Saturday, 12 December 2009

Business Basics 5: People buy from people

I haven’t seen Geoff for about 10 years, but he still had my contact details through Linked-in and newsletters. He gave me a call because the multi-national he works for is bidding for some business with a major sporting event, and wondered if I would be able to help. In the end nothing came of it, but it illustrates a key point about business – people buy from people. There are pages of consultants on Google, and in the Yellow Pages if anyone still uses that, but people prefer to buy from people that they know personally and have dealt with before. How do you know whom to choose from a long list of names?

There is always a risk when appointing an unknown supplier. Maybe they will exceed expectations and everyone will be delighted. Or maybe they will be terrible. Who knows? At least with existing suppliers you know what their faults are and where the likely problems are going to be, and can try to manage round them.

On a recent project looking at suppliers for major sporting events we asked event organisers what they were looking for, and almost to a man (or woman) they said a relevant track record. When that track record is wedded to a personal relationship the combination is very strong.

So there is always an inbuilt advantage to suppliers already known to the buyer. You might ask whether tendering processes are meant to eliminate that bias, and in principle they should. In practice knowing a supplier gives a least a tiny, unintentional, unconscious weighting to the scoring and might mean a known supplier getting the benefit of the doubt and an extra point or two that makes all the difference if the scoring is close.

On top of that there is the fact that people tend to get along with people who share similar values, styles and experiences. There is a story that Bill Gates made all the guys at Microsoft where shirts and ties the first time they met IBM, just to make them seem more like IBM then all the tie dyed t-shirted code writers they met on the rest of their trip. If he did, it was a brilliant move.

And the more times you meet someone the more you get to know and understand each other. If there is a clash of personalities – then you had better either change your personality or more realistically get someone else to manage that client. It is the approach that we take with one major client where a clash of personalities was a major problem until we worked out the best people to work together and lead the project on both sides.

So, the key message? Get out there and meet your customers. You never know when they are going to have a need and your name will come to mind. Could be tomorrow (wouldn’t that be nice), or it could be in a decade. You don’t know. But if they don’t know you personally, they will probably go with someone they do know.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Chemical Industry Purchasing & Supply chain course 2012

Rob Milner Associates and PAWA Consulting are running the above course at the Heath Runcorn in February 2010. More details in the flier.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Market Research - open training course 2010

Rob Milner Associates and PAWA Consulting are pleased to announce that we are running a course on Market research, focussing on the Chemicals industry at the Heath in Runcorn in February.
Details in the attachment.