If your U.S. customers and prospects are buying from overseas manufacturers,
you can take that business back by following three simple steps – FEWER, FASTER, FINER.
"Attack when they are slacking off, make your move when a gap opens up."
The Art of War
Being Finer in today's world means not only that your product is of the highest quality, but also that it is safe. Overseas manufacturers, particularly those in China, have little to no understanding of the product safety regulations in the United States. Even large multi-national corporations, some based in the U.S, who have offshored manufacturing are learning that lesson the hard way. These tougher regulations are your friend, so use them to your advantage.
One of my clients instituted a process for testing their products to ensure that they comply with all CPSIA guidelines. First we identified certified testing companies, and chose one nearby. For one of their largest customers, we invested in twice yearly testing – as did they with another testing firm. The testing results from the two labs allowed us to set benchmark guidelines that defined, for the first time in our relationship as supplier and customer, measurable quality standards. Prior to that, quality was defined in a purely subjective manner, without hard data.
To be a Finer company, you also must build multiple relationships between people on your team and your customer's employees. The more relationships at various contact points in the business, the better. If you take multiple members of your team to visit their counterparts at your customer's location, better still.
Market your Finer capabilities by selling fear; actively plant doubt in prospects' minds about whether the quality of the product they are importing is adequate, and whether the product is CPSIA compliant. In the same vein, ask whether they can be certain that their overseas supplier would not bypass them and sell directly to their customer. Because being Finer also means that your customer can trust you.