Decisions on technology solutions are best left to the marketer

March 22, 2015 By and    

Most of us who are old enough remember the “Saturday Night Live” skit in the Greek diner where all they serve are cheeseburgers and Pepsi. Regardless of what the patrons attempt to order, they end up with a cheeseburger and Pepsi.

I like to review the menu when eating out. However, I will generally order the same thing at a restaurant, assuming I had a good experience the last time. This is not something I usually spend a lot of time debating because on the scale of decisions, it’s not that important to me.

Now, if an important decision or course of action is in front of me, I truly appreciate alternatives and want as much flexibility as I can possibly get. Consulting with others I respect and who’ve had similar experiences is obviously valuable. But all of that goes out the window if you’re only given one pathway.

Our ability to make choices is fundamental to our sense of ourselves as human beings. Our ability to have choice is fundamental to what our country was founded upon. Whom we love; where we work; the teams we root for; the car we drive – such choices define us in the eyes of ourselves and others, and much blood and ink have been spilled to establish and protect our rights to make them freely.

It would be difficult to find anyone who does not consider his or her business to be unique. Every sized fleet has unique groups of customers that require various levels of service or engagement. In this environment, it’s paramount that you provide a range of products, services and pricing plans that help make it easier for your customers to do business with you. Being inattentive to your customers’ needs is not an alternative, as there are plenty of competitors more than willing to take your place.

Today, most businesses have identified distinctive operational processes that best fit their specific industry requirements. If this is the reality for most businesses today, how should your technology partners adapt? Marketers operate in an ever-expanding world of both live and static information. There’s seemingly no data that’s beyond a general manager’s fingertips. Some fleets take advantage of every last morsel, while others are content with the status quo.

In our industry, technology exists for each fleet to interface to and from any combination of vendors. In today’s world, it’s impossible for any one vendor to be everything to everybody. Whether it’s tank telemetry, accounts receivables, general ledgers, mobile, quarterly newsletters, on-hold music, document management, degree-day systems or business intelligence, you should be able to control who you want on your team. Technology partners should be Switzerland when it comes to assisting their customers in creating your best reality.

We are all customers and vendors in this economy. Deciding whether a single solution or a best-of-breed solution makes sense should be entirely the marketer’s call. Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” says, “Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” Protecting your turf at the expense of the customer’s goals is not a great way to maintain a client base. Eventually, frustration mounts and customers question their patronage.

Rather than vendors asking themselves “What do we believe is best for the marketers?” the real question is “What do marketers believe is best?”

Many vendors still cling to the traditional service models in the face of dramatic evidence that marketers want options in designing their own strategy. Peter Drucker, a management consultant, once said, “Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it.”

It’s a privilege to work in this industry, and the symbiotic relationship between marketer and vendor is special. If a product, service or solution works well, it will get noticed and news will spread. The same holds true for the alternative scenario, as well.

As we know, one size rarely fits all. That’s why I order a Diet Pepsi with my cheeseburger over and over again. 

John Rosen is the vice president of sales for Vertrax Inc. Contact him at jrosen@vertrax.com or 203-401-6071.

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