Recently I had the pleasure of a phone call with a F500 CTO client who called to inform me that Zemoga had been awarded a substantial piece of business. A long-term, multi-million dollar contract to service his global enterprise. This important engagement was being driven by a strategic decision his company recently made to move from another location in another part of the world, to Colombia, an outsource location option that was originally introduced to his enterprise by Zemoga. Strategic moves like this are happening more often lately, for many reasons, of which I won’t go into details here. It is important to note that this was not a new client, but rather a partner we have serviced for over 4 years. This was not an easy win by any means. The process was competitive, driven by Procurement and it pitted Zemoga against some of the biggest players in the space. Suffice it to say we were elated to hear the news.
It was a David vs. Goliath moment for us.
I knew that the efforts of the past 4 years have built a sense of trust in our ability to deliver to this client the world-class service and quality that we are known for. It is what we do at Zemoga. We build better. We often start small with large enterprises who take a chance on us, and then through flawless delivery and great customer service and experience, we earn a seat at the table of opportunity. When I asked the CTO “What were the top three reasons for choosing Zemoga?” his answer surprised me. “The #1 reason, Your culture. You guys treat your employees and clients in the same way we do. You really care.”
I was literally without words for a moment. What?!? Not quality? Not our world-class chops in UX Design and the latest front-end technologies? Not the same time zone? Not even price?!? These are usually the top criteria that drive these strategic decisions for companies of this size. I mean, we are in the outsource business. A business where cultural affinity is rarely considered the driving factor for winning business. Just consider the leading countries that are often the recipients of large, long term outsource contracts. India. China. Ukraine. These are not necessarily cultural kissing cousins of the US. Not by a long shot.
In the days and weeks following the completion of a due diligence trip by the CTO and his senior team of technology, design and security colleagues, I finally had a chance to reflect on this monumental win. After the celebration subsided and we began to get to work on creating a “Front End Development Center of Excellence” for our customer, I realized how valuable the “#1 Culture” revelation was. Imagine that? The Zemoga culture. Our commitment for 18 years creating and maintaining a culture of ownership, inclusion, integrity, innovation, care and pride in craft. That this could be something that tips the scales in our favor when all other decision making drivers were equal? I mean, these firms we were up against were not slouches. They’ve serviced clients almost as long as we have with extremely talented designers and developers all over the world. Their current client lists are the who’s who of the fortune 500. One of them is publicly traded. They must be doing something right?
Turns out, we’re not alone in the value we put on culture at Zemoga as a differentiator. But corporate culture is normally positioned to attract employees, not potential clients. Even huge enterprises with thousands of employees care about their corporate culture, but in this case it was how their culture gels with a service provider’s culture that was the #1 driver for selection. That was something that surprised me to say the least. But it all makes sense. When you are evaluating an outsource partner that is tasked with delivering alongside your team, often kneecap to kneecap, through a hybrid staffing model, it could not be more important. Actually, it just might be the most important of selection criteria for your enterprise.
Everybody knows how David was victorious over Goliath. But was it just because he was brave? I’d like to think it was because he really cared about those he was protecting from the Giant of Gath, unafraid to put it all on the line. Not to mention he was a damn good shot.
I never thought featuring our culture could be front and center when telling our story to prospects. It is now, thanks to a differentiation gift given, just in time for the holidays from a jolly ole’ CTO who left me a loaded slingshot in my stocking.
I can only hope more potential partners see this value in cultural affinity as our industry continues to grow and the need for authentic collaboration becomes an even more critical driver of our mutual success as a business, and as humans.