Market agility is critical with a changing geopolitical landscape, and sellers must maintain focus in an era of highly dynamic market composition.
For better or worse, we live in an era of rapidly shifting markets. Protectionism and tariffs compete with globalized free trade in a seesawing battle between proponents of either philosophy.
Sellers that have established operations in specific overseas markets may feel pressure to retreat or at least to re-focus their marketing activities domestically or in alternative off-shore geographies with more stable outlooks relating to ongoing trade.
The speed at which these changes take place can be breathtaking. Only the most agile of organizations can transition, for example, between a GAP focus and a renewed European or North American emphasis.
Issues complicating these decisions include:
- Partnerships (supply or distribution)
- Sales and support training
- Language and currency
All of these elements, and likely others, will need to be addressed when pivoting from one market to another.
Technology Delivers Market Agility
Product focus and message are closely linked in any marketing conversation. For Sales, this is manifested as an understanding of benefits, features and articulating a case for selecting a particular product. For Marketing, the benefits and features of a given product may remain relatively static across geographies. But, the message itself will likely vary to accommodate local perceptions and biases.
This may include things as basic as what a product is called. A famous example of the importance of this is found in a popular legend surrounding the Chevrolet automobile offered in the mid to late 20th century. The Chevy Nova was so named to co-note “newness” and to reinforce a message of operational economy, smaller size and practicality.
According to the tale, sales of the Nova seemed to lag in Spanish-speaking countries, and it wasn’t long until someone figured out that Nova, in Spanish, translates to “not going” in English. Successfully selling these cars in Spanish markets necessitated rebadging the product.
Urban legend or truth aside, the branding story of the Chevrolet Nova does illustrate the importance of getting the message aligned with the market.
CPQ (configure-price-quote) software facilitates the portability of products across international borders by maintaining product, part and pricing data in association with specific product names. The ability to tie parts to multiple products allows the configured product to fully align with the market in which the transaction is taking place.
The interactive interview facility within CPQ will query the buyer about the requirements of operational economy and size. The resulting offering configured for the buyer may be a “Nova” in the US market, but perhaps a different name in Spanish-speaking markets.
The product is properly defined to align with needs. The messaging is adjusted to align with the specific market.
Reach the Right Audiences
Audience composition and demographics will vary between geographical markets. Some cultures feature flatter, more-egalitarian and less-striated corporate structures, while others will be more vertically defined with purchasing and product selection responsibilities tied more to seniority, gender or title.
Marketing and sales communications must bear these differences in mind during prospecting, inquiry and negotiation phases of any buying transaction.
A CPQ solution interfaces with CRM systems and other marketing apps, to effectively tie message and audience together. This ensures that no matter what kind of cultural bias may exist within a market, communications with that market audience will be on target and on message.
Moving from one market to another or simply expanding into a new market requires the ability to quickly identify and address the right audience.
Partnership Maintenance and Sales Training
Many companies have developed effective distribution channels using third-party partnerships to address specific market geographies. This strategy can deliver great advantages in terms of finding an effective voice within an unfamiliar culture or market.
Obviously, both parties want to achieve great success in the context of a multi-channel marketing strategy. That success frequently depends upon the distribution agent’s ability to quickly grasp and understand the seller’s product and message. Distribution agents can only effectively relate that message to their market if they understand and are able to articulate the seller’s vision and message.
CPQ is the essential tool for delivering product knowledge and message to a new sales channel. The expert knowledge built into the CPQ tool, along with the extensive part, assembly and product information maintained within, enable new sales reps to quickly become proficient in selling the product. This is accomplished without rote memorization or extensive tribal knowledge transfer requirements.
Salespeople can effectively sell without spending months learning the technical details of a complex product.
Localization Barriers Complicate Entry into New Markets
One of the most obvious barriers to achieving success in a new-country market is localization. Language, pricing, currency and regulatory requirements will complicate an entry into a new market.
Marketing collateral, scripts and other support documentation must be localized in order to effectively address the audience within that market. In addition to the language, currency must also be localized. Pricing must be meaningful to local buyers in order for them to have a reference to the value delivered versus the price offered.
Finally, regulatory requirements for a given country must be addressed as appropriate to the product and its use within that geography. CPQ addresses all of these requirements.
It will accommodate multiple languages for scripting, product and part names. Additionally, separate pricelists are maintained for all required currencies and localized pricing requirements. Scripts and product configuration limitations, dependencies and other relationships reflect local regulatory requirements as needed.
CPQ can tailor products for each market addressed.
Centralize Pricing with CPQ
There also may be instances where the decision to stick with a market makes business sense.
While local tariffs may increase the selling price, the business case for a product may still be compelling. Also, even with reduced margins, the smart money might stick with the established market in the hope that the tariffs are temporary.
Regardless, the product’s selling price should cover the increased costs associated with the tariff.
CPQ offers centralized maintenance for all pricing with administrative security to protect pricelists from unauthorized modification. Pricing changes can be implemented at the corporate level with ease and confidence.
CPQ Helps Companies Deal with Market Agility Challenges
Market agility in the face of an everchanging geo-political landscape is not a new reality, but like so many things today, the velocity of these changes occurs at a faster rate than ever before.
It is incumbent upon companies to be able to enter, withdraw and maintain a marketing and sales presence in any country, as required by the shifting realities of global trade and the needs of the company itself. CPQ delivers the means for companies to compete with market agility.