Beer commercials tell us more about ourselves than we like to let on. It’s no accident that they’ve become a big-ticket expenditure for brewing companies, especially around Super Bowl time. But one commercial more than any other held my attention recently. It’s the bud light “drinkability-regional study” complete with telestrator. I won’t into full detail but the essence of the presentation is that one region of the US thinks drinkability meant the ability to drink, one region thinks it means the ability to swallow, and one guys from Boston tells the interviewer to “get out of his yard”.

I found that hilarious because I live in Massachusetts. For the first year here, I noticed a difference in the affect of New Englanders. By the second year I was forming an opinion. Four years in, I’m pretty sure this isn’t actually part of the United States; because US residents are never this cold, suspicious, and generally unpleasant.

But why, oh Sourcerer, is this relevant to procurement? I’ll tell you why. Because regional affect has a lot to do with how one can effectively do business. Even in this electronic age, there are still human touch points.

I was shocked to learn, many years ago, that telephone trainers were farmed out to Ohio for their training. This, I’m told, is because Ohio is the area of the country where folks have the least noticeable speaking accent. It seems the key on the telephone is to sound like you’re not from anywhere, thus reducing the chances of creating an accent based language barrier or being deemed offensive. It’s the vanilla principle.

But raising the performance bar, it isn’t always enough to be inoffensive. One must strive to be harmonious-in tune with the client.

Politely stated, that same leisurely conversation that charms the Georgia client may get you thrown out of the yard in Boston. It’s easy to think, as we become ever more e-enabled, that regional affect is going to become less of an issue in working effectively with our clients. But consider this; it’s yet to be seen how much e-commerce will remove emotionally based decisions from the business equation. Even if e-factors remove emotional touch points from the process, is it a safe assumption that the trigger pulling will not be emotionally based? Probably not.

So the moral to the story . . . . . .In business, any part of business, it’s probably still a good idea to know one’s audience, even if they throw you out of their yard.

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