Interiors Inc., Shelving Installer
Unifying Proposition: “Opening sooner.”
This family-owned construction and shelving company had a great reputation, but was struggling to define what set it apart when communicating with potential clients.
The Business Case:
The Panigas family has been in the commercial and retail construction and shelving business for three generations. DG Limited, as it was then called, had a great reputation and sales generated through word of mouth. As the CEO said to us when we first met, “I know there is a magic to my business, that we do things better than our competitors. But every time I open my mouth in a sales meeting, it all sounds so generic and banal, and stuff that any of my competitors could say.”
Blueprinting revealed that, because of its three generations of experience, DG had developed techniques, systems, processes and procedures that enabled it to finish projects significantly faster than its competitors while maintaining an exceptional quality of work. This is a valuable benefit because if they finish a Home Depot a week or two faster than their competitors, the store opens a week or two sooner and that’s a week or two of retail sales that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
As we were having the conversation about getting finished faster, one of the VPs said jokingly, “You know on our signs where it says “Opening Soon.” I want ours to say “Opening Sooner.” This became the company’s Unifying PropositionTM.
From the Unifying PropositionTM, we developed what we called the “Wedding Cake” sales strategy, which goes like this: if you want to open sooner, hire us to install your retail shelving; if you want to open even sooner, let us also be the project managers; and if you want to open the soonest, and generate sales revenue fastest, let us be a part of the planning of the project.
The Business Benefits:
About a month after the completion of the Blueprint, John (the CEO) was having lunch with the VP of Construction at Home Depot. John and the VP had worked together for years and knew each other well. John told him that he had undergone an interesting process to redefine what business he was in, and the definition they had come up with was “Opening Sooner”. With a surprised look on his face, the VP asked John what he meant by “Opening Sooner”. John told the VP that if he involved him at the planning stage of any project, John could get the project finished significantly faster. “For instance,” John said, “You know when we do a store renovation for you now it takes 14 weeks. We have redefined the specs for a renovation and if you let us do it according to these redefined specs, we will get it done in half the time.” The VP ended up giving John $2.5 million in new business in that lunch without an RFP, just on the basis of an informal conversation about “Opening Sooner”.
A few months later, John was contacted by a mid-level construction manager at Best Buy in Vancouver. The construction manager explained to John that she saw his brief description of “Opening Sooner” on LinkedIn and was wondering if he could come to Vancouver and meet with her. Once in Vancouver, John was expecting to meet just with her, but found himself in the boardroom with the entire senior leadership team. After pitching “Opening Sooner” and the ensuing discussion, John was told that he would hear back from them. He knew that this was code for one of two things: ‘thank you but we are not interested’ or ‘thank you, and you will hear from us in 4 to 6 months.’ As John was waiting in the departures lounge that evening to fly back to Toronto, he got a call from Best Buy awarding him an $800,000 contract and telling him there will be more if he did a good job on that project.
Having a clear, concise and compelling articulation of who you are at your core helps you build a sales story that makes sales come faster and easier.