I met a really nice gentleman last night who worked for one of the large computer storage vendors. Quite by random, he shared one of the big lessons he learned after his company made what could in hindsight be called a fatal blunder, the consequences of which ended up being that the company was sold to a competitor.
This company, call it Company X, relied 100% on their channel. They were basically, OEM’d storage, just a piece of a larger puzzle. Wrongfully, they created this self-image of themselves (pride & ego at work), that their brand meant something, that they could compete on ‘value’, not price.
They were wrong.
If they had sold direct, perhaps that would have been the case, but as an embedded component of someone else’s brand, while ‘value’ was important, it wasn’t the fundamental competitive driver / differentiator.
By the time they figured this out, it was too late, they had effectively alienated their customer (their ‘channel’) and opened the door to their competitor, who was willing to put their ego aside, and realize that they were competing on price.
The lesson in this story is to never let your pride and ego cloud your better business judgment. This is especially tough to maintain as a culture when a company is successful, and as new, many times young people join, full of spit and vinegar.
Whether it’s true or not, one should always assume that your customer has a choice, and while corporate paranoia can act as a decent proxy for corporate humility, it’s not a culture I would ‘strive’ to build.