A few words about selling and a company's relationship to its customers.
You can't leave selling to salespeople anymore, or so we hear from CEOs who are trying to turn a commodity into a value-added product or service. If you make that move, they report, customers insist on dealing with top management. That's because a value-added business is based on relationships, whereas a commodity business involves only transactions. When you start selling the value you add, you're asking customers to buy more than a product or service. In a very real sense, you're asking them to invest in your company. "I thought the road to quality began and ended on the manufacturing floor," one value-added CEO told me recently. "Three years later I've reduced my sales force by a third, had to completely retrain the other two-thirds, and totally redefined my own job in the process. Welcome to the '90s."