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January 19, 2012

Staff Picks: The B2B Executive Playbook

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 10:56 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Selling to consumers is different than selling to businesses. Most marketers and business strategists understand this empirically, but it doesn’t stop them from trying to use celebrity spokespeople and other tried and true consumer approaches to sell to business markets.

Why is this the case? Why does life in the two eco systems – business-to-consumer and business-to business – require different approaches? Sean Geehan, founder of the Geehan Group, sets out to explain as well as how to find success in The B2B Executive Playbook: The Ultimate Weapon for Achieving Sustainable, Predictable and Profitable Growth.

Geehan has spent the past 20 years helping to drive growth in B2B companies through his work in executive training and strategic planning. He wrote the book out of frustration as most business books chronicle the successes of business-to-consumer books as well as the fact that many executives are unclear on what is required to grow a B2B company.

Geehan begins the book by explaining the three realities B2B companies labor under:
• The fate of a B2B company rests in the hands of relatively few customer companies. Geehan cites Celestica, a Canadian-based company that provides supply chain services. He writes that Celestica has $7 billion in annual revenue that comes from 100 total customers and contrasts that with Starbucks, which has $10 billion in annual revenue derived from 80 million worldwide customers.

• The fate of a B2B company rests in the hands of just a few people. Here, Geehan cites the case Oracle, where someone whishing to sell to that company, there are one or two decision makers, 65 influencers, and 3 purchasing players making decisions for 22,000 users. Contrast that with iTunes, where one person plays all those roles and decided whether to purchase and is also the end user.

• B2B companies rely upon the knowledge and acumen of customers. B2B decision makers have knowledge extremely valuable to the companies selling to them… In the B2B world, your customers may not be familiar with your offerings per se, but they usually know their industries better than those who supply it, and they know hoe to evaluate you solutions in light of their needs.

Geehan writes that the goal for B2B (and all companies) is to achieve sustainable, predictable, profitable growth. To facilitate that effort, he includes a number of ideas and techniques to help companies sell more and grow. He also includes a chapter on pitfalls to avoid, ideas on social media marketing and a number of case studies.

If you work for a company in the business-to-business space, finally there is a book to help you and your company grow. Consider The B2B Executive Playbook the B2B bible.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.