KOGGER_6 Success Factors for SMB

6 Success Factors for SMB

“Seriously?! Another article about digital transformation?!” Yes, we know… But we also know that there is a lot of talk about changes that need to be done when digitally transforming but that it isn’t always easy to implement them.  How far along the way is your company? What do you predict  will happen with those that aren’t keeping up with development? As an SMB ourselves, we feel the stress of daily decisions on what we should or should not change, in order to succeed. Along with us, you can probably relate to the feelings in this quote by Arthur Burtme:

«Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.”

There is no doubt that digital transformation means changes and investments and even a certain amount of “pain” but a lot can be done:

By choosing to do the right things at the right time and optimizing what we already have. 

An Isaca journal states that: “Digital transformation efforts fail or underperform when they make technology the sole focus. Initiatives are doomed if an organization does not transform people to properly operate and maintain the equipment and/or fails to change processes to best leverage the technology.”

During our over 200 workshops, we have had the privilege of helping around 1500 decision makers see what changes are necessary in order to “push” their digital transformation forward.  When cooperating with them we have seen one thing common for all of them:

Digital transformation is about people and personal transition

When people in your organisation understand the market, the company’s vision for the future and why changes need to be made – they will want to cooperate.  With personal transition we mean, altering or completely redefining a mindset in order to be prepared and willing to adapt – expecting and even embracing change and learning new skills.

This change or transition occurs, when you fully understand that a successful digital transformation of the company – depends on your personal transition.

Here are six major areas affected by the digital transformation and where personal transition is at the heart of success:

  1. Leading Digital Transformation
  2. The Customer Journey
  3. Content Awareness
  4. The Revenue Team
  5. The Digital Talent Gap
  6. Team Players

1 – Leading Digital Transformation: Starts with people not technology

Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation with its “go to” companion, personal transition – starts at top management. If you want your organisation to transform digitally, you need to have leaders that are agile, creative and continuously seeking new knowledge.

A ISACA survey shows that companies that have engaged, digital-savvy leaders taking the lead in embracing, leveraging and implementing digital innovation and showing that they enjoy leading the way to new company cultures, are much more likely to succeed in digitally transforming and having employees that feel confident and happy about following their lead – and these leaders encounter much less resistance.

People – not technology – are the heart of a successful digital transformation

As we all have experienced, helping our customers become successful isn’t always about selling them something new but about teaching them how to get the most out of what they already have, and the same goes for people in our organization.

When your organisation focuses on customer engagement, successful customer journeys and the whole organisation is encouraged to personally transition and align skills when needed  – you will experience success in your digital transformation, and in addition have satisfied customers and happy employees:)

2 – The Customer Journey: Making THEIR journey our journey

For anyone going on a trip, there are usually a few questions we want answers to when we begin searching:

  • How do we get there in the shortest possible time and at the lowest cost?
  • How do we get there as safely and ensure we get what we paid for?
  • How have others done this same trip and what was their experience?
  • Where can we find user friendly websites with prices and relevant information, using the least possible number of clicks?
  • Where can we find reliable suppliers that deliver quality – quickly?
  • Can we find reviews from others reassuring us that this supplier is the best match for us, and the most trustworthy?

Customers want to find answers to these questions – themselves.

According to this article in Forbes  “even technical buyers in B2B product categories, are gathering information about products and services online and on their own.  In 2017, the percentage of customers expressing – don’t call me, I’ll call you – preference was 68%.  Only 16% said that they find interacting with a sales rep better than self-service research”

This development shows how important it is that everyone in your organization needs to understand that customers have to be able to quickly find relevant, helpful content on your website, that answers all their questions.

By doing this you ensure a smooth, useful customer journey that ends up with them wanting to take the last 30% of their buying journey – with your company.

Customer Experience Officer (CEO) A dedicated Customer Experience Officer ‘CEO’ that has customer experience as their main responsibility, will ensure that improving the customer journey is an ongoing process based on feedback and customer experience. Even though you have a dedicated CEO, everyone in your company should contribute and be responsible for all interactions with customers across all channels and touch points, resulting in customers having a relevant, positive and engaging and smooth customer experience.

Having customer journey “top-of-mind awareness,”is an important success factor. But how can you, at all times, keep track of your company’s customer journey?  A customer journey map is a powerful tool for identifying gaps, “pain” areas or the need for adding valuable content during the customer journey. Here are some examples of things you can find out:

  • Gaps between devices when a user moves from one device to another
  • Gaps between departments where users might get frustrated and where their experience isn’t smooth
  • Gaps between channels – for example where going from social media to the website or vice versa.
  • New FAQs that need to be addressed.

By mapping out your customers’ journey, you are putting your customers at the center of your focus and gathering your whole organization to have a “customer first” attitude.

To find out how your customers experience a customer journey with your organization, you have to take the same journey yourself – find the bumps and smooth them out!

3 – Content Awareness: Touching our customers hearts

Content Awareness is when everyone feels their knowledge and expertise can touch customer hearts. They feel appreciated and more willing to learn new skills and contribute. Click To Tweet

Many still think of content as just the written word so we need to welcome them into the diverse world of content!

Showing this can be done in many ways but here are a few ideas:

  • Internal content workshops – What questions are you getting every day that can be used on the website as FAQs, an article, a video, a podcast?
  • Content happenings
  • Content contests – with prizes:)

 Everyone in an organization has stories to tell – they just need somewhere to tell them!

  • Video
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Articles
  • Social Media

Multi Media Culture – sounds fancy, right? But today, it’s possible to have a multimedia culture so you connect closer with your audience, by using simple but effective tools and methods. As an SMB you can create a multimedia culture, just by using technology, skills and expertise you already have or investing in low cost but effective equipment.

Letting your customers hear and see you, in addition to the written word, humanizes your company and pulls your customers closer to you by giving them personalized experiences – where you can touch their hearts!

Let them see you before we you see them, hear you before you hear them and get to know you before you get to know them.

You can quickly establish a multimedia culture in your company, by taking video and audio enthusiasts within your organization who understand how important these tools are and encourage them to be creative and inspire others across departments.

Encourage them to share their knowledge and experiences and influence others to step out of their “comfort zone. If they show how simply it can be done, what great results they can get and how effective this is for connecting with customers, when used in the right way and at the right amount – people will want to contribute!

Social Media – Encourage the use of social media to make your company, products, services and skills known, and contribute to improving customer experiences by

  • Having leaders that lead the way and post on social platforms the company has defined as important.
  • Connecting with new people, posting, re-posting and commenting on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc.
  • Joining, engaging and learning through social media groups related to the company business. Acquiring new knowledge about your customer base today and the one you can have in the future.
  • Having “Company Influencers”. These are employees that love social media and can create social media awareness throughout the organization and show the effects it can have on customer relationships
  • Developing a “listening strategy” and gather feedback from all platforms. Gathering information on company related comments, complaints or praise posted on social media, can be used to improve the customer journey or encourage your organization and tell them what a great job they are doing!

4 – The Revenue Team: One big happy family!


In a world where customers expect seamless, friction free, user friendly experiences, Marketing can no longer be just Marketing and Sales can no longer be just Sales, but should be a harmonious combination

SMARKETING – The Revenue Team

This totally makes sense since sales and marketing have the same goals: Creating revenue by finding, nurturing and serving customers so they are satisfied and keep coming back. But often, Marketing and Sales find it hard to agree on methods and strategies, and by doing this – you can push your customers over to competition.

The foundation of a revenue team is SMARKETING – the process of integrating the Sales and Marketing processes where the objective is for both of their functions to have a common integrated approach.

It takes communication, personal transition and focus on customer experience to get Marketing and Sales to cooperate smoothly and evolve into a revenue team.

It’s so important that you get this to work because as Mary Shea, Ph.D., principal analyst at Forrester Research, puts it:

“If you are doing Sales and Marketing the same way you did 3-5 years ago, you won’t survive.”


  • Sales and Marketing communicate and align leads, customers and strategy
  • Have mutual KPIs
  • Implement Cross-functional planning processes between the two teams
  • Define together what a lead is, how and when it should be nurtured
  • Be mutually responsible for all leads, customer experiences and their results.
  • Share data in order to prioritize leads and act on them faster
  • Measure the effects of SMARKETING in order to “push” and develop it further

This can be challenging but as a SMB you are in a unique position to create a SMARKETING environment/Revenue Team, since your organization is often more agile and used to communicating across departments.

It’s a smart move to  apply the advice of Jay Baer, one of SMARKETINGs most powerful advocates: “Every time there is a Social customer care or Sales team meeting, someone from the Marketing team needs to be involved. Every time there is a Marketing meeting, someone from the Sales and Social team should be present. This can have a massive impact on inter divisional understanding, on cooperation, and on synergy in the organization.”

5 – The Digital Talent Gap: Slowing down the pace

As an SMB, one of your greatest assets in the digital transformation is – your employees.  At the same time research shows that one of the biggest threats to your company’s successful digital transformation is – your employees.  They call it:

The Digital Talent Gap

A survey of 1200 people, both employees and leaders, done by Capgemini and LinkedIn put some numbers on the table to look at – and learn from:

  • The digital talent gap is widening: Over 54% of organizations agreed that the digital talent gap is hampering their transformation programs and that their organization has lost business due to lack of digital talent
  • A fear of not having the right future skills: 29% believed that their skills were redundant right now or would be in the next one to two years. 38% believe that their skill set will be redundant in the next four to five years
  • Soft digital skills are most in demand: The report identified that people with soft digital skills such as customer awareness and a passion for learning are an increasingly important characteristics of a well-rounded digital professional.

This report shows that many employees fear they will lose their job in the future and are unsure how to avoid it. Another report by Gartner shows that 70% of employees have not mastered the skills they need for their jobs today and 80% lack the skills needed for both their current role and their future career.

Scary numbers but how can you avoid this being the case in your organization?

  • Identify skills – As leaders you should identify broader skill areas in order to determine the most important skill sets employees will need
  • Motivate – Choose digital tools that align with your business objectives and then motivate and even reward the ones using them and embracing them
  • Learning Solutions – Be explicit about the personal benefit that comes from learning new skills. Support learning initiatives by supplying in-house and external courses and workshops, workbooks, looking at the possibility for follow-up studies etc

You want to inspire your organization to have a digital culture where you focus on reaching your customers and giving them a journey, they will never forget!

By having a digital culture, you will meet less digital resistance and your employees will take pride in helping the company to digitally transform. You end up with happy employees that are willing to personally transition – and enjoy doing it!

By filling the digital talent gap, you create a team player spirit.

6 – Team Player Employees:  One organisation, one culture

Why is it so important, especially for the digital transformation process, that your organization has team player employees? Because, like this citation from Andrew Carnegie so wisely puts it:

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

To succeed with the digital transformation in your organization, you need to create a common vision. Having a team player culture, will pull everyone in the same direction – not just defining ourselves as working in a certain department or skill area, but seeing themselves as one team with one mission – Customer satisfaction.

Here is some advice that, both we and many of the organizations we have worked with, have found useful:

  • Motivate your organization by including everyone in the digital transformation process. They need to know the why’s and how’s behind the tools they are using and be encouraged to improve their skills
  • The WHOLE organization needs to have focus on and understand the WHOLE customer journey and by doing this see that they can detect leads at an earlier stage, improve the customer experience and reach customers hearts
  • Help everyone find a certain level of comfort in the unexpected and embrace change as part of their job description. The digital transformation can be exciting and awesome – get their dopamine flowing! In other words, people in your organization are willing to do more and learn more – if they feel it’s fun and exciting
  • Make it worth their while. Create leader stars and reward employees that, even though they feel they have too much to do and don’t have the time or energy to learn a new skill or change their routines, choose to do it anyway. These are “the cool kids in the class” – they understand that success in personal transition is the company’s success in digital transformation

Digital Transformation – is about focusing on your opportunities

You might be an SMB, born digital and have a digital culture, or an SMB that has to transform in a way you never dreamed about doing of when you started the company.

Regardless of which of these groups you are in, you deserve recognition for what you already are achieving because as a SMB ourselves, we know how it feels to have to handle and overcome many of the same challenges larger companies face, but with fewer human and economic resources. You have to really know how to multitask! Focusing on customers, hiring, retaining, educating employees, keeping up with tools for digital transformation and other key needs, and all at the same time trying to make sure your business runs smoothly and prospers. Can you relate to these feelings? If yes, remember:

Digital transformation is filled with challenges – and opportunities. 

To see all the possibilities and solve challenges, it can sometimes be of help to have someone come in from outside your organization.  Based on them understanding your company vision, they can give you tailored, cost efficient advice that suits your organizational structure and culture.

Our wish is that your company is a success now, and in the future!