Buying Success

Scott Francis
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Recently I was discussing with a colleague at a software vendor what BP3 does for a living.  The question was asked, first, what does BP3 do?  I gave my usual response, which has to do with process improvement and implementing processes in BPM suites (I like to call this marrying theory and practice).  At the end of my spiel, I was asked if we’d be interested in being a reseller for their software.  In fact, being a reseller may make sense at some point for BP3, but that’s down the road a ways.  I responded that we really aren’t in the business of selling software – we don’t have a sales staff, we don’t cold call new customers.  In fact, we usually get referred to customers by word of mouth. By whom? he asked.  Well, it varies, but it includes:
  • old colleagues who know what we do now for a living and know we do it well
  • other BP3 customers who liked our work
  • software vendors
  • consulting companies
I think the last two bear remarking on.  My audience wasn’t convinced. Why are software vendors and consulting firms asking us to help out and referring or subcontracting business to us, if they don’t get the quid pro quo of our bringing them additional business by bringing in new customers? It turns out that the software vendors and consulting companies we work with have their own consulting staff.  But they still bring us into their customers.  Even their prospects.  Why?  Because what they’re buying with BP3 is success.  They’re not really buying our process modeling, our technical jujitsu, nor our process improvement skills – although they know they’ll get top-notch work in each of those areas.  They’re really buying the insurance policy for success in BPM, which is called BP3. That’s when I realized we had moved from the question of “what do you do?” to “why do your customers work with you?” to “what are your customers buying?”  Why, our customers are buying BPM Success, and they’re buying from us.  That’s why major outsourcing firms will bring us in to work on major accounts or projects.  Its why software vendors ask us to run proofs of concept.  Its why customers call us when they have a critical project. In the process of answering this question, I realized we’re making our “pitch” incorrectly.  We need to transition from “what we do” to communicating the BP3 value proposition: “what you’re buying from BP3 and why.” So the next time someone asks me what we do, I think I’ll tell them, we sell success.  (And then explain the context of BPM and how we do that.  )
Look for my next post to cover why individual BPM practitioners should work at BP3 or with BP3 to reach customers, rather than going through staffing companies that aren’t focused on BPM as a core competency.  We’ll do that by answering the question “why do your employees and subcontractors work with you?”.