Do Your Customers Really Know What You Sell?

We conduct annual attitude and awareness studies for a major government contractor that provides large-scale technology solutions to federal agencies in six discrete business areas. The first year we surveyed the target audiences, we found that most were aware of only one or two of the company’s solutions within each business area. In fact, in some areas, fewer than 2% of the target market knew the company offered the products.

Our client combined this data with other study results, including a ranking of the agencies’ highest priorities and perceptions of the company’s strengths and weaknesses, to take some performance improvement actions.

  • They developed a multi-year strategy that included an integrated marketing plan to raise awareness of targeted solutions within each business area. Product development, BD, and marketing staff members closely collaborated on this strategy development to ensure that it aligned with the organization’s longer-term product and sales strategies. The cross-functional team also ensured that all customer-facing staff members were working in concert on a cohesive client development approach.
  • The company also developed a selling approach that eliminated its rigid product-line silos to more effectively leverage cross-functional opportunities that meet broader customer needs. Previously, as with many large government contractors, BD and sales staff rarely coordinated across product lines unless they were reacting to a specific client request. The new emphasis on cross-promoting solutions required better and more frequent communications to sales and BD staff members on the breadth of product lines as well as how to better identify and holistically approach potential opportunities outside of their own businesses areas.

Over the four consecutive years we’ve conducted the survey, Market Connections and our customer have observed notable improvements in the market’s awareness of solutions targeted in the awareness-building campaign. More importantly, by implementing a marketing and business development strategy that integrates across the organization, the company is identifying and responding to emerging opportunities much more effectively, resulting in an increase in their contract win rate.

As this case study demonstrates, you could be limiting success by assuming that your staff, customers, and prospects have solid awareness and understanding of your full portfolio of offerings. Utilizing market research to establish a baseline and measure year-over-year improvements is the only way to replace those assumptions with true knowledge.