Want to Be Successful? First Things First: You are Not Your Customer

Many companies and sales teams are shooting blindfolded – over and over again, just hoping for an accidental bullseye from time to time. This method of selling is so common across industry that it not only makes it hard as hell to forecast revenue, but luck can happen to anyone and give the impression of success- but listen to me when I say that you will not win consistently.

What if there was a way to improve your hit rate?

What if you and your sales team could really focus your time on qualified leads, and stop wasting time on the markets and people that are less likely to see the value in your products? What kind of impact would that have on your sales & distribution expenses knowing that many manufacturers /suppliers cost of selling are growing exponentially year after year?

One thing is clear. You are not your customer. So who is?

Some water & wastewater businesses choose to focus their efforts in the municipal markets, while others focus more attention in the industrial markets- and many mistakenly try to sell in all markets to anyone looking at a treatment expansion. As a result, they struggle to be successful in any specific area.

This statement is simple yet says so much. “If you don’t define your market then you have no market”. This idea has become the foundation of my strategic marketing decisions and it seems to become more and more obvious as I witness companies chasing whomever has money instead of putting their efforts into offering a product that has value in the eyes of the target customer.

“If you don’t define your market, you have no market.”

To chase all projects is like trying to fit a round peg into what may be a square hole 90% of the time- leaving only 10% of the opportunities out there as a possible fit. What a colossal waste of time and money this would be, and I can tell you that if you are operating this way as a company, you are exhausting your sales team right out the door.

Defining a target market is more than choosing an industry like municipal or pulp & paper or food & beverage. If you are starting with product, it means looking at what sectors, applications, and customers value your product and determining what services you can wrap up into that product to add the most value. 

For example, maybe you have had some luck with small craft breweries. What is it about your product that those existing customers value? What would they like to see improve with your product? Maybe they love your compact 316 stainless steel system and the efficiencies it delivers, but they aren’t too keen on the overall look of the controls touch screen because it doesn’t show them any historic data. Or maybe it’s the fact that your equipment processes in batch when the rest of their production is continuous, creating a bottleneck and lost revenue.

In the municipal world, this product scenario may look like a headworks screen that has a superior capture efficiency but requires a strict routine of time-consuming monthly maintenance. This just isn’t feasible to ask of a facility that has a remote, unmanned headworks. You want to target this area of the market? Make it low maintenance and operator friendly, highly automated, and easy to monitor via SCADA or over an app that can be utilized via smartphone. While this is a simple example, it demonstrates how looking at the market from the customer’s viewpoint can lead you down a path of creating real value with your product development. How you market and understanding who you market to, can mean all the difference between success and failure of your product. This elementary school lesson of “know your audience” may seem simple, but it is imperative for product success.

“This elementary school lesson of “know your audience” may seem simple,

but it is imperative for product success.”

So, you have selected a targeted industry. You have some brochures that show that you are involved in that market, and you even have a couple of case studies. Cool. Have you taken a close look at not only what specific applications are a good fit, but what processes does your product or service really add value to?

What size and type facility is your sweet spot?

Have you taken into consideration the flowrates, influent characteristics, seasonal changes, climate, temperature, manpower limitations, affinity to technology vs a burning need for a high level of automation, politics and decision making power, budget freedom, level risk aversion, . . .

Value = Cost – Benefits. Where are you most likely to be successful? Success will be strongly tied to the product value . . . . . the result of the cost – benefits.

Value = Cost – Benefits

If you want your sales team to spend their days on qualified leads vs. generic leads that make your pipeline look amazing but don’t do much more than inflate the forecast, this deep dive analysis is absolutely critical.

Not sure where to get started? I invite you to chat over coffee, commitment free. Simply book an opening in my calendar– all you need to bring is an open mind and your favorite cup of brew.

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