Reciprocal business. Part 1

20 March 2005

An interesting email arrived in my inbox today, and I’m not quite sure how to respond. But before I go on, here is the (slightly abbreviated) email.

The Situation

A buying decision was eminent. I wanted to provide as much information as possible to the decision maker to create favour towards my company. My primary contact was through the Marketing Manager (female) that delegated all communication to an assistant. The decision maker was in fact the CEO of the company not the GM.

I knew who the competitor was and had industry knowledge that their pricing was in general higher than the normal market whilst offering similar quality. A phone call to the Marketing Manager in the afternoon gave me information that the CEO was reviewing the pricing after recommunicating with the competitor.

As we a are client of the prospect I sent a message (email) the next morning to the Marketing Manager requesting that the CEO be informed about our status as a client of theirs. The key sentence being “we are a substantial client our theirs and seek the opportunity to engage in reciprocal business”. Up to this point everything seemed normal leading up to the close except for the note that I’d sent about Reciprocal Business.

Within 10 mins the CE (not GM or Marketing Manager) phoned me directly to inform that: “He was not pleased with the note, that I should get into the real world, we choose suppliers based on their ability to perform and not because of little deals behind the scenes….” at this point knowing the sensitivity of the moment I replied “I am sorry that you have taken it that way” and he continued “He was not interested in doing business with me and that he was pleased that he’d made the decision to choose the existing supplier yesterday and we could take our business (with them) elsewhere if we want. Good day.”

Thoughts Raised

  1. What was a Corporate Company CEO doing communicating with an Account Manager and why didn’t he ring the Managing Director to express himself? 2. Is reciprocal business resisted as a business function at Corporate Boardroom level? 3. If Reciprocal Business is accepted does it hold other descriptive terminology and what is an alternative to the direct approach? 4. How do the Tertiary Experts perceive or lecture on Reciprocal Business?

Peter, this situation has a different result however it is the first time I have used the Reciprocal Business in an attempt to close even though I been in a Sales Environment for over 10 years. I am seeking information (thoughts, opinion or theory) from you as I plan to arrange a meeting with this CEO to enter a learning conversation with him. This background information will assist my confidence when meeting with him.

Confidentiality

Because this is a commercial environment I am concerned that my name is not directly mentioned if you consult others about this especially in the Business sector.

I seek knowledge to assist my personal growth.

I liked your approach via comments on your “The Reflective Practitioner” site. This has inspired my email to you.

I await your response.

From the last paragraph, I take it that I am free to discuss it, here especially as the email’s author mentions reading this web-site and likes “my approach”.

The problem for me is should I engage in giving advice in this way? On Thursday I attend the final presentations of I-Vole session of Chiasma. The next day I was talking with the Ken Simmonds about how few members of the business faculty attended to the event. It was mainly staff from the sciences, engineering, etc, (and, of course, and excellent contingent of students). The projects were Biotech, and Ken reflected on the fact that despite 60% of the costs in Biotech businesses being in sales, there was a general reluctance amongst new Biotech enterprises to pay for the expert business and strategy advise they needed. They would happily give value in the company to venture capitalists and to those who thought of the idea, but rarely would they give anything significant to the creator of the strategy that would make their enterprise successful. And that is how I feel know. I’ve been asked to give away my expertise for nothing—has it no value?

The answer is yes, it does—I have a successful consulting practice to prove it. Of course, I am happy to help many of my students (and ex-students), but the relationship there is different.