Who Don’t You Know
One of the benefits of being a successful company with over 19 years of industry ties is that we’ve developed a database of over 31,700 unique companies and over 115,000 unique people. That’s a lot of data entry, industry research, conferences, journals and phone calls. But having that resource is incredibly valuable. Our core value is identifying talent, of course. But identifying the right talent should mean conducting a thorough search; not simply doing multiple postings of a job opening.
Recently, Egret has launched two initiatives: Electriconnect.com and our Egret Consulting Services. The basis for both ventures is that we’re leveraging 19 years of confidential conversations with CEOs, Presidents, GMs, Owners, Investors, Boards and VPs. We’ve consulted on strategic plans, organizational strategy, channel strategy and compensation policies. Our value to our clients is the legacy of these conversations and emphasizes that we’re an active participant in the electrical industry at large. We speak at conferences, we write articles for trade journals, we attend trade shows, technical conferences and investor forums. Our mantra is to meet new people; every day, which brings me to the changes in our industry.
Most of our clients have some belief that they are experts in their segment. This belief manifests itself into responses that ‘we know everybody’; or we know our competitors better than anyone; or we know all our customers. Those beliefs are based in confidence or they’re based in tenure and they are never truly accurate.
Let’s try some fun facts, please guess how many companies, located in the US, there are for each category:
1. Lighting manufacturers
2. Electrical distributors
3. Wire/cable manufacturers
4. Switchgear manufacturers
5. Lighting design firms
Answers are below, but I already know you guessed WAY too low.
So, the point of this exercise is this… if you can’t accurately assess the number of competitors you have; how does that impact your annual strategic planning efforts?
How do you calculate ‘market share’ if you’re missing hundreds of competitors that you don’t even know about?
If your plan is to simply outcompete your top 3 competitors; how does that strategy address the impact of hundreds of smaller companies each taking a $1M+ from that market pool, each year? Your sales may grow; but your presence is declining. Eventually you will be outcompeting large companies that overall have lost relevance.
And then there’s the ‘sell’ side. If you asked your regional sales manager how many rep firms there are in Chicago… I’ll bet they’re wrong by a factor of 2X, or more. The same logic holds for the number of distributors there are, or designers.
Business has changed. We’ve tracked well over 1,000 new entrants in the just the past 7 or 8 years(and we readily admit we don’t know everybody). These could be new sources of revenue, or new sources of competition. But if you view the industry as… we know everybody… you’re backing up.
Business has changed. New channel players are selling basic ‘stuff’ every day… but, do you know them? And I’m not talking about Amazon.; I’m talking about new companies, selling new technologies through their industry relationships; which may not include legacy channels.
Business has changed. Technology has changed the industry. Software, sensors, electronics, wireless, communications…. IoT. We’ve changed. Buying influences have changed. Competitors may be companies that you ‘know’; like Cisco, or Ferguson…but more than likely, they’re someone you’ve never heard of. Even traditional channel players are changing; industrial and plumbing distributors sell lighting; NEMRA and lighting reps are selling wire, power distribution and lighting equipment; wire manufacturers are promoting wireless solutions.
In March, we introduced electriconnect.com; the only CRM system with a curated database of direct leadership contacts into the market. We include over 20,000 distributors, 1,500 reps, 1,500 design firms, and a mix of companies that are less than 10 years in business. The concept is simple… before your sales manager heads to a city, check out the number of distributors or reps or designers that are within 50 miles of that city. For those companies you’ve never heard of, send them an email directly out of the program and invite them to meet when you’re in town. It’s as fundamental as meeting new people, who just may want to use your product. Your reps will tend to introduce you to a handful of buying influences; over and over again… why not turn the tables and invite them to meet a new contact?
We lose 10,000 baby boomers every day to retirement. Your good customers are changing rapidly. New talent can come from anywhere; tech, industrial, consumer or more. It’s no longer who you know; it’s who you don’t know.
Go meet someone new!
1. Lighting Manufacturers= 2,100
2. Electrical distributors= 10,700
3. Wire/cable manufacturers= 1,300
4. Switchgear= 540
5. Lighting designer firms/MEP= 1460
Ted Konnerth, Egret Consulting Group’s founder and CEO, recruits on a retained basis, helping leaders in the electrical and lighting industry identify their next C and V-level hire. He is also the executive director for the International Retained Search Associates, allowing him to liaise with skilled recruiters around the globe. To learn more about how Ted can help your company attract talent view his biography, check him out on LinkedIn or email him at email@example.com.