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« Archetypes at work | Main | Don't snowglobe me, bro »

A sad truth about most traditional b2b marketing

"People who don't care, selling products to people who care less."

I was at a conference recently where the senior executives spent the entire day talking about profits, market share and growth... they never once mentioned that the pharmaceuticals they were selling were saving lives, or that changes in the product or its pricing could reduce side effects or the load on the patient and her doctor.

This disconnect is becoming less common, but it still happens. It's okay to be passionate about what you sell, even if it's an industrial chemical. It's okay to be connected to your suppliers and vendors, even if you're spending company money to buy from them.

Many businesses focus exclusively on saving money (or so they think) when they publish an RFP and take bids for this product or that service. It's only later when they discover the sticky gas pedal or the customer angry about a stock out that they realize that paying attention to their suppliers beyond price is a good idea.

If you've ever met someone who is passionate about tax accounting or warehouse roofing systems, you understand the power that this passion can have in transforming a client. The challenge is for the supplier to hire passionate people and then give them the room and support to actually care.

"Without apology, we care about what we make and the companies (and people!) that help us make it."

Not an easy thing to say, because if you rely on numbers alone, you get deniability. Blind bidding means you don't have to care about anything but price. An RFP means you don't have to compare apples and oranges. Anonymous business clients means you don't have to answer the phone when it's easier to send it to voice mail.

Except that caring works. On both sides.

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