Business Agility

by Sharlyn Lauby on June 12, 2009

One of the unfortunate trends I’m seeing in the business world is a lack of agility. Meaning people and organizations that do not have the ability to react quickly and efficiently. Here’s an example: 

True story. I’m currently trying to buy “something”. Now, I don’t want to be flip but the cost of this “something” is in the thousands of dollars (versus something that might cost $5). So just like other companies, I’ve identified several vendors, set up meetings to discuss their products, and requested price quotes.
 
The first vendor (who I know on a professional level) not only didn’t supply a complete quote but hasn’t responded to my requests to get a complete quote. At this point, I’m convinced they’ve received a better piece of business (or a large inheritance) and my paltry couple grand doesn’t mean squat.
 
For the second vendor (who I also know on a professional level), I actually gave them a ballpark of what the quote needed to come in at (based on research and my other quotes).   So, what do they do? Provide the highest price of all of them. *sigh*
 
Meanwhile, a potential customer calls me last week and asks for an outline of my services. Needed it the next morning. Did I stay up all night (well not literally all night…but you get what I mean) to make sure they had it on time? You bet I did.
 
When customers have money to spend, they’re in the driver’s seat. If you want to keep them as a customer, you need to be agile – answer their questions quickly and completely, respond to their requests, and deliver your best information – on time. If they tell you the budget is $3000…don’t quote $4000. I’m not Einstein but this just seems logical to me.
 
Yes, these examples are very tactical in nature. On a simplistic level, my experience could just be attributed to poor follow-up skills or the inability to competitively price products. But if left unaddressed such things could become a systemic problem for a business. Wally Bock over at Three Star Leadership reinforces this in his recent post, “Lessons Learned from the GM Bankruptcy”.
 
In today’s economy, businesses will be successful (and profitable) if they can respond quickly and correctly.   Speed and accuracy are the name of the game. To quote Wally, “it can all go bad if you don’t pay attention.”

 

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