Hanging on to the old product selling paradigm is precisely the way to go out of business in the 21th century. You can see it happening as organisations everywhere undergo breathtaking changes.
Their products are changing. Their markets are changing. Their customers are changing. Their leadership management philosophies are changing. Their values are changing. Their focus is changing.
Now, more than ever before the accepted ways of doing business are shifting. Old institutions are crashing and dying. Trusted names of yesterday will not live to see the future. Why? Because many of them failed to keep pace with changing consumer demands, values and needs. Hanging onto the past, they were blinded by leadership nearsightedness — leaving them weak. They are left wondering where their customers and profits went.
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Since the beginning of the 21st century the way we work and live has been transforming at an unprecedented rate, as we move from the product era into the Information and Imagination Age.
For us to prosper and benefit from this new age will require us to do things differently once again. Alert leaders are realising that to be successful their organisations must be genuine, aware and willing to enter into relationships where they can connect and communicate with all their stakeholders including customers, staff, suppliers and the broader community, locally and on a world scale, with an ethical and transparent mandate.
The new transparency of the 21st century leaves them open and vulnerable. They realise that the inherent value of any organisation does not lie in the value of the product anymore; it now lies in the value of ideas and relationships. It’s the time for the creative collaborative society.
If the 20th century used to be about manufacturing goods and selling products in a mass consumer society, the 21st century is about a service economy, information, ideas, creativity, innovation and sustainability.
Rachel Botsman, a social innovator who writes on the power of collaboration, and her co-author Roo Rogers, a serial entrepreneur, write in their book What’s Mine is Yours about the phenomenon that is collaborative consumption, the recent changes in our economic landscape which have only exposed and intensified a phenomenon: an explosion in sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting and swapping.
We are now in a creative collaborative economy that thrives on genuine partnerships. We are in a new economy which is different in size and strength and requires different skills sets. And it comes as no surprise that women* are showing us they are better suited to a 21st century world with the ability to acquire and apply these business skills such as the ability to collaborate, work in teams, sit still and focus, communicate openly, genuinely listen to people and operate in a workplace and a world that is much more fluid and complex than it used to be.
The lessons are clear and serve as precise warnings that leaders and managers today must listen and act rather than react or panic.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.
*I will be writing more on women in sales in 2015. I want to use 2015 as the year to celebrate women in business, and especially in sales. Why? Well on January 9 next year Barrett will be celebrating 20 years in business and as a woman I want to make the most of this milestone. So watch this space.
PS: We will be releasing Barrett’s 12 Sales Trends for 2015 shortly and there will more about the share economy there.