How to Fall in Love for Breakout Growth

In order to grow, companies need to empathize with their customers

In order to grow, companies need to empathize with their customers

Almost five years ago, I wrote a book called Buyer Steps.  It is about the complex B2B digital buyer’s journey.  It covers how they research solution providers, and it includes a straightforward playbook on combining content, relationships, and technology to serve the buyer’s journey.  I knew figuring out the customer or buyer’s journey was important, but I had no idea it was going to turn into the hot topic it is today.  I am now wondering if the journey discussion is broad or intense enough.  

The Buyer’s Story

Does the customer journey fall short of the buyer’s long-term story?  The buyer has an evolving story with turning points like we all do.  It’s a story full of stops and starts due to resources, culture, and indecision.  Are we holding ourselves buyer-accountable?  When buyers tap away on their devices for some kind of hope to solve their problems, are we being buyer-accountable? We have to do a better job of helping specific buyer personas research their issues and strengthening relationships.  When our buyer is tormented by a high-anxiety boss who is considering a former colleague to replace our buyer, are we being buyer-accountable?  We need to get our answers (products/services/expertise) to our buyer earlier.  When buyers feel unsafe and insecure with their buying process, are we being buyer-accountable?  We must transfer knowledge to our buyers at the right time.

What is our buyer’s story?  Of course, we will write up a persona profile for all of our buyers so we can hit the messaging mark.  That’s good practice and if we have the right marketing leadership, we will relentlessly integrate our persona education with the organization.  Moreover, what is the story of our buyer’s company?  Our sales team will want to understand the buyer-company's solutions, ecosystem, and direction so solutions can be tailored.

Fall out of love with internal conversations

Your internally-directed conversations matter less than they ever did.  There’s enough corporate nonsense talk on the Internet to last you 1,000 lifetimes.  We get it, it’s messy.  Cut down on the talks on your corporate hierarchy, reports that don’t drive action, and executive personalities.  Start being vocal about your buyer personas, the goals your buyers want to achieve, and the changes you must make to give them more value - faster. If your buyers don’t excite you, you are in the wrong business.

You need everyone (and I do mean everyone) in your company to know your buyers.  Beyond that, are your growth stewards (executives, sales, marketing) advocating your buyer personas? Because buyers can feel your attachment to their story when you are in front of them.  Without buyer obsession, you are an also-ran and not a high-growth company.

You can achieve market-leading growth

Do not settle for market pace growth.  That’s a sand castle in low tide and uninspiring. Disruption has your company in its sights.  Market pace growth can be just selling more of the same thing into the same or adjacent markets.  This won’t separate you from the pack.  If you want strong organic growth that rattles your category, you’re going to have to innovate.  Innovation comes from collaborating with your buyers to creatively address what they want and need. Now, you are starting a shared story that differentiates your offering and you have a chance for breakout growth.

Working with our buyers leads to refinement of the best ideas so the new products and services can be turned back out toward the overall market. To be sure, it’s a process and you need someone to own innovation who is buyer-informed (what buyers say and behavioral data), can lead projects, and connects dots.

John Ryan is a Managing Director and Chief Growth Officer at Growth Visions. With over 30 years of business experience where he has worked with nine market-leading companies and has served as an executive or board member on six technology companies.  You can contact him at