Choose Your Customer: A book review by Bob Morris

Choose Your Customer: How to Compete Against the Digital Giants and Thrive
Jonathan L.S. Byrnes and John S. Wass
McGraw Hill (May 2021)

A brilliant explanation how to achieve success amidst a “tsunami” of disruption

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of what Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell have to say about how to create what they characterize as “customer evangelists.” (The “why” is obvious.) That is perhaps the greatest challenge that start-ups face, as do small-to-mid-sized companies and even the “giants” to which the subtitle of this book refers. Whatever the size and nature of a company may be, unless and until it creates a sufficient number of “customer evangelists,” it is certain to fail.

Jonathan Byrnes and John Wass have developed “a completely new way to analyze profitability,” one they characterize as “transaction-based profit metrics and analytics.”  Briefly, they explain in this book how to assign the correct costs to each transaction (invoice line) “based on each transaction’s actual costs, essentially creating an all-in P&L for each order line.”

Today, the global marketplace is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall. As Byrnes and Wass note, “The Age of Mass Markets, which extended through most of the prior century, was characterized by fast-growing homogeneous markets…products were ‘king.'”

“Today, as the the Age of Diverse Markets tsunami rushes in, industry after industry is being disrupted by digital giants like Amazon, Uber, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Alibaba, and by savvy incumbents that have staked out a strategic high ground and generated sustained profit growth.”

Byrnes and Wass thoroughly explain the “completely new way to analyze profitability” to which I referred earlier. They also provide several mini-profiles of exemplars (e.g. Edison Furniture, Baxter, Custom Research, Dell, GE, George Roberts, Mi rosoft, SKF Bearings, Zara, and Pacific Financial Services), companies that chose their customers “by identifying those who fit [their] high-profit, defensible strategic group; [they] aligned resources around the processes that supported [their] chosen customers; and [they] managed the coordination of [their] key functional areas — sales, products, and customer relation ships — to meet [their] customers’ needs.” They realized that their “old model of maximizing all revenues and minimizing all costs was a losing proposition.”

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the scope and depth as well as the quality of the information, insights, and counsel that Jonathan Byrnes and John Wass provide but I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of them and their work. It remains for those who read Choose Your Customer to decide which of the material is most relevant to their own company’s needs, resources, and strategic objectives.

I presume to conclude with two points of my own. First, ultimately, there are no marketing or customer relations issues…only [begin italics] business [end italics] issues. “What must be done to help our organization achieve and sustain profitable growth amidst unprecedented challenges and disruptions?”

Also, keep a lined notebook near at hand while reading this book. Record your own thoughts, especially questions and concerns, as well as questions, page references, and responses to the set of questions at the end of each chapter. Re-reading the material you record in your notebook will extend and enrich the value of this book.



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