These days, almost every business is coping with a profound change in marketplace dynamics. Some people describe it as the shift from selling a commodity to selling customized, value-added products or services. Others talk about moving from transaction-based marketing to relationship-based marketing. Whatever you call it, it is a major phenomenon that has received little intelligent commentary in the business press.
The One to One Future, by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers (Doubleday/Currency, 1993, $22), is the best introductory text I've read on the subject, showing why smart companies are focusing on selling more products to fewer people (that is, going for a higher "share of customer"), rather than selling to the greatest number of people (going for a higher share of market). The book's strength is its discussion of the reasons for the change and the ways companies can benefit from it. Unfortunately, there's not much about the questions companies confront as they make the transition. For example:
How must the role of management change? (Hint: when was the last time the CEO made a sales call?)
How does the sales force have to be retrained? Indeed, can traditional salespeople be retrained?
What sort of turf battles are likely to erupt between sales, marketing, and product-development groups? (Watch Boyz 'N the Hood.)
If you're already dealing with those issues, you can skip the book and read Susan Greco's cover story "The Art of Selling," in the June issue of Inc. Otherwise, The One to One Future is a very good place to start.* * *
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