- External and internal systemic issues have a major influence over growth
- You can grow your company by using data to predict future market trends
- A focus on the end consumer helps you anticipate change
Your company has been struggling to grow. Your competition is one step ahead. It must be a problem with your sales force, right?
Gallup frequently helps B2B organizations battling stagnant growth prospects. Though it might seem logical to blame sales teams, sales' influence on growth pales in comparison to larger external and internal systemic issues.
The first thing to recognize is that organic growth, in general, is hard to come by in today's competitive marketplace, especially with real U.S. GDP per capita growth hovering around 1% since 2007.
But what about factors that B2B leaders can control?
Gallup research suggests that there are a number. But perhaps the biggest, most universal opportunity lies in taking a data-driven approach to predicting and responding to future market trends. As one B2B executive put it:
I need insights and a partnership based not on my current business conditions but on future market conditions and the possibilities they present.
In Gallup's experience, many B2B leaders are not proactive enough in seeking these opportunities. Sure, B2B leaders recognize the value in using big data to derive insights and gain competitive advantages. But B2B leaders too often fall into the trap of treating their markets as static entities.
As a result, they do not use cutting-edge analytics to understand changing market dynamics -- the kind of analytics that predict what's coming and enable leaders to adapt quickly.
In fact, while B2B companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of evolving to data-driven methods, only 3% of companies use prescriptive analytics to stay nimble and continually align with shifting industry dynamics.
Prescriptive analytics help B2B leaders quickly respond to three dynamic factors:
- B2B customer preferences
- End-consumer behavior
- Competitive markets
1. B2B Customer Preferences
Customers rarely inform B2B companies of their evolving needs, which is why B2B companies have to proactively discover them.
B2B companies that understand and respond to evolving demands can provide new ideas and solutions that address customers' needs and further customers' businesses.
This is a customer-centric sales approach, with B2B companies targeting customers' goals, markets and challenges to deliver solutions that help customers improve their outcomes.
A customer-centric model positions B2B companies as trusted advisers and incentivizes their customers to give them additional business.
For example, one technology firm Gallup works with asks decision-makers in customer organizations about their emerging technological needs. The responses have led to new discoveries about customers' digital initiatives, enabling the firm to be more strategic in sales conversations and establish itself as a preferred partner for digital transformation.
2. End-Consumer Behavior
The dynamic nature of people's beliefs and attitudes has significant behavioral economic consequences that influence how consumers interact with products. For instance, millennials' distinct purchasing preferences are disrupting numerous industries.
High-performing B2B companies discover leading-edge insights about end consumers to help their customers anticipate change and advance their businesses. Both B2B and B2C customers benefit from understanding changing end-consumer behaviors because it influences both business models.
B2B companies that don't keep track of end-consumer preferences miss growth opportunities and risk becoming obsolete.
A paper-and-packaging company recognized that end-consumer preferences significantly affect their B2B customers. This company wanted to help its quick-service restaurant customers with changes related to on-demand delivery.
The paper-and-packaging company partnered with Gallup to find ideas and solutions for its customers. Gallup asked more than 9,500 consumers in 31 U.S. metropolitan areas targeted questions about their adoption and awareness of on-demand delivery services. While 64% of people were knowledgeable about at least one on-demand delivery service, only 17% had used one. Having uncovered considerable growth potential in this area, the paper-and-packaging company sparked strategic discussions with its customers about how packaging demands will likely evolve as methods of delivery change.
3. Competitive Markets
With technological progress comes new dynamic routes to market that competitors can exploit to get ahead. To take advantage of new technology, B2B companies must know what's happening in their marketplaces.
Take ride-hailing services for example. Had taxi companies foreseen the changes that opened the door to overwhelming competition, they might have invested in innovative technology to protect their businesses.
Marketplace shifts are not limited to B2C environments. Countless companies have watched competitive advantages evaporate because they were unprepared for changes in their industries. B2B companies will not be safe tomorrow if they don't pay attention to potential competitive threats and what's happening in their markets.
The Power of Prescriptive Analytics
Prescriptive analytics are fundamental to keeping pace with dynamic forces in the market. When a company conducts and analyzes these analytics properly, they make possible sophisticated, offensive sales strategies that account for current and future marketplace conditions.
Alternative data sets -- such as demographics, Google search data, socio-economic trends and stock exchange data -- can also provide a detailed understanding of marketplace dynamics. And for even more in-depth insights, B2B companies can partner with vendors with large predictive proprietary databases.
Of course, relying on sales teams to boost organic growth can lead to modest gains. But B2B companies that use advanced analytics to deliver customer-centric solutions and outsmart competitors can both support customer relationships and realize sustained organic growth.
Learn more about how Gallup can help your organization create organic growth with proven best practices:
- Improve consumer relationships with analytics-based decision-making.
- Download our free guide to sustainable business growth through customer engagement.
- Watch our Business-to-Business: 2017 Year in Review webinar to get even more expert insights that can help you grow your business organically.
Bailey Nelson contributed to this article.