I recently read where someone asked a few customers' questions to prove that delivering products and services through outdated systems was still relevant.
But what we don't know is how they asked the question. Were they explaining how they fit into the realities of a marketplace and can now help their customers? Or, did they phrase the question based on their own digital ineptness to save their outdatedness?
Most in fear of a change to their relevance will present their outdatedness as valuable. The customers they seek approval from will tell them what makes them feel good. The reason customers' do this is they can easily replace them, and one day they will. But until then, the delusional seller will remain happy with a delusional view of their customer relationships. However, soon their buyers will trade in that relationship for an innovator's better experience.
Those continuing in denial of the digitalization transforming the selling and buying intersection is beyond comprehension.
Sellers who rely on the push economy process to deliver their products and services are completely devastated when they realize their customers are more comfortable doing things through the pull-economy processes; processes residing in the intersection between the digital and physical worlds.
Here's how I define these two very different processes.
The Push: Economic Processes are those processes designed to bring your products and services to the customers you seek. This is a show up in person, and this process, for the most part, lives in the physical world.
The Pull: Economic Processes are those processes designed to allow the customers to seek to bring your products or services to them through their control, a process, for the most part, lives in a digital landscape.
What happens when your customers are searching for your replacement, and they don't find you there? The simple answer is that they no longer are your customer. I wrote an article on this subject back in 2017; here's the link for more details.
Like other product and service providers, The Document Imaging Channel faces great pressures to its core deliverable of print equipment, its supplies, and services. The industry's customers have benefited from a commoditized marketplace for well over a decade as its customers held vendor auctions through nearly all buying cycles.
There has to be a reckoning with reality regarding all aspects of customer engagement. Regardless of core products and services, those resellers or dealers must have a strategy to accommodate both buyers' understanding that forcing push-economy processes on buyers who prefer to operate with a pull-economy process will result in a lost customer.
Here's the problem, those who attempt to deliver both these customers through the push-economy processes will find themselves out of alignment in delivery cost with competitors who successfully built systems designed for pull-economy processes.
It is nearly impossible for some resellers to imagine their customers value desired outcomes over products, services, delivery systems, or the friendly smiles of those servicing or selling them. In reality, many of the most innovative organizations today reinvented the means by which their customers receive those desired outcomes.
For example, a signed document is the desired outcome; a digital platform allowing for the signature replaces the need to print off, sign, and then scan back to the digital world. Obviously, the ability or means to do this digitally is a much better experience than the outdated way. So, one can imagine those who lack the competence to present digitally will believe their customers are happier signing paper.
Another example is those who refuse to engage their customers through video communication, even as a pandemic confines the globe instead of embracing what is becoming more common every day.
Some insist on running around opening doors in the physical world instead of learning and perfecting closing deals in the digital world. Again you can imagine how those outdated door bangers will exclaim how their customers prefer on-site meetings over digital communication.
My Caution to Outdatedness
"Your buyers did not know it was up to them to keep you outdated."
So, as buyers can acquire products and services through a better means more suitable for their modern buying habits, they will switch to their preferred buying method as long as their desired outcome is achieved. History proves they always do.
Product and service providers need to remember that as their customers' shift from the push-economy to the pull-economy. This shift will start with those customers who have commodity mindsets and are at a lower scale in their needs of both the products and services.
This is critical for the document imaging channel to understand. They must accept that a vast majority of their end-users are reducing printing needs, and their desired outcome, which a printer/MFP once furnished them exclusively, now can be achieved without the printer/MFP, and any who still require a device will replace the oversold A3s with the less expensive A4.
As more and more customers search for alternatives to outdated business processes. Resellers must decide to align themselves to meet these customers or let these customers leave them. In some cases, letting them leave may be appropriate as some dealers will redefine their deliverables to align with the persona of a more profitable customer.
For nearly five years, I have expressed concern that the document imaging channel's dealers treated all customers in the same manner. That strategy of sameness worked when the industry was growing. However, as the industry retracts and the industry diversifies, that strategy will be deadly.
The imaging channel dealers must be conscious that their customers already have options, and this pandemic has brought great awareness to the industry's end-users. The document imaging channel's end-users will shift to organizations that already exist and align better with those seeking options through the pull-economy.
So, don't ask your customers how valuable you are with your outdated processes. Instead, paint a picture that outlines you delivering the future. Don't ask customers if they will agree to keep your status quo. If you do, as I already said, you will get a passive answer design to support your thinking.
As I listen to some of the nonsense from some determined to stay status quo, it reminds me of many other industries where complacency fought against reality and lost.
It's time to stop chasing squirrels. Would it not make more sense to clearly redefine the delivery, the management, and service processes of your core deliverable and position your business to meet customers in both the digital and physical worlds? Today's resellers must be able to function in what I call "The intersection between the digital and physical worlds."
That functionality takes many forms from the inception of customer engagement, managing the engagement, through the engagement end. Dealers, resellers, service providers, and product manufacturers are all positioning themselves to function digitally effectively. All actors of all industries must increase their digital acme aligning with the realities of today's buyers.
Stop fighting the desires of your customers' future and open your mind to how things will work, even those things which are completely against all that is sacred to yesterday. Tomorrow is about improving your customer's experience, not about keeping you comfortable.
"Status quo is the killer of all that will be invented."
CEO/Founder TEASRA,The Innovation Channel and Host of The End of The Day With Ray! https://www.endofthedaywithray.com/
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