Process – Assess
Assess, assess, assess. This is the first article in a four-part series on how Wiebe Industrial Services effectively generates business-to-business (B2B) sales leads for industrial companies.
Who Are You… Really?
Assessment is the first critical step in our proven four-point process for generating B2B sales leads for industrial companies. The four points are as follows:
- Assess = get the facts
- Plan = use the facts
- Build = leverage the facts
- Run = profit from the facts
Assessment means getting in touch with your reality and the reality of your competition. It’s based on brutal honesty and thorough research. In the assessment process, you grapple with four simple questions regarding your business:
- Why are you in this business?
- What do you do?
- How do you do it better than anyone else?
- Who else is doing it well?
The biggest problem for industrial companies is that they don’t know where they’re at. They need a reality check—some way to figure out who they are, where they want to go, and how they can be better than their competitors.
You have to be honest. It’s better to start with nothing than to think you have something that you don’t really have. You have to get rid of the self-deception. What does your company do and who else is doing it? Who is your competition and what are they succeeding at?
We do thorough marketing assessments. We conduct honest marketing evaluations. We will help you understand your company’s position in the marketplace better than you’ve ever imagined.
If you don’t have a clear idea about where you’re at as a business, it’s pretty much impossible to get where you want to go.
At the end of the assessment process, you will know who you are and what you do best. You will also understand more clearly who your competition is and what it will take not only to compete well, but to win.
If you don’t have a clear idea about where you’re at as a business, it’s pretty much impossible to get where you want to go. You need to understand where you’re starting, and you only get that understanding through assessment.
I’m talking about the need for a painful, totally realistic snapshot of where your business is. At the front end of the marketing process, or the front end of the business process, we have to start with a transparent self-awareness, a clear view of what reality is.
More Than a Shiny Brochure
Some businesses might say to a marketing agency, “We just want you to give us a shiny brochure, or get us on social media.” But I’m saying that if I’m going to work with a business, then we need to start at the beginning with an accurate assessment. If they aren’t willing to do that, then that brochure or that exposure on social media is not going to be worth anything.
I have sat in meetings where people have talked about their current reality with no facts, no figures, and no factual customer insight. They have even discounted the critical thoughts coming from their own employees, simply because it didn’t make them feel good.
Well, guess what? Maybe it isn’t as good as you think it is. But maybe it’s even better than you think it is. The point is you only think it is. You don’t know it is. You need to know, because in business, you can’t take a dream to the bank.
Your assessment doesn’t have to be a grand 300-500-page document, but it does have to be real. One of the best approaches is to start with nothing, because you don’t have all of the prior preconceptions and prejudices and false thinking of the past. But in truth, that’s never the case. It’s very rare that you get to start up from nothing. In reality, most people think they have a good idea and they want to know how to take it to market.
They think it’s easy. It’s not. They think it’s free. It’s not. They don’t even know how to test if their idea is worth doing. And if they can’t do that test, why even try?
In other words, you have to get rid of the self-deception. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen people launch a business into a highly competitive field and they have no clue about how strong the competition is or whether or not they have giant gaping holes in their strategy.
If the market is looking for a B, why are you selling an A? If all of your competitors are selling shiny colors of A, now you’re just in a giant fight when, in fact, nobody even wants A anymore. They want B. Anyone could show up with a crappy B and sell a million of them, because people don’t know a good B from a bad B. You need to understand the market.
The Cost of Failure
What’s worse is people just start firing off in any old direction saying, “Well, let’s try this and let’s try that,” or even worse, “let’s just do what everyone else is doing.” In the end, they won’t accept a research budget, but they’ll spend ten times the research budget on failure.
An old friend of mine was talking with his kids one day. One of the kids said, “I’m paying top dollar to go to college and all they give me is grief. It’s so expensive from a money, time and focus point of view.” And my friend looked at them and said, “If you think education is expensive, try failure.”
Assessment will give you the opportunity to look coldly at something and say, “I understand this now and I’m turning off the waste.” Because you will never ever spend a better dollar than when you look at something in the cold light of dawn and you turn it off. It’s hard, but it’s the right thing to do.
Assessment is essential. From the beginning, there’s nothing more important than honest evaluation.
However, it’s completely different when you can look at it honestly and say, “I see the market and I see my ability to perform.” Those two access points give you incredibly powerful knowledge, in terms of how to act going forward, not only toward the goal you want, but toward the path you need to take to succeed.
Assessment is essential. From the beginning, there’s nothing more important than honest evaluation.
In our business at Wiebe Industrial, we do an exhaustive twenty-point analysis. We do an impartial and detailed analysis of your company’s brand and marketing position, highlighting the industrial benchmark for your sector and then at least three of your top competitors. This information is not readily available to anyone, but we are able to utilize powerful data systems that allow us to look deep into the marketplace. We pull the relevant data, analyze it, and then we leverage it into your new marketing programs.
Some people tell us, “I have a great website.” So we look it up and find out that Google ranks their site as garbage. There’s not much hope for that business. The empirical data gives proof, but no matter what they do, they’re never going to the top, because they can’t get past acting on their feelings instead of facts. It doesn’t matter how much gold they put in their garbage, it’s still worthless. That’s really the truth.
Value That Can Be Measured
When we’ve completed our assessment, we actually have over a hundred points of empirical, three-dimensional data to look at. When we look at it, we find the strengths and weaknesses. If someone is getting into a marketplace and there are no weaknesses in their primary competitors and all of them are functioning well, then they’d better be taking some really serious thought about whether or not they want to get into that mix.
However, if you look into that marketplace and you can see that four of your five competitors are sub-standard operators and have no innovation in their messaging or how they deliver it through their marketing, then you’ve got an opportunity in that market. But how do you know that without doing the research?
So many companies question the need for research. Yet the companies that have done it have accelerated their business in phenomenal ways. One of my major clients has grown their business from $400,000 per month to $1,000,000 per month in just five years. Now, in preparation for more growth, they’re developing their margins and ensuring the quality of their products and services.
We developed strategic and marketing plans for that company based on realities that are both executable and measurable. They have a diversified range of products and services, and everything they offer has its own tracking channel, in terms of facts and figures. That company is doing $12 million a year, but it’s feared by companies twenty times their size.
If you have a five-year plan, then you’d better be doing this type of assessment exercise at the beginning and again halfway through just to make sure that the whole market hasn’t moved on you in some crazy way.
Assessment costs something upfront. But it doesn’t cost nearly as much as failure.
Willing to Change = Ready for Success
Unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with ego. So many managers and owners don’t want to be assessed. They say, “Who are you to tell me? How could you possibly know my business?” They think they’re unique; they’re special, that their reality is unlike any other reality. But I have yet to hear more than about four stories in forty years. Most people’s problems are the same, because the marketplace governs the problems.
If people are too proud and won’t listen, then that’s the path they’re on. I can’t help them. In truth, no one can, because they’re not willing to be helped; they’re not willing to learn or change based on what they have in front of them.
However, if you want help and you’re willing to change, and willing to let go of your ego, then the growth potential is limitless.
We look into the marketplace and see ten businesses, and nine are happy with where they’re at. They don’t want to change. They don’t feel the need to grow. They’re just maintaining. The saying is true, “Good is the enemy of the great.”
However, there’s one company out there that’s hungry. They want change. They want to grow. They want to be better. And they’re willing to do what it takes to lift their business to the next level. That’s the company we want to work with. That’s the company that is forcing two or three of their competitors to take a hard look at themselves, because they see what success looks like.
So, if you’re the company that stopped at good, then just make yourself shiny brochure, tune up your website and just look good. You can probably hire a kid in Grade 10 to do that for you. A cool $300 can buy you a great website, and you’ll get your money’s worth. Pay a little more for a new logo and some flashy business cards, and now you’re feeling really good about yourself.
But we want to help that one hungry company take their business to the next level. We want to help them ask the hard questions and together do an honest assessment of their business. Because we know, if they’re willing to do that, then they’re ready for the work that success requires.
Assessment is the first critical step. It’s the essential foundation for the next step: Planning.
To explain our process, we keep coming back to the metaphor of hiking. If you want to go on a hike, you have to be prepared. That’s what we learned in Boy Scouts, right? Somehow, we tend to forget those things we learned as little kids. So, what do you need for your hike? Have you got the right footwear and the right clothing? Have you got enough food and water? Is this a day hike or an overnighter? What if there’s a problem along the way, do you have the right emergency supplies? These are not unrealistic questions.
Of course, the big question from the beginning is: Where are you going? You have no idea how to plan for a hiking trip if you don’t know where you’re going. You can’t prepare anything until you’ve done some research about where you’re going and what it will require. That research is critical.
If you do the research, you’ll know exactly what you need to succeed.
So, before you go hiking, you do the research and you figure out that you need to pack warmer clothing, a good tent and something better than running shoes. Because you’ve done the hard work beforehand, you know exactly how to prepare.
It’s no different in business. If you do the research, you’ll know exactly what you need to succeed. But it starts with a proper assessment.
That takes work, but it’s worth it. Once you’ve done the assessment, the planning phase makes sense, as your goals and objectives emerge from your research.
I talk to so many business people who tell me that they have a vision of where they want to go. And I say, “Great, tell me how you’re going to get there.”
“I don’t know,” they tell me, “I just have a vision.”
That’s not a vision; that’s a dream. The difference between a vision and a dream is planning. And you can’t get to the planning phase without assessing where you are and where you want to go.
Time to Assess?
If you’re ready to take the first critical step in our proven four-point process for generating B2B sales leads for industrial companies, then give us a call today at 604-556-6032.
Let us help you get in touch with your reality.
Marketing that gives a damn.