When you evaluate the management practices of hundreds of high tech companies, here are the primary reasons they fail. Evaluate your own management decisions and practices and seek help from a business consultant or business advisor to address your
1. Lack of Market Focus
Emerging high-tech companies often do anything possible to generate revenue and in the process try to be all things to all people. Worried about losing business they avoid segmenting the market and refuse to focus on one to three key vertical markets. As a result, the company is unable to effectively serve any market segments effectively and management is suddenly swamped with support problems and competitors.
2. Undifferentiated Products
Most high-tech products and services that fail do so because of a lack of differentiation. Successful companies differentiate their product from all other products on the market. Differentiation is possible on the bases of five fundamental factors: function, time utility, problem solved, price and positioning. These five elements are critical to uniquely positioning your products and services to achieve success and profits.
3. Poor Market Research
Many companies routinely perform the wrong type of market research. Statistical surveys of customers alone do not provide the qualitative information that is needed. Because your target audience often relies as much on perceptions as on facts, qualitative research intended to identify existing needs has equal or greater value in assessing, planning and executing a company's marketing strategy.
4. Excessive Product Improvement
High-tech products and services are generally used over an extended period of time, are integrated with complementary products and impose learning costs on customers. Customers require time to implement and recover their investment in high-tech products. The rapid introduction of new and improved versions can make a customer regret a previous purchase, delay all new purchases, and agonize over similar purchases in the future. Additionally, the time and costs related to excessive product development can delay product launches and delay sales opportunities and revenues.
5. Incomplete Products
Customers view products very differently than the technology companies that create or supply them. Technology companies tend to try to sell products on the basis of price, special features and technical specifications. These technical factors are often favored by the engineers who typically run high-tech companies. The problem is that most customers consider factors such as product support and company reputation to be more important. So the feature rich products created by techies are seen as incomplete or complicated in the minds of customers. Rather than competing on features alone, a company should focus on the "intangible" factors that are particularly attractive to most customers.
6. Failure to Establish the Right Competitive Barriers
Traditional barriers to competition are of little value in high-tech. Patents can be effective but are very expensive, divulge trade secrets and take years to come to fruition. Conventional techniques are mostly designed to prevent market entry and tend not to work in technology-based businesses. The most effective competitive barriers in high-tech are the perceptions held by customers and prospects of product differentiation and first to market with a specialization in a market segment.
7. Using Price Alone to Drive Market Transformation
It is easy to misinterpret the role price plays in the market. And it is a mistake to believe that a high-tech product or service would be widely used and purchased if its cost was low enough. Price is a function of value and utility, and products and services should be positioned and marketed accordingly.
8. Improper Marketing
Marketing is both an art and a science. Positioning, pricing, sales strategy, target vertical markets and other factors contribute to the success or failure of your products and services and the corresponding sales. A well-crafted marketing plan is critical to success. Improper marketing or lack of marketing can be a product killer or cripple your company as a whole.
9. Sales Mismanagement
There's more to sales management than most companies realize. Specific skills are required to effectively manage each type of sales channel and those skills must be developed internally starting with an effective direct sales force. Unique management challenges exist for each primary type of sales channel: direct selling, online sales, dealers, manufactures "reps" or agents, OEMs, alliance partners and value-added resellers (VARs). Seek a business consultant or business advisor to assist you in optimizing your sales strategy as a critical factor in your success.
10. Misinterpretation of the Technology Adoption Lifecycle Model
There are two primary versions of the technology adoption lifecycle model. The original version describes the market acceptance of new products in terms of Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. The process of adoption over time is illustrated as a classic normal distribution or "bell curve".
The second version is an adaptation of the original that includes a gap in the bell curve, between Early Adopters and Early Majority. This essentially splits the adoption process into three distinct phases, an Early Market and a Mainstream Market, separated by a period of time called the Valley of Death.
Because both technology adoption models are expressed in terms of a standard bell curve, it means statistically, a random sample of any given market or population must contain: 2.5% Innovators, 13.5% Early Adopters, 34% Early Majority, 34% Late Majority, and 16.0% Laggards. So no matter what industry you tend to be in, there will always be a sequence of adoption by different types of buyers.
To further evaluate your management decisions, grow your business to the next level and increase your success, sales, margins, profits and value of your company, contact Mark Hartsell, MBA, CEO of CEO Advisor, Inc. at (949) 629-2520, by email at mhartsell@CEOAdvisor.com or visit us at www.CEOAdvisor.com for more information.