I had a daughter last year. Suddenly my market share of my nuclear family went down from 50 percent to one third. By the way, yes, I know I’ve mixed percentages and fractions. Does this dramatic and sudden drop in my market share reflect performance, how much effort I am putting in or that I am quickly being abandoned by my family and sure to be completely replaced? That’s for my wife to decide and any such moves would have nothing to do these statistics. I have noticed that, due to stories being aggregated together into places like Google News or smartphone apps, when looking for news, more and more often I am faced with an open paragraph about a financial report, sales number or some third-party statistic. What tends to follow is an article that extrapolates from this starting point to make a definitive call about what the market will do next, what is means for the profitability of a company or what the next big thing will be. It is true that these kinds of numbers convey a message to the world; interestingly I have found that while the numbers are the same, the message received can be very different one. As all salespeople know, you can perfect your pitch and answer all the objections but you can’t guarantee that all prospects will hear the good news - that you have a great deal to offer and they are one of the selected few that you are offering it to. Clients can make technology decisions that lead them to dead ends just because purchasing can be influenced by emotion. I have seen clients justify decisions that caused them workflow pain by pointing to the popularity of the technology. The concept is that making the safe same bet that everybody else is making will give you the most stable outcome. Nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM. As I have referred to in my earlier columns this is not the industry it once was for multi-million dollar paycheques. Learning from history is good, repeating history not so good. If you only ride the wave of popularity you will spend your life paddling to the next wave. But picking your tools and evolving your delivery as the market evolves will give you the ability to plan how to continue to make a profit in the down times. If you look at IBM today, the company that invented the PC, giving them at one time (very briefly before the 'clone' makers moved in) a 100 percent market share, they no longer make any. To find a ThinkPad nowadays you look to China and Lenovo. These days IBM provides servers, software and services and is more profitable today than they were before the economic crisis. This has been achieved by taking time to know their customers’ requirements in all market conditions. While the hardware market contracts, services and support are required to "keep the lights on” and as a company that has taken the time, effort and experience to plan for this IBM is a great example of how to think logically to profit financially. Avis learned how to use the concept of having smaller market share (only 11 percent) behind Hertz as an advantage to engage the market emotionally and grow its client base and profitability significantly. The message we’re number two so “we try harder” has become the battle cry of those who want to service the market. While the market share measure may show how many customers they are not servicing, it is not a reason to give up. If your vendors are passionate about servicing end users and you can implement their tools to do the job, lack of market share is an objection that is easily managed. If your clients mention it, just remind them of their vinyl, 8-track, tape and CD collections.
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