Susan Mucha

Avoiding the commodity pitch.

There is no question the electronics manufacturing services industry is evolving. One aspect of that evolution is actually hurting the industry, however. As outsourcing has become more commonplace, its salespeople have become less technically competent. At the same time, as outsourcing “experts” at OEMs have retired, they have been replaced by less-experienced personnel. The result is a commodity sale focused on price.

Part of what drives this approach is a focus on “hunters” in the salesforce whose job is to find opportunities. Companies deploying this strategy often also believe there is strength in numbers and feel it is better to hire a larger, less-experienced sales team. Sales in EMS is a numbers game, but feet on the street alone won’t close sales. Preserving margin in EMS sales requires a salesperson who can educate prospects on the specific benefits of selecting their company. Note the use of the word “benefits,” rather than “capabilities.” OEMs make decisions one of two ways. If all competitors appear equal, price is the determining factor. If one competitor does a better job of explaining how they can solve a common problem the customer has, that competitor may win on quality of solution.

A less-experienced salesperson will miss the opportunity to have the conversation that will reveal what keeps the decision team up at night. That opportunity typically happens when a knowledgeable salesperson builds enough of a conversational bond that the prospect feels comfortable sharing their major outsourcing concerns. When a sales conversation never gets beyond basic capabilities or the salesperson is too inexperienced to see likely issues during the sales call and ask the right questions, that sharing is unlikely to take place.

So, does a hunter strategy lock a company into competition based on price? Not always. Here are a few old-school tricks EMS companies used to use to add experience to the sales process:

Populating a sales team with hunters will continue to gain in popularity. The key to success is to give those hunters the right training and tools to outsell their lesser-trained counterparts.

Susan Mucha is president of Powell-Mucha Consulting Inc. (, a consulting firm providing strategic planning, training and market positioning support to EMS companies and author of Find It. Book It. Grow It. A Robust Process for Account Acquisition in Electronics Manufacturing Service;

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