When talking to our potential customers I am often asked
“Can you help my company sell into the UK (or London etc.)”? Or “Can you help my business move into a new sector (e.g. Rail, Retail, FM, Energy, Highways etc.)?”.
You can guess that the short answer is yes.
However the longer and better consultative answer seeks to understand first what the thinking is behind such a request before making a commitment.
So I would ask our potential new customers some open questions along the following lines;
1. Explain to me what is your strategic objective in seeking to make this sector or geographic market diversification?
Why is this question important? Well I often find that the reason businesses are looking to diversify is that they believe their current market in insufficient to meet their targets. However in the construction market place I have found that sometimes the real reason for the perceived shortfall is one of competitiveness not lack of opportunity. In these cases we advocate a root and branch review of the work winning and delivery teams. This is usually quicker, less risky and cheaper than a misguided market entry proposition.
2. Tell me what you know about the sector or geographic location you wish to enter?
Unless a business has a good idea of the shape and feel of the market they wish to enter then we would advocate a market briefing. Construction in the UK is complex contextually. I know, I have been in it a long time, studied it in detail, undertaken academic research and written about it extensively – I do not purport to know everything. I do not know anyone who does. However I can often quickly get under the skin of a market place to illustrate its potential. Here is an example:
In this example the note seeks to give a high level overview of the potential. Now in this case I have extensive knowledge and experience of both the rail market and its current participants. So in this case if my customer wished to proceed we could quickly devise a market entry strategy, just as soon as the next two questions have been asked.
3. How does your product or service differentiate itself?
This is obviously important. The UK has the most open construction market in the world. This has made it attractive. Significant increases in infrastructure spend will occur over the next 5-6 years. This will result in a doubling of government infrastructure spend, again attractive to European players suffering declining demand at home. So how does your product or service compete?
Often I have found this needs teasing out. I have already mentioned complex contextual issues, these can manifest themselves in additional feature requirements from buyers. These additional features could range from; safety, environmental to additional social impacts. This question often leads to raised expectations as previously unidentified opportunities to differentiate are uncovered.
4. Why do you think you should succeed?
This one gets personal as I seek to understand why the business (and specifically leadership) should succeed. It comes down to understanding; leadership commitment, resources and finally a strategic plan.
My experience tells me that if I can have a conversation with the leader or leaders of a business based around these four questions we will all understand if it is right to proceed. By proceed I mean to the next stage – a plan to turn the question (or objective) into a meaningful way forward with a high chance of success.
If you would like an initial discussion about how I might help you formulate your strategic plan call me on (+44) 07816 517590 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Recently we received our first enquiry via twitter so you can also tweet me @timrfitch or @invennt_ltd.