Case Study: Develop the German Market for an Italian Machining Specialist
How We Grew Our Client’s Export Share From 4% to 19% in Just Two Years
In 2012 I was excited to start the journey with our new client, an Italian machining specialist for small and mid-sized series of metal parts and subassemblies. Owing to my expertise in mechanical components – a good fit with the new client’s target markets – I was chosen as the Key Account Manager. The defined goal was to develop a customer base in the automotive tool industry in Germany.
The meeting at the client’s premises gave me a good overall understanding of the company’s size, its product range and applications, manufacturing methods, unique selling points and, last but not least, my new colleagues.
We staged a kick-off meeting, where we defined the general sales and marketing strategy as well as specific target industries, and identified the players we would approach as a first priority.
Upon my return, our PBS Sales marketing person had prepared all the relevant marketing tools for me, such as an email address with the client company name, business cards in the client’s corporate design, and a direct line to my desk. Our company address in Munich was shown as the client’s address in Germany.
Among my most valuable assets at work are my colleagues at PBS Sales. After we knew what our client had in mind, we sat down and all the sales experts contributed their knowledge to devise the most effective way for our client to get into the market.
In this case, we began using our extensive network of small and medium-sized German companies, the German “Mittelstand”, to introduce sustainable expertise and specific application competence. German customers appreciate a commitment to solid technology and quality, and they take a conservative, long-term approach. It was – and still is – all about hard, persistent sales work: making phone calls to bring in new business, visiting trade fairs, and attending many meetings with potential customers. We managed to get the initial orders within the first year; in the second year, we continued to develop the customer base. In 2014, our third year, I was happy to see us well-established. Our sales really took off, and significantly outpaced budget.
Looking back, I would say our understanding of both Southern European and German business cultures was key to establishing strong relationships between our client and ourselves as well as between our client and his new customers in Germany.
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