What is the difference between Apple creating the iPhone and Motorola selling the next great thing?
What is the difference between me needing to sell you a new system to meet my budget goals or you needing a new system that grows the business?
What is the difference between I have a really cool new product, and you can’t produce enough quality product to meet schedule?
The differences are always the same two things:
- Who you are(buyer or seller)
- Why you are here (to extract value from the other or create value for both of you)
Up until this century, these differences didn’t matter much. Until the 21st Century it was a seller’s market. The 20th Century was a time of fulfillment. The world was thirsty for products and services. Over the 20th Century, the demand for cars, homes, TVs, snowmobiles, phones and cell phones along with computers, hair dryers and almost anything you can think of went from “what is that” to “we have 2 and an old one in the basement. In the 20th Century, the seller’s problem was more capacity because everything they could build or grow they could sell.
The 21st Century turned the tables. Whatever the buyer wants, the buyer can get, and the quality is at least good enough. If the buyer is willing to wait or spend more time on Google, the price will go down yet again. The buyer is in charge, and the internet gives the buyer transparency to see and know everything about products, services and the sellers.
Transparency lets the buyer see who has quality issues, whose delivery is unreasonable, who are being sued, and who wins all the awards for customer service. Transparency makes it easy to see who says what vs. who does what. Transparency make integrity something real and measurable – it is often the reason we buy, because we trust.
So thought leaders are those who are passionate about creating and delivering value to those they serve. Thought leaders understand what their customers are trying to achieve and use the seller’s deep knowledge to create something that helps their customer achieve outcomes to reach the customer’s goals. By achieving the outcomes, the customer has less risk going forward, makes more money and spends less time than their competition. It is this value created by achievement that makes both the buyer and the seller more profit based on more value. The bottom line is successful customers are happy to pay more for more success.
Those sellers who have a need to sell something to a buyer for the seller’s reasons approach the situation from the seller’s headquarters out. They are looking for buyers that aren’t sure what they need to solve their problems and many not even be clear about the problem. This seller will focus on salesmanship, marketing, win/lose, tactics, discounting, and any form of fear or scarcity selling possible to get what they need to meet the sellers goals. This seller-focused model will ring out any value for the seller. They will cross-sell and up-sell as quickly as possible. If the customer is very savvy about what they are buying, they will have a plan. They select the product or service as the best available for the current budget. Both the buyer and seller help to get some value, but neither is working with the other to create the most value.
No one goes into a business relationship without knowing if they are the buyer or the seller. The point for intentional clarity for the buyer and seller is are you there to create additional value in order to make money as a partner or are you there to make as much money as possible “FROM” your customer as a vendor.
Buyers and sellers better be here to add value before they extract. In the 21st Century, those who extract without adding will have a short story because everyone is watching.