Customer involvement in planning their own future purchases really works
This post discusses a new trend in the B2B marketplace, where the seller does a much better job at pulling the buying customer into the planning, solution design, and decision-making process of a significant purchase.
For purposes of this post, we are focusing on an area where the authors have a great deal of experience. The markets we will discuss include the sectors where the seller is offering complex, multi-part solutions to their customers. Examples of the kinds of B2B markets where this approach is especially valued include Telecoms, Business Software, Logistics, Energy, Transportation, Banking and Finance, etc.
The 20th Century — the way it worked in the past
We are assuming the reader of this blog is already well aware of how the purchase of moderate-to-large size deals worked in years past. We are referring to the whole business of RFI’s, RFP’s, etc., and how the sellers would react to these opportunities with bids.
Not to oversimplify, but this was a largely reactive selling market. The buyer decided what they wanted, when they needed it, how much they could afford, and drove the selling dynamic accordingly.
The 21st Century — a new business model
The game is changed. The emphasis is shifting to what is in effect, a proactive selling market, which in fact is a better way of doing business for both the seller and the buyer.
So what is going on different? Well most everything… are we exaggerating?
Now buying and selling happens in more of a “business ecosystem” than a conventional market with clear boundaries for buyers and sellers. The supply chain for design, build and sale of the kinds of solutions we are discussing, is a much more complex landscape and environment to work within. Technology is evolving at warp speed. Relevant information for a given market, literally doubles each year, and is expected to continue to grow at an explosive rate. Companies are morphing thru mergers, acquisitions, and personnel changes at executive levels at an unprecedented pace. And average tenure for retaining the smartest and most productive employees has decreased at an alarming rate.
So what should we do now?
Back in the late 90’s the authors of this Blog started experimenting with a new concept. What if the seller started viewing their relationship with the buyer differently than in the past. Instead of the seller seeing itself as a vendor or supplier to the buyer… what if the seller were able to create a relationship with the buyer as if — and this is the key — the seller and buyer were actually true business partners?
This would mean the seller would now sit on the same side of the table with their buyer.
- There would be much more open communication between the seller and buyer, especially of internal company knowledge that heretofore has been much more guarded and withheld.
- The buyer would have greater trust that the seller actually had the buyer’s best interest at heart, and was not merely looking for a revenue score for the seller’s Board to admire.
- They may even share the same goals — formed directly because of the unique value that both the seller and buyer bring to the relationship — which served both parties equally well
- They could both realistically factor in financial factors as well, with again both parties benefiting from a symbiotic business case which provided significant economic value to both sides.
Now that sounds to us like a true business partnership, and not all like a vendor/supplier relationship. This trend is particular exciting in the contemporary global economy, where the traditional vendor/supplier relationship with the buying customer is just not working as well as maybe it once did, in more comfortable economic times.
The experiments were very successful
We mentioned that the authors of this Blog had started experimenting in the late 90’s with a new approach to the buyer/seller relationship. We learned much about the best way to pull off this entirely new way of thinking about the seller/buyer relationship. But most of all, we learned this could be done, and done well it meant a substantial improvement in the selling game for our clients.
We eventually branded the partnering relationship, as the development of “super teams”. We have previously had several posts about this uniquely valuable business concept.
What is a Super Team?
There are several previous posts in this blog that define and discuss the super team concept, as well as provide successful case history examples. To mention a few…
In upcoming posts, we will provide some insight into the why, how, when, and who of developing this One Super Team — sometimes called a 1ST [i.e., One Super Team] Program.