Be a resource, not a commodity!

I had the chance to see David Belden (founder of ExecuVision International) deliver his keynote at yesterday’s Association of Proposal Management Professionals-National Capital Area (APMP-NCA) Mid-Atlantic Conference. The topic of the keynote was “Relieving Anxiety in the Procurement Landscape.” At face value this didn’t sound particularly interesting, but just a few short minutes into the presentation I found myself taking my notebook out to starting taking notes. The key take away for me had less to do with anxiety and more about positioning ourselves to be resources, or risk being reduced to commodity status.

We all know that selling on price is not the ideal position. We also know that the pace of business has significantly increased. Unfortunately, only these two things matter when you are a commodity. I think we also know, at least conceptually, that adding value to your customers is how you differentiate yourself. Often we attempt to add value by sharing our methods and solutions for free. While these points are not new concepts, Mr. Belden really drove home the idea that every product or service is on the path to commoditization. He further concluded that our inherent reaction to differentiate ourselves results in becoming the commodity we feared we would become. Customers begin to know, or think they know, enough to comparison shop your solution. These are sobering thoughts as we work to grow our consulting company.

As for the preventative strategy, Mr. Belden challenged us to listen closely to our clients and prospects, with special attention paid towards their anxiety. Embracing your client’s anxiety allows you to become a valuable resource to them and can open up other areas of opportunity for you.