Even today, I have found people on LinkedIn discussion forums promoting articles and videos in which they attempt to explain why my business has to be unique.
This is so last century. Literally.
A few years ago, I needed a graphic designer to produce new designs for my stationery, website and so on.
You won’t be remotely surprised that what I didn’t do was:
Compile a lengthy list of graphic designers, and interrogate each one of them to establish the degree of difference between them and all other graphic designers on the planet (not just the ones on my list), so that I could then confidently choose the one who was most different, knowing that, precisely and solely because they were the most different from all the others, they would be able to do the best possible job for me, produce designs which would be intrinsically better than those every other designer on the planet could have produced, and all at an affordable price.
Rightly, you would think I would have been stark staring mad to do this and noone, in the history of business, ever—over the past five millennia, anywhere in the world—has ever done this.
So why do some people think their reputation will be enhanced by recommending on LinkedIn that I do this?
Even they don’t find suppliers in this way!
What I did, which is what everyone does—all the time—was to speak to one business associate whom I know well and whose judgment I trust. I asked him, who would he recommend? He gave me a name, Paul Holden.
Of course, graphic designers have an advantage. Their websites will instantly give you a good idea of the sort of work they do. I liked Paul’s style—a lot—and, as a result, we had a meeting.
What Paul did then, which is what every business needs to do if it is to win a new client, is demonstrate that he was able to resolve the design issues I had in a way that I liked. It was as much about his questioning and analytical techniques as about his design skills. Indeed, by this time, it wasn’t necessary for him to convince me of his design skills, though we did have a look at his portfolio because he wanted to show it to me.
No business needs to be unique.
No businessperson needs to believe that their business should be unique (and holding such a bizarre belief will actively push them away as a potential supplier).
What businesspeople need to be able to do is to demonstrate to other businesses that their business can help those other businesses solve their problems.
And, businesspeople need to do this well.
Businesspeople also need to let go of their need (their neediness, maybe) to be right about this and be willing to, at least temporarily, suspend their beliefs, replacing them with an attitude of curiosity: “what would it be like if this were true?”
Unfortunately too many businesspeople still don’t get this, and many of those that do don’t do it as well as they could or should.
© 2015 Jeremy Marchant . image: Free images