We commonly have potential customers send us spec sheets for products asking, “Can you make this, and can I get a quote?”
Our immediate response is typically, “Yes, and yes.”
What I really want to know is why. Why did the potential customer just ask that question? I guarantee there is a reason, and the best way for me to serve that customer is to answer the deeper question.
Simply matching another product’s performance, specification, price, delivery and customer service does not add value to the customer. The customer asked these questions because they believe that greater value exists for them in the marketplace. They’re just wondering if we are the ones to deliver it.
Because these value propositions sometimes have inverse relationships, it is critical we know the value they seek. Sometimes higher performance comes with higher cost or longer delivery. Sometimes a product currently being purchased is over specified and simplification is the answer. If we are selling the customer on product features and their real concern is delivery lead time, they may still not know if we can help them. If we guess incorrectly, we may not win the business and the customer is still left without the additional value.
At HSI, we love to solve problems. Our goal is to develop high-performance products tailored specifically to customer applications. While the product designed to match an existing spec sheet is likely to be low on product customization, solving the value question is still application-specific. It applies exactly to the needs of each individual customer.
Customers rarely change business relationships arbitrarily. Rather, they change in search of greater value. So, if we simply say, “Yes,” we can build that when comparing to an existing spec sheet, additional value was not created. We must dig into the deeper question, learn the real reason the customer asked it and address that need.
I’m not interested in making the same things as other suppliers. I’m interested in making them better. We are in business to make the world a better place by increasing the value for our customers.