Nucleus Blog

Collaboration is a Winning Sales Strategy for Manufacturers

Posted by James Grieve on Nov 2, 2016 10:00:00 AM


In recent decades, sales representatives for manufacturers have relied on their individual talents to prospect new sales leads, develop relationships with customers, and close deals. For many strong sellers, their product knowledge and emotional intelligence was enough to fill the sales pipeline, generate hefty commissions, and satisfy managements prescribed sales targets.

Today, the rules of engagement for sales have changed, and ‘lone ranger’ salespeople are no longer as effective as they used to be. Today’s hyper-connected digital economy has provided consumers with fast access to information that helps them make informed purchase decisions without having to rely on the expertise that sales reps used to provide.

Sales representatives' new formula for success is collaboration with product and marketing teams to understand market dynamics, consumer behaviour, and preferences to build broader solutions that add value for their customers. Sales presentations, sample kits and show rooms have given way to critical thinking, exercises in judgment, technology, and networking to generate business, and build and position broader solutions for customers.

The transactional aspects of sales are disappearing. Brent Adamson, and Matthew Dixon, co-Authors of the seminal book ‘The Challenger Sale’ have documented an extraordinary shift in the relationship between individual achievement and business unit profitability in the article ‘Why Individuals No Longer Rule on Sales Teams’. This is a good read that emphasises why manufacturers must embrace a more flexible and collaborative approach to sales that focuses on insight, judgment and networking.

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Topics: strategy for manufacturing, sales and marketing collaboration, marketing for manufacturing

Succesful Manufacturers have evolved into Service Companies

Posted by James Grieve on Oct 26, 2016 10:00:00 AM


If you were to ask manufacturers to explain their products, they will most likely provide you with a list of features, functionality, benefits, brand, and packaging. You can’t blame them for these types of responses, after all, they are accurate, and up until recently, this is what most of their customers cared about.

Recently, there has been a long-overdue and dramatic identity shift for manufacturers. No longer can products be thought of as something that can be packaged and shipped. There are new rules of engagement for manufacturers with their customers, and to survive and thrive, all products today must have a service aspect.

Loosely defined, service is the relationship between consumers and companies. In the past, good service was a nice to have, today, great service is a must have, and it is at the heart of any user experience. Providing meticulous attention to providing consistently high levels of service that meet and exceed users’ needs are what separate the great companies from the rest. By focusing on customer needs and aligning the business, technology, sales and marketing teams, manufacturers are better able to identify and solve problems and deliver better value to customers.

For manufacturers, the ability to efficiently and effectively deliver consistently high levels of customer service at all touch points can mean the difference between being a market leader and a oft-forgotten laggard. Given the many choices that customers have, and the relative ease that they have to recommend or condemn companies to their friends using social media and other outlets, it is in manufacturers’ best interest to embrace a service-led approach that puts their customers’ entire experience with the company at the forefront of their marketing strategy.

The Forbes magazine article ‘Why Manufacturers Should Pay Attention to Customer Service’ provides excellent insight into the importance of placing an emphasis on the fact that service is a key differentiator for manufacturers because service, not products is what the entire organization delivers continuously.

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Topics: service design, customer service, user-centred design, strategy for manufacturing, marketing for manufacturing

10 Principles of Customer Strategy for Manufacturers

Posted by Sean Shepherd on Oct 24, 2016 12:15:08 PM

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Topics: customer service, strategy for manufacturing

What is Service Design?

Posted by Sean Shepherd on Oct 20, 2016 11:49:55 AM

One of the most frequent questions I get when I tell people what I do is: "what is that?"

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Topics: service design, strategy for manufacturing, advantages of downstream focus

Manufacturers Must Maintain Customer Focus as Their Business Grows

Posted by James Grieve on Oct 19, 2016 10:00:00 AM


For most manufacturers, identifying and capitalizing on new market opportunities as a means of increasing sales is a strategic imperative. As these companies grow and expand distribution by adding new branch offices or dealers in new geographical locations, there is a risk of losing focus on what matters most – the customer.

There is a great saying, “don’t ever forget where you came from otherwise you will never remember where you are going”. This is invaluable advice for manufacturers seeking to grow quickly without wisely taking the time it takes to develop customer centered sales and marketing best practices, design service processes, and support sales teams and dealers so that they can consistently deliver experiences that support the company’s brand promise.

Achieving sustainable growth requires a disciplined focus on your customers’ experience with your company at all levels, at any time and in any place, and meeting this challenge takes discipline and leadership. The manufacturers that remain true to their roots and are obsessive about continuous improvement that will create, deliver, and capture value will reap the benefits of improved loyalty and increased sales.

Chris Zook’s article, ‘Maintaining Your Focus on the Front Lines as Your Company Grows’ identifies four practices that can help leaders remain focused on the front line as they grow.

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Topics: strategy for manufacturing, service design, marketing for manufacturing, sales and marketing collaboration

What Manufacturers Need to Know about Customer Service

Posted by Sean Shepherd on Oct 13, 2016 3:35:35 PM

As a proud advocate of a service approach to manufacturing, I often engage prospective clients about the importance of customer service. Although a key factor in Service Design, customer service itself is only a component of a larger service focus.

However, it is the most obvious place to start any discussion on service as it is the most visible.

It is also often the most misunderstood.

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Topics: service design, marketing for manufacturing, strategy for manufacturing

Manufacturers Can Profit from Well-Designed Sales Processes

Posted by James Grieve on Oct 12, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Developing existing new markets and penetrating new ones are common strategic imperatives for manufacturers’ business development managers. The challenges of meeting strategic objectives are daunting because there is always a delicate and ongoing balance between prospecting distribution channels in key geographic markets; and finding ways to improve the performance of existing distributors and dealers.

The overarching goal is to gain competitive advantage by capturing more market share and greater share of their customers’ wallets. For a few well-established manufacturers, a long-standing reputation and strong brand awareness makes business development easier. This is due in part to the fact that new prospects and existing clients are familiar with the company, making it easier for them to build rapport and establish trust.

Brand equity provides easier inroads into new markets; however, manufacturers cannot rely on their name and reputation alone to inspire greater performance from their dealers. The key to efficient, scalable and consistent business development for manufacturers is creating effective sales processes for sales personnel and dealers.

Here are three profitable advantages of well-designed sales processes for manufacturers:

  1. Improved sales cycles. Having well-designed sales processes takes the complexity out of sales calls by focusing on what is important to the customer and crystalizes sales presentations, order processing, and fulfillment. This in turn shortens sales cycles by mitigating the inefficiency of guesswork, callbacks and procurement delays. Shorter sales cycles ultimately lead to more sales, which in turn increases revenue.
  2. Better service delivery. Manufacturers with well-designed sales processes have a way of ingraining their processes into their service offering for their sales personnel and their dealers. Consistent service starts with well-designed sales processes that are easy to understand and execute, and this ultimately leads to better service and greater customer satisfaction, which boosts customer referrals and future sales opportunities.
  3. Improved professionalism. Well-designed sales processes bring credibility and integrity to manufacturers’ overall value proposition. This provides the desired results of: differentiating themselves from the competition, making them more appealing for prospective dealers and customers, creating barriers to exit and increased loyalty and trust for their current dealers, and simplifying the process of entering new markets to gain market share. As manufacturers gain market awareness, this leads to brand equity and greater sales.

To remain effective and sustain their momentum, sales processes should be constantly by reviewed and enhanced to ensure that they meet the needs and expectations of customers, dealers, and sales personnel. When created and executed effectively, they generate great inertia and create cumulative and profitable advantages for manufacturers.

For more information on the importance of sales processes, I recommend reading the Harvard Business Review article, ‘Companies With a Formal Sales Process Generate More Revenue’ by Jason Jordan and Robert Kelly.

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Topics: strategy for manufacturing

The Service Revolution for Manufacturing that Never Happened

Posted by Sean Shepherd on Oct 11, 2016 11:37:23 AM

In 2007, the results were published from a 2 year study by Deloitte Research designed to outline service best practices in manufacturing and to understand the risks of ignoring the services side and the advantages of embracing it.

Conclusion: "[t]he study...reveal[s] a wide gap between best-practice leaders - those we call “service champions” - and the rank-and-file manufacturers whose service performance is far from excellent. The findings do, however, point to a large untapped market for the manufacturers that can master the elements of superior service."

The study identified the incredible opportunity for manufacturers in the service side over 9 years ago!!

So, why did this Service Revolution never happen? 

Well, in our experience its one thing to identify a challenge, and something entirely different to find a solution.

Read on to learn more about the findings of this study and why the results of the research have never been widely implemented...

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Topics: service design, strategy for manufacturing

Effortless Experiences Create Customer Loyalty for Manufacturers

Posted by James Grieve on Oct 6, 2016 10:00:00 AM


Many manufacturers believe that in order to gain a reputation for providing great service, you have to be heroic. Well, we believe that’s just not the case. It’s time to put away the superhero cape and stop seeking opportunities to win service awards and pandering for self-serving media coverage. The right focus is on being consistently good at making your customers’ experiences with your company effortless and rewarding. The most flattering reputation that you can get is by creating systems and processes that will allow you to be known as the company that is easy to work with.

For manufacturers, the best adage to create great service is “taking care of the little things so that the big things can take care of themselves.” With regard to creating a great customer experience, this means understanding who your customers are, why they buy from you, how they interact with your company, when, and how often.  By focusing on your customers, you will become attentive to their wants and needs and can then meticulously design your interactions with them to ensure that value is delivered at every step, in ways that are effortless for the customer and for your sales personnel and your dealers.

It's time to stop making your customers jump through hoops to do business with you. Focusing on reducing customer effort means attention to detail and pursuing incremental improvements. This may not be the ‘sexiest’ or simplest way of providing great service, but it works, and your customers will appreciate it. Best of all, it is sustainable and cumulative, because it builds on itself over time because it helps to create a customer-first culture in which all members of the organization are focused on the right things and doing things right for your customers.

To learn more about how reducing customer effort can benefit your business, we recommend reading the Harvard Business Review article, Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.

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Topics: strategy for manufacturing

Great Customer Experience: The Best Retention Strategy for Manufacturers

Posted by James Grieve on Oct 5, 2016 11:51:56 AM


I recently read a quote from Scott Cook, the founder and CEO of Intuit, which said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

Consistently delivering a great customer experience that people are willing to share with others is what separates the best manufacturers from the rest. The voice of the customer has always been one of the most powerful concepts in marketing, and today’s social media platforms act as one giant megaphone for that voice. In fact, social media has fundamentally changed the balance of power between customers and brands because it enables peer recommendations to play a much greater role in purchasing decisions.

It has been proven that keeping your existing customers happy is an imperative strategy for manufacturers. In fact, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. This makes sense from a financial perspective, because you don’t have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new client. The benefits of customer retention versus acquisition are taken to an exponential level when you take into account the impact of influencer marketing.

Manufacturers have a great opportunity to leverage their brand’s “everyday” customers by converting them to brand advocates. The combined influence of these customers on their own groups of followers is huge. They have close friends who trust their opinion, and this type of influencer/follower relationship scales extraordinarily fast and creates massive positive word-of-mouth awareness for manufacturers.

Acquiring, nurturing, and sustaining relationships with the right customers is a profitable long-term strategy. Given how frequently customers post about brands on social media, investing in a superior customer experience and service should be a priority. 

For more information on the benefits of customer retention versus acquisition, I recommend that you read the blog post below, The Value of Keeping the Right Customers.

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Topics: strategy for manufacturing