The New Norm

The entire sales profession is under attack and experiencing significant disruption. In the end, only those able to adapt will survive and ultimately thrive in the “new norm”.

So, what does the new norm look like?

Less face to face contact with your customers and more virtual meetings.

Less visibility regarding new programs and opportunities. Even if you are lucky enough to participate in a new program, those interactions will be protected by mandatory NDA’s/PIA’s, which will severely limit your ability to leverage your new relationship.

Less opportunity for on-site sales pitches and capabilities presentations and more virtual meetings. (Are we seeing a trend here?)

Less individual decision-making authority and more “team” decision making (often under the influence of unknown and/or undisclosed individuals).

Less opportunity for relationship building, more turn-over at all levels of your company’s interaction with your customer.

So, what do you do about it?

To be clear…traditional sales approaches still work. Boomers and Gen X-ers may have adapted to virtual meetings but they still value relationship building and prefer face to face interaction. That means Reps can still help suppliers navigate their way to new business. Millennials, however, are another story…

Most Millennials are perfectly happy sitting in their cubicles (or home offices), searching the internet for pretty much anything and everything. They do not respond well to traditional sales approaches, meaning most are resistant to face to face meeting requests and “cold calls” of any type. Some are even adverse to phone conversations.

Given these challenges, Suppliers must adapt to the “new norm” and evolve their sales & marketing efforts accordingly. These days it is not enough to simply have a web presence. Even if your company has an awesome website, you still must ensure that your potential customers: 1.) actually “see” your website… and 2.) think of you when potential opportunities arise.

The Pros and Cons of searching the internet…

Google and other search engines are absolutely incredible tools that provide instantaneous access to near limitless volumes of data. At first glance, this is a good thing… but how many times have you stood in the grocery store aisle trying to decide which variety of chips or which brand of paper towel you should buy?

I recently Googled the phrase “aerospace component manufacturers”… would you like to guess at how many “results” my search generated? 19,400,000!

The case for Content Aggregation…

Search engines, of course, are the original content aggregators. However, when pulling from vast volumes of data, it is extremely important to weed-out the irrelevant clutter and focus on the specific criteria you are looking for. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, Amazon and Shopify are great examples of successful content aggregation within their respective niches. But what about Aircraft Manufacturers and their need to find quality Aerospace subsystem and component suppliers?

The need for a Legitimate Aerospace Supplier Capabilities Search Platform…

A successful search platform must meet the needs of both the supplier (content provider) and the aircraft OEM buyers and engineers (database users) Creating a win/win for both parties is essential to the platform’s usefulness and ultimately to its commercial success. So, what are the specific characteristics we are looking for to create a win/win?

Customer (site user) Attributes:

  • Must dramatically reduce the amount of search time required to actually “find” supplier capability information (apply process control to the act of Googling).
  • Must appeal to the younger, internet savvy professionals who prefer web interaction vs. more traditional means of communication.
  • Must facilitate an “apples to apples” comparison of supplier data (common format).
  • Must actively manage the impact of merger & acquisition activity (identification of legacy sites, omission of zombie sites).

Supply Base (content provider) Attributes:

  • Must provide suppliers the ability to communicate all capabilities, not just selected highlights, as are often depicted on company websites.
  • Must provide suppliers the means to ensure “equal opportunity” for exposure relative to that of their competition.
  • Must eliminate the hazard of 1.) being “lost” amongst the irrelevant clutter of typical search engine results… and/or 2.) customer distraction & redirection to a competitor’s site.
  • Must provide the equivalent of conducting a “virtual sales call”… which helps ensure that your customer knows exactly what your company is capable of (peace of mind).