458 Words on 'Finding Yourself'
This guest blog was contributed by Brad Roderick.
On a recent trip to a wholesale club, I overheard the following comment: “Once I graduate, I’m going to take a year or two off and just, you know, find myself – find out all about me.” At first, I wanted to chuckle. Then I thought about tapping him on the shoulder and saying, “I’ve got good news for you. I know where you are; you’re right here. Problem solved. No reason to go ‘find yourself.’ I just did it for you.”
But the more I thought about it, I’m not sure it’s quite that simple, at least for the greatest Warriors of Commerce (revenue generators).
A few years ago I “found myself” while participating in a “Commodity Line Review.” It’s the modern version of the fun times had at the Colosseum of old. Several sales teams come in for a day with the express purpose of competing against each other until one stands victorious and the others, while not dead, realize they have actually lost a little piece of themselves in the process. Actually, all of the participants, direct and indirect, lose something. That little piece, in my opinion, is the downgrading of the seller’s self-worth to “provider of commodities,” the buyer to “purchaser of undifferentiated and ubiquitous products” and the consumer to “receiver of the lowest-cost boring bauble.”
When your battlefield (where you are) is in the shadows of “commodity,” you have chosen a deadly arena in which to compete. Commodity, unless paired with the word “rare,” indicates that you and your product are nameless, faceless, easily substituted, of low value and unimportant. A simple, flat thumbtack is a commodity. A fancy, oversized pushpin – that’s a different story. Right? The commodity transfers cheaply and almost without thought by the buyer. A pushpin, on the other hand, requires thoughtful selection by the buyer, who shells out more money.
As the Commodity Line Review day ominously dragged on, my fellow warriors and teammates decided that we knew exactly where we were, and we didn’t like it. We no longer wanted to be on this particular battlefield. We no longer would accept dueling under the shadow of commodity. And so we booked an earlier flight home and left the battleground to fight a better battle on another day.
So maybe “finding yourself” isn’t about going somewhere, taking time off or undertaking some Zen-like experience atop a mountain. Maybe it’s as simple as saying, “Hey, I don’t sell commodities,” and choosing which battles you want to engage in.
Or choose to sell commodities and do it solely on price (commodity sales always go to the lowest-priced provider), but be prepared to fight every day because that is one crowded battlefield, and you will never lack for a challenger.
Contact Brad at BRoderick@inkcycle.com.
Brad Roderick is executive vice president of InkCycle Inc. He is an industry veteran with 20 years of experience in OEM and aftermarket supplies and more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience. He is an active member of the remanufacturing industry as an author, trainer and speaker focusing in the areas of industry trends, strategy, sales and marketing, and environmental sustainability.
Posted on Apr 13, 2012