We were very pleased to welcome Laurens-Jan Olsthoorn (partner at Bain & Company’s Amsterdam office) and Seonad Lindsay (global marketing director at DELMIA Quintiq, part of Dassault Systèmes) to take the stage on September 25th. They talked about the importance of getting feedback from your customers – both quantitative and qualitative – and being able to leverage it by implementing (small) improvements, continuously and fast. A quick summary of this smart and cosy night.
The more the better?
NPS meets B2B Elements of Value
Net Promoter What?
Strategy is important but execution is everything!
new insights shared
Laurens-Jan introduced the B2B Elements of Value framework by comparing it with the good old Maslow pyramid of needs. Decades of researching B2B buying behavior revealed that a similar hierarchy of needs applies to modern B2B buying. This hierarchy was – as Maslow did – visualized in a pyramid. At the bottom you’ll find ‘table stakes’ like offering an ‘acceptable price’. One level up in the ‘functional value’ level you’ll find elements like ‘cost reduction’. You need to deliver on at least some of these basic value elements to be and stay in business, but these don’t offer you a lot of competitive advantage. Once you’re stuck here, you’ll encounter the ‘commodity trap’; a metaphor for the threats of commoditization. Then, Laurens-Jan explained that B2B, until now, typically revolves around ‘ease of doing business’ value elements (the pyramid’s third layer) like ‘decreased hassles’ or ‘configurability’. But in this age of experience people (yes, that includes us in B2B) actually buy from companies that go beyond all of these, establishing an emotional connection with their customers because they provide them ‘reputational assurance’ or – one level up from ‘individual value’ – contribute to the company’s ‘social responsibility’ efforts.
The more value elements the better, you might think? No. Instead, you should focus on your strengths (the value elements at the core of your company and products) and your competitors. When you find ways to structurally outperform your competitors on the elements that matter most to your ‘promoters’, you are very likely to succeed.
Bain & Company has discovered and proved that NPS strongly correlates with revenue growth. Hence, focusing your business and investments on ‘promoters’ of your products, services and brand makes a lot of sense. But this is easier said than done, because there are million ways to do it. One way is finding out which of the 40 B2B Elements of Value matter most to ‘promoters’ (and why, and how…). Generating these kinds of insights allows you to:
Last Wednesday we learned that you can pick different ways (quantitative and qualitative), routes and tools to understand your (prospected) customer’s ‘real’ needs by applying B2B Elements of Value in your customer research.
Most of us are familiar with NPS (Net Promoter Score) as a way of measuring customer happiness. One simple question does the trick. How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague? A proxy for your company’s success. Great, right? But it’s also known that many of us fail – or do we simply forget? – at acting upon the results. Numbers are important, yes, but don’t tell us what to do next. You need to hear the actual client stories behind these metrics to be able to understand that. The Net Promoter System, invented by Bain & Company, offers a rigorous approach of mastering this. Learn more about the Net Promoter System.
Seonad shared with us how DELMIA Quintiq, part of Dassault Systèmes, has applied the B2B Elements of Value framework to map their buyer’s journey. This more qualitative approach involves doing lots of interviews with (former) clients and lost opportunities to better understand how B2B buyers (incl. all types of influencers or ‘personas’) try to make sense of vendor landscapes, product features, service benefits and all that. Ask yourself…do you really know how your customers eventually ended up signing a huge contract with you? Price? Product quality? Might be true, but tonight we learned that these are hardly differentiating you from all the others.
Seonad shared which of the value elements seemed to matter most to their customers, but – more importantly – she emphasized the importance of actually implementing these insights. The company has defined 8-10 key projects for this, involving sales, marketing, communications, product and delivery specialists, analyst relations and so on.