One of the clear messages coming out of “Riding the Economic Rollercoaster” hosted by the British Swiss Chamber of Commerce this week in Zurich, was that the centers of gravity are changing as we speak.
The West is losing its economic influence. What used to be “the developing world” is becoming wealthier and more influential. So what?
One U.S. corporation sees such deep implications in this that it’s moving its CEO from the U.S. to Shanghai, for two reasons. First, the CEO and other key executives can instil part of the corporate culture in to the Asian operation. But they don’t want to instil all of it, and therein lies the second reason for the move. The CEO wants to learn from the workforce and from the customers — not just locally, but from the region at large.
The day before the BSCC event, I was in a Starbucks, sitting in a big cushy sofa across from a friend. We were enjoying frothy cappuccinos, envisaging the world after the global financial crisis. We swung from optimism to pessimism and then back to optimism. But I did wonder if I should be home brewing my own coffee and saving my ten Swissies.
Optimist or a pessimist, one thing is for certain. When the global financial dust settles, the world will be a different place. Welcome to Selling in the Brave New World.
No longer will it just be a question of the “Haves” vs. the “Have Nots,” we mused. It will also be a question of the “Haves” vs. the “Have HADS.” It’s not all doom and gloom, but the pain in the West will be broad and, in many cases, it will be acute.
Hmmm. My cappuccino had lost its froth.
Fast-forward two days…
… I’ve just come back from a client planning meeting. We’ve been transforming the sales culture to one of customer focus. That now needs to expand beyond the sales team and throughout the entire organization. One reason being, they are about to move their senior-most finance executive to their Asian regional HQ in Singapore. (Sound familiar?)
The finance guy’s technical background is second-to-none. He’s a great operations guy. He has great intuition with regards to the financial markets. But the company and the financial guy agree: when he hits the ground in Asia, he needs to be out in the marketplace. He needs to successfully engage existing customers and develop new ones. He needs to influence. He needs to sell.
The Essence. Selling is critical in the Brave New World. This means listening to your customers, your prospects, the marketplace overall. Only then can you develop products that fit your customers’ needs — products that are marketable. Only then can you create custom-made and customer-made solutions. Only then will you have a sustainable business and career success.
The centers of gravity may be changing. Certain regions may become the new “Haves” while others become the “Have Hads.” But within any one of these gravitational epicenters, there will be winners and there will be losers.
You may not like the word “sales,” but it’s where the action is. Call it “business development” or “client acquisition” if that strokes your ego.
But get your ego out of the way and take this point to heart. “Selling in the Brave New World” is critical to maintaining your edge. Stay close to your customers and, no matter where you are, you’ll be a “Have.” Even better, you’ll be a “Will Have.”