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Industry Expert or Customer Expert: What’s More Important?

January 31, 2017

It's a question that every business owner or manager faces when they consider hiring outside consultants for help: “Am I better off working with someone who knows my business or better off working with someone who knows marketing and knows what’s going on?”

To put it bluntly, that’s the wrong question. Here’s why.

The very first thing you need to clearly determine, before you ever start interviewing firms to work with, is your goals. You must specifically decide what you want to change or improve before you hire someone. Yes, that sounds logical, but many times the goal is general – “I want to improve profitability” or “I want to reduce turnover” rather than specific – “I want to close more of the sales opportunities we engage” or “We need more leads for our sales people.”

Figuring out what kind of expertise your consultant should have is a multiple-choice question, because each answer leads down a different road.

Are you:

Trying to Improve Operations?

Operations being the way you deliver your products and services, staff, and compensate your company; in other words, is the goal to improve the way you bid/quote, project manage, purchase materials, hire, etc.? If so, then you definitely want to hire someone with deep industry experience who can share the best practices they’ve seen in other companies.

ask an expert.jpgTrying to Improve Your Sales Effectiveness?

In other words, you have enough of the right leads but can’t seem to close the customers. If that’s the case, you should be talking with someone who’s been demonstrably successful in selling to your type of customer and has some familiarity with your industry. This person needs to be able to have honest conversations with your sales team and management about the skills on the team and the approach to the customer.

Trying to Improve Your Lead Flow and Market Position?

In other words, you know you can deliver your product and services well, and, when you get in front of prospects, you can (more often than not) close the business. The issue is that you need to get invited to more dances (have more prospects to talk to). If that’s the situation, you want to work with someone who understands your customer and understands how to get your ideal customer to articulate their issues so the marketing and lead generation can work. How your business operates is far less important than understanding how your customer thinks, speaks, and goes through their buying process.

13 Questions to Consider When Selecting a Marketing, Advertising or Design Agency

In other words, understanding your specific industry and business operations becomes less important as the challenges get more directed at attracting and selling to a customer.

Once you figure out your true goal, you can start finding consultants to support and guide you in the change.

And if you’re looking for a marketing team that truly understands the mid-sized business/corporate customer or the upper-income consumer, give us a ring.

Dan Kraus
Written by Dan Kraus

With more than two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and go-to-market strategies, Dan Kraus has developed a deep portfolio of experiences that he now uses to help small businesses profitably grow their businesses. As an entrepreneur, Dan understands the challenges of growing a business with limited capital and human resources. As a line of business manager in larger companies such as SAP America and Great Plains Software (now part of Microsoft), his experience launching new business ventures inside reputable organizations established his reputation as a creative and effective executive that could both plan and execute within corporate confines.

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