Entering new business territory? Slow down!
Your greatest challenge may not be the strange language or business culture, but a different set of reasons-to-buy or the cumulated hubris of your previous success. And I'm not only talking about foreign geographical markets.
Are you selling into a narrow market niche with a huge international potential. Good for you! Just make sure to set your target companies’ perceived needs and pains right before you attempt to launch your killer solutions.
At "home" your company may very well be the confident market leader. But what happens when you bring that confidence into a market where few people have even heard of you? Where you don't have the same deep insight and understanding of needs, relationships and buying journeys. Where someone else is #1, setting the agenda for your intended customers' expectations?
And I’m not just talking about geography here. The next jungle to conquer could be moving up from technical product-selling to strategic business solutions (= from technical buyers to corporate management). Or maybe a different target segment in your own backyard. The greatest challenge may not be the lingo or local business culture but the hubris of your previous success. As a newcomer it doesn't matter how big you are somewhere else. If you rush in without understanding the mindsets of the people involved, your confidence will only be perceived as naivety or arrogance.
Advertising? PR? Or something else?
The answer used to be temporary corporate advertising campaigns that few B2B companies could afford, and few, if any buyers, would respond to. Or PR – letting a trusted editor in a leading business- or industry publication spread the word about you.
But in today’s global information overload, the right editors are not likely to lend their credibility or space to yet another newcomer, unless your offer is truly sensational. And a couple of newspaper articles would rarely rock the world of senior decision-makers anyway.
So what do you do?
One way could be slowing down to identify and focus on a manageable handful of potential customers or distributors – the bigger, the better. But few decision-makers would risk their neck by even suggesting that the company should abandon an established and well-liked supplier for a less known newcomer. And in a typical B2B organization, more than a dozen people are likely to influence a decision.
In order to promote a new solution, you first need to change their collective and individual perceptions of pains, needs, opportunities and challenges. Maybe establish entirely new reasons-to-buy, or new parameters for shortlisting potential suppliers or invitations to bid.
It will not happen overnight. So, to ensure that your perspectives are solidly planted around the target organization whenever they are ready to move, you need to be visible at all times.
In the past, that would have required the full support of the previously mentioned business or industry publications. Today, you can reach each potential decision-maker and influencer in the companies of your choice directly. At a fraction of the cost for traditional media campaigns.
It doesn't matter if 15 or 25 people are involved on the buying side, and you don’t even have to know their names. By applying a thoroughly considered ABM strategy – from customer selection, information gathering and analysis to customized content creation, precise distribution and analysis – you can afford to reach them all, continuously throughout the year.
With the right ABM strategy you will not only know which target companies would be ready to talk to you at any given time, you would also know what they want to talk about.
Senior Writer & Strategist at Freya News