The Third Turn

Dr. Mark L. Vincent's Blog

The Muse: Introducing you to Bloomerang and how we work with products

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Jun 4, 2013 8:15:00 AM

As an organizational development firm committed to process consultation we don't sell products. We do, however, cultivate relationships where we can recommend them, especially when a client needs a product that enhances their infrastructure, reduces administrative time and/or improves efficiency.

When we form such a relationship we strive for the following:

  • We want to be sure there is some level of customization for a specific context and a sensitivity to a process orientation. In other words, solutions need to fit to the client far more than the client must adjust to a product.
  • We want a relationship and direct access with the product provider so we can advocate for the client perspective.
  • We try to offset some of our costs for providing information to clients but without becoming a product sales force.
A little more explanation for the last point is in order. We do not pursue relationships with product providers because it adds to our bottom line. Sales commissions ruin the client and process-centered approach for which we strive. And yet, in order to become familiar with a particular product we feel is beneficial to a client here or there, we have to invest time and money. Our only hope for recovery is if some sort of referral compensation is involved. So, with some services, we might recommend there may be some money that comes back our way (usually in the 2-5% range).
Getting this right means straddling a dilemma. If we have no tools to draw on we limit the capacity of our service. If we sell product then we are no longer client-centered. If we do not recover our costs we cannot do our work next year too. So, we readily admit these relationships when we have refer a client to a product. And we enter into these relationships in such a way that it neither makes or breaks our business model.
An example of one such product is the one we recently formed with Bloomerang (founded by some of the folks who launched E-Tapestry), a web-based CRM technology that helps nonprofits with donor retention, something previous CRM systems struggled to do.
David Bell, our Senior Design Partner with vast expertise in the fundraising arena, gave Bloomerang a thorough going over as we determine whether it was a product we might recommend to some of our clients. He also is our point person to make sure any client we refer is getting the service and results that are promised. By referring and being in a referral relationship, we don't have to abandon the client and can make sure this sort of technology actually does what it promises. David's recommendation is hearty enough for what Bloomerang offers that I thought I'd point to it in this blog describing how we've worked through the dilemma so far.
Should we approach this sort of relationship differently? We would be happy to hear what you think.
mark l vincent, design group international 
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Topics: process consulting, client centered, david bell, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, donor relationships


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