Process Optimization: Required for Market Penetration?

Process Optimization, Required for Market Penetration Pictureby Larry Girouard

I don’t know about you, but when I get up in the morning I go through the same routine every day. While I will not bore you with the gory details, my actions are automatic as I start by wandering to the shower with my eyes half open at 6am, and end by sitting down at my desk at 8am.

Most of us are creatures of habit, unless the wildcard of young children are injected into the mix. While behavior habits do evolve, this metamorphosis is usually very incremental in nature. More often than not the “I have always done it this way” describes the certainty of our actions.

This also best describes the culture of the companies most of us work in for our 9 to 5 jobs. Even small incremental change is painful, making this the Achilles Heel for effective and efficient market penetration. This is a sobering reality that most company presidents and managers do not come to grips with.

Penetrating a target market is most difficult because the resistance is high for a target account to switch from an existing supplier to a new one. Even if the target account is not totally happy with their current supplier, the “devil you know” is a given, and there is a risk in jumping ship into the great unknown.

Put yourself in the sales position of the company you work for, or the sales position for one of your clients. What is so special about your company? What is so special about your client’s company? What would you say about your company in front of a target account that would be compelling enough to get their attention?

Things like: we have good service; been in business a long time; great people; blah, blah, blah; is what these target accounts hear from all suitors that covet their business. If this is all that sales is walking in with, there is little chance that the sales pitch will get much traction. Think about that for a minute.

Sales must be armed with a story that will provide the potential buyer with a compelling reason to switch some, or all, of their business.

We live in a world of NOWISM. We have been programmed to expect things immediately (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Skype, etc.). Objectively looking at most companies, they do not provide their current customers with any level of immediacy. Their lead times are long, on time delivery performances spotty, timely response to quotes poor, communication with customers (face-to-face, letters, emails and phone) are not professional or concise, and so on.

Regardless of what your product or service is, differentiation at the “yellow page” description level is almost impossible unless you are a pet rock, cabbage patch doll, UBER, or AirBNB. Few products or services have this luxury.

Therefore the only reasonable option on the table is to quantifiably improve all the touch points between the company and the customer. If the resulting sales pitch includes impressive performance metrics around each touch point, you now have a sales pitch with some real punch.

For example, VIBCO, a Rhode Island manufacturer, improved the delivery time of their industrial vibrators from 4-5 weeks to 1-2 days by implementing process optimization techniques driven by empowered employees. VIBCO’s ability to deliver quickly outperformed their competition during the recent recession.  The result: They were able to capture a larger share of the recession ravaged construction market and actually grew their business during this period.

Every touch point between a company and their customers is supported by a process, or family of processes, of some kind. It is all about process, and process improvement. You improve the process supporting any touch point, and you positively impact the performance of that touch point measurably.

If you apply that logic to all customer touch points you have quantifiably improved your value proposition. Sales is now in a position to use the value proposition performance data to sell with confidence. Differentiation is now apparent, making it easier to address the key question every target account will be asking, or thinking.

Why should I buy your product or service? You must provide your target accounts with a real reason to believe! Process optimization on processes directly linked to the company’s value proposition (customer touch points) is foundational to any successful market penetration initiative.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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