, if your selling team can spend some time in engaging and visualising the changes in your customer business and test some hypothesis, it will go a long way in developing an empathetic relationship with client stake holders.

 

You could launch a survey, consolidate reports and gather vital data points and assemble it meaningful ways to make an impact to your customer assessment journey. 

 

3. Explore likely impact to business processes (e.g. workflow, supply chain). 

“Which processes will likely change as a result of COVID-19, and which won’t? Here’s what we’re seeing.”

One silver lining with Covid situation is that it has shown businesses how to manage better and achieve greater speed, quality, and cost control. Gone are the days of waiting around for best practices to emerge. CEOs recognise the need to shift from adrenaline-based speed during COVID-19 to speed by design for the long run. The winners are experimenting now, and boldly. 

 

You could explore with your customers as to which key processes are in for a major revamp. For example, redeploying talent, improving productivity in specific areas, developing new products quickly, shifting and adjusting operations can be explored in detail to adapt to current situational needs. You could be of help to your customers in some way.

 

4. Address previously agreed-upon strategic initiatives. 

“Which strategic initiatives will you likely have to revisit or re-prioritise as a result of these changes?”

 

Post pandemic, most organisations are being forced to address these 3 important questions: Who are we? How do we operate? How will we grow? Most customers are focussed on helping stabilise the company in the near term, creating the right conditions for growth as we emerge from the crisis, and building the resilience the company will need to get through the next several cycles. 

 

You could engage in conversations to discuss how strategic priorities are shifting with this sudden change in fortunes and how companies are responding to the situation. 

 

 

5. Help customers develop and prioritise actions for a range of upcoming scenarios. 

“Let’s lay out the range of actions you might take for each step of the following three phases, depending on how conditions develop: near term protection, mid-term recovery, long-term new normal”

 

For one of our clients we immediately engaged in a conversation that went like this:

Look after employees first, followed by customers and suppliers. It will pay off in the long run, as each group will certainly remember how you treated them during this difficult time. The profits and dividends will come later if you make the right decisions and moves now.

We helped them establish clarity in communicating short term execution of long term plans and not short term guidance. 

We discussed with their leadership team as to how as a company they can withstand the crisis, and how strong will it be in the long term, considering its competitive position, growth potential, and returns on capital? It help them a lot.

 

6. Create near-term commercial messages that help customers respond smarter. 

Your selling team should help develop points of view based on your customer/ prospect company’s perspective in markets served and relay this to customers. Helping your customer assess patterns in how they are inadvertently mismanaging their responses to the crisis and not pro-actively engaging their markets is a big help. Your team should let buyers know that commercial opportunities will exist where assumptions and rapid decision making are driving customers’ business responses.

If you can encourage your customers to respond as a relevant thought leader with a sharpened focus linking their value proposition with the most critical and timely concerns of their customers.

 

 

P.S.Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways I can help you grow your tech business:
 
1.   Grab a free copy of useful stuff that can help you grow your tech business. More in our blog.
  • 10 Steps TechCEOs Can Take Now to Bounce Back Click here.
  • Should Tech firms consider Re-Branding to Drive New DemandClick here
  • Do TechCEOs Get ROI from Marketing Click here
  • 3 Mistakes to Avoid In Your Tech Business To Grow Revenue Click here.
 
2.   Schedule a 15 Minute assessment call with us – Click here.
 
We have worked with a bunch of tech companies and have offered them systems, strategies and coaching to attract and convert clients. We help you install sales and marketing systems that automate stuff and help flood leads and drive higher revenues and margins. Talk to us.
 
3.    Join our TechCelerate Implementation Program and be a Case Study
 
I’m putting together a new coaching case study group at TechCelerate this month… stay tuned for details. If you’d like to work with us on your client-getting and scale plans… just reply to this message and put “Case Study” in the subject line.
 
Life is short. Take action now and grow. Best Wishes.

3 Unusual Ways to Standout and Win

Last week, had coffee with a technopreneur in Singapore. What he said blew me away!

After getting to know about his business, the past 6 years of his roller-coaster life as an entrepreneur, motivations to start a business in his 40s after quitting a well-paid job in an MNC – casually asked him this question.

“What is your definition of success and failure? And why now?”

After digging his head down for a few minutes, he looked me in the eye and said this.

My definition of hell is to reach the end of my life and coming face to face with the person you might have been!

I just want to go with no regrets in my heart. So here I am.

In his world, there are no costs or losses.

Just investments.

Read More

Be Conscious, Not Compulsive in Selling

(Reading time 4 mins. In 2017, let’s be conscious, not be compulsive and mindless in chasing growth. It works.)

 

2016. Oh, what a year it was! An interesting cocktail of emotionally charged outcomes.

 

To quote a few notable ones – Rise of populism, shift in geo politics and power, $3.3 trillion of takeovers chasing growth, AI coming of age, self driving cars, fake news, Oil play, shipping bankruptcy, people going gaga over ‘Pokemon Go’, attacks in Brussels & Nice, Aleppo and a fast changing world innovating and disrupting at a rapid clip.

 

Without judging anything that has happened let me ask you a question?

 

How did 2016 make you FEEL?

 

Did you feel empowered or disillusioned? Only you know the answer.

 

In my case, I am coming out of 2016 with mixed feelings.

 

Whichever way I look at it, I am quite sure that we are being setup for one hell of a ride. It’s not going to be smooth, predictable and remotely uninteresting.

 

It could jolt some of us, throw many of us into realms of new opportunities or challenges and even force us to step out of our comfort zones. For people in sales profession, 2017 is definitely a make or break year.

 

This is a nice segue to ask the next question.

 

As sellers, what do you think you will need to be successful in 2017 and beyond?

 

To get your thoughts going I will make my case to this question in 3 parts:

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What did Satya do to energise Microsoft?

(Reading time 4 mins. Analyse using B4B Wheel to map Microsoft and Satya’s strategy)

Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation. This is a critical time for the industry and for Microsoft. Make no mistake, we are headed for greater places — as technology evolves and we evolve with and ahead of it. Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.

This paragraph was somewhere in the middle of the first letter Satya Nadella wrote to Microsoft’s employees once he took over as CEO on 4th Feb 2014.

Steve Ballmer exited Microsoft in Aug 2013. Satya Nadella stepped in as the CEO around Feb 2014.

What has changed since then?

One word. Culture.

The approach. A shift from ego-centric 800 pound gorilla like approach to a clear thinking yoda like inclusive leadership.

A shift from ‘I am right, you are wrong‘ mindset to ‘let’s discuss and evolve together‘ progressive thinking.

In two years, Satya has led a cultural revolution at Microsoft that has brought a lot more compassion, a lot more energy around the way people feel and think about things.

Microsoft ‘power center‘ approach where every product group ruled the roost and thought in silos has truly given way to ‘One Microsoft‘ group think that has a unified mission.

To understand this even better, let’s compare and contrast Ballmer and Satya’s approach using Agility Nexus B4B Wheel.

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B4B Selling loves customer experience

(Reading time 4 mins. Why should you switch your sales philosophy?)

Finally, after years of pounding clients with calls, email blasts, intrusions, ads, campaigns, challenges, push and shove, inbound, outbound, cross sell, up sell, driving growth at any cost – we have reached a point of overwhelm and started talking about customer experience!

The part where a customer happily engages and does business with you.

What goes around comes around. No getting away from that.

Some are even calling customer experience as ‘the future of selling‘. I feel like laughing when the industry coined the term customer experience. Isn’t it a basic human need to feel safe in a transaction, not be overwhelmed or be obligated when we don’t want to?

First we abuse the system and now come up with an antidote. We end up giving it names such as customer experience, voice of the customer, etc. How weird!

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B4B rejects Alpha Male style leadership

(Reading time 3 minutes. B4B needs a ‘eco-system’ leader than an ‘ego-centered Alpha Male leader type)

How many times you have been to a meeting headed by a leader portraying Alpha male leadership style?

Hardheaded, task-oriented and extremely opinionated. They are known to get very upset when things do not go their way, and living up to their excessively high standards can feel like a mission impossible. They are prone to outbursts when things don’t go their way.

Bold, aggressive, decisive, critical, one track, domineering and loud. They inject fear all around. They suck energy out of the space.”

The corporate ladders, of both big and small companies, are strewn with such characters aplenty. These folks have managed to play the game well for the past four decades. In fact, they have played it so well that they have risen to the top.

Shocking but true.

The reason it has worked so well until now is that the corporates have been ‘ego-systems‘ so far. Hierarchical, typical ladder, where the alphas gather their pack and rule the territory. Organisations were territorial and boundaries were well defined.

Not anymore. As we step into the social era, ego-systems are being quickly replaced by eco-systems. Connections matter more than strategy in a silo.

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Exit B2B Marketing. Enter B4B Marketing

(Reading time – 3 minutes. You will re-consider B2B marketing approach after reading this post)

 

I am sorry to say that, in the recent times, B2B marketeers have become inhuman.

 

Don’t believe me?

 

Ok. Let’s do this exercise. Say this word out loud. LEAD.

 

Now close your eyes and think of the word LEAD. Count 1 to 5 and then open your eyes. Start now.

 

Pause.

 

Now that you have opened your eyes, what image came to your mind? Be honest.

 

Your Salesforce.com screen for leads? Or your MailChimp email id? Or your lead report that you send to your marketing bosses?

Or a human being – with flesh and blood?

 

9 out of 10 times, you would have struggled to hold an image. Even if you did, I am quite confident that it is definitely not a human being.

 

As marketeers, most of you, have succumbed to corporate pressure and metrics. In a hurry to satisfy bosses, you have fallen prey to ‘click through rates‘, ‘open rates‘ and ‘bounce rates‘ than to care for the human being on the other side of the screen.

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