Posts Tagged: Sales



Selling Ski Lifts to Cities

If you’re the owner of a ski resort and you’re looking to buy a new lift/gondola/tram/whatever, you pretty much know who to call. For all intents and purposes, there’s only two companies out there and you’ve likely done business with one or both of them several times before.

In other words, the lift companies’ respective salesforces already have 50% of their work done for them. All they really have to do is answer their phone messages and ensure the potential client doesn’t defect to the other competitor and the job’s practically done. Time for lunch.

(That’s a gross simplification, I admit, but there is some truth to it.)

That’s what happens in a duopoly and no one can fault the companies for pursuing a strategy that minimizes their marketing and sales costs while still ensuring a constant stream of customers from across the globe.

Who wouldn’t want that business model?

Problem is, as the lift industry flirts with the urban market, that model no longer works. The companies that used to be Goliaths are very suddenly becoming Davids in a market where no one knows them and is dominated by other far, far larger players and technologies.

If you can find an image that better exemplifies the concept of the ski lift industry "flirting" with cities, we'll give you fifty dollars. Image by flickr user thenails.

That’s not to say the industry needs to change their existing model – far from it. The existing model works and should be protected at all costs. But it’s essential to recognize that it works for the winter market but not necessarily for the urban market. To automatically believe that a business model built for ski hills will suffice for cities is optimistic at best, hubristic at worst.

If the industry is serious about the urban market (and all indications suggest they are), then they’re going to have to develop new models and practices tailored to the urban market. Is that going to be difficult? Of course it is. Is that a risky proposition? Sure. But there’s an upside:

Cities are now the single largest market in the history of humankind. When the reward’s that great, a little innovation seems like pretty minor risk.

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