Do you ever feel like you’re losing touch with your customers? Maybe you feel like you’re not meeting their needs anymore, or you’re not sure what you should offer them to keep them satisfied. Early on, a company will grow on the strength of a simple exchange between the customer and the entrepreneur. However, once the company grows, the demands of the entrepreneur intensify and he or she is physically unable to adapt the company to meet the ever changing needs of the customer. This can result in the company losing its competitive edge, and ultimately, losing sales.
This stage of growing out of touch with customer needs is known as “market misalignment,” and it is the most fundamental peril companies face in “No Man’s Land.”
Market alignment is obtained when a business consistently delivers the value its customers desire. Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. It’s one thing to be aligned, but to stay aligned is a whole new world. According to Doug Tatum in his book No Man’s Land, “The key to market alignment is through innovation.”
But how does innovation happen? It comes when customers ask for a new product or service that requires a substantial change to your business model. Businesses become living laboratories, given over to a process to discover what is the right product, service and target customer. If a company is not innovative and meeting customer needs, they may face market misalignment.
Another reason your company may be facing market misalignment revolves around the fact that the company has made promises it cannot keep, or neglected to make promises that should have been made. The key is for the company to make the right decisions, ones that lead to growth and profits. Deciding which promises to make is part of strategic planning, and these promises can shape the company’s future of market alignment.
Still not sure if your company is aligned? Here are some signs you might not be:
- Sales growth has stalled
- Losing competitive edge
- Tensions have arisen between promises made and delivery
- Quality problems are arising
- Increase in customer complaints
- No direct contact with customers
- Unable to distinguish customers who will bring growth and those who won’t
Any of these sound familiar? If they do, you’re probably wondering how you can beat market alignment. There is only one sure fire way:
“Companies need to surpass the entrepreneur’s physically limitations by institutionally capturing the value proposition that has been developed through the entrepreneur’s unique insights”-Doug Tatum
To put this in simple form, the company must recreate synthesis between marketing and operations, and make use of employees and processes rather than one person’s effort. To get the business to be good at what the entrepreneur did well with customers involves three steps:
- Entrepreneurs should identify what exactly they are good at.
- Systemize delivery of the value proposition by creating a system where everybody behaves rationally and plays a specific position. Although not always simple, developing processes to capitalize on the entrepreneur’s talents becomes a huge part of the company’s competitive advantage. Concentrating on the value proposition is the most important thing a company can do as it grows.
- Develop ways to measure the results of the process.
An entrepreneur can find the skills to lead his or her company through No Man’s Land if a value proposition is institutionalized within the business, as well as identified. Creating a process to ensure that the entrepreneur’s core vision and talents are upheld also helps a business get out of the maze of No Man’s Land by creating competitive advantage that allows for the company to be successful and profitable.