A Battlefield Case Study – Continue to grow even when the market turns down

02.05.2018

How a Battlefield study provides direction for the sales organisation and generate growth

The Battlefield is a unique concept for describing your company’s position in a market as well as the potential market growth in one single chart. This gives you a very good overview of the market and helps you to identify growth opportunities that would otherwise be missed. An overview of the concept is given in the blog article https://3s.se/the-battlefield-for-faster-than-market-growth/

The present case study is based on a true story but it has for this blog article been translated to a generic company that is supplying various customer industries. We can call the company Generic corporation with head quarters in Central Europe. 

Generic corporation made a Battlefield analysis of its position in the global market. The market was split in seven customer segments and divided in 19 sales areas, see figure 1. The market shares that are not relevant for the example have been left out as this improves the visibility of the Battlefield chart. 

When analysing the battlefield we found that our market shares in the automotive segment in Japan and Korea were very low. Korea and Japan are far away markets with long transport times from the production assets in Europe. On top of this both these markets have important domestic suppliers to the automotive customers.   

On the other hand Generic corporation had been successful in the Agriculture segment in both Korea and Japan and here they had a dominant position in the market.

How is it possible that we are very successful in one segment and almost non-existing in another in the same geographical market? We can see that both segments are well served in a reference market in Europe so there is no problem with the product range or the understanding of the customer segment.

The Battlefield has helped us to address the question but the answer can only be found in the local market. It turns out that there are several reasons for this discrepancy.

In a former organisation of Generic Corporation Asia there was more focus to develop the smaller customers in the agriculture market as the price level was better in this segment. This resulted in a situation where the sales representatives were better trained in agriculture applications and were more confident in selling and promoting their solutions to this market than to the automotive.

The automotive industry is dominated by big OEM while the agriculture market mainly consists of small family owned companies. The big OEM represent a significant volume and will attract the attention from the domestic suppliers while the agriculture companies would be handled through distributors. Generic corporation is approaching the small customers with their own organisation which gives them a relational and competitive advantage.

Generic corporation quickly addressed this issue and organised practical trainings for the local sales representatives and sales managers in the automotive segment. The APAC Sales Director and Technical Director were making some joint customer visits with the local team to the Japanese OEM and they immediately got involved in a development project and booked orders for trial deliveries with one of the biggest potential customers.

In Korea the agriculture market was suffering a downturn which had a negative impact on the sales volumes. The local organisation anticipated this and increased their focus on the automotive segment. The sales team was trained in automotive applications and the value that Generic corporation’s high performance products offered to this segment. They started to develop some automotive customer prospects and were soon able to grow the business both through increase of market share but also by upgrading applications to Generic’s products that proved to be superior to the local producers’ standard alternatives. The sales were developing even faster than the downturn in the agriculture market and the local team managed to continue to grow year-on-year thanks to good focus on the right opportunities that were identified with the battlefield map.

 

The Battlefield provided in this case a unique benchmarking between the different markets and helped Generic corporation to identify opportunities for growth. Actions were agreed but as the local organisations were lacking the capability, training and support from the sales managers and colleagues with experience from the automotive were also organised. The local organisations had been part of building the battlefield and felt an ownership of the new opportunities which created both engagement and commitment. 

At 3S we have made a process for making Battlefield analysis and we also help our customers to reach the desired results with our RACE model for sales management. The RACE model supports the sales organisation to deliver results (R) by defining the right actions (A), by providing capacity and capability (C) where needed and it highlights the need to motivate and engage (E) the people in the organisation. 

If you are interested to learn more about the Battlefield concept please contact lasse.johansson@3s.se.

You can also order a more extensive whitepaper on the Battlefield concept here, http://3s.se/en/battlefield-whitepaper-order-page/.

Lasse Johansson

Lasse Johansson is working as a Senior Sales Consultant and has a background as General Manager and Commercial Director in big, multi-national stock listed companies in the process industry. He has extensive experience from working with a wide range of customer segments such as Automotive, Mining, Construction equipment, Pulp and paper, Oil and gas, Liquid packaging and Consumer goods packaging.