How to Communicate Differentiation by Leading with Customer Value

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By Jennifer Hollingsworth, Digital Marketing & Sales Enablement Manager

Navigating the B2B Landscape

In the dynamic world of enterprise companies, effectively communicating your differentiated value is a paramount factor in establishing a strong market presence. Our CEO Gavin Finn had the opportunity to chat with GE HealthCare’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Andy DeLaO on The B2B Engagement podcast. The conversation delved into how focusing on one customer at a time and solving that person’s or organization’s challenge to provide the most value should drive marketing strategy and message.

In this podcast, Andy DeLaO, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at GE HealthCare, outlines his multi-year plan to help overcome healthcare challenges and simplify GE HealthCare’s complex marketing, infusing trust and maintaining an authentic human touch through a customer’s problem-solving journey.

When you think about it, there are two core marketing channels today: events (whether in-person or virtual) and digital. We live in an increasingly digital world. No matter how large, expensive, or complex the solution is, buyers are first researching our offerings online.

B2B companies across all industries, including industrial manufacturing, medical device manufacturing, and information technology, face the challenge of how to communicate their competitive value consistently and successfully across digital marketing mediums (web, social media, email, virtual reality, augmented reality, advertising, SEM, interactive applications). Distinctive and relevant value propositions are key to standing out in a crowded market and starting long-term, trust-based relationships with customers.

Andy’s wealth of experience in shaping customer-centric strategies that prioritize patient and client value provides actionable insight for any business looking to refine its approach to market differentiation.

Customer-Centricity: Understanding the Problem-Solving Journey

Andy DeLaO’s journey within the healthcare industry showcases a shift from a product-focused mindset to one where relationships take center stage. Throughout his career, spanning clinical settings to the business side of healthcare, Andy emphasizes the importance of understanding the “magic” that occurs between a patient and a physician. This relationship-centric view should be applied to how B2B companies interact with their customers. By aligning product development and marketing strategies with the genuine needs and experiences of the end-users, businesses can deliver solutions that have a meaningful impact on their customers’ lives.

“It’s about what is of interest to the person that you’re trying to connect to. It’s no longer about the fancy shiny box. It’s not about the specs. It’s about what is their problem. What is their challenge? What is their experience? The more deeply we understand what that experience is and what their problem is then the better we will be able to come to them with a solution that actually provides value to them.”

— Andy DeLaO, GE HealthCare CMO

Customers are not on a buying journey but a comprehensive problem-solving journey. Recognizing this fundamental shift in perspective is crucial for B2B marketers seeking to engage customers and prospective customers.

Research from McKinsey emphasizes the significance of understanding the customer journey – especially how it takes place across digital mediums – stating that B2B buyers are more likely to consider a brand that provides a simplified and personalized experience throughout the decision-making process. Developing marketing strategies for this problem-solving mindset and digital self-discovery establishes meaningful connections with customers.

Embracing Change in a Digital World to Build Continuous Value

The podcast discussion underscores how COVID-19 has altered the business landscape, chiefly by changing customer expectations and interactions. For B2B companies, this means recognizing that the way customers research, educate themselves, and make purchasing decisions in their personal lives has permeated the B2B space. Customers seek the same level of digital convenience and autonomy in their professional decisions as the seamless online experiences they encounter as individual consumers.

According to Gartner, B2B buyers increasingly rely on digital channels for information, with 77% stating that their latest purchase involved little to no interaction with a salesperson. This underlines the need for enterprises to leverage various digital and in-person touchpoints effectively, ensuring that each interaction contributes to the customer’s problem-solving journey.

The importance of building continuous value at every touchpoint cannot be overstated. Enterprises are encouraged to adopt a holistic approach that goes beyond traditional sales and marketing. Andy emphasizes that every interaction, whether it involves a website visit, sales meeting, service visit, or webinar, is an opportunity to add value. 

To maintain an edge over the competition and achieve true sales potential, companies need a force multiplier. At GE HealthCare, their goal is to shift focus from generating leads to generating mindshare.

From Selling to Helping: Building Trust Through Transparency and Value

As Andy points out, regardless of the shift towards a more digital, AI-driven world, the constants of business relationships — trust, communication, and managing change — remain unaltered. He talks about the four Ts of business value-based relationships. Companies must strive to provide transparency, assist in navigating transitions, and respect customers’ timelines, thus fostering a deep sense of trust.

“Value to me is about gaining trust. You have to have transparency so there can be open and honest communication on a lot of different levels. The next part of that equation is transitions. How am I, or my organization, helping customers transition through the problem that they’re currently facing? And the fourth T is about time. It’s not about my time as a seller or a corporate entity. It’s about the time of the customer. What is their timeline for buying? What is the timeline for their change management? Do we understand that? And are we willing to do that? If we can manage the transparency, transitions, and time the customers need, then we build trust. And when you’ve got trust, that’s when you get the attention.”

— Andy DeLaO, GE HealthCare CMO

Gavin introduces a paradigm shift in mindset from selling to helping – a profound change that challenges conventional B2B marketing approaches.

This concept aligns with McKinsey’s assertion that successful B2B brands are those that focus on providing solutions to customer challenges rather than merely promoting products. The key lies in becoming a trusted partner in the client’s journey, fostering transparency, and building relationships that transcend individual transactions.

Align Sales and Marketing Goals

One of the challenges highlighted in the conversation is the need to realign sales and marketing goals. Traditional approaches often drive teams toward behaviors that may not be aligned with the overarching mission of helping clients solve problems. Aligning these goals can result in a more authentic engagement model where customers perceive the brand as a partner in their problem-solving journey.

“We want our teams, whether they’re sales or marketing, to be so valuable to our customers that customers are delighted to take a call from them because we’re there to answer questions, help, and provide insights.”

— Gavin Finn, Kaon Interactive CEO

MarketingProf’s research indicates that organizations with aligned sales and marketing functions achieve 38% higher win rates and 36% higher customer retention rates. This emphasizes the strategic importance of synchronizing these two critical components of the B2B landscape.

By focusing on a customer-centric, problem-solving journey, building continuous value at every digital touchpoint, embracing the paradigm shift from selling to helping, and aligning sales and marketing goals, enterprise companies can create meaningful connections with their target audience. Communicating this value and building trust results in more efficient marketing and accelerated sales cycles – all while creating happier, more loyal customers.

The B2B Engagement

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