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Needs analysis

Your situation

Your company, which works to customers’ orders, is often confronted with questions from the plant about products that have been ordered or are that are even already in production. In cases such as this, you need to get in touch with the customers to coordinate all sorts of aspects. In fact, it’s now practically become a structural part of the procedure. Although it interrupts the production process, it is more important for your products to meet your customers’ expectations. You have already encountered several occasions in which your customers were disappointed, which involved a great deal of work to remedy the problem and still keep the customers happy – and it was very costly. Last time, for instance, the output of one machine was too low and caused problems. The fact of customers using their equipment slightly differently from the details provided by Sales remains a tricky issue. So, what’s causing these issues? Is it Sales? Is it Engineering? Don’t they ask the right questions? But they discussed everything in detail! And that’s very time-consuming. It’s very challenging to find the root of the problem. And it still happens, even after Sales rescues orders that are all but lost following extensive negotiations. It feels as if every negotiation process is a real price war, nearly forcing you to make the lowest offer.

The solution

Sofon offers the perfect means for making inventories of each customer’s specific needs and rapidly (within minutes) generating convincing, well-founded quotes containing suitable, 100% feasible solutions based on that information. Those solutions are automatically applied to the product that the plant will make, too.

Your source is the knowledge model that you have drawn up in Sofon (configuration management). In that model, you describe a coherent visualization of all your product options, together with their specifications, the applicable legislation and regulations, prices, and relevant stipulations.

That knowledge can be accessed at a central point, which means it is available to your sales people – including your partners’ and resellers’ sales staff – who can use it to prepare quotes and contracts using the smart questions you have also recorded in Sofon. Those questions are formulated to include all possible applications of your product because you know your market. The questions are designed so that the answers always lead to solutions that you can offer.

It also means that your sales people can prepare the quote in the customer’s language so that the customer can understand it and judge whether the solution meets his needs.

The advantages for you

  • You will always deliver products that meet your customers’ expectations.
  • You will not be confronted with excessive costs resulting from production disruptions and you will make your production processes repeatable.
  • You have a greater chance of succeeding because you can cancel out the risks for the customer with the help of a sound needs analysis. You can describe why your product meets the customer’s demand and substantiate your reasons, which will help inspire confidence in you. Customers will be more inclined to be persuaded by that than by the sum of all the product parts. In the latter case, the customers should judge for themselves and assume the responsibility for deciding whether the product will suffice.
  • You will have a stronger position in negotiations. If your customers think the solution is too expensive, you can argue that the solution in question will actually solve their problem while a cheaper alternative won’t.
  • You can avoid being forced to make offers based on prices because of quotes that only cover the requirements but can’t convince the customers that you have the solution to their problems or answer to their questions.
  • If you make your needs inventories systematic and repeatable, your sales performance will improve, because you will be able to offer customers better solutions and your customers will appreciate that.
  • With your quick, professional, comprehensible, and convincing quotes based on needs analyses, you can inspire confidence from prospects who don’t know you yet. They will be inclined to associate the quality and expertise you present in those quotes with your products. That in turn will mean a greater chance of new orders.
  • You will increase your knowledge because you systematically ask your customers about their needs and you can apply that knowledge to your product development.

This may also interest you

By introducing smart processes, you can improve all the other aspects of solution definition as well as your needs analysis: requirements management, calculations, solution design, special request definition, and visualization.