Email Service Provider: Win/Loss Analysis
This client’s business was becoming more competitive, as product/service and features were more similar among competitors. The client wondered:
- How can we differentiate ourselves?
- What do we do well?
- What are our shortcomings?
- What is the competition doing better? Worse?
We selected win/loss analysis as a way to investigate and learn. We interviewed 25 customers/non-customers with a loose set of questions to pinpoint what the client was doing right, wrong; and what competitors were doing right, wrong.
We made both tactical and strategic recommendations to improve sales and product development in this increasingly competitive marketplace. One finding was simply to find better customer references. It’s amazing how much you can learn about your customers’ needs in just 25 win/loss interviews.
Sales Enablement Training
Product development couldn’t believe that sales people were not continuing conversations with customers to learn more about the competition and their products. As they reviewed Sales reports, they could see that customers were starting to tell Sales some great stuff. When I asked Sales if they knew what product development wanted them to gather, they said they didn’t.
I developed a course to teach sales people the competitive intelligence savvy skills I have developed in my 20+ years in the field. My intention was to get Sales to be better at collecting the intelligence that product developers needed; to make sure Sales understood what product developers were after; and why this was important for their job security.
I taught a 2 day workshop highlighting motivation, elicitation skills, reading the body, and shared the elicitation model of organization to use prior to making a sales call. There was role play so people could practice elicitation skills, be more observant of the other person and more aware of the impression they made. For role play, we chose situations that Sales were often in, specific to this company and this industry. We also listed the items that product developers wanted collected by sales people, and worked on a mechanism for sharing.
When asked what the most valuable skill they learned was, many in Sales said,
“I will use these skills to close more deals.”
“The elicitation structure is useful for sales call preparation as most of the time we just wing it.”
Sometimes the objective of training turns out not to be the major perceived benefit. Of course, sales people are a lot more interested in closing deals than collecting for product developers. We also learned that elicitation skills work outside of the US, as all participants were from Europe and South America.
Byproduct Assessment: Marketing Opportunity
The company was producing a powder as a byproduct of their manufacturing process. They were paying to have it hauled away to the landfill. Could a cement producer could use this powder to create a stronger cement product that would stand up in difficult climates such as Minnesota and Wisconsin?
We called competitors that produced powder with similar qualities to see how business was for them. We got the impression that most of them were not doing well. One industry expert confirmed this, and suggested that the market was at capacity for these cement strengthening powders. Additionally, this company’s byproduct was a dark color powder, and most would prefer that the pigment was light.
We concluded that this was not a good market for the company’s byproduct, and that they would be better off disposing of it at the landfill. We saved the company millions of dollars as they were on the verge of signing 10-year deals with large cement manufacturers. There would have been a substantial penalty to pay were they to pull out of the contracts prematurely.
Sometimes what seems like a great opportunity, isn’t.
Medical & Facility Claims Review: Opportunity Analysis
The client wanted to know how their products and approach differed from the competition. They also wanted to know how they were perceived in the marketplace, as they were a new entrant in claims review.
We studied the company’s business closely to learn the process and technology behind claims review; how they differentiated themselves from the competition; and how they segued into claims review from their other service area. Researched 12 competitors, wrote up competitor profiles and analyzed them.
We learned that the client was relatively unknown in the new service area. We discovered how fragmented the marketplace was, which gave the client a great opportunity for penetration if they moved quickly. We identified best practices in claims review for the company to implement, based on studying the competitive landscape.
SAP Staff Augmentation: Market Assessment
The client wanted to improve penetration in SAP staff augmentation. They were not a well-known player in this area, and this business was unrelated to their parent company’s core telecommunications business. They wondered how they should allocate their staff and were considering a layoff of sales personnel.
We contacted 7 competitors and learned which markets they were strong in; how competitively they priced their service; and identified industry standards and best practices for SAP staff augmentation.
Since the driver to success in this business is relationships, the customer should not cut back in sales and recruiting. Having a database that could quickly identify the right consultant expertise was essential.
Technology for back office and tracking meetings/projects, agreements and “Ask the Expert” were some of the recommended best practices. They also needed to improve their relationship with SAP America; professionalize their website appearance; and attend/exhibit/speak at certain trade shows.