It was a hot summer day in 1969 when Neil Armstrong said those immortal words, “Hey this place looks like southern Arizona . . . now what?”
To stand on a different planet (or moon) is a major “Ah-ha” for mankind. We have been there before. Columbus, Einstein, and Captain James T. Kirk. What?
Let’s call them the 3 T’s. Transaction > Transformation > Transportation
This is the world of selling “stuff”. Products and offerings are fungible, or exchangeable. All tape measures mark off inches and feet. If you borrow 10 dollars the loaner doesn’t care if they get repaid with 2 five dollar bills or 10 ones. Hence the word, “transaction”. Selling here is about price competition, comparisons in the marketplace, and keeping “sameness” while hoping to find something that sets you apart. Rudimentary selling skills are a must, because buyers can be very scientific in making sure all their needs are met, at the most competitive purchase price.
Margins are tight. Costs are tightly controlled. Very sophisticated organizations who have massive budgets to sell and support their enterprise. Think Pampers against Huggies. Are all bath towels created equal? What of brands of sugar at your grocer. At the end of the day, or even hour, systems can cough out results. What is the price of that pipe fitting? How much for a bus ride? What is the hourly rate for your service . . . to have a transaction with you?
When the answer requires something more complex than a simple nail, then you move into transformation. Consulting reins supreme. Enter the doctor, the lawyer, the advertising agency. A combination of products or services are bundled together to address a more complex customer problem. In fact solutions are often trumped by a bigger need for results. The organization must get guaranteed outcomes and so they offset the risks associated by grabbing value elsewhere.
A few years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, did I want a simple transaction in dealing with my new challenge? I wanted a team of pros who would transform my body to something that was void of the problem.
Transformations are often a customized solution, that are oriented toward expertise. They tend to be longer in time orientation than a simple transaction. In fact the more time required, the greater the transformation. The size of the sale grows, as well as the gross margins required to support the more complex, enterprise sell. Partnering tactics become a must as the solution integrates into various phases of the customer’s business.
The tip of the iceberg, the transportation sale is the ultimate business pursuit. There is no competition here. Gross margins are in the stratosphere because of the production value of the experience. Innovation and creativity are a must, along with industrial strength teaching skills. Beam me up Scotty. The customer, and their world, are transported to a whole new place. Amusement park? No way. Not once the kids (and parents) have been to Disney. All those typewriters were scraped for the Personal Computer . . . which are being scraped for . . . smart phones. Christopher Columbus created a whole new market for “trading companies”. The invention of the laser answered questions that had not even been asked.
When your selling transports the customers business to a place that they had not even imagined . . . then you are in the heady space of transporting. Amazon, Victoria Secret, MyLowes, Disney, Harley Davidson. This is the world of the Big Hairy Audacious Concept, or BHAC, with it’s 6 part story.
Said Henry Ford of his transporting business idea (excuse the pun), “If I had listened to my customers I would have built a fast horse.” Or Steve Jobs, ““It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
So what does this mean to you and your business. If you are tired of price competition move up the food chain. Get more involved in your customers business before the usual transaction occurs between your organizations . . . and after the transaction. Learn their business so well that you can discover their unmet needs and wants that can be addressed only using some obscure capability you have. Focus your message and or limit your offerings. Instead of being a mile wide and an inch deep, consider the deep channel you will cut with a focused sales and marketing effort.