Business Growth Strategy & the big, scary, haunting word....CHANGE

Ed Marsh | Oct 28, 2013
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."...........George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Are you a revolutionary?

Don't scoff.  It's a legitimate question. But your first instinct is probably right, at least in the context Shaw intended...complete with a bandolier across the chest.

But maybe you should be.  No, not the bandoleer wearing or pitchfork wielding, but revolutionary nevertheless.

Many of the topics we explore in this blog involve some fairly substantial (you might say radical or even revolutionary) adaptations in how B2B manufacturing companies approach their business development process.  So we frequently discuss the role of perspective.  It's important to consider ideas not only in the comfortable and routine environment in which one normally operates, but also in a broader global context.  No manufacturer that I've encountered can legitimately claim that they don't face global competitors; that they don't have untapped global opportunities; or that additive manufacturing (3D printing) might not massively impact their business in the next 5-10 years. 

So on the one hand, drawing on Shaw's guidance, the reasonable man would fight these trends - perhaps adopting a luddite-esque outlook.  But to perspective again, on the other hand if the "world" is typical US company assumptions on B2B business development, then one must take a bold stand and bend the world to your will.

An "Unreasonable Man's" Guide to Business Development 

There are two fundamental axioms that guide business development for most US B2B companies:
  • The US market is enormous and offers ample growth and diversification opportunity
  • B2B sales & marketing remains fundamentally about traditional approaches to lead generation and project management
The corollaries to those axioms are:
  • Export business development is simply too risky for SMBs
  • Serious B2B deals don't get done on the internet
The vast majority of businesses adapt themselves to this world (or this perceived world.)  But business progress (not 2% annual growth meandering, but serious progress) will depend adapting US business practices to a new, bold, revolutionary set of realities as follows:
  1. Today's global business environment is neither "international" nor "domestic" but is a fabric of market opportunities that exist around the globe.  They should be sought, evaluated with a holistic methodology, and if appropriate pursued as part of an overall business development strategy
  2. 93% of all B2B buying starts with internet search; buyers now avoid contact with sales reps until they are 70% of the way through their buying process; and complex sales are increasingly influenced through educational content provided by innovative suppliers
It's easy to see how casually responding to periodic international inquiries, or pointing to a website which lists product specifications is the "reasonable business" adapting itself to the world.  After all, that's the way "it's always been done."  In contrast, proactively identifying profitable market opportunities regardless of borders, and executing internet marketing against a strategy designed to grow traffic, leads and customers both require an "unreasonable" approach to the status quo.  Particularly for traditionally conservative B2B manufacturing companies.

Global business revolutionary

Of course not every revolutionary wears a tattered uniform.  And their "unreasonableness" is often manifest not through lack of agreeability, but rather through their persistent testing of their own assumptions.  Often they hide among's an example.

This week I'm pleased to be the guest of members of the packaging machinery trade association (@PMMIOrg) at their annual meeting where I'll be joined by my friend Chris Mott as we explore some of the sales channel issues encountered by manufacturers as they "go global."

PMMI's 2013 gathering is being hosted by Delkor Systems, a Twin Cities based manufacturer of packaging equipment, and Dale Anderson, it's President and CEO -  AND a real global business revolutionary.

Dale, shown above receiving an export award from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, has led global business development efforts which generated more than 25% of the companies sales in '11, more than 50% in '12, and who knows how much in '13.  And of course that's while still cultivating vibrant domestic growth as well.  Talk about "adapting the world to himself"!

Congratulations to Dale and Delkor for the accomplishment, and to PMMI or the ongoing encouragement and support it provides for members global business development efforts.  They've simply refused to accept that it couldn't be done - and they've achieved great success.

Join the rabble

Think maybe you're ready to follow your pitchfork?  Tired of conforming to the stagnating business world around you and want to create real progress for your busineess?  Here's our quick overview of how to be successfully "unreasonable" in business today.

business growth, international business development, SMB marketing,