Sales and Marketing in a Digital Transformation Reality


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The PCB assembly industry is going through interesting times. In addition to the traditional price pressures from overseas partners and rapid consolidation that has plagued the industry for decades, digital transformation presents new and unique challenges to today’s PCB assembly industry. Whether you are a software solutions provider, hardware equipment vendor, or a contract manufacturer, these challenges are prevalent and must be addressed to improve growth opportunities. Sales and marketing exists to provide growth for an organization and must navigate around these challenges to ensure the success of their organizations.

An effective sales and marketing program at any organization comprises three factors: people, process, and technology. Missing any one of these as part of a sales and marketing strategy represents opportunities to improve. In addition to these three important factors, sales can be built around “hunting” and “farming” strategies.

Hunting represents looking for “new kills,” that is, new opportunities. In most cases, this approach may include opening new doors, landing new logos, and mining contact databases for accounts in which no previous sales have been successful. Farming entails expanding business at existing accounts and clients until strategic partner status is achieved. Organizations should be doing both hunting and farming to achieve growth; however, key characteristics particular to the PCB assembly industry need to be addressed, including future-proofing, the digital thread, RFP to quote velocity, transparency and visualization expectations, and leveraging analytics and the cloud.

The Basics

From Hunting to Farming

All client/vendor relationships start with a hunting exercise. Effective strategies for hunting are different than those of farming. Most hunting starts with effective marketing. Some of the key facets of creating an effective and compelling marketing campaign, especially related to the PCB assembly industry, would include:

  • Effective contact management infrastructure
    • Having an environment so data mining and analytics can be performed
    • Tracking activity levels and marketing interactions
    • Managing and evaluating marketing interactions to understand interests
  • Understanding unique offerings that may appeal those clients of specific profiles. Profiles may include:
    • Client product complexity requirements
      • Type of equipment
      • Type of products designed
        • Need for flex, rigid flex, microvias, large boards, multiple thermal cycle needs, board density, iTAR, quality levels, etc.
    • Client business levels
    • Client size (revenue, number of people)
    • Volume (of purchasing, requirements, etc.)
  • Ability to add and manage social interactions, mobile access to information, and self-help capabilities. This is vital as the millennial generation and digital transformations hit the market space.

Once the marketing infrastructure is in place, effective sales campaigns and sales strategies can be applied. This should help organization answer these questions:

  1. Who is aligned to my “ideal client”?
  2. What is the total addressable market?
  3. Can I run marketing campaigns for my largest opportunity targets?

The initial opportunity may arrive through either on-line campaigns or direct sales interaction. Then the sales organization (internal or external) takes over and works to land the initial deal.

The PCB assembly industry tends to be more margin-sensitive than others. Contract manufacturers’ margins are typically tight, which drives the others in the eco-system to behave and react similarly. Personal interaction is still king. Direct communication, understanding needs, providing a holistic solution, and conveying a knowledgeable, customer-solution-focused approach normally wins.

Process Is the Same for Everyone

Hundreds of resources recommend a strategy for a sales process after a lead has been attained from the marketing activities. Most have the following elements (Figure 1):

Mentor_Figure 1_Dec2016.jpg

Figure 1: Typical sales process from lead generation to proposal.

Becoming a Strategic Partner

Effective farming allows organizations to attain strategic partner status. This is somewhat of an ideal state, in which your organization is tightly integrated with client teams. They approach your organization as the proven experts and take your consult without hesitation; and for that trusted supplier status, you are rewarded with business as a primary choice. Repeat orders, additional optional services, and new opportunities continue to reward that partnership. Figure 2 outlines this the journey from an initial deal (as a hunting deal) to strategic partner.

Mentor_Figure 2_Dec2016.jpg

Figure 2: The transition from one-off deals to establishing long-term, sustaining relationships.

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