My favorite client also became one of my best friends. Tony was a Brooklyn-raised child of the Depression. He was an early IT professional – the kind that could talk about having programmed in IBM 1401 Autocoder language in the early sixties.

image001-3Tony took a chance on a self-taught PC programmer and hired me to manage “microcomputers” at a major financial services firm in the mid-eighties. He identified and affirmed my entrepreneurial spirit and encouraged it. I joined a truly great computer company because of Tony. A few years later, Tony brought me into his last job, where he helped me launch a new consulting firm.

All told, Tony touched my professional and personal life for nearly 20 years and several significant career moments. Tony has been gone for some time now and I miss him dearly still.

I remember being on the “buy-side” of many vendor meeting with Tony. If he felt the salesperson wasn’t respecting his intelligence – or if the rep wasn’t fully prepared… well, Tony wasn’t Brooklyn born and raised for nothing. He could cut to the main point and make an unprepared salesperson very, very uncomfortable.

However, I also saw something else – if Tony assessed that you were there to help – truly committed to finding answers that were mutually beneficial – then you would gain a fiercely loyal ally – a prospect that would go the extra mile to help a vendor close the deal.

I mention Tony in this discussion about customers to illustrate a simple point: in all of your planning for go-to-market, positioning and strategic advantage – don’t forget that at the heart of every business – every organization – you will find… people and relationships. The more strategic your offering is, the more this simple truth exerts influence on your go-to-market plans.

  • People – not “organizations”, make business decisions. They make these decisions for many different reasons. Logic should and does win – often, but not always. And, it would be fair to argue that logic is used to substantiate an emotional decision – even big-ticket corporate purchases.
  • Plans, message stacks and sales processes will fail you if you don’t infuse them with a sales culture that understands this truth.

Adapted from the forthcoming eBook, “Know Thy Customer” by Jose Palomino