Industry Q&A: Winning Business in the Mining Sector
Many Australian METS companies have innovative technologies and solutions but lack the marketing and sales knowledge to win contracts and finalise deals. Austmine recently caught up with Michael Lang, Managing Director of SG Partners to discuss the changes that METS can make to take advantage of the green shoots that are starting to appear in the mining sector.
1. How can METS companies market themselves now to take advantage of the green shoots we’re starting to see in the mining sector and break through cost barriers?
As the mining green shoots are starting to appear, METS companies should consider who are their ideal clients.
To many, large mining companies seem exciting and alluring because if they choose the METS offering it will translate to quantity orders across the many sites. This is not the case with many METS companies continually complaining that every mine site wants to do their own thing and not be dictated by the head office syndrome. Even worse, some mine sites within the same mining company will not take any other site recommendation - wanting to start afresh, trials, etc. This can be extremely frustrating. It's all about FOCUS.
2. METS companies tend to have innovative technologies that can enhance productivity and efficiency on site, but they lack the skills to market them well. Have you picked this up in your experiences?
As I have known and assisted many METS companies I know a few things about them - they are passionate about their technologies. So, let me put it to you this way, your passion is understandable, your prospective client doesn't feel the same way. You telling how great it is will not make them buy it. You cannot provide a solution to someone who does not have a problem, AND they are not focussed on solving that problem. So stop telling/spruiking the features and benefits of your solution (that is old school sales). I hear all the time that "The mining companies talk to us, but they do not do anything." This is because they are not motivated to do something, there is no trigger point to progress the conversation further.
As well as this, only a small percentage of people are innovators - 2.5%, with 13.5% early adopters, 34% early majority and 50% late and laggards - so whilst you spruik innovation - most people would run a mile to be the first to take on your product. So maybe, just maybe drop the "innovate solution" vernacular.
I just went thru a client slide deck for their new services, and truly it was all about them - it was telling prospective clients what they already know and throwing all this technical information at them. People make decisions with emotions and justify with logic - you must grab their attention emotionally.
3. In your experience, how important is collaboration in creating and maintaining strong business relationships that can lead to further engagement in the future? What is the key to winning follow-up work?
Collaboration - what does this really mean. I think we use this word far too much and have been for some time.
Ultimately it comes down to how effectively we communicate with others. I think collaboration can drag things out, it's a long dance with the promise of more and yet perhaps your dance partner does not have the authority to offer more. We need to understand what problems our solution fix and the VALUE to the client in solving those problems. It's not what value you think you deliver - it's their perception of the value. If they do not FEEL the pain of what they are currently doing and the lack of impact it is having, then there is no motivation to change.
4. With a lot of mergers & acquisitions in the current mining market, how can METS companies best deal with this transition and consolidate marketing & sales teams?
Most M&A’s occurs with the idea of cross pollination of markets/clients and reduction of operational cost and yet very few M&A’s actually review effectively the opportunity of the cross-pollination and the strategy to support this. To get the best out of the M&A, the list and prioritise are:
- Create a new sales strategy for the new combined entity
- Articulate to all and get alignment
- Create the new org structure for the strategy - no names in the boxes yet
- Review new role descriptions
- Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the client engagement people and their leaders (SG Partners provide a Sales Team Impact Analysis that provides the data)
- Put names in boxes
- Review and put into place the new role descriptions with KPI
- Train and improve
- Align and improve your recruitment process for roles unfilled
- Lead and manage the team