People are individualists; we prefer to do things alone and don’t care about the others. Fortunately, we are also ‘intelligent’ and realise that we need other people in certain situations. But if this is not strictly necessary, we are selfish. This is a big pity, since we can do so much more when we co-operate!

I was realising this when I was waiting at the luggage belt of the airport. As usual, everybody was bending over the belt to see whether his or her luggage was coming and thereby blocking the view of the people behind him or her, who in their turn had to bend even more over the belt to see something. In this struggle, only the first person is able to see the luggage coming, and is able to get the luggage without problems. All others have two problems: they cannot see their luggage coming, and when they finally see their property, they are not able to get it because of all the people blocking the way. The solution is very simple: if everybody keeps 2 meters distance from the belt, everybody is able to see their luggage coming, and everybody is able to get to the belt to pick up their suitcase. If it is that simple, why won’t people do this? Well, mainly because there is no incentive for the first person that has the view and the space no matter the distance to the belt. And when the first person chooses to stay close to the belt, all the others have only one solution: get even closer to the belt!

In my work I encounter the same problem. Whenever I have contact with a possible dealer in a new country, the word exclusivity falls within the first two conversations. They have seen our product and think it is good and have the idea that they can conquer the whole market because they have a better product. They are so wrong. Dominating a market is extremely difficult and usually does not depend much on the quality of the product (Microsoft?). If you want to sell a lot of our product, all you need is demand, which is difficult to create. The best way to do it is to have many, many dealers. If many dealers are offering this product, it will become visible. And when it is visible, clients start asking for it. This is how we work in the Spanish market. There are 400+ dealers of our product, and in some branches our product has become the ‘de facto’ standard. Local dealers sell a lot more because there are many other dealers offering the same products; they would never have reached those sales using an exclusive product. If only our foreign contacts could have this insight and allow for more competition in their markets. I am 100% sure that they would sell a lot more!

If people would be less individualistic, we could do bigger things!

Jeroen Sangers @jeroensangers