Everyone wants to grow, but not everyone wants to change. To grow with modern buyers — yes, even industrial ones — your business must change to reflect the new reality that buyers are in control of much more of the process than ever before.
In our previous article, we talked about why your mission is so essential, and why it serves as the first step toward changing to grow, followed by creating a customer-centric culture.
Your mission is the “why,” defined by your ideal customer and the goals that your company is helping them reach. Your culture is the environment in which your people do their best work. Culture reflects the ideas, beliefs, ethics, and values that define your organization and keep it moving forward.
Is Your Culture Product- or Customer-Focused?
A product-centric culture puts technology and products at the core of what’s happening in the company. The product becomes the basis of most decisions, even if leaders pay lip service to putting customers first. A product-centric culture creates a solution that the company thinks is helpful and tells salespeople to sell it.
When working to build a customer-centric culture, HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah says, “The first and most important step is to shift the organization’s mindset to focus on solving for the customer. Make decisions based on what’s in their interest — because what’s in the customer’s interest is in the organization’s interest too.” Customer-centric organizations start at a high level, and the goals of the customer need to permeate every conversation and meeting.
To bring about successful customer-centric organization, first align mission and culture with buyers’ expectations. The next step is to create an inbound operating system, which is part of your “how” — the guardrails you set up to keep your teams focused and on track. This is how you activate your values and beliefs.
Developing an Inbound Operating System
An inbound operating system provides the tools needed to facilitate non-hierarchical communication and offer valuable employee feedback while giving teams the information they need to be successful — which is defined by how well they’re helping your prospects and customers. The operating system connects everyone together to perform as one unit, with the same mindset, in pursuit of the organization’s mission to solve for and help customers.
An inbound operating system also serves as an early warning system for potential issues or roadblocks. When teams are succeeding, leaders don’t need to spend much time inspecting employees’ work. The operating system itself identifies potential problems so that management can get a sense of how teams are moving forward and help ensure alignment with company mission.
An inbound operating system will be different in every organization, though there are some consistent components. These include open communication tools that foster transparency, employee feedback mechanisms like employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), regularly scheduled and structured interactions that allow everyone to hear key messages and information from leaders, a documented culture code, and a regular review of the mission and goals that is specific to each team and person.
Bringing About a Culture Shift
Once you’ve changed the way you think and everyone understands their new roles, you’ll experience a massive shift in your culture. It will manifest in every aspect of your customer interactions. Express your new inbound approach everywhere — in the content on your website, in how your sales team interacts with prospects, in how your service people connect with customers, and even in the way your back office frames their work and its impact on the customer experience.
This is crucial with today’s buyers; the experience they have with your team, product, and overall process will determine whether they become your best salespeople by rating, reviewing, liking, and sharing their great experiences with everyone they know.
When working with modern digital buyers, the next step in the growth process is to develop your inbound strategies. Your inbound strategies are your “what” — what you are going to do to accomplish your mission and reach your goals by helping customers achieve theirs. In other words, the “what” refers to the way you are going to help your target customer.
Creating a Customer-Centric Culture
Your inbound strategy is the guiding force that directs your organization’s actions, allowing you to solve your customers’ problems and help them overcome unique challenges.
To be customer-centric, you need a customer-focused mission to guide the way, a customer-focused culture to allow your people to do their best work, and an inbound operating system to provide the tools your people need to deliver the amazing experiences your customers demand.
For more information on how to implement inbound organizational principles into your industrial business, check out “Inbound Organization,” now available on Amazon.
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