Competing against imports?


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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.

Selling The Model

"The ground means the location, the place of pitched battle;

gain the advantage and you win, lose the advantage and you die."

Jia Lin

The Art of War

Part 1 Part 2

After you have implemented the principles of FEWER FASTER FINER. in your manufacturing operation, it's time to market those capabilities to take U.S. customers back from overseas competitors. The following is the profile of a U.S. customer/prospect that would be highly receptive to the FEWER FASTER FINER business model:

  • U.S. based, currently buying from imported product
  • Prefers to maintain low inventory levels
  • Needs small average order size and/or product customization
  • Needs expedited production lead times
  • Quality and safety are an issue
  • Their current overseas source could/did sell around them

To sell the model, show how your overseas competitors compare with your company for minimum order size, production lead times (including the shipping time), and product quality and safety. These comparisons should be based on clearly measurable criteria.

Do not hesitate to sell fear. It's likely that your U.S. prospect is concerned about the safety record of imported products, and the propensity of overseas sources – whether inadvertently or purposely – to sell around them to their customers. Use this concern to highlight your company's loyalty to the distribution channel. Make certain your U.S. prospect knows that you will never bypass them and sell around them; and be willing to prove it even at your own short-term expense.

If you have test results on product safety from certified labs, use them in your presentation. Make sure your customer knows that if a China source will ship lead-tainted children's toys to Mattel, they will not hesitate to send poor quality or unsafe product to them if it is to the China manufacturer's advantage.

If you are the CEO, president or owner of the company, jump on a plane – OFTEN – to visit U.S. customers and prospects currently buying from imports. You will likely find that they do not relish buying overseas; they simply feel they have no other choice. Give them clear, measurable reasons to give that business to you instead.