Superior guidance, as I see it, is the new source of competitive advantage and profitable growth.

Why is that?

It’s because buyers in both the B2B and B2C worlds are sick and tired of being blindsided by unexpected events. Think about the tech bust at the turn of the millennium, the corporate scandals that led to Sarbanes-Oxley, and, now, a credit crisis which has become a global financial crisis.

Confidence is at an all time low. People feel battered, bruised and mistreated. They don’t trust government leaders and, increasingly, they don’t trust business leaders either. Too often, their leaders have failed to set expectations they could meet.

The future, it seems, is not dawning. Instead, the future has become a twilight world of shadows and darkness. People are afraid, uncertain and unclear about the risks they are facing. This includes the people you call prospects. They are waiting for leaders who will illuminate the path ahead and help them navigate the hazardous shoals. They want trustworthy insight
from diligent advisors. They want clarity, direction and guidance.

Interestingly, the business technology industry, which committed so many sins during the tech bubble, has reformed itself. (One can’t say the same about the financial services industry.) Tech has diminished the mania and forced due diligence into the fold.

But the sector may also have ushered in commoditization. Suppliers and solution providers, I would argue, have become a bit too risk averse — prone to needless profit erosion.The problem is even worse in other B2B sectors.

So every seller should now be seeking a new source of competitive differentiation. Some will try to enhance their products. Others will concentrate on their services. I contend they’ll set themselves apart most vividly by giving their prospective customers what they now want most: credible and reliable guidance.

Present the vision. Marshall the evidence. Build the business case.  Help your prospects see what’s coming next. Guide them through the difficult and demanding decisions they now face. That’s what we must do to set ourselves apart in the next economy — the Guidance Economy.