And the more I think about this challenge, the more I realise that it has synergies with the debate that continues to rage in the business to consumer (B2C) world between bricks-and-mortar and online.
In B2B, customers rarely know what they want to buy. They have a business challenge that they expect me to solve, either through something that I develop for them or by adapting something I have on the shelf. But it is very much a ‘pull’ from the customer and they care little about my portfolio of products.
It is the same in the online/offline B2C world. Where the customer wants a clearly defined product, they go online, probably do a price comparison and then make the purchase. But where the customer is unsure of what they want, they go to the high street and either browse or seek advice.
For example, when booking a holiday, some people will go to a travel agent and say “I want to go somewhere hot” and the agent will use their experience to hone that request. But some will know exactly what they want and so will go online and book direct. The same applies with fashion purchases: if you know the style, size and make, you may be able to buy online but many people are not so sure and will happily browse the racks in a high street store until they see something they like.
Back to my problem. My international colleagues have a conveyor belt of widgets that they want to offload and they care little about whether the customer wants them. My job is to get the customer to self-select said widget via their thought process that it meets their needs – but with no second chances if their needs have changed.
Now, what is the German for “Does it come in Tiger Tank Grey”?