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Greg -- yes, I like the idea of thinking about everyone involved, what's at stake and the long term consequences of decisions.

Mark -- I do wonder about that too. Yet, I've seen it consistently in several industries and sales cycles, there will always be customers who give you the bulk of your revenue and then the rest. The good news for smaller companies and consultants is the stability that having many different customers brings from a revenue stream standpoint vs. relying only on the one or two big ones.

Doug -- thank you for joining the conversation. I work with outside suppliers as augmentation of my staff -- very much in a peer model. What we do is look at the whole picture of what we need to accomplish and agree not only on what we're trading for what, but how we're going to do it together. So although I am their customer, our relationship is very much as team.

More on this in a post soon. You have all given great ideas and we should expand this conversation to this blog's readership again.

My thanks to Greg Krauska for a plug on this blog. Valeria, both you and Greg are right on. I will try to bring what I hope is considered a different perspective to this conversation. In the vendor customer relationship it is important to recognize symmetries. Customers and suppliers are equal partners in creating value. The concept of listening to customers, (and “the customer is always right!) is the popular and accepted customer relationship position to take. Yet, when it comes to the supplier/vendor, the same is not true. Well why shouldn’t it be? The burden on the supplier is to get the product to where it needs to be on time, and for the right price. Now imagine if we talked to our customers that way!

I use Game Theory in my consulting practice, and one of the strategies emphasized is for players to recognize that working with suppliers is just as valuable as listening to the customer. Before I go any further, this is not my concept. It was brought to the fold in a book entitled Co-Opetition, by Adam M. Brandenbuger and Barry J. Nalebuff. So I need to give then their due credit. They have written a fascinating book.

It is beneficial to everyone involved, customer, vendor, competitor, etc to create the biggest pie possible. When making decisions in this context you need to examine value. If a customer wants something in a rush, but is not willing to compensate you for the extra cost involved, does filling the order under their conditions create added value in the relationship, or detract from it?

Valeria, I get what you're saying. Makes perfect sense. And yet...I wonder if there are other organizations like the ones I work with that understand the need, from a mission standpoint, to go after the remaining 80% and try to pull them in further? Sort've convert them to a 20%er? Maybe it is related to somehow engaging the 20% to become evangelists for the 80%.

Very thought provoking. Thanks!

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