B2B innovation requires a different approach. One of the most important considerations is understanding which customers should be prioritised, both to rapidly test the idea, but also to serve as a viable beachhead market. In this guest article Shyaam Ramkumar offers a research-backed model for identifying key enterprise influencers.
One of the most important aspects of innovation is business development. With innovative new products and processes comes the challenge of finding the customers who are willing to take the risk of being the first to try a product or service.
Particularly in the B2B space, where supply chains favor the tried-and-true and the status quo, convincing companies to try something new or innovative becomes a difficult task.
For many companies who try to find clients and prospects for their new innovations, business development entails attending networking events and conferences to identify prospects, creating spreadsheets or utilizing CRM systems to keep track of contacts, and hiring sales and marketing teams to do outreach.
All of this involves a significant amount of time and money, often with no understanding of what the returns on these investments are and whether these efforts are fruitful. In many cases, companies take a shotgun approach, trying to reach as many prospects as possible with the hope that at least one is successful and justifies the cost of the other failed attempts.
If we think about social media, what has emerged with the notion of “influencers” and viral marketing is the idea that there are certain customers who can act as ambassadors for products and who are able to spread awareness in ways that previously were unimaginable.
These dynamics rely on network theory to show how ideas can very quickly spread, provided they are passed along to the right people. For B2C innovations, this might not be a novel idea and is an approach that many companies who do business development in the consumer space have been following since the rise of social media.
But what about B2B companies?
Similar to how there are “influencers” for consumer-oriented products, are there smarter ways to approach business development by prioritizing “enterprise influencers” who can accelerate the awareness and adoption of B2B innovations? The answer is yes, as long as you have a good understanding of business networks and relationships and are able to analyze this information in the right way.
The tool that I developed, NetworkBD, based on research from my PhD does exactly that. Taking a list of your existing and prospective clients and insights from your CRM systems on how warm or cold these leads are, the tool is able to identify which companies are “enterprise influencers” that should be prioritized to maximize business development and future growth.
Using publicly available information, NetworkBD analyzes how likely these companies are to be interested in your innovation, maps how these companies are connected to each other, and runs thousands of simulations to examine network effects to find the “enterprise influencers.”
The results can help focus your company’s sales and business development efforts to pursue prospects and leads that have a higher probability of success. And moreover, leads that are able to generate network effects by opening doors to future business opportunities.
This can save valuable time and money to help your innovations find the right customers and partners to accelerate growth and scaling.
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