How to Succeed in Business (to Business)
The secrets might surprise you. The most successful b2b organizations, in my opinion, understand the value of:
- Being Centered
We worked very closely with Brian and his team at Viget for a many months building the initial architecture of Squidoo. There are plenty of shops that can do web programming, plenty that claim they can do UI work and plenty that are even hipper than you. There are very few that manage to pull off the kind of work that Viget does. They were on time, on budget and most important, they didn't cause anyone to lose sleep.
The very things that I look for as a consumer (surprise, fashion, edginess) were in short supply here. Instead, Viget went out of their way to never overpromise. They pushed the hard decisions early in the process so that the thrashing was early, not late. In fact, the end of the process was the most delightful part. Because they know who they are and are clear about it to themselves and to their clients, the chances of making an honest connection with their clients is much higher than someone who is trying to be all things to all people.
Drew Dusebout, a broker/financial planner I know at UBS is the same way. Drew doesn't make vague promises about financial returns, and he doesn't get all excited at the latest gimmick. Instead, he's honest with himself and his colleagues about the world he works in, and his clients always get exactly what they expect. Sure, this is a more difficult way to grow (at first) because you can't seduce the people who are the most likely to jump ship. You can't promise some shortcut that gets you the quick clients. But in the long run, I don't know of any other way to market a service like his.
Here's the hard part about this: if you're very good at what you do, you won't grow. Because lots of people are good at what you do. No one is going to be busy referring you and sending you business just because you're very good. Sorry.
The only way to consistently grow in B2B is to be better than very good. In fact, it's to find something that organizations need and be the very best in the world at it. Hopefully, that thing is something that organizations in your sphere are eager to talk about among themselves. If it is, you win. There's a line at your door for years to come.