Book recommendation: “B4B: How technology and big data are reinventing the customer supplier relationship” by J.B. Wood, Todd Hewlin, Thomas Lan
“Customers articulate, business value in many ways, but at the end of the day, every description resolves down to just three dimensions: increasing my revenue, lowering my costs, and reducing my risk.”
Did you know that the current B2B model originated in the 1880s? In fact, it’s attributed that John Patterson is the “father of professional selling”, who in 1984 bought a controlling interest of the National Manufacturing Company of Dayton, Ohio. Later he renamed the company to National Cashier Register or in short (NCR). If you already have experience in B2B sales, then most of the things you know about how to sell comes from the framework he introduced and made NCR a huge success.
The book addresses how John Peterson builds a new bridge to divide supplier and customer. But it doesn’t stop there, it also looks at how B2C is actually influencing B2B today and therefore we need to evolve from a traditional B2B to a B4B.
“Suppliers know far too much about their domain to sit idly on the sidelines while their customers use trial and error to find their way to success. Suppliers have the ability to efficiently operate technology using one-to-many economies of scale that most individual customers simply cannot achieve.”
The book brings actual examples of companies that are in the middle of becoming B4B, but also respectfully states that this might not be for everyone. I recommend this read to suppliers and customers alike, because what is evident when reading the book is that when both sides work together the sky becomes the limit.
To be successful in the future doesn’t just require one side of the divide to transform, it will take both sides to come towards each other. Merging sides will allow that the value promised by tech suppliers can be faster realized. It will require that the supplier monitors the customers KPIs and how the success of the implementation or solution looks for the customer and it will require from the customer to share insights with the supplier so that they can work hand in hand.
There are different practical examples to help you understand what this means. How does FedEx allow their customers to basically run their global logistics via their website from any device, or how does GE health help customers optimize their hospital operations by leveraging the insights they have from serving many hospitals and then provide these best practices to all their customers.
This book will give you insights and ideas on how to optimize your interaction and partnership with your supplier or customer, as well as explain both sides and how you can benefit regardless on which side of the table you sit.