Understanding the Human Element in B2B Revenue Growth

b2b-revenue-growth-the-value-of-peopleWith so much emphasis on big data and AI, today’s leadership conversations seem to be largely focused on metrics. And while B2B KPIs are certainly valuable to track and analyze, when organizations are facing challenges are they really the best indicator of what’s wrong and how to fix it?

The abundance of data available these days makes it tempting to rely solely (or at least primarily) on the data, but the most experienced leaders will tell you that data can’t necessarily tell the whole story, or the right story.

When it comes to diagnosing a problem or turning an organization around people are just as important as data because they can contribute:

  • Institutional knowledge
  • First-hand experience
  • Insight into perceptions and attitudes
  • Logic and reasoning

Let’s take a closer look at the benefit that human capital can provide when trying to overcome a challenge or understand and fix an issue to move an organization forward.

The Power of People

Fixing organizational problems requires a deep understanding of the matter at hand, which can only come through leaning on real people and their real experiences. Of course, data will always be instrumental in this process as well, but data alone will never be enough to overcome obstacles or get an organization back on track. When it comes to triumphing over tomorrow’s challenges it’s clear that people are the “secret sauce” of the equation.

A company’s people are at the heart of their organizational principles and values because people can help explain the why behind the how. People can hold true to the company’s values by ensuring that everything planned and executed is aligned with overall business principles and objectives. Simon Sinek explains this idea in his famous golden circle TED Talk when he says that an organization’s why must drive everything that it does for it to truly be successful because, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

People can also share institutional knowledge about where the company has been previously to align it with where it wants to go next. While the data can do this to some degree as well by offering historical metrics as a measuring stick of past performance, people can supplement that with knowledge about what was tried previously and what kinds of factors affected its success either positively or negatively.

Additionally, human capital can be forward-looking in ways that the data simply cannot. Metrics offer a great snapshot of how the company is performing at a single point in time, and they can certainly allude to what the future may hold, especially where clear trends are developing. However, their ability to be forward-looking is limited to extrapolated forecasts – reasonable projections of what may be coming next. People, on the other hand, can offer additional cultural context and rational insights from the frontlines to balance and round out projections.

Simply put, people are the only way to add “the human touch” to a company’s revenue operations across marketing and sales. Without leaning as heavily on people as they do data, organizations run the risk of critically missing the mark.

The Peril of Overlooking the Human Element

If you don’t believe that people are intrinsically valuable to business success, the recent iPad kerfuffle serves as a great example of the risks of overlooking the human element. In a commercial that Apple released last month a hydraulic press crushes a wide assortment of creative tools into a sort of technology pancake, which then turns into the new iPad Pro.

While the commercial was undoubtedly trying to play on the current popularity of the hydraulic press video trend, it came off as completely tone deaf to many creatives, who are already carrying a persistent concern that in the new age of AI their creative works will be replaced by machines. Apple’s goal was to showcase the power of its new iPad in its thinnest form ever. Instead, it blatantly implied that Apple’s newest technology is crushing human creativity, greatly offending its largest target audience and going against its longstanding commitment to human innovation. This marketing miss was a clear failure from a company that has been regarded as “a marketing company above all else” for almost four decades, making it even more egregious.

So, what happened here? It’s unclear how no one on the marketing team putting together this ad had the foresight to recognize how this commercial would be perceived. But what is clear is that a consumer focus group must not have been conducted because the commercial instantly elicits wincing and cringing as beautiful musical instruments, paint, and historical forms of technology all get destroyed on the altar of the iPad. Even viewers that aren’t musicians, artists, designers, coders, and engineers were instantly offended as the commercial struck a deep nerve in a time when the human element seems to be dwindling both personally and professionally. Essentially, the commercial played on humanity’s biggest fear – its obsolescence – while trying to promote yet another product that may contribute to the end of originality.

This illustration serves to highlight a key fact in business – don’t overlook the human element!

When you need a B2B leader to help you grow profitable revenue with people in mind, please reach out to me! As a fractional CRO (also known as a part-time Chief Revenue Officer) I specialize in helping companies improve sales and marketing functions to generate SMART revenue. As a trusted strategic revenue consultant, I have extensive experience managing growth in challenging business environments. I work to build revenue for clients while strengthening their most valued internal and external relationships to help them grow despite the difficulties they face. Contact me to find out how I can help you to utilize your greatest asset – your people!

Topics: Revenue Growth Strategy Strategic Revenue Growth B2B