A short recent piece in Fast Company highlights a point that I make over and over again in our executive programs and with clients: customers value a complete experience, while companies organize themselves by a different logic, often one that has to do with efficiencies. The article (September, 2007 edition, page 27) features a senior leader at GE trying to sell to the Olympic organizing committee of the Beijing Olympics. Here’s the stunning revelation they discovered:
“We have always geen good at winning customers in a specific space – for example, our energy experts can sell to energy folks. But when governments spend billions of dollars on Olympic projects, they don’t want to be sliced and diced by the same company. Our number-one revelation is that customers don’t necessarily organize their buying behavior the way we structure our business.”
To learn more about how to create complete customer experiences, you can read Chapter 4 in McGrath and MacMillan The Entrepreneurial Mindset (Harvard Business School Press, 2000). To see how the technique can be used to drive growth opportunities, see chapter 2 in MarketBusters: 40 Strategic Moves that Drie Exceptional Business Growth (Harvard Business School Press, 2005).