Optimizing Sales and Marketing for Embedded Vendors: EMF’s Strategies for Gaining a Competitive Advantage
“Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you” – Aldous Huxley
This article is intended to create a guideline to enhancing your sales and marketing capabilities. You can follow as many of the suggestions as you wish – I wanted to provoke your thinking.
EMF recognizes that businesses today are confronted by unparalleled rates of change that create tremendous challenges. Companies need to differentiate products, react to on-going market shifts, efficiently streamline support of deployed products and exploit globalization. The stories we present are true, the guidelines are proven and the theme is to stimulate you to rethink your strategy in a rapidly changing marketplace.
Since I was a young man I have always had the entrepreneurial desire. Setting out without a guide can be a tortuous experience. It’s bad enough knowing what you don’t know. In my case it was worse – I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Through trial and error I built five companies (4 medical, 1 computer). The first were near or actual disasters – but through good fortune I found several mentors who taught me the fundamentals of customer-based selling and market driven strategies. My success included taking two companies public – I wouldn’t have reached that goal if I not for the good graces of my mentors.
I sold out the last of my businesses in the late 80’s, took a detour in academics and returned to the embedded playing field as an industry analyst in the mid 90’s. Although markets have changed over the past 20 years since I was on the product selling side of the industry, I believe that the strategies that were passed on to me have merit in today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing embedded marketplace.
My transformation as a techie to a businessman didn’t come from seminars and course work – it came from my guides posing significant questions to me that forced me to rethink my markets, products and corporate values. I’d like to share them with you. I took to these questions not unlike a Zen beginner confronting his koans. The answers to these questions took a lot of reflection on my part, and a rethinking of how business is done and might be done better. Looking back – it’s laughable that I had the temerity to advertise that our products outperformed those of Hewlett Packard (medical). They did but who was going to believe it? HP did me a favor by taking on our product line and selling it with theirs.
Let’s begin with what I feel was the most important thought and the questions that ensued:
Axiom #1: The Study of Your Competition is Critical to Your Success
- Do you know what customers like about your competitor’s products? Dislike?
- Are your competitor’s products better than yours; cheaper than yours? Is your marketing strategy able to anticipate and handle objections?
Axiom #2: The generation of sales leads is the lifeblood of a company
- What is your Cost Basis for Providing Sales and Marketing Support?
We turn now to what you should consider as an internal cost review so that you strategically understand what it is costing your organization to sell into the embedded marketplace.
Regardless of what you do – you are ALWAYS selling
Jerry Seinfeld tells the story of a woman complaining to her hairdresser that she has a bad marriage and asks if she should get a divorce. The hairdresser says, “wow, that’ a serious question. I think that you should ask the manicurist instead of me”.
Be careful where you get your information – it can be more costly than you think.
The full analysis can be found in the Embedded Market Intelligence blog article.