Our client historically provided legacy supply chain communications services. You know, that boring stuff where nothing would get delivered and no one would get paid if it wasn’t operational. It’s not the most glamorous of technology segments, but all sorts of businesses need it and there is money to be made. As the market changed over time due to shifting market dynamics, acquisitions, and emerging technologies, our client could see an opportunity for a strategy pivot to spur growth.
But strategy pivots like this should not be taken lightly. You want to know ahead of time if your pivot has a good chance of working. The Board and the CEO shared this concern when we were approached to help.
Our client were concerned that 1) as they moved to direct sales that they understood the requirements of the market as thoroughly as they needed to and that 2) the marketing proposed for the shift would resonate.
To address these goals we proposed a Win-Loss project that neatly addressed the concerns above and would still meet the timeline. We proposed 30 new market calls, 15 existing customer calls, analysis, and onsite results presentation. The interview questions were tailored to obtain information regarding 4 key verticals that strongly aligned with to the strategy pivot. These verticals would eventually frame the analysis and the onsite.
- Direct Sales Sector 1
- Direct Sales Sector 2
- Marketing Resonance & Channel Usage
- Brand Strength & Trust
As with any Win-Loss project, the most challenging part is organizing the calls. Our client gave us a list of 90 or so potential future contacts and just over 70 existing contacts. Regular readers of The Win-Loss Blog will know that the 1-of-4 rule applies when planning interviews. For every 4 contacts you reach out to, only 1 will respond. That meant that we were likely to come up short on the futures and over-subscribe on the existing. But it was the best our client could do. We ended up with 28 new market calls and stopped at 15 for the existing market.
The strategy pivot showed promise. There was appetite in the new market for a trusted entrant and the old market was supportive of the pivot provided that it did not impact their service levels.
The new market was on the whole very specific about the want for someone to come in and shake up the market. The established players had grown… what’s the right word… comfortable. Buyers in the new market wanted someone to come in and make things happen, be interesting and make change, something! This is good news. The caution from the new market was that they were in 3-year contracts and either buy-outs or patience would be required to get moving. This was something that one of the Board members had anticipated and they were pleased to see their prediction confirmed.
As touched on above, the results pointed toward moving forward with the strategy pivot. The new market wanted new entrants who could shake up the space. They wanted innovation and were willing to pay for it. Buyers in the new market provided further useful insights that could shape the new strategy as it developed.
Our client went on to launch the new strategy and by all accounts it has been a success. Their win-rate in the new market is above expectations, they landed their largest customer ever, and they accelerated their average deal time from 98 days to 90. Their new marketing aligned with their new market, and it was all informed by fresh market insights. Excellent!
It may sound a bit basic but whenever you go into any strategic review you have to have fresh market insights informing that strategic review. Without fresh market insights, you are working in the opinion echo chamber that we all know so well. So listen to your market! They’re most likely happy to help.