Fulco is a fulfilment company. It works for online retailers, fulfilling and delivering their orders. It is a relatively new company only five years old. Like many new companies it began life with just a couple of customers. These have been supplemented so that today there are around 30 customers in total. The two original customers have enjoyed strong growth and together they still dominate the sales ledger. There is too high a level of dependency on these customers and Fulco knows it must diversify its customer base if it is to be resilient in the future.
A non-executive director of the company asked to see the sales plan. He received a plethora of files showing enquiries and responses demonstrating a good deal of effort - but there was no sales plan.
Fulco is a process orientated company. It doesn't have a marketing manager; the CEO is an excellent salesperson and it was he who won the original customers and was responsible for much of the subsequent growth. Fulco operates in a growing market, and this has helped the company prosper over the last few years. It has been so busy looking after its clutch of growing customers, it hasn't needed to put effort into winning new ones. New business has been won and this has come almost exclusively from enquiries to its website. The team at Fulco do a good job converting the enquiries to orders.
The non-executive director is pleased with the sales orientation of the company but he is concerned that there is still a vulnerability based on the dependency on the narrow customer base. He sent the Fulco team three challenges:
1. How much of existing customers' fulfilment business do we have? Is it 100%? Do we know? Can we find out? It may be possible to extend our business among people who already know us, trust us and do business with us.
2. What do we know about potential customers who enquire via our website? Is our website drawing a certain type of customer? Are these enquirers our target audience? Could changes to our website broaden the range of enquirors? Do we have a social media plan that draws the target audience to our website?
3. Do we know the names of customers whose business is fulfilled by our competitors? How do we address this hit list? What convincing story do we have that would persuade these customers to move some or all of their business to us?
His challenges fired up the Fulco team to raise their game and produce a response. They appreciated knowing that they were being supported and being given a framework.
There is a moral to this story. It is easy when dealing with day-to-day issues to miss the bigger picture. A framework provides structure. It sets goals and presents a method of achieving those goals. A framework doesn't have to be a cookie cutter invented by a famous academic. As in the case of Fulco, a framework can be a straightforward analysis of where business is coming from at the present, where it could come from, and how more business can be won.