Make stuff or sell stuff!

There’s a great story told about Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle Corporation …

One day, in the early 1980s, he was introduced in the corridor to a new employee, and the conversation reportedly went something like this:

Ellison: “Do you write software?”
New Guy: “No”
Ellison: “Do you sell software?”
New Guy: “No”
Ellison: “So, if you don’t write software, and you don’t sell software, please tell me – very slowly – what exactly do you do for my company?”

Whatever else he may have been accused of over the years, certainly no one can say that that man is not focused!

But the truth is, everyone working for our B2B company can have one of only three roles:

  • they make stuff
  • they sell stuff
  • they support the makers and the sellers

Let’s draw a picture to see what a simple support environment might look like…

Customer does business with us

Our support function starts when the customer does business with us. To be strictly correct, it may a prospect rather than a customer and he or she may be trying to do business with us, rather than actually succeeding!

Lead Generation supports Customers trying to find us

Generally speaking, our B2B company can not have enough prospects and customers. We’ll talk in later posts about the exceptions that prove that particular rule, as well as examining online and offline Lead Generation techniques and how they work in detail.

Sales and Service organisations support the Customers, as they try to do business with us

High value business-to-business transactions imply intensive support of the customers’ decision-making process, as well as on-going support for the products (and/or services) throughout their useful lifetime.

Corporate supports everyone involved in the process

The organisational structure of most B2B players distinguishes between corporate functions and field functions. Activities such as Key Account Management, Strategic Business Applications are almost certainly influenced by corporate guideline and activities. Manufacturing and Purchasing, but also Product Management and Marketing are most likely to be centrally controlled.

 

Customer does business with us. Lead Generation supports Customers trying to find us. Sales and Service organisations support the Customers, as they try to do business with us. Corporate supports everyone involved in the process.

 

In the next post, I’ll discuss the B2B Platform Issues that we need to consider, if we are to support the customer’s expectations properly.