9/01/2006

Survival in down pricing times

[Algunas ideas que expuse recientemente en un foro de "vendedores" seriamente obsesionados por su competencia... tal vez el ingles es nefasto, pero quizas el contenido no]

The nightmare of facing always competitors able to offer lower prices is not exclusive of traditional industries and commodities
… but in creative business we have assumed that price competition requires a new thinking framework … a radical change

Product do not exist anymore …

Products as a material an closed entity are dead

If you see a product just as a physical entity your are vulnerable !

In the creative business the product is not the idea … anything that could be touched or perceived is not our real stuff.

Our business is developing valuable relationships sustain in a interactive relationship focus on problems, needs and concerns …

… for us “product” (the physical stuff or the specific idea) is an entity that allows to establish a relationship … the “thing” is relationship tool

Therefore What is a product? A relationship platform that we should keep alive through understanding and connection with needs, process, weaknesses and context of the client
Products therefore will have more dimensions : some physical but others immaterial . Products will be excuses to business relationships, opportunities for business transactions and encounters instead of objects and artifacts

Creative business tries to avoid being perceived as a provider of things and look for being perceived a valuable source of solutions through “intimate” business relationships

Why?

Creative business is too much dependable of unstable success . There are big successes but also tremendous failures. We should avoid dependability and also lack of predictability to become “reasonable” business : we cannot depend of good luck and being unable to set credible annual business budget …

Besides creative business also suffers the difficulty of being not objectively evaluated.
Commoditizing in creative services is a dangerous temptation an a clear business sin
Therefore handling such uncomfortable scenario requires several beliefs

The idea is not the product. It is a tool to satisfy a need

… our efforts should be addressed to have intimacy with the problem, the need, the process, the scenario

The idea or creative output is part of an holistic solution, based on real intimacy with not only the functional and material needs but also with all the circumstances surrounding this demand and need, including intangible needs (reassurance, convenience, fear to failure, prestige, organizational standards)

We should fall in love with the problem , the challenge or the need, never with the idea. The idea is a mean not an end. We love the workmanship but not necessarily the tools to elaborated or created such piece of work

Client should feel that he is obtaining more than he is expecting from the product (the idea). Our organization do not center the relationship exclusively around an specific piece of work. Our real deliver is a continuous process of dialogue about the problem or nee that sustains demanding and specific creative output

Such approach seeks to extend our potential dialogue and it allows a more rich and deeper connection with the client. Once we have delivered the creative output we quickly restart the process. The initiative of relationship always should be in our hands

Such involvement seeks to provide additional value to our deliver and also set a different “perceived status” beyond and above other contenders

… but clearly the essential is exceeding clients expectations as a measure of quality services
A more extensive, richer and ambitious level of relationship look for achieving and longer client live ratio. As longer we maintain the relationship we are able to extend customer value and avoid client acquisition cost

At the end what we think is that the idea or creative output is the superficial or substantial part of our transaction but not the whole content of such transactional encounter
Selling creative stuff is not our real business …

We sell reassurance in times of conflictivity and fear to failure …

We sell clarity and perspective when clients suffer the stress of choosing (and choices do not specially look different)

We sell convenience because creative process could be a risky nightmare …

We sell solutions where other show question marks

In creative business price oriented competitors tend to address low end clients, usually unsophisticated or clients unsatisfied due to previous unsatisfactory experiences…

We try to set ourselves in a different framework. Play in a different league. We look to achieve a single an critical though … this agency offers clearly a different stuff, they are another thing !

We cannot be slaves of marketplace stereotypes, we should avoid conventions. Our effort should be assuming some “eccentricity” … Being not understood by our competitors is a good signal …

Price oriented competitors depends not of client relationship but production efficiency. Since lower cost systematic is physical and tangible we assume that they are less flexible or able to move beyond a defined operational framework.

… for us the product is not created in our premises , in our factory …

Selling becomes part of the process of production , our mastery is on client understanding and ability to address our resources towards clients needs in a fast and efficient way

The process of developing the solution is interactive, built around a unique empathy to clients needs …

Therefore the process of satisfying client needs through creative outputs do not belong exclusively to “creatives” .
The whole organization should be devoted to address the issue and to make possibly delivering the creative solution.

Client-contact people (sellers is you want) should inspire solutions and identify needs, finding areas of excellence.

Clearly it makes the salespeople role more complex and less mechanical. Receive and deliver request is not the real matter. Creates a understanding and “full-content” relationship is our real goal

… selling is just listening and being messenger between client and the agency … selling is also telling and inspiring …

Contact people should be able to establish valuable discussions and exchanges with clients.

Contact people should be empowered to resolve problems and design solutions. Should extend not only their concern but their ability to conceive proposals . Contact people should in real contact with client needs and expectations

I call that active involvement

… it is about questioning, offering points of view, finding new path and entries.
We understand “sales” as a process of strategic intimacy , because if we achieve a reasonable degree of intimate business knowledge and exposure, we are to gain access to concerns and them we have the opportunity to prevail in front any competitor.

For me is critical being able to define our own battlefield. Looking for the place where abilities and competences are more substantial

In summary …. Handling the relationship requires a product (a physical entity) but do not start and do not ends just in the physical. In fact it moves around a complex systems of needs, demands and environmental conditions.

2 comentarios:

Ottinger dijo...

Efectivamente el contenido no lo era.

Gabriel Ventura dijo...

I disagree, please , don't understimate the power of re-thinking your services or product¡
Why is it that we only think in physical products? , what about services or added values? .When I purchased my MAC it was not just about the product , it was about the services and the promise attach to it.
Big brands are selling a "promise" that is attached to its core values. Benchmarketing is critical and necessary . NEvertheless, just looking around intimidated by competitors is not a winning campaign.