farmer eavisGlastonbury tickets sold out in under 90 minutes. It would have been faster, but there were the inevitable IT issues. This generated around £30 million of income in just 90 minutes. Not bad for a farmer, eh?

But a farmer is used to taking care of his land and livestock and making the most of them and getting the most out of them. Michael Eavis is doing exactly the same with his annual festival as he’s done with his dairy farm.

In sales there is often the differentiation between the Hunter and the Farmer type of selling (there is also the Poacher and the Trader, but that’s for another time). The Farmer salesperson looks after his existing customers and nurtures and develops them.  The Farmer cultivates his relationship with the land and things that feed him. The Farmer protects his livestock and their future – as the Farmers’ future is intimately linked with them.

Most businesses folk (and sales folk) feel more comfortable in the Farmer role than the Hunter role due to the existing relationship that exists. Yet, at times the Farmer can get a little lazy and rely on the relationship to feed them, without putting the nurturing effort in and responding to the changing needs of the client. Research shows that around 2/3 of customers leave a supplier because they do not feel that they are properly engaged or cared for and that the supplier is indifferent about them.

Michael Eavis has done a wonderful job over the years of developing his festival so it meets the changing needs of the customer. I recall the outcry when dance music first came to Worthy Farm. Now, it’s an integral and lively part of the event.  Likewise when “posh camping” and R&B music acts headlined the Pyramid stage. The loyalty that his customers show to the festival is impressive and is a result of this nurturing and responding to the changing customer needs.

The folks who bought those tickets don’t know who will be playing yet! How many other businesses could take £30million in advance and without announcing exactly what you are going to get?

That’s impressive farming.

trustAre there suppliers that you fully trust to always get it right and have your interests at heart? I’m guessing they are few and far between. But give it some thought – who do you really trust as a supplier? Then ask yourself – are they perfect? Have they never, ever made a mistake – is that why you trust them? Or if they have dropped the ball in the past did they put things right to your satisfaction? Is that why you trust them?

It seems to me that we trust suppliers that either have never made a mistake or because if they do, they put it right. Immediately, without complaint and whilst smiling. For example, a couple of weeks ago I was with some friends at a restaurant and we had wine with the meal. Two of my friends took a sip of their wine and thought it didn’t taste right. They thought the wine was corked. They called the waiter over and mentioned the problem to him. The waiter didn’t take a sip of the wine, didn’t challenge them at all. He simple apologized, took the wine away and brought a fresh bottle to our table. That’s perfect customer service. As you can imagine this restaurant already had a great reputation – but now it’s even better.

Earlier this week I updated an application that I have on my phone for storing sensitive information. I’ve used this program in various forms over the last 15 years or so. I keep all my passwords, logon details, licence numbers etc. in it. And up until last week I trusted the suppler. The update to their application deleted all my data. Yup, it deleted everything. Gone, kaput and no more. An email to their support team brought the response along the lines “sorry, there was a bug. We’ve fixed the problem so it won’t happen again. But we can’t get your data back”. So 15 years of trust and customer / supplier relationship has just gone out the window. Can I trust them not to do this again? Or could they make another mistake and allow the whole world access to my sensitive data due to another bug?

How many of your customers trust you explicitly? Is it because you have never made a mistake, or is it because you clean up the mess if you do? But see how easy it is to lost trust with a supplier.

I’m currently sitting on the fence. Do I look for an alternative application or give my current supplier the benefit of the doubt?

What would you do?

The_Journey_Cuthbert_of_Lindisfarne

I’m struggling to resolve the following observations:

Many, if not all of the folks I work with say they are “busy”. That’s not unusual, like the hard drive that always fills up regardless of its size, so the work day fills up with “stuff” regardless of how many hours we put into it.  When breaking down the components of “busy” it seems that working on getting the in-box down – or clear – is the main drain on time and energy. Emails arrive at a faster rate that they appear to be dealt with.

However, statistics appear to be showing that there is a decline in overall email use. This is more marked the younger you are. In fact the only age group where email use is growing is the 55+ age group. This is explained by many connecting and communicating via text, social media and phone messenger services. For those under 35 there is a drop (year-on-year) of around 40% in email usage: now that’s a lot! My take on this is that younger folks are not using email to communicate outside of work – older folks are carrying on as normal and still keep sending lots of information to lots of people (often ‘just in case’ or ‘FYI’ so they can “CYA”).

Direct mail shots are dying away… email shots (unless highly targeted and relevant) are treated with the CTL+D key. Social Networks have the advantage that you can communicate in an open space (so everyone sees the conversation – great for customer service) or in private (for those 1-2-1 messages) – this seems to me a much better way to communicate within and outside of the office. Some have responded to this with a company Facebook page. Great if you are in a B2C market, but many organisations IT departments block access to Facebook during office hours. So for the B2B market – what do you do? Linkedin?

So, how long before company websites are more like a social networking site; shared by the staff and customers? This open, honest and transparent way of doing business is the future, I think. Website content will be less the company saying how great it is and what it does for the customer – but more about the customer telling the company what it thinks about them (positive and negative) and what it needs to do to grow. That’s the kind of organisation I’d like to do business with – how about you?

Scary or liberating?