In the 20th Century, buyers were hungry for the basics, a home, appliances, electricity, their first car, electric tools, televisions and later computers, cell phones, tablets and the vacation home.
During those 20th Century demand bubbles, the buyers were in a frenzy. They were not particular about what they were buying since they often started with no buying or product experience.
They were in the middle of this frenzy with a product scarcity for these buyers with no product or buying experience, and they fell victim to the fulfillment bubble.
Through most of the 20th Century, the manufacturers were all about launching new products and fulfilling enough to meet the demand. Famous authors like Geoffrey Moore told us to capture as much market share as fast as possible and ignore anything that slows down fulfilling the demand and owning the market.
In the 21st Century, the game has changed. Everyone in every part of the world can develop new products and produce them in amazing quantities. The first weekend of the iPhone 6 launch it is estimated that 10,000,000 units were sold. The ability to fulfill exists in the 21st Century!
This century buyers are really smart. They use those new iPhones to search the web and social media to research everything. That research on the web and social medal does much more than just show low price and delivery times.
The web and social media make the world a very transparent place. People can see what we want them to see (if we do it right), and two people in an elevator can have their domestic conflict aired to the world. Bad debts, bad news, and a bad hair day can travel the world with or without our permission.
All of this boils down to a very transparent world, and for those of us in business, we need to accept that fact and go forward accordingly. Since we are or can be transparent, our customer or client's will use that transparency to make decisions about us, and the first one is “Can they trust us?”
Transparency and Trust are a lot like cause and effect. Transparency tells our customers enough about us (only 2 stars out of five, a D- BBB rating, 5 pending law suits, employee grievances, etc.) that they can decide if they trust us enough to do any business with us, and if so, how much risk will they take when doing business with us.
If a company passes the transparency test (4.5 stars out of 5, an A+ BBB rating, perfect credit, etc.), then in today’s competitive world, your company may make the short list and may be considered for a specific transaction. This status really means the buyer has not yet vetoed you. So far the buyer has no reason to exclude you from consideration. But today there are lots of companies that are not bad enough to be excluded and not good enough to become preferred partners.
What does the buyer doing the research look for beyond number of stars and Better Business Bureau ratings? The transparency helps them look deeper to answer the critical question of “do you make money from” or “with” me.
Making money from the client is all about a “win / lose” relationship. The seller does a good job at creating and delivering a product or service with the goal of getting the most money possible by delivering the transaction at the lowest cost possible. We have all seen this and been part of a transaction like this. In the B2B world, procurement organizations almost require this relationship.
This is an adversarial relationship with each looking out for themselves knowing the other is doing the same thing.
Often both parties are adversarial not because it is part of their strategy, but because they have never thought about another way to engage. We buy and sell the way we learned to buy and sell.
The 20th Century started with the Robber Barons and was full of adversarial relationships throughout the century and beyond.
The truth is adversarial engagements may never have worked well, but in the 20th Century world of fulfillment, it seemed OK.
While transparency may show a buyer’s or seller’s business model as adversarial (making money from their customer) it might show something else. Very few companies will say “my goal is to reach as deep in your pocket as possible and take out as much money as possible” (adversarial) even if that is how they engage. So those looking for engagement relationships based on “making money with the customer” need to look deeper than those easily written words on the website and see how the seller lives.
A seller who “makes money with their customers” often has a “worthy intention” that drives their business. The worthy intention can be a commitment to something like Tiffany “Ideas and inspirations for the style insider,” or a condition “Happiest Place on Earth” Disney, or a lifestyle like Harley, or a level of commitment “Just do It” Nike or a level of excellence “the ultimate driving machine” BMW. When an organization declares a worthy intention in a transparent world, almost immediately everyone will know if they have the integrity to live those words and be truly trustworthy.
Those with integrity who have worthy intentions are the companies we want to embrace, and those who prove to be trustworthy become “our partner” often in a very emotional way. We believe in Disney and go annually, see the movies, buy the toys and watch the channel. We tattoo “Harley Davidson” on our body and always shop at Nordstrom.
Not only are we repeat customers who bring our friends, we often are willing to pay more and surprisingly we forgive those with “worthy intentions” who we embrace for “honest mistakes” almost like family members. Beyond forgiving them, we often are found defending them and their “worthy intentions” to others.
Most SMBs (Small Medium Businesses) exist because the founder was passionate about their “worthy intention” and were going to do whatever it took to share that with friends, family and others who embrace the intention. As these SMBs grow and they add staff, partners, investors, lenders and others, the vision of the “worthy intention” gets watered down and pushed to the back. It gets pushed so far to the back that in today’s transparent world, that the “worthy intention” is NOT visible, and it appears this business exists to “make money from” their customers.
The market screams for those who can be trusted. Every SMB needs to reach back and pull out the “worthy intention” that launched the business dream and LIVE it today.
Don’t hide the passion and purpose that made mortgaging the house worth the risk, teach each member of the team, each partner, and share with each prospect and customer the “worthy intention” that truly drives the business. Demonstrate the integrity of a trusted partner with those who value the same intention.
Don’t just tell them – SHOW THEM!
Rick McPartlin founded The Revenue Game to help companies focus their organizations around the critical function of revenue generation. Rick has held senior executive positions and consulted for many Fortune 500 firms (Sun Microsystems, Siemens, McDonnell Douglas and Bell South) and small companies alike, and he's shared his passion for "revenue generation as a science" for more than 20 years.