It’s that time of the year again: The UK has had its August bank holiday; the US is on its Labor Day weekend; the Germans are coming to the end of their summer vacation period (which seems to go on for months because it is staggered by state to minimize holiday traffic); and even the Dutch have stopped towing their caravans up and down the German autobahns!

What now happens is that businesses start their budgeting/strategy cycle for the coming fiscal year. This is often a sort of “call my bluff” game, in which the chief R&D or manufacturing executive promises to invent/make as much great stuff as possible; the chief sales executive accepts the challenge to sell as much stuff as possible; and they negotiate to a common number that culminates in a revenue forecast (ideally one which assumes some percent of growth), which then informs the spending budget for the year.

And, invariably, the sales leaders (with perhaps the marketing leaders) then go offsite and agree on their “go-to-market strategy” for the coming year.

B2B marketers: Beware of this habit!

Your sales organization is now only one of your channels, so it no longer makes sense that it defines your go-to-market strategy. Your company can’t just sit back and decide that you will sell direct to, say, “these 100 (or those 1,000) accounts directly”; the rest will be served by “the indirect channel”; while your eCommerce website continues for those customers who insist on using eBusiness to transact with you. Why?

Because you are no longer in control of your market (heh! were you ever?)!

As Laura Ramos writes in her new report, your challenge as B2B marketers is to help your company thrive in what Forrester calls the age of the customer — a 20-year business cycle that will redefine how all companies go to market. In the age of the customer, buyers expect to use whatever channel they prefer — to research you, to engage with you as a company, and to transact with you. They also now expect a consistent contribution from your company regardless of channel.

In the age of the customer, you will only be successful if you become customer-obsessed, so you must plan to go “to customer,” not “to market.” This requires your company to base its planning cycle on the needs and preferences of your customers.

This is why we have introduced an important new concept: the B2B Go-To-Customer (GTC) Strategy Matrix. Forrester clients can read more about it in Lori Wizdo’s new report. The GTC Strategy Matrix is based on the following considerations: 1) How complex is your offering? 2) How complex is it for your customers to decide to do business with you? Based on that assessment, you will be able to map your offerings to one of four possible buying scenarios:

  • “Serve me.”
  • “Guide me.”
  • “Enlighten me.”
  • “Show me.”

Lori’s report demonstrates how these four archetypes should underline your company’s:

The GTC Strategy Matrix should inform your overall marketing plan and help you to focus on the buyer journey and persona research that you need most — it will facilitate and even accelerate your decision-making for your new fiscal year. In upcoming reports, we will show you even more things that spring out of your GTC Strategy Matrix analysis.

It will help small and medium-size B2B organizations focus on their most critical success factors, while assisting larger organizations with scaling their plans across their myriad products, services, and buyers. Used extensively, we are convinced that it could reorient your company toward becoming truly customer-obsessed.

If you are a B2B marketing professional, you need to read this report and take advantage of its insights and recommendations.