We listen to and buy from people we know, like, and trust. If trust isn’t there, than you can forget about us buying. We’ll move onto someone else where trust and liking is high.

Ever run into the pesky, I-know-more-than-you salesman? Did you buy from him? This guy is the classic used car salesman: condescending, annoying, snarky, actually-thinks-he’s-better-than-you guy that everyone thinks of when they think of salespeople. He’s the one that destroys the idea of sales as an honorable profession. Of course, you didn’t buy from him because you didn’t trust him and you hated him. You left the store in horror. Then, you went somewhere else to buy.

Likability is important in matters of influence. If someone or some company is not likable or doesn’t have goodwill in the marketplace, it is hard to get people on their side, supporting them and buying from them. Think about the businesses you like shopping at and supporting. What is the perception of them in the marketplace? Do they have high quality products? Can they fulfill orders rapidly? Do they support local communities and give back where they do business? Are they environmentally-friendly? These qualities are so important to business today that they dedicate full-time employees to these roles. Typically, the higher standard the customer has, the merchant must match it, such as Whole Foods (now Amazon) and Bulletproof, Inc., with their uber Bulletproof coffee and other high quality food supplements. As customers demand more out of companies, forward-thinking companies adjust to the marketplace to better serve them. These firms realize that their adaptability to change is one of the hallmarks of future success.

Look at what happens when companies choose not to adjust to the changing marketplace: they begin their decline. Stories of this are legion. Firms could not adjust to changing conditions in the market or in their business model. They held the standard line & way of doing business. They thought they would just dig in. Digging in is fine when it is exercise or a health-oriented factor. Digging in is not so fine when it is the response to changing marketplace conditions, customer preferences, or new technology threatening disruption.

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Bookstores today exist in antique or antiquarian form, similar to record stores.

Borders booksellers thought they could dig in when faced with increased competition from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. They had a huge retail footprint, didn’t put any money back into their stores or people, kept on keeping’ on, and eventually filed for bankruptcy. When you’re selling the same stuff as the next guy — at higher prices — and offer nothing else to differentiate yourself, you’re walking the insolvency path.

Kmart dug in when faced with massive competition from Walmart, Target, Sears, and Amazon. They, too, had a huge retail footprint. They, too, didn’t put any money back into their stores or people. They, too, kept on keepin’ on like everything was A-OK. And they, too, filed for bankruptcy. It is tough to keep on when you’re selling the same stuff as everyone else and people never liked shopping in your stores to begin with.

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Blockbuster video once held the movie rental market. Now, it is vanquished.

Blockbuster Video dug in when faced with Technological revolution. Most people remember that Netflix was first a DVD-shipping, B-To-C service. What most people under 25 don’t remember is Blockbuster Video. You know, the retail store where you used to go rent DVDs and have to take them back to the store after you watched them? That place. While the idea of renting movies in physical form is an anachronism, it was the status quo for decades. It was standard consumer behavior. Then, high speed internet came along and forward-thinking companies like Netflix bought up a ton of bandwidth and made deals with movie studios to be a distribution partner. While the studios were not thrilled to make these deals, they came to realize that they were necessary in the face of inevitable technological change. Blockbuster Video, similar to its retail cousins Kmart and Borders, had a huge retail footprint. They put no money into their stores or their people, and too little money into technological change. While Blockbuster Video had consumer behavior on their side (the act of driving to the video store to rent videos and return them when you’re finished watching), they were not fast to adapt to technology. They attempted their own movie streaming service. It barely lasted 6 months before they filed for bankruptcy and eventual capitulation.

Adapt or Die is a strong maxim for businesses today. There are plenty of people who would prefer to not hear that, to live in denial, to keep on keeping’ on with their way of doing business. This may be fine and comfortable for awhile. It was for Borders, Kmart, and Blockbuster Video. But eventually, their collective inability to adapt to changing marketplace conditions caused their rather rapid decline.

I’m a sales, marketing and tech Pro who creates content designed to help people solve problems and shift perspectives.

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