B2B eCommerce Strategy Summer Series – Where to Go and Why

Key takeaways

  • Avionos uses a process-driven methodology named Align2Elevate to create practical eCommerce strategies aligned to growth outcomes for B2B manufacturers and distributors.
  • Creating the vision of where to go and why is the first step in creating an effective strategy. Many strategic visions are created internally by senior leadership, without input from employees closest to the customer or from actual customers.
  • Vision statements should be simple, inspiring, and customer focused.

Problems with traditional approach to creating a vision

At the start of strategy or roadmap engagements, executive sponsors frequently state what they believe to be strong vision statements and want to move quickly past confirming the vision and into more tactical activities such as identifying required capabilities and creating project timelines. Avionos’ Align2Elevate methodology challenges this traditional top down approach by surveying employees across the organization and different types of customer buyers to confirm that the vision is well understood throughout the organization and the customer base.

The survey asks questions about customers, business models, capabilities, timing, and desire to change. Frequently, the survey responses indicate the executive vision is too complex, not aligned with customer desires, is unsupported by current or planned capabilities, and is likely to be blocked by fear of change. Poorly structured vision statements commonly include too many topics and use buzzwords – both of which contribute to a poor understanding of the vision. The realization of misalignment or poor understanding becomes an opportunity to change the vision or to invest significantly in selling the vision to employees and customers. Many executives choose to act on the surveys and change the vision.

Practical guidance to create a vision of where to go and why

The vision statement is a long-term description – spanning decades or multiple generations – of the desired future state for your business, or your customers’ businesses, or both. The vision statement is the articulation of how your company will change the world. Change is difficult, so the vision will be almost completely unattainable but at the same time highly inspirational. The vision is diluted when actions to achieve the vision are included. Describing the actions to achieve the vision is part of a mission statement (and will be addressed in next week’s post). The best vision statements are a single sentence in plain language that can be delivered credibly by any employee. Examples of effective vision statements in B2B include:

  • Norfolk Southern Railroad: “Be the safest, most customer-focused and successful transportation company in the world.”
  • Chevron: “To be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnership, and performance.”
  • Microsoft: “Empower people through great software anytime, anyplace, and on any device.”
  • Boeing: “Connect, Protect, Explore, and Inspire the World through Aerospace Innovation.”
  • Grainger: “to be the world leader in offering solutions that help businesses and institutions save time and money as they maintain, repair, and operate their facilities.”
  • Salesforce.com first vision: “….world-class Internet company for sales force automation.”

Each of the vision statements is aspirational and includes the “why”: safety (Norfolk Southern), admiration (Chevron), empowerment (Microsoft), inspiration (Boeing), helpful (Grainger), world-class (Salesforce). Each is nearly impossible to achieve because of the inherent difficult in being the “best in the world”, “most admired”, “world leader”, or “world-class”.

B2B is rapidly transitioning from product focused to customer focused. Your vision statement should reflect the value of the customer relationship and the empowerment that your company provides to customers. Carefully consider if the customer is at the core of your vision, and if not, we strongly recommend considering a strategic effort to identify the sustaining vision for your company.

About Avionos

The Avionos vision includes enabling commerce in the cloud for every B2B business, making enablement and operation of online commerce easier and with more predictable and better outcomes. Our team provides leadership in eCommerce strategy, platform implementation, and digital channel operations; and Avionos partners with leading cloud vendors such as Salesforce, Adobe, CloudCraze, Acquia, CommerceTools, and others to deliver meaningful business results.

Contact Avionos today to schedule a discussion regarding B2B eCommerce strategy. We want to learn about your business needs and share how Avionos can help you grow your online channel.

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