What is this thing called 9Stucks?
9Stucks is a dynamic business diagnostic tool. It identifies nine distinct yet interrelated business challenges that cause a company to underperform.

Stuck in a Rut: Markets, Customers and Go-to-Market Methods

Go-to-market methods are outdated and ineffective.

“What’s new?”

“Oh, nothing, there’s nothing new to report.  It’s the same old story here.”

Becoming Stuck in a RUT is caused by one or more of these FIVE conditions:

One:  Target Market is not Clear

Management may think they know their ideal, target market segment(s), but their definition may be:

  1. too rigid
  2. too broad
  3. or, they are just stubborn about their assumptions!

Being too broad or general about the market definition can cause the company to make wrong go-to-market choices (see below: Three).

Two:  Market Size Unknown

This usually means that management thinks the market size is HUGE…but in reality the market might be really small.

Three:  A Collection of Stale Go-To-Market Methods 

Go to market methods include everything from sales activities, channels, internet presence, marketing tools and customer service.

Many companies:

  • still use outdated, old fashioned  methods to market and sell…a direct sales force, expensive magazine ads, little internet activity, etc.
  • perpetuate the use of ineffective distribution channels that are in decline or subject to their own set of new competitive pressures.

The question, “What go-to-market methods do you use”…should not be answered with:

“It has worked for us in the past…we think our customers like the personal touch of a direct sales force.”       

NO THEY DON’T – NOT IN ALL CASES!

Four: Ignoring the Customer…Ignoring Their Needs

This topic may seem too obvious to even mention, but unfortunately I’ve seen many instances where the broad and specific customer needs are taken for granted or simply ignored.  There should be no confusion about what a customer expects from the business relationship.  A critical aspect of the go-to-market methods (discussed above) is not just having good processes and tools, it is having a clear understanding of how well all the connection points between supplier and customer are functioning.

I’ve done a lot of customer survey calling as part of my strategic planning work. I get very good feedback from the customers about my clients.  Here is a little sampling:

“They are a good company. The people are great.”

“The quality problems keep getting worse. Quality is our #1 requirement. Without excellent quality we will not continue with them as a vendor.”

“We dropped them due to mismanagement of deliveries.”

“The owners are not in tune with the current market.”

Some customers can be unbearable; if that’s the case then maybe you are…

Five:  Selling to the Wrong Customers!

A company should ‘fire’ individual or groups of customers when they:

  1. have become unprofitable
  2. have increasingly high support costs
  3. have what seems to be a never ending sales cycle
  4. put unreasonable demands on the business, or
  5. are part of a dying segment of the industry

Why not fire them and give these ‘bad’ customers to your competitors?

Rethink how you define your markets, what go-to-markets strategies and tactics you use, and if you are selling to the wrong customers.  Don’t be Stuck in a Rut!