Native American Proverb
Sometimes, it just costs too much to promote and sell effectively against a strong competitor in your market. My company liked the products and GTM strategy of one such. It didn’t take long to work out that it would be more cost-effective and far quicker to absorb them. I proposed an acquisition. Unfortunately, while the deal press release was actually being written, months of preparatory work went down the tubes as the two chairmen had a violent personal disagreement. The deal never happened. No matter the corporations, the money or the products, in the end, it’s always down to people.
Low-cost manufacturing advantage is essential in the world of high-volume, high-tech hardware. With the intention to drastically reduce the cost of European production, I went on a mission to acquire existing manufacturing capability in Eastern Europe. One major competitor appeared for what we chose as the appropriate facility. There were challenging journeys into unfriendly territories. There were over-dinner (and breakfast!) discussions deliberately compromised by evil local alcohol. There were intense negotiations conducted through dubious translators. There were meeting notes that had to be rewritten to resemble the truth of what was said. Then there was the final meeting, in the usual intimidating surroundings. We didn’t get the factory. The major competitor, purely to protect its business against our strategy, bid a curiously precise 50% above our supposedly confidential maximum. We knew that a large part of that would "disappear". inside the bureaucracy. The competitor never moved in or used it.
The worldwide product launch: simultaneously the marketing director’s raison d'être and bête noire. As difficult as it is theatrical. It was the launch of a major advancement in the PC technology of the time: we had sensationally got there before the industry leader. There were launch events scheduled for the USA, Europe, and MEA. In London, the prestigious theatrical venue had been a few days in preparation. The licenced big pop music hit had everyone humming the theme tune as techies and marketers set up the local network, linked to all of the other venues. The stage would rise up and revolve, showing a dozen operators of the new PCs using the leading apps. Three hours to go: a successful full rehearsal. Excitement mounted; crowds were queueing outside waiting for the doors to open. One hour to go: last technical run-through. Stage open, riser halfway up, then Bang! Total power outage. The old theatre’s circuits couldn’t take it. All app demos had to be reset. No leeway on the time-critical global connections. We made it work with three minutes to go. I aged 20 years..
When running marketing and sales for a London dealership that provided sophisticated hardware and software solutions for demanding major corporations, my vendor partnerships were very important to me.
One giant PC vendor - despite my being one of their top 5 dealerships - treated my outfit the same as much less sophisticated or retail sales ones. Sometimes, a long-drawn-out help request to approach a lucrative new prospect would result in my salesperson finding themselves competing with the vendor's direct sales force!
Then a new hardware kid on the block appeared who did everything they could to help us acquire big corporate customers, while never, ever, trying to sell around us. With skilled partnering salespeople, they worked only through and with us, pro-actively, as required, to secure the business.
Our new kid soon became our big kid and we became their number one dealer, while the giant lost business to them, as we grew rapidly. Moral: a partnering GTM strategy is a two-way relationship. The vendor thought we needed them more than they needed us.
They were wrong.