The influences buyers exert on suppliers

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Competitive Marketing Strategy (CMS) has relationship marketing (RM) as one of the key functionality in enhancing business performance. RM is defined as the identification, establishment, maintenance, enhancement, modification and termination of relationships with customers to create value for customers and profit for organization by a series of relational exchanges that have both a history and a future. Relational exchanges can be viewed under transaction cost analysis and social exchange theories depending on the context. The role of RM in CMS includes: guide moments of truth, improve profitability, build partnering, address 'Customer Better', buy in of customer attention, protect emotional well being, understand consumer psyche, build trust with customer.

Proactively, rather than reactivity, becomes a very important business mantra in the postmodern digital world economy. It is easier to create and maintain reputation and trust than try to regain them. Is it the influence strategies that industrial buyers exert on their suppliers in different buying situations or it is the relationships suppliers build with their custormers to ensure long term business sales.

Purpose of study:

Buyers and sellers have different perspectives in evaluating the significance of three knowledge bases: Product, Price and Service. The study attempts to determine

IBM is an excellent example of differentiated marketing with distinctive product offerings and marketing strategies for a large number of market segments defined along industry lines and within industry by customer size.

Significance of study:

The purpose of competitive strategy is to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage (SCA) and thereby enhance a business performance (Bharadwaj, 1993). One of the major objectives of marketing strategy is to enhance the long-term financial performance of a firm. As such competitive marketing strategy serves to improve financial performance of the firm through the route of sustainable competitive advantages. There are four essential requirements for a resource/ skill to be a source of SCA (Barney, 1991). It must be valuable; it must be rare among competitors; it must be imperfectly imitable; there must not be any strategically equivalent substitutes for this resource skill. Sources of SCA leads to positional competitive advantage (differentiation and low cost). Sustainability of positional advantages leads to superior long-term market and financial performance. Formulating competitive marketing strategies also involves, recognizing relationships between elements of the marketing mix as well as assessing the impact of competitive and market conditions on marketing mix formulation.


A sample of nearly 100 SMEs purchasing managers operating in IT departments is taken for primary data. The study has been carried out using both the primary as well as the secondary sources of information. I don't hesitate to conclude that maintaining high quality standards, innovative approach, highly skilled labor forces, etc. are the key factors which make this organization a huge success rate, among other competitors in the Indian market.

It is also reveal that B2B relationship performance is positively and significantly associated with loyalty. Today firms have a wide range of tools and metrics at their disposal to assess periodic performance, this paper aims to suggest target segments using the ABC analysis of customers based on profitability.

Literature Review:

Industrial marketing involves multiple transactions, negotiations strong relationship building between buyers and sellers. Thus it accounts for the largest share of market exchange. As the buying process involves a hierarchy of decision makers, complex transactions are lengthier and bear greater environmental uncertainty. Added to this, industrial marketers confront different situations, buying behaviours and buyer perceptions. Three classes of buying behaviour have been identified viz. straight rebuy, modified rebuy and new task.

Although the buying situation critically shapes both buyer behaviour and seller response, little research has been targeted to incorporate additional dimensions in the analysis that could help to gain more insightful knowledge about industrial buyer-seller interactions. One such dimension concerns the influence strategies used in working relationship, which are important for three major reasons industrial markets are characterised by strong buyer-seller dependence, which is susceptible to the use of influence, the judicious handling of influence in a business to business relatioship can take it out of the realm of chance and give it a purpose, existence and direction, while its inappropriate use can harm it and both the type and intensity of influence can have serious repercussions on other key variables of the relationsip, affecting overall performance.

Industrial markets involve strong buyer seller dependence which is susceptible to influence. The judicioud handling of influence in a B2B relationship can take it out of the realm of chance and give it a purpose and direction, while the inappropriate use of influence can harm the relationship. Both the type and intensity of influence can have serious repurcussions on other key variables of the business relationship, affecting overall performance.

Main types of influence strategies are: legalistic, coercive, reward, expert, referem, informational.

Legalistic: Based on belief that one party has the legal action to enforce the other's compliance.

Coercive: Based on the customers threats to punish its suppliers if the donot take certain course of action.

Reward: Involves providing supliers with various economic and non economic rewards to encourage them to take actions that benefit the customer.

Expert: Influence suppliers if they feel that their customers have unique knowledge, skills or expertise that could ultimately benefit them.

Referent: Baserd on the belief that the suplier wants to identify with the customer because it possesses some attractive characteristics

Informational: Based on customer's ability to explicate information or point out contigencies not adequately considered by its suppliers.

Straight Rebuy: The buyer purchases familiar products from regular suppliers on an automatic and routine basis, with limited involvement of people, minimal information requirements and no great consideration of alternative sources of supply. Straight rebuyers employ more referent strategies.

Modified Rebuy: Involves more time, personnel and effort, and possibly a search for new suppliers because the current supplier is unsatisfactory or because of problems with the products. Modified rebuyers use referent, legalistic and expert strategies. They are more concerned with short term benefits and evaluate these benefits to build relationships with suppliers.

New Task Buying: The buyer is confronted with fulfilling the need for a major product never before addressed, and therefore involves many people, requires more information, takes additional time and must confront the difficult problem of evaluating different alternative suppliers. New task buyers use almost all influence strategies.

Competitive advantage is realized based on three factors (Sudarshan D, 1995): (1) the firm's marketing strategy, (2) implementation of this strategy and (3) the industry context (Porter's model). An important component of firm's marketing strategy is relationships. Relationships with customers, channel members and with competitors.


In the early 1970s, professors of industrial marketing Frederick E. Webster and Yoram Wind, developed the concept of "mall" in order to structure the sales scale in complex business. In the early 1980s, Thomas Bonoma expanded their initial list of five roles with the role of initiator. The concept was then scored six roles purchase for members of the organization in the procurement process. In a company, a purchase depends on the person making the purchase decision and on the number of employees by improving the efficiency and development operations that want to influence. A shopping center makes decisions for joint procurement as an informal group. Its task is to acquire information, process research, development of selection criteria and decision between alternatives.

The buying center has three main aspects:

1. composition: size, hierarchical levels and functional areas;

2. influence: the people with the most influence in the buying process;

3. roles: the identification of the different roles played by buying center members.

A shopping center includes all members of the purchasing organization that play one of six roles in the buying process:

1. INITIATOR first identifies the need to purchase a product or service to solve an organizational problem;

2. Influence (their) views influence buyers of the buying and decision makers;

3. DECIDER ultimately approve all or part of the whole purchasing decision - whether to buy, what to buy, how to buy and where to buy;

4. Buyer has the formal authority to select the supplier and obtaining state conditions;

5. USER consumes or uses the product or service;

6. GATEKEEPER control of information or access or both to decision makers and influencers.

The model of industrial buying structured process characterized by high levels of participation of many people, a vast effort of internal and external coordination, and long delays. A person may assist or take over a role in the procurement process and many people can fit the same role. The importance of individual roles varies according to size and phase of the buying organization.

Isolate the major player is to:

1. Personal isolate stakeholders

People who have an interest in buying decision to exercise more influence than other members of the procurement center.

2. Follow the flow of information

Influential members are the heart of the flow of information surrounding the purchase decision. Other members information directly to them.

3. Identify experts

Expertise is an important determinant of influence in the mall. People who have the most knowledge and ask the most questions of the sales person are often influential.

4. Trace connections up

powerful individuals often have direct access to senior management that provides a direct link to information and valuable resources and improves the status and influence of these people in the mall.

5. Understanding the role of Purchasing

The purchasing department is dominant in situations of repetitive purchase through its technical expertise, knowledge of the dynamics of the supplier's business and close working relationships with individual suppliers.

Why ABC is important in managing customer profitability.

ABC reveals the hidden patterns of customer profitability and provides an overview of the key drivers of profitability. However, customer-profitability is missing from these management systems. Most companies do not know which clients are profitable and which are not profitable. Certainly, they know the largest customers (based on sales) and they know the customers with the highest gross margin (sales less direct cost of sales). But they will not know that customers are profitable only if they are activity-based costing (ABC).

CBA is an analytical tool to provide business information on resources, activities, products, services and customers. It provides two important insights about customers. An overview is to reveal that customers or clients grouping such as segments and regions, are profitable. The idea is to expose others to which customers or groups of customers are unprofitable.

The idea is most dramatic. In most cases ABC reveals a "whale curve" model of customer profitability, where 10-20% of customers to provide more profitability and 10-20 of the customer are not profitable. This profile ABC customer profitability is a wake up call for businesses that believed that all customers were profitable.

Plot ABC pie

Inferences and Recommendations for IBM

HP Key Strengths

Broadest competitor facing IBM; offers servers, storage, software, etc

Storage solution for basically every customer price point and size

Large, well-developed partner community to push Midrange product set

Positive buzz, HP is viewed in the marketplace as resurgent

High acceptance in the Media vertical

Increased investment in Networking and Virtualization technology

0Generally viewed by channel community as more reseller friendly than

IBM, easy to use configuration tools

HP Key Weaknessnes

In general, product sets are not particularly innovative (with the exception

of LeftHand) nor are they regarded as having high performance.

MSA product set lacks native replication (like our current DS3000 product

set), so no significant differentiation.

Poor Usable storage capacity on the EVA product set.

Difficult for HP to compete effectively in database environments

Generally less aggressive in non-HP server environments


Broadest/Largest IBM Competitor in Midrange market with numerous

storage offerings

Server Offerings and presence in the Print market give HP additional

capability to leverage larger sales to push storage

Increasing investment in networking and virtualization products

HP has strong historical relationships in the Media and Health Verticles

Keys to IBM Success

Gain Understanding of important projects and applications that the customer needs a storage solution to support

Use IBM's tools, technical, and competitive resources to craft a solution

Use IBM's portfolio of software to compete

In the channel, work with 3rd party applications and solution providers

Bundle with IBM servers to win

Stay engaged with existing customers and monitor new activities, upgrades, and code updates

For the field staff

Identify the key competitors versus IBM's Mid-range storage offerings

Understand the important features and sales tactics of those competitors

Describe the key competitive advantages/differentiators IBM has versus those competitors

Position IBM solutions better versus the competition

Find and Understand Valuable Tools to help better position your solution versus the competition