Most technology SMEs I work with already have clients. They often ask me why would I bother understanding and mapping their B2B market.
“When pitching our solution at accelerators, we were asked to present a market overview. I cannot understand the benefits of researching our market as we have secured some clients already and fear it might be a time consuming and pointless academic task.”
SaaS business Co-Founder
Whether you will be performing the audit yourself or via a marketing research firm, there is not one but there are at least six good reasons not to leave every aspect of your go-to-market strategy to luck and coincidence.
It's a big world out there - Whilst it's great ot have local clients, it would be limiting to overlook the biggest market opportunity further afield. Most global market research reports are rather pricey for an SME yet a few indicators from the report overview or some tables in the public domain suffice to “frame” the overall market size, industry verticals and trends, routes to market and key competitors.
Don't just defend, attack! - Controlling your business destiny requires strategic thinking and planning. The market audit will equip you to develop an offensive growth strategy rather than just being reactive. Knowing what your market segments are, who and where your competitors are, trends in the political, economic, sociological, technology, environmental and legal landscape equips you to design a segmentation strategy of your choice with qualified and quantified goals. A step in the direction of using a SMARTAAC goal setting approach(1) for mobile teams.
Disruptive technologies are often launched in turbulent and “wicked” environments: a place where a “classic approach” to decision making is not applicable. This is the “planning dilemma” - when we make huge decisions when we know so little.
This is an area where the iterative and non-linear discovery-led decision making is best suited (2). A more agile approach to frame, experiment and scale for modern managers, able to swiftly switch from one mode to another. The framing mode is essential as it focuses on problem finding, for a group of businesses or employees within a business, rather than problem solving. The sure means to confirm market traction beyond local clients.
Motivate teams - Being visionary is one thing. Translating your high-level vision into clear actionable goals will ensure you align and motivate your teams, employees, partners, suppliers and distributors alike (3). Empowered and efficient teamwork will result as, with a full understanding of the market and segment(s) you are aiming for, every functional head can deduce the steps and tactics required to get there.
Organise your company to execute your marketing strategies - Once the opportunity is mapped and the strategic objectives are clearly set, the company can plan for growth. Funds, processes, people, or systems will vary depending on the opportunity. It is therefore essential to quantify and qualify the requirements for an adequate go to market tactical organisational plan and possibly transformation.
Set benchmarks - Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential to evaluate the progress of the marketing effort, brief your B2B marketing executive team, encourage marketing accountability as well as marketing performance management and optimise work. Outward looking and market related KPIs might include your market share in one vertical, the number of key accounts won per month, size of your sales pipeline compared to the overall addressable market. Benchmarking your marketing KPIs with those of the overall market, a segment or a vertical sector will help: a. Motivate the marketing team, b. Verify if each tactical tool and communication channel is performing as it should, c. Reach maximal impact for your marketing tactics without increasing cost.
Win investors on tomorrow’s opportunity size. Take an investors’ perspective, would you invest in a team relying on “gut feelings” and luck? Early investors want to see potential for growth with the associated business model, so it’s best to be prepared for the investor grilling with facts and figures, preferably from official sources e.g. Gartner, Accenture, PwC.
Market research “should not be perceived as some tedious technical activity separate from the practice of marketing management” and “has many applications for real-life decision” (4) especially strategic ones, team leadership and investment readiness.
It is the duty of the business coach to ensure the B2B market research is really hands-on, fast and focused to deliver a decision-support tool for your executive team.
(1) Goal setting Tip #1: Optimise SMART goals for mobile teams, Virginie Vinel, Agily3 Ltd - https://www.agily.io/goal-setting-tip-1-optimise-smart-goals-for-mobile-teams/
(2) Haslam, Simon, et al. Strategic Decision Making: A Discovery-Led Approach to Critical Choices in Turbulent Times, Kogan Page, Limited, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central - https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/cim/detail.action?docID=5202674.
(3) 3 ways the best companies excel at strategy execution, Bruno Vinel, Agily3 Ltd - https://www.agily.io/3-ways-the-best-companies-excel-at-strategy-execution/
(4) Marketing Research, An Integrated Approach, Andrew Wilson, Financial Times Prentice Hall, MRS.