Sometimes people think that the main credit behind every business success story goes to its salespeople, however, this is not true. In fact, the success of an organization is the success of all individuals pushing for the same end result. This requires a synchronized effort to achieve a winning mindset with a fixed eye on the prize.
At Iskraemeco our journey has not been any less than difficult, but the team has proven to be up for the challenge. Around 2005, a transformation took place in the utility industry whereby it went from using mechanical measurement devices, which had limited functionality to using electronic and smart metering devices, which have far more features and functions. Smart metering technology has been driven by the continuous development of microprocessors and memory chips, which was a key factor in the rapid gains made in the computer and communications industry.
Iskraemeco is a technology company and, in order to be successful, our direction as a company had to be market-oriented and customer-focused. A series of events and a compound of right decisions have led us to the success that we have achieved today.
Let’s define together what is meant by ‘entering a new market’ and how to ‘plan to enter a new market’.
We all agree that the ultimate goal is signing mutually beneficial contracts with our customers. It is a simple equation that can be represented graphically based on technical compliance and commercial competitiveness.
The above graph shows the challenges that the Iskraemeco team encounters in every tender. Customer requirements of a product in terms of technical compliance and competitiveness for the price is represented by the black dot. Historically, Iskraemeco had higher technical compliance compared to customer requirements at a higher cost, however, we had to compromise on price in order to win business – this is represented by the red dot. Our aim is to reach the grey dot, which offers the most compliant technical spec without incurring costs for extra features that will not be sold and, as a result, become competitive as required. This called for a change in the company’s product and development strategy and activities, as well as its sales tactics and behaviour. The main markets for Iskraemeco have been identified based on the growth and the potential of winning business. The sales teams have to work hand in hand with product management to communicate the market requirements of functions and features for the required products. Product managers then need to translate this into a working project plan for the development of the agreed new products.
The development of new products incurs an investment cost which is paid off from future sales.
Therefore, the sales team has to invest its time and effort in building a strong relationship with customers.
1. Our solutions are promoted by identifying gaps and problems that customers might be having in the technical field, such as technical losses with unidentified locations, commercial losses through energy theft, low accuracy measurement due to old measuring devices, etc. The team in sales and product management at Iskraemeco is responsible for challenging and redefining the solution attributes for each customer to meet their expectations – this is defined as a customer value proposition (CVP).
2. A detailed study for each customer’s requirements is prepared before or during the tendering phase, which includes presenting a business case and the successful or winning strategy for both entities (Iskraemeco and the utility). The conclusion of the case shows the winning strategy, the expected solution, the financial impact in terms of the increase in revenue and profitability for our entity, as well as an awareness of the financial impact for utilities in cases where they utilise our solutions. At the same time, this helps identify the gap between our proposal and the competition.
3. We categorize our competitors into 3 tiers:
a. Market leaders who have the capacity and resources to manage big solution projects and to create market demand. They are usually resourceful but very bureaucratic and slow to change direction.
b. Market followers who follow two steps behind with limited proactiveness.
c. Low-priced, no strategy suppliers.
Our goal is to be the top smart city solution provider in the EMEA region, creating demand in our industry but still enjoying the flexibility, which is much appreciated by most customers.
Iskraemeco is a 75-year-old company with a lot of culture and history. Our products have been installed in more than 80 countries and have gained a golden reputation over the years. Being a member of the team fighting from within the company to get future business is an honour and makes me proud to see the company grow in revenue, profit and number of employees. Our smart metering system and solutions are designed to make work easier for utility teams starting from the way the management system for meters is operated to data collection and the features and functions of meters.
The below graph shows that there are some factors that are clearly identified by customers as the areas of strength. The Iskraemeco team clearly aims to be located in the top two quadrants. Therefore, Iskraemeco teams work together, starting from the salespeople, who are the frontline ‘fighters’, through to development, the supply chain and operations. This secures a few very important factors that help us remain the incumbent in our industry:
1. Our team is both responsive and at times aggressively responsive, to meet customers’ needs. This can only be achieved by maintaining a positive attitude and becoming result-oriented rather than just process-oriented – the latter can lead to being lost in detail.
2. Our company is proactive and innovative in every aspect in order to secure business. This may require long hours of work, investment in new products, production lines, re-organization of company teams, etc.
3. Our team is committed to maintaining long-term relationships with our customers and this is only achieved through delivering long-term results. In simple terms, we treat our customers as ‘kings’.
4. Our company is technologically strong and has the ability to not only develop products in the field of smart meters but also to diversify into complementary or related fields.
At the same time, this graphical representation clearly shows that the percentage of customer satisfaction with suppliers who have the most competitive prices is lower than any of the previously mentioned areas of strength for Iskraemeco.
Iskraemeco is highly perceived by all utilities for its quality of products, innovation, responsiveness and proactive approach, and technical sales support. Customers appreciate the company’s high quality, on time and fast responses. This enables the team to meet its goal of enabling our customers to utilize our full scope of solutions.