M Partners Ltd - Award for Innovation in Sales
Company: M Partners Ltd, South Godstone, Surrey, United Kingdom
Company Description: M Partners is a UK company operating as a distributor for various industrial print industry related equipment on behalf of several international manufacturers. Headquartered just south of London, England , M Partners provides sales and support services across Europe.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Award for Innovation in Sales - All Other Industries
Nomination Title: Cost of Ownership not Machine Price
Tell the story about your organization's innovations in sales or business development since the beginning of July 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:
The print equipment industry has shrunk by c.80% since 2000.
In the UK, it’s now an extremely niche market of about 25 multi-million-pound sales per year.
The growth objective
M Partners (UK specialists in the sales and service of print machinery) set itself a long-term goal of increasing turnover from £400,000 (FYE2007) to £4m (FYE2017) in a shrinking marketplace.
To achieve this, the company partnered with Japanese printing machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (now trading as RMGT).
RMGT, which was losing money in the UK, challenged M Partners to:
-Look after its customers (approx. 100 within the UK and Ireland) and 120 machines.
-Reduce costs and losses associated with UK sales and service (M Partners was financially responsible for the P&L).
Selling more UK machines was regarded as unachievable, so wasn’t even considered an objective. This was because exchange rates had increased the UK sale price by c.65%, making the comparatively low-spec Mitsubishi print machines uncompetitive.
THE POINT OF DIFFERENCE
Along with conducting extensive competitor analysis, M Partners’ owners visited EVERY SINGLE one of 100+ Mitsubishi press users in the UK and Ireland to try and solve this sales challenge.
Then came the breakthrough: Mitsubishi is a brand associated with aerospace, and its machinery was very rarely failing. Consequently, printers using Mitsubishi machinery were enjoying extremely infrequent breakdowns and low maintenance costs (Appendix-1).
Despite this clear competitive advantage, Mitsubishi agents globally failed to capitalise on reliability, because it was never factored into pitches or buying decisions. That is, not until now…
AN INNOVATIVE sales strategy
Following their ground-breaking discovery, the two owners of M Partners visited Japan in January-2016 to present their ‘DREAMS’ strategy (Appendix-2). Rather than focus on ‘cost of purchase’, this game-changing new approach would concentrate on ‘cost of ownership’.
To increase the win rate of the predominantly face-to-face sales activities, M Partners introduced a host of industry firsts:
-A ‘capped service costs’ proposition for new customers. Analysis suggested competitors wouldn’t dare match this.
-A market education and brand repositioning campaign.
-An awards scheme: M Partners gave awards and framed certificates when machines operated anywhere between one-five years without failure. Non-Mitsubishi customers were amazed, and Mitsubishi customers used the logos and certificates to win printing business – subliminally championing the reliability message (Appendices 3 and 4).
-Rather than setting up showrooms where customers could go and see machines (the industry norm), M Partners used the ‘cost of ownership’ message to justify showing prospects’ real-life ‘award-winning’ demonstrations – far more convincing than staged demonstrations.
Sales accomplishments since July 1, 2016
RMGT didn’t expect M Partners to sell machinery – however, in the past year, M Partners has become its top sales distributor across Europe and the US.
One customer, Alex Evans (MD, Precision Colour Printing Ltd.), explains: “The Mitsubishi proposal stood out and offered a unique service programme, which demonstrated their faith in their equipment that the competition couldn’t match.”
For more customer comments, see Appendix-5.
Impact on M Partners
M Partners has achieved its goal of £4m profitable turnover (FYE2017), supporting over 400 installations via 13 European distributors.
Global adoption of A sales INNOVATION
To help other RMGT agents/distributors in other countries overcome their similar sales challenges, M Partners’ directors flew to Japan to present to these peer organisations. Consequently, there’s now been widespread adoption of this pioneering sales strategy across the globe.
Agents and prospective customers are travelling to M Partners to learn about cost of ownership, with recent visitors coming from as far afield as Israel and Japan.
In fact, during a recent visit to Japan, M Partners discovered that the RMGT Head of Marketing has adopted the same strategy in Asia.
The fact that it was working outside the UK was proven in September-2017, when the largest printer in the world bought Mitsubishi. When asked why, the printer’s response was simple: “We’ve done research on all our presses worldwide, and yours was the most reliable”.