Excerpted from the book on mindful business management, Business Black Belt.
You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.
Promoting yourself or your services as a component of someone else’s virtual corporation can be to your advantage.
A virtual corporation can be thought of as the coordination of existing services to deliver a product or service without building a company infrastructure. For example, the making of a feature film is an act of a virtual corporation. The producers bring together all those people and companies listed in the film’s credits to make the movie. Then they all go away until individually called upon to work on another film.
JIAN’s virtual company
We use the services of a manufacturer’s rep firm with seven to eight sales reps who call on the retailers who sell our software. Gung-Ho headquartered Incline Village, NV, manufactures our software packages. They print the box and reference manual, duplicate the disks, put the labels on, assemble everything, shrink-wrap the package, warehouse, and ship. A merchandising firm in Chicago provides people who go into the retail stores in cities all over the United States and Canada to restock the shelves, provide inventory reports, and educate the store staff. We use a telesales firm in Los Angeles, with an unlimited number of telemarketing people we could bring on-line at any time 24 hours, 7 days a week. Our ad agency in San Francisco develops promotional materials. We also use a media broker in Minneapolis to get deals on advertising space. Using these companies allows us to focus on our core competency of developing business tools. And as you can see, we don’t need everyone to be nearby.
This is not rocket science. The idea is to bolt on outside services to build your company and efficiently expand your capabilities. Perhaps you’ve been called by salespeople who pitch you these services.
But let’s talk about the flip side
How do you pitch yourself and your services to other companies as a strategic or virtual partner to them? I’ve seen many salespeople come to me who just don’t have the full picture together.
For example, one company prints our box, dupes the disks, and does everything to produce our package. But sales reps call me constantly and say, “We’re a disk duplication house.” Someone else calls and offers to print reference manuals. Others call to tell us about their assembly services. I think you get the picture.
Compared to the arrangement I enjoy now with Gung-Ho, these other guys just don’t offer me the whole picture. They still need me to coordinate and manage. I don’t want to assemble it all. To successfully sell yourself as a virtual division or component of your customer’s company, come in and offer the whole enchilada.
No finger pointing
An integral part of your sales pitch must be, “There’s no finger pointing. We take full responsibility.” In an age of disclaimers, anyone who offers responsibility for successfully completing a job or delivery of a product is golden. John Wade at Gung-Ho never makes any excuses. When we order 20,000 copies of BizPlanBuilder, they go wherever they’re supposed to go, come hell or high water, and the price remains as quoted.
With the previous company, they had a flood in their printing shop in Kentucky. They said, “We can’t make that shipping date. We can move printing the boxes to Pennsylvania, if you’ll pay an extra 70 cents each as an ‘up charge’ for the service to get them there. I think I can get them to you on time.” Unacceptable. Not my problem. But we needed 20,000 packages shipped, so we paid the $14,000 and promptly dumped that printer as a vendor. That lack of responsibility cost them more than $900,000 in revenue over a couple of years time.
Gung-Ho, on the other hand, delivers the product no matter what. John doesn’t blame some print shop in Kentucky. He doesn’t blame some guy who makes disks somewhere else. He doesn’t blame the book and box printer in Sacramento. If he’s done some jobs that have cost him a fortune, and he’s lost his shirt, I have no idea. If he had to pay UPS charges on pallet-loads of books from God-knows-where, I have no idea. All I know is that everything shows up on time as quoted.
If you can go in and pitch your business with that kind of certainty and take complete responsibility as a component or as a division of your customer’s virtual corporation, I think you’ll have a sale. That means you can leave nothing out-—provide as much as possible to your customers/virtual partners. The key is controlling the entire process from bottom to top. Of course, in the process of completing your complement of services, you can and should use your own network of virtual company resources. I see very few people doing that and the ones I do see are very successful.
Business Black Belt Notes
- To provide services in a virtual company, you must provide the whole enchilada.
- What else do you need to offer in order to provide a complete service?
- Take the entire load off your customer and take full responsibility for delivery.