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April 1, 2013

Bi-directional Vision alignment of Company and Buyers

by Tom De Baere
vision alignment

How do you align with your buyers vision ?
Image source : Flicker @ Thomas Hawk

So many solutions are available to B2B companies today.

Increasingly products are being industrialized to be cheaper to produce, and cheaper to sell. In B2B, and in high value goods, pricing is less important. Value is more important. But value is increasingly brought by more and more competitors. Competitors with cheaper prices. And in the end price pressure comes back.

That’s got to end one day. One day your value doesn’t cut it anymore.

Where do you differentiate when market values and prices are converging? When your market is becoming a “red ocean” again?

B2B companies don’t buy your products. They buy your vision. 

Recently I had to choose a new website builder. After a short RFI procedure, three companies where selected. Pricing was ranging from low to mid to high.

Which company did I buy from?

  • Not the company with the best product.
  • Not the company with the best account manager.
  • Not the company with the best price.

I bought from the company that had a vision that aligned with my vision.

Or, their vision aligned with my vision.

How do you align your vision with the needs of your customers?

This might sound like a sales technique.

It’s not a sales technique.

  • Deloitte wants to excel in everything they do.
  • IBM wants to lead in IT technology that brings value to their customers
  • Cisco’s vision is to change the way people work, live, play and learn
  • Philips made simplicity part of their vision.
  • Apple made design and usability their vision.
  • Amazon made ease to buy and choice their vision.

These are the visions of these B2B and B2C companies.

Aligning these visions with the needs of your customers is your assignment as a marketer:

  • Listen to their world and issues: through learning from what they do on social; which magazines they read, which blogs they frequent, in-depth interviews and what not.
  • Formulate your answers by aligning your answers with their needs. Your products answer the needs of your customers in many cases. But it’s a matter of formulating your answers to better align with their needs.
  • Show your answers through your products and the content your produce.

Aligning their vision back to your vision?

The tricky part is that your vision needs to be aligned with the vision of your buyers. It doesn’t make sense to have a great vision, if nobody believes your vision. They need to be willing to follow your vision by buying your products.

There’s no other way than being where your customers are, and radiating your vision.

The act is rather simple: you need to be visible at the places where your buyers are seeking for answers. They are seeking ‘early buying cycle’ answers, which inspire them towards finding answer to their personal business problems.

Give them answers at these places:

  • Conference speaking slots
  • Industry blog with future insights
  • Demonstrations of future products or concepts
  • An e-book about the future of your industry
  • Market study showing trends that align with your vision
  • Slideshare presentations about the future
  • Minisites around early adopters

What do you want your customers to become?

You now have aligned visions in a bi-directional way:

  • Your vision is aligned with the vision of your customers
  • The vision of your customers is aligned with your customers

Your visions match.

Author Michael Schrage once wrote, “What do you want your customers to become?”

What will you customers become when they follow your vision? What do you want them to become? It’s a crucial question that deserves your attention. That’s probably the challenge of all of us. With a structured “listening and answering” process, I think it can be done.


What do you think?


Warm regards,

Tom De Baere