In detail: Growth by Market Development
This article builds on my recent blog post "Looking for growth? It's in your hands!" and provides the detail on information you might like to consider gathering when looking to enter new markets.
The key to success is gathering the right information and intelligence that will help you choose the way forward.
How will we do this?
Define and understand new customers needs. Having understood customers’ existing situations (please see my blogpost "In detail: Growth by Product Development"), we can then look for new customers with the same or similar situations. With finite resources, it is essential to narrow the field of potential new customers into a manageable quantity for further exploration and qualification.
Define and understand potential offerings. Building on the insights gained regarding existing offerings (please see my blogpost "In detail: Growth by Market Penetration"), you are then able to assess how those capabilities might be applied to new customers and situations. In depth understanding of your existing portfolio is vital intelligence when identifying new customer opportunities.
Define and understand new customers’ view of existing offerings. Understanding new customers view of your existing offerings is the key to unlocking potential opportunities. But gaining meaningful feedback from people that you do not yet have a relationship with is a challenge. It’s therefore vital to maximise your chances of success by building on what you already know about the interaction of existing customers and offerings and finding new ways of obtaining reliable information.
Define and understand sales and marketing capabilities for winning new customers. Winning business from new customers is generally regarded as the most challenging of all sales activities. It is therefore essential to maximise your potential for success by understanding what is involved and what support is required. This requires management of existing sales resources and channel partners and considering the involvement of specialists.
Please see below for suggestions on the information you might consider gathering to help identify potential new customers.
Ash Madden is Founder and Director of Madden Associates Limited, the Specialist Channel Sales & Partnering Consultancy
Example questions to help define potential new customers
The point of these questions is not that you should understand every last piece of detail but to illustrate how an in-depth understanding of pertinent information (that most likely already exists in your business) can help shape your future plans. Without information you’re left with guesswork, assumption and intuition. Sometimes these produce results; sometimes not. Decision making is always better when armed with the facts.
1. Define and understand new customers.
Who does your company already have contact with who isn’t a customer but could become one? Why aren’t they customers? What would it take to interest them? Contacts from previous sales engagements? Contacts from existing customers that have moved company? Contacts from channel partners and other third parties? Colleagues from previous employments? Customers from previous employers? Social media contacts, in particular LinkedIn? Alumni from previous education?
Which of your existing customers could make introductions to potential new customers? Who could they recommend your company to? Who could they introduce your company to? What would motivate or encourage them to do so?
Who else could introduce your company to potential new customers and what would motivate them to do so? Industry influencers? Consultants? Service Providers? Service Integrators? Other software Providers? Partners and other third parties? Trade bodies? Social media contacts? Contacts of contacts (for example, introductions to 2nd level LinkedIn contacts)?
Which potential new customers is your company already aware of? Where did this information come from? Who can introduce your company to them? What would motivate them to do so? How valuable would the introduction be? How else could your company be referenced to the customer? (for example, who is a mutual contact that could be referenced)? Where could your company meet the customer on “neutral ground” (for example, a trade or networking event)? How else could the customer become aware of your company (for example, trade press, trade body)?
Which companies have something in common with your existing customers? Share the same industry? Share the same locations? Are of similar size? Share the same customers? Attend the same events? Are members of the same trade body? Share the same suppliers? Follow the same commentators? Read the same press?
Who are the other customers of your channel partners? Why don’t they purchase your offerings? What would motivate them to do so? What would motivate the channel partners to introduce your company?
How similar are all these potential new customers to your existing customers? What do they have in common? How relevant is this to your company and offerings? How relevant is this to the potential customer?
Where do potential customers find information on products and suppliers? From the supplier directly, and if so, by what means? From channel partners, and if so, which? From colleagues; if so who? From marketing; if so what? From their own research; if so where do they look? From social media; if so which? From industry groups; if so which? From industry publications; if so which? From industry events; if so which? From partners and other third parties; if so who? From friends and family? From other press; if so which?
What activities could your company undertake to identify new potential customers? Marketing campaigns? Social media activity? Channel partner activity? Trade events? Trade publications? Networking events? Market research? (for example, LinkedIn Sales Navigator)
2. Define and understand existing market opportunities.
In comparison to your existing customers, which potential customers does your company consider to be complementary? Adjacent? Coincidental? Alternatives? Competitive? Now and in the future?
Which potential customers do others (channel partners, third parties, commentators, analysts, competitors and so on) consider to be …Complementary? Adjacent? Etc. How closely related are these to your existing customers? How strong is the connection? Do potential customers understand and appreciate the connection?
What resources (time, people, money) are needed to evaluate these potential customers? Management? Sales? Technical? Operations? Marketing? Finance? Consultants?
What resources are required to identify, approach, connect, engage, qualify, present, close, deliver, implement, support and bill these new customers? How does this differ from existing customers? Who will be involved from each department of your company? What resources are available to help with each of these? Which channel partners can help and what would motivate them to do so? Who else can help? What are the costs? How long will it take? What is the probability of success? What are the risks? What is the revenue? What is the profitability? What is the cashflow? What is the potential for recurring/contracted revenues? What is the potential for upselling and cross-selling revenues?
How will the market have moved on during the time it takes to transact with these new customers?
How are the potential new customers and markets evaluated, prioritised and documented? What is the qualification process and criteria? What is the evaluation process and criteria? What is the decision-making process and criteria? Who is involved at each step? How is each step documented and who is responsible? How are potential new markets documented?
Which of your existing channel partners could make introductions to potential new customers? Who could they recommend your company to? Who could they introduce your company to? What referrals can they provide? What would motivate them to do so? What do they do with new enquiries?
What activities could be undertaken with your existing channel partners to identify new potential customers? What are the activities? What resources (time, people, money) are required for the activities? What results are expected? What track record is there for the expected results? How will potential customers identified be followed up and by whom? Who could they recommend your company to?
Which products and suppliers are already engaged with the potential customers? Which are complementary? Adjacent? Coincidental? Alternatives? Competitive? Both now and in the future?
How closely related are these products and/or suppliers to your existing offer?
What are the differentiators/Unique Selling Propositions for these products and suppliers?
What are their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats?
To what extent would your company be of value to these new customers? As an innovator? As a provider of enhanced value? As a welcome alternative? As “a safe pair of hands”? As a provider of “quality customer service”? As a “trusted advisor” to customers? As “knowledgeable, experienced and trustworthy”?
3. Define and understand new customer’s view of existing offerings.
Compared to the products the customer is currently using, which of your offerings do customers consider complementary? Adjacent? Coincidental? Alternatives? Competitive?
In what way, and to what extent, do customers consider your offerings complementary, adjacent, coincidental, alternatives, competitive to their existing products?
How closely related do customers believe their existing products and/or suppliers are to your offerings?
What do customers believe are the differentiators/Unique Selling Propositions for your offerings?
What do customers believe are your offerings Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats?
What added value would customers expect your company to provide with their offerings?
What business benefit would customers expect to derive from your offerings and when?
What return on investment do customers expect and when?
To what extent, and why, would the customer value your company offering these products or suppliers (as opposed to any other company offering a similar solution)?
What would improve the customers’ perception of your company, and in what way?
To what extent would channel partners and other third parties be involved? Who are they and what value would they be expected to contribute?
What resources would customers expect your company to devote to their offerings? Management? Sales? Technical? Operations? Marketing? Finance? Consultants? Training? Accounts?
What pricing would customers expect to see for your offering?
What opportunity do customers envisage for your offerings? Spend / revenue? Initial and on-going? Timescale / sales cycle? Complementary offerings? Probability for this?
What resources do customers expect to see? Supplier resources? Marketing? Events?
How is the relationship between potential customers and your existing offerings documented? Who is interested in which product? Who would be interested in what and when? Which channel partners and third parties are involved? What happens with this information?
4. Define and understand sales capabilities for winning new customers
(In this context, we consider your sellers to be those employed directly by your company and those of your channel partners).
Who from your company will be involved with potential new customers? Management? Sales? Technical? Operations? Marketing? Finance? Consultants? Training? Accounts?
How will your sellers be rewarded? Commission? Bonus? Recognition? Awards? Shares/share options?
How will your channel partners be rewarded? Margin? Discount? Incentives? Other benefits and promotions? Recognition? Awards? Further opportunities?
How does this compare to the rewards for sales to existing customers? Time / effort allocation? (how much time /effort should be expended on new customer acquisition compared to existing)? Target / bonus allocation? (what proportion of pay will depend on new customers)? Recognition / awards? (for example, will there be extra recognition or awards for sales to new customers)?
What resources will your sellers need to be successful? Marketing? Events? Collateral? Website? Web content? Frequently Asked Questions? Knowledgebase? Brochure? Sales fact sheet? Sales training? Technical training? Presentation(s)? Social media content? Case studies? References? Introductions? Referrals? Documentation?
What are your sellers’ views of winning new customers? Do they have sufficient confidence in your company’s ability to win new customers? Do they have sufficient confidence in your offerings?
What are your sellers’ views of the value of new customers? What is the expected revenue? What is the propensity to purchase? What is the sales cycle? What are the risks?
What are your sellers’ views of the relevance of your offering to new customers? Is it sufficient? Can it be justified? What are the alternatives?
Is your company’s’ strategy to win new customers understood? Unique Sales Proposition/differentiators? (are they sufficient to win new customers)? Sales proposition? For example, is it good enough)? Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? (are they understood and are they effective with new customers)? Marketing? (is it sufficient; will it work)? Pre-sales? (is it sufficient; will it work)? Collateral? (is it sufficient; is it good enough?) Website? (is it convincing; it is good enough?) Social media? (is it relevant; what should be done with it)? Competitors? (are they understood; are the competitive differentiators understood)? Channel partners and other third parties? (is their role understood; what is their value?) Pricing? (e.g. is it clear; is it at the right level)?
What do the sellers think of your company’s processes to win customers? Sales process? Delivery processes? Implementation processes? Billing processes? Support process? Consulting and technical processes? Other processes?
Regarding new customer opportunities, to what extent do your sellers feel successful? Motivated? Utilised? Trained? Knowledgeable? Experienced? Directed? Managed? Targeted? Determined? Valued? Rewarded? Empowered? Involved? Engaged? Aligned with your objectives? Trusted by customers? Trusted by your company? Able to deliver value? Able to deliver on their promises?
What are your sellers’ views on how your company be more successful? In particular, how could your company win more new customers with existing offerings? What would enable them personally to be more successful?
What lessons have been learned? From previous new customer successes? From previous new customer failures? What lessons should have been learned?
How are new potential customers to be evaluated and prioritised? What is the qualification process and criteria? Evaluation process and criteria? Decision making process and criteria? What resources are required for the above?
How are new potential customers documented? Contact details? Communication details? Opportunity details? Channel partner and other third-party involvement?
How is forecasting of new customers opportunities conducted? What is the process? How is the forecast documented? How often is it updated? How often is it reviewed? How accurate is the forecast? Who checks the forecasts what do they do as a result?