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What’s Your Edge?

RYAN F. LAURIN, VP, DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING ryan.laurin@photonics.com


Mar. 1, 2018 —
What’s Your Edge?

There are more than 500 photonics companies that sell lasers. When it comes to optics, you have your pick from more than 1600. None of these companies are the same. In fact, it’s hard to observe any discernable trend of characteristics among these suppliers. Sure, we’ve all been seeing the general trend of mergers and acquisitions, especially in the laser market, where consolidation has forced some well-known brands into obsolescence. But would you have guessed that 34 percent of the laser companies in the industry do $1 million to $5 million in sales (noted in the Photonics Buyers’ Guide)?

Compared to the 5 percent of the laser companies that lay claim to doing more than $100 million, the vast majority of companies in the industry are not those with the behemoth booths at Photonics West and work forces of 1000+. In this complex ecosystem of both large public companies and startups working out of a spare bedroom, it is important to know and convey your competitive advantage in the industry.

What’s your sweet spot when it comes to customers? Are you looking for massive OEM orders or are you looking for that one custom sale from a researcher that will keep you in business for the next year? How long is your sales cycle? Do you have a quick turnaround time on orders and superior after-sales support?

These are just a sampling of questions whose answers help form the foundation of benefits that your company’s competitive advantage builds upon. There is a subset of companies in the industry that do this part very well. If you are a potential customer and were to ask the president of one of these companies what their competitive advantage is, they might be able to go on and on, and you may learn a lot. However, this is not good — their competitive advantage should already be ingrained in your mind set long before you even talk to anyone in the company.

More often than not, your sales team serves as the front line to your customers in highlighting what your organization’s competitive advantage is to potential customers. And you probably have a well-versed, stellar sales team, but they can only go so far in educating your prospects about what benefits your company and brand brings to a business relationship.

This is where the conveying of that advantage comes into play. When designing a booth, website or magazine ad, these benefits should be at the forefront to highlight your brand’s recognition to potential customers. By the time your sales rep picks up the phone to call one of these prospects, your customer should already know about your company and how they feel when thinking about your brand. Not only will your sales team experience a high success rate in prospecting and driving new sales, but your organization will experience the bottom-line benefit and long-lasting impact a positive brand image provides.

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