Market areas

Every Industrial client we’ve worked with has posed their own unique challenges. By innovating and evolving our services we’ve answered every question asked of us, and helped our clients excel in their ever-changing environments. 

Manufacturing

The manufacturing market has seen a major shift away from technically-led to value-led selling. We have extensive experience in helping companies achieve this change, taking Sales Engineers beyond their comfort zone to a new level of consultative sales expertise.

Current uncertainties, at every level from global economic issues to regional trends within the UK, make for tough times for the manufacturing sector. Lack of confidence is stifling demand whilst the surge in manufacturing in emerging markets means supply capacity is close to record highs.  All in all a near ‘perfect storm’ for low growth and stagnation.

Yet companies with foresight are using this period of low-growth to increase their efforts in areas such as product development and innovation. Companies are utilising their creativity both internally, to increase efficiency, and externally to add value to their product and service offerings.

But this brings its own dangers. For many years the manufacturing sector has relied on product innovation to drive growth; the old philosophy of ‘build a better mousetrap’ still pervades. Now, having sellers who can expound the technical features of a product, to like-minded technical purchasers, isn’t enough. Increasingly buyer decisions are shifting away from the technical buyer and into the hands of professional procurement. These professionals are unimpressed with technical features and need to be convinced that a product has real, tangible economic value for the buyer company.  This requires your sellers to have a whole new skill set.

Sellers need to possess the higher-level skills to explore a potential customer's business issues and develop creative solutions that deliver real value. As Manufacturers begin to recognise the importance of selling skills the questions to be asked now are:

  • Do your Sales Engineers understand what is needed to meet this new selling scenario?
  • Are their current skills up to meeting these new challenges?
  • Do they recognise the business (as opposed to technical) value a product/service innovation offers and can they communicate that to the customers?
  • How well are they able to understand, navigate and influence these new, unfamiliar procurement structures?

How Huthwaite International can help your business

We have a formidable track record in helping clients bring about real changes in behaviour that produce measurable results, and we’ve been working for over thirty years to deliver skills training across all areas of the manufacturing sector, from heavy engineering to electronics and instrumentation.

We always work with our clients to provide solutions to meet their skill requirements, and this often includes developing the skills and strategies to help move sellers from a technical to a value focus. Most frequently these have been in the areas of SPIN®Selling Skills(Consultative Selling) and Account Strategy for Major Sales.

Energy & Chemicals

This is a relatively stable market where product innovation takes time to realise. Therefore growth through innovation has to be led by increasing the flexibility, creativity and responsiveness of the seller/customer relationship. We work with our clients to establish world class sales and negotiation skills and processes across your sales and service operations.

The Energy & Chemicals markets face some unique challenges. Opportunities for product development can be limited or non-existent, if a customer requires a particular chemical compound that’s exactly what they expect to get. Even where innovation is possible its usually a slow process, pushing the boundaries of scientific or chemical innovation takes time. So unlike manufacturing, where product innovation will lead a push to growth, this market must find its innovation elsewhere.

On the up-side the market is remarkably stable, barriers to entry at the primary production level are high. So, with the exception of mergers and acquisitions, the competitive scenario is usually well known to all. Similarly, the customer base also enjoys a relatively settled landscape. Demands for energy, raw materials and pre-cursers do change, but rarely overnight. Indeed the biggest shift in this market – the drive to renewables, is a shift that will be measured in years if not decades. So, markets are known, customers’ needs are understood and, often, relationships with all potential key customers already exist.

So how, in the midst of such stability, can quick innovations be achieved?

Fortunately you have an infinitely flexible resource at your disposal – your people, and in particular your sales operations.  By adopting new approaches, re-evaluating what your customers value, aligning your sales and marketing activities and re-presenting your solutions, you can create an innovative, flexible and responsive face to the customer that can adapt to changing customer requirements immediately.

How Huthwaite International can help your business

Achieving the above requires one vital ingredient that might not be readily available; a sales operation that not only understands the technical nature of your products, but has the flexibility and skills to respond to, and help create, new customer demands.

The stability that exists within this market can create its own inertia, sellers are uncomfortable with change because “we’ve always done it that way and it worked before”.  We work with our clients to address this issue by not just delivering training, but ensuring a mind-set and climate exists that breaks down reticence or cynicism and replaces them with enthusiasm and confidence in new-found (or rediscovered) skills.

We also seek to widen your customer touch points in a purposeful way by working with your service operations (who probably have the most customer contact of all) to ensure they contribute all they can to creating sales value for your organisation.

Finally, we ensure this hard won advantage remains within your business by helping you develop the high level negotiation skills you need to arrive at the optimum agreement for both you and your customers.

Packaging, Paper & Textiles

These markets are typified by major retailers and global brands that think, and act, powerfully. Our research shows this power imbalance is overestimated by sales organisations. We provide strategies, skills and tools to accurately assess the balance of power and optimise your selling and negotiating position.

We treat these markets alike as they share several characteristics. Underlying technologies are reasonably stable but product presentation can be quickly changed, often in an infinite number of permutations. Therefore it’s possible to create highly bespoke, customer-specific product rapidly and almost on a case by case basis. Unit costs are low so high volume contacts are often necessary to protect your revenue stream. Often your products are close to the final consumer so major retailers or brand owners may form a significant part of your customer base.

These criteria bring their own challenges to commercial effectiveness. Having infinitely customisable products is great but usually comes at a price. Constantly changing product configurations are easy for a seller to offer but cost you money that can’t always be recovered in the selling price. Giving the customer what they ask for is simple, and it looks customer-centric. But, from a production point of view, nudging the customer to a more standard configuration may well still give them what they want, at considerably less cost to you. You simply need sellers who are brave, and skilled enough, to be persuasive.

Similarly, closing high volume deals at low unit price is fraught with danger. Low prices give you little room to maneuver yet skilled buyers use volume to drive you down. That’s compounded when the customer is a prestigious brand, and hence feels powerful. Expert negotiation skills, based on understanding the power balance and how to identify and trade negotiation levers, are vital.

How Huthwaite International can help your business

It’s a fact of life that the seller often feels in a less powerful position than their customer, especially when that customer is a retail giant or a global brand. But all the evidence shows that’s not the case, with almost all our research suggesting the buyers feel less powerful than the seller believes them to be.

We provide our clients with the insights and tools to make an accurate assessment of the balance of power and the skills and strategies to build price premium throughout the sales process and retain that premium during contract negotiations.

Construction & Civil Engineering

With fewer projects and tighter budgets these are tough times for the construction and civil engineering sectors. We recognise the increased requirement to broaden and deepen business development skills across a wider community and work with you to provide the skills, strategies and processes needed to win projects in an increasingly competitive market.

In the construction and civil engineering markets competition has never been greater, with professionals and contractors throughout the community chasing fewer project opportunities. Tighter budgets and increased scrutiny of spending adds to the pressures to control costs and reduce prices.

In such a market, contractors can no longer rely simply on managing relationships through excellent service and social contact. Project managers, who traditionally have seen their business development role as one of purely relationship building need to take on a more focused, consultative approach, building different types of relationships to match the needs of their clients.

This has heightened the need for consultative selling, account management and negotiation skills to help understand the client’s business strategy and the issues arising from it before a specific project is brought to market.

By engaging earlier, and more pro-actively, in the process, and also ensuring your bid management processes and skills are well-honed, you will be better placed to secure projects in these increasingly competitive times.

How Huthwaite International can help your business

We have extensive experience of working with clients in highly competitive, project based sales environments. We recognise the challenges of bringing together a multi-disciplined (and variably skilled) team and work with you to embed skills, strategies and processes to optimise team performance and bid wins.