HomeBlog Six Things B-to-B Leaders Can Do to Create a Customer-Obsessed Culture

Six Things B-to-B Leaders Can Do to Create a Customer-Obsessed Culture

August 12, 2019 | By Jennifer Ross

  • Corporate cultures are constantly self-renewing, slowly evolving and difficult to change
  • Executives are skeptical about their ability to change culture, yet they play a major role in how their culture evolves
  • When positive cultural forces and strategic priorities align around the customer, this accelerates an organization’s opportunity to gain a competitive advantage

If you’ve ever been involved in a conversation about organizational culture, there’s a good chance that someone, maybe even you, referenced this popular quote from management guru Peter Drucker: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." It’s the go-to reference for organizational culture because it’s such a fitting description of an organization’s biggest challenge to successfully execute its business strategy.

Unfortunately, many leaders are a bit jaded about initiatives designed to change the organizational culture. Let’s face it; most of us have had previous experiences with initiatives that didn’t result in changing the way people behaved or the way they did their work. Evolving an organization’s culture takes time, and leaders play a critical role in shaping the behaviors that influence cultural change.

Driving a change in culture is much easier to do when there are positive culture forces, and when strategic priorities are in sync. SiriusDecisions’ 2018 Global CMO Study revealed customer experience as the number one strategic priority influencing changes to the marketing strategy over the next two years.   When priorities are aligned around the customer, not only is it easier to influence cultural change, but it also accelerates an organization’s opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.

In today’s b-to-b environment, to surpass the competition, companies must put the customer at the center of their entire operating model ­– structure, talent, culture, metrics, processes and technologies. That’s what it takes to be truly customer obsessed. However, although all of these operating levers correlate to customer obsession, organizational culture correlates the most, so that’s a great place to start. SiriusDecisions has identified six things b-to-b functional leaders can do to initiate a shift or continue their evolution toward a customer-obsessed culture.

  1. Understand the existing culture. The first step is to understand your culture and how to work within it. Cultures can be deeply embedded; you can’t become customer obsessed if you try to abruptly abandon what you already have.
  2. Connect customer experience to corporate values. Determine what you stand for as a company and create customer interactions that align with your values. Think of this as demonstrating your brand or corporate promise through experiences.
  3. Model behaviors. Your behaviors and actions as leaders have the most influence and impact on culture.
  4. Link business objectives to behaviors. Well-intentioned culture transformations often fail because employees don’t know how adherence to values will translate into better job performance and results.  
  5. Reward success. It’s likely you already have some employees who are doing the right things. Recognizing those things can be a powerful force for change. It highlights that the organization already has a foundation to build on and makes a cultural change seem less daunting.
  6. Measure. Select key performance metrics to evaluate progress. Organizations need the ability to measure the cultural change.

A cultural transformation is a long-term initiative. It won’t happen overnight, but b-to-b leaders can begin to influence a powerful change. Culture doesn’t have to eat your strategy for breakfast!

Transforming to a customer-obsessed culture will be a featured topic at SiriusDecisions Executive Leadership Exchange taking place October 10-11, 2019, during our 2019 Summit Europe at the InterContinental London – The O2.

2018 Global CMO Study

Key Findings

Access Now

Jennifer Ross

Jennifer Ross is the Service Director of Marketing Executive Strategies at SiriusDecisions. Throughout her 20 years as an executive-level marketer, Jennifer has employed integrated, multi-channel inbound/outbound marketing campaigns to generate demand, increase brand identity and awareness, and drive business growth. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @Jenross17.

Key Findings from the 2019 CMO Global Study

Key Findings from the 2019 CMO Global Study

<p>To elevate marketing’s role within the organization, CMOs must forge tighter bonds between marketing and... Access Now
<p>To elevate marketing’s role within the organization, CMOs must forge tighter bonds between marketing and business strategy, improve marketing’s link to company performance, gauge whether marketing structural changes are needed, and boost marketers’ talent and productivity.</p> <p>SiriusDecisions provides marketing leaders with access to tools, experiences and best practices t... Access Now
Large-Enterprise Marketing Leaders: The Keys to High Performance

Large-Enterprise Marketing Leaders: The Keys to High Performance

<p>A high-performing discipline or team enables the revenue engine of a b-to-b organization to work more effective... Access Now
<p>A high-performing discipline or team enables the revenue engine of a b-to-b organization to work more effectively and efficiently. Marketing, sales and product organizations must be highly functional when working independently but must also work together flawlessly to make the engine run faster and outperform the competition.</p> <p>Large enterprises often struggle to maintain growth rates as... Access Now
Join Us at #SDSummit

Join Us at #SDSummit

<p>Join more than 600 of your peers for two days of data-driven best practices research, new innovations across th... Learn More
<p>Join more than 600 of your peers for two days of data-driven best practices research, new innovations across the b-to-b space, and an opportunity to network with an elite community of European sales, marketing and product leaders.</p> Learn More
Customer Engagement: Planning Guide 2020

Customer Engagement: Planning Guide 2020

<p>In b-to-b, a common fallacy leads organizations to believe that the only path to success focuses on acquiring n... Access Now
<p>In b-to-b, a common fallacy leads organizations to believe that the only path to success focuses on acquiring new business, but the reality is that investing in customer engagement, retention and growth establishes a better path to growth. Many forces are causing b-to-b leaders to reevaluate how to prepare for the future, which often warrants an in-depth analysis of customer behavior and resour... Access Now
Back to top