In business, few rules can truly stand the test of time. Ironically, one such rule is that you should always brace for change. This change can take you to unexpected places and sometimes cause you to uncomfortable decisions like changing the very core identity of your business.
When the time comes to change the party line, are your B2B marketers prepared?
Some companies present themselves as the embodiment of innovation. (Look at Salesforce lately.) However, one can easily argue that companies like these can be very young. When you’re at the forefront of what’s new, it’s natural to assume that you wouldn’t want to see anything flying over your head.
The reality can be different however in the next ten years. Look at the companies who first pioneered the great innovations of their own era. How long did you think they lasted?
In the animal kingdom, companies that have managed to last beyond them are considered living fossils. G.E. is a popular example. But even in that company’s case, do you have any idea how much it came from mergers, acquisitions, and (ultimately) a radical change its business identity?
No matter how much it still deals in lightbulbs (or how much you idolize Thomas Edison), the company itself has numerous other investments in other areas (including medical software). It’s hard to say whether Edison himself would’ve approved of everything the company has done maintain itself.
In any case though, this doesn’t mean your B2B marketers shouldn’t get away with the idea that things will always remain the same for so long. You need to a checklist to see if they’re ready to change the party line:
- Are they listening to the music? – You need to strike a fine balance between avoiding the bandwagon and realizing that a new innovation is threatening your market share. The words “change or die” can sound offensive to companies that manage to last so long with the same old models, products, and services. But eventually, one day, they’re going to have to face the music.
- Do your customers support you? – The older you get, the more diversified your customers will be. With each lead generation campaign, you get more and more variety in opinion. In the end though, the segment which generated 80% of your sales may no longer consist of your oldest clients.
- How soon can you implement change? – Answering the above two questions could be meaningless if you don’t realize that you’re under a time-limit. Don’t just be confident in your answer. It needs to follow-up with actual execution. Fine tune your lead generators to warn about any possible need to change. For all you know, you’d have started right on time when you thought you acted too soon.
You might doubt that you won’t necessarily be in your organization when the party line changes. What good is this then? For starters, whatever new company will be in is going to face the problem as well. And at the same time, you wouldn’t want to leave your successors without a clue now would you?