What is the first thing your customers do before embarking on a new project, product development or service provision, this is the start point of any customer’s future need. Understanding this can be hugely beneficial in enabling your company to build out a highly valuable customer experience that enables access to what and when of your customers and potential customers future requirements. Enabling the identifying of a unique Sales trigger.
Product Life-cycle Used to Identify a Sales Trigger
Consider any product being designed in any company around the world, they will all follow a relatively similar approach concept, research, evaluate, design, prototype, production, maintain, this can be used to identify where to acquire a sales trigger and how to get it.
Concept is born out of an idea, strategic direction or a customer demand, this will be the starting point. Typically it happens in house with very little need outside, so unless you have a great relationship with your customer who is willing to share details of this early stage it gives little potential to build out something valuable to the customer that will generate leads or insight.
Research this is when things start to get interesting, your potential customers start to step outside of their business to gain information, the dictionary definition being ‘the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions’. Positioning your business through an intelligent customer experience as one of these ‘sources’ can be highly beneficial, I ll bring this to life a little later in this article but the thing to remember here is, they have nt made up their minds yet and can be heavily influenced in the products or services they may need to achieve the concept.
Evaluate the forming of an idea of the amount, number, or value of what it is they are looking to do, in the context of a product or service this means they have an idea of the core components, services or parts of their product defined at a high level and most importantly an idea of who can supply them. At this point it’s becoming more difficult to deviate a mind that has been made up no matter how high level the thought unless you can add serious value and that’s assuming you even get the opportunity to sell that value.
Design core elements have already been decided and most probably the suppliers of those core elements, it is very hard to now influence a change of approach.
Prototype the products are being built, initial purchases being made to build them, the opportunity doors are now closing.
Production the product or service has now entered a more mature defined phase, manufacturers and suppliers have been committed, any chance of change will be due to a handful for possible events such as obsolescence, availability or maybe supplier failures.
Maintain the final phase of any product and the realms of niche suppliers.
Further reading here on how to exploit the product life-cycle further
Example Scenario of Acquiring a Sales Trigger
So let’s try and bring this to life with an example. Consider any type of product, an electronics gadget, production machine or piece of medical equipment for example, a concept will be created maybe to create a faster, more portable, longer lasting and environmentally sensitive product, this is the high level objective of the concept and defines the key elements for research.
A product designer will follow a process that looks something like the image on the right. Along each step of this process they have a need for various pieces of information, data, products or assets to support completing that step and allowing progression to the next step.
If the supplier is able to position themselves as the source of these items: articles, datasheets, whitepapers, application notes for example, and can capture the customer activity within the items, i.e. a download or page view – an intelligent customer experience can be born.
So let’s take this example, to the next level of detail. Using a digital asset manager to provision the items the customer needs in a simple, easy, useful way (generating customer value), coupled with an analytics platform to capture the activity and turn it into insight, a powerful sales trigger identifier can be created. The below example tries to bring this to life, it is specific to electronic component distribution.
The challenge is ensuring it is a credible sales trigger and lead, in the example above this confidence is acquired by use of an algorithm applied to the customers download activity
The following insight –
A datasheet is used very early on in the design cycle, this gave a confidence of purchasing the product related to the datasheet of between 5-10% at the point of it being downloaded
The purchase of a development board validated that a project was commencing at the customer
Confidence was then built with the user downloading a Simulation Model (60-70% confidence of purchase)
2D component model download (75-85% confidence of purchase)
Finally CAE asset download (90-95% confidence in purchase)
With each customer download a view of the customers product needs can be built all reinforced with a confidence factor provided by the combination of algorithm and Asset manager analytics. At any time during the above customer activity, sales are empowered to pick up the lead and have credible conversations with the customer or focused, relevant marketing can be applied.
The above is a very specific example to distribution of electronic components and parts, so let me briefly talk through an example from the retail industry that I read in a book recently.
A young girl received promotional marketing material from a chemist chain offering discounts on pregnancy products, her father, rightly angry that the chemist was promoting pregnancy to his daughter angrily challenged the company, and they apologized for the mistake.
A few days later the dad returned to the shop to apologize, it turned out she was pregnant and due to purchases from the chemist that they had identified as indicators of pregnancy (The chemist analysts had noted women on the baby registry were buying larger quantities of unscented lotion around the beginning of their second trimester and that sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women loaded up on supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc) their system had joined the dots and followed up on the change of circumstances lead. This chemist took the time to understand the products people use in early phases of pregnancy. The full article can be found here.
How do I do this
If your business is a distributor of electronic components, automation parts or even a chemist you can probably relate to the above examples in identifying a sales trigger. The reality is, this principle can be applied to whatever industry you’re involved in.
• Map out the processes or steps your customers do for any given purchase scenario (no matter how far removed they are from the products you supply) focusing on the ones prior to any transaction visibility your business has.
• Align the assets, information, data or purchases your customers need at each step, and apply some confidence weighting.
• Provision the access to the items in a useful, valuable way to your customers
• Measure the activity and apply rules that identify the triggers you need.
• Act on the triggers