1 . SPEED TO MARKET
Once upon a time… I decided to leave a company that I had loved and in which I had been a key contributor. They gave a farewell party and the French CEO offered me a silver keychain. Surprisingly the keychain had the shape of a crocodile. As I was considering it a bit puzzled and lost in conjectures about how I had possibly behaved like a crocodile, the CEO - who had been as much of a mentor as a boss since the origin – looked at me with an air of amusement and asked : « Do you know what I mean by this ? ». I told the truth : « Not really. ». He said : « Well, in the rest of your business life, I want you to remember this : take the time to observe and understand, but when you feel it is the right time for a strike, be as quick and decisive as a crocodile ».
Speed to market was not something I had been taught in my management school or during my MBA. Not even the concept of it. When learning about export or international growth, the concepts were more about building a staircase step by step or going by concentric circles or a road with milestones. I do not recall anyone mentioning to me « Blitzkrieg ».
So it is by experience that I will now speak of the « momentum » that may require a different mode of action. Other words are « trains you do not want to miss » or « windows ».
In my example we were producing a pharmaceutical ingredient, we did well but the product was a sleeping beauty in our portfolio and we were just one challenger on the market. At a certain point I got 3 inquiries from 3 different parts of Europe for the same grade. In spite of the confidentiality that is a rule in our business, I managed to learn there was a major supply chain issue at the market leader. We were global, we were agile, sales met as a team from 5 continents and we designed a massive attack plan. One key asset was that we had production capacity to cope with the whole market need and we proactively went to every customer before any other challenger even realized about the issue.
This is just one example of strategic opportunity to seize. But I can see other types of situations where time is of essence and it is strategic to use speed to market.
First if you play in a sector that has slow and long cycles, you can differentiate by speed, without compromising on quality and expertise.
If you own a technical innovation that is valid worlwide, you need to be first at all key customers now and you do not want to leave time to competition and risk to be copied or matched.
If you are a start up with a valid product, you want to convince new business angels or reassure your investors to invest further by starting sales at key Accounts in various strategic markets.
The old mindset is : do I have the skills, do I have the people, do I have the agility. A different mindset is to build a taskforce with an external resource, dedicated to the project. No entropy, focus on the objective, immediate start.
If you are looking for such a flexible resource for your international business development, contact me at : firstname.lastname@example.org. Cell +33 6 33 89 75 83.