Aligning Your Customer Experience Strategy w/ Kirk Thompson

WBSP056: Grow Your Business by Aligning Your Customer Experience Strategy w/ Kirk Thompson

In this episode, we have our guest Kirk Thompson from Chief Outsiders. He discusses how team alignment may be necessary to align with your customer experience strategy. He also touches on removing the choppiness in the sales and operational cycle by systemizing the processes. Finally, he shares several stories where businesses had hit the wall in their growth journey. And required a refined product and pricing model to grow.

Chapter Markers

  • [0:20] Intro
  • [2:48] Personal journey and current focus
  • [4:08] Perspective on growth
  • [7:15] Customer experience strategy needs across industries
  • [11:41] Business model innovation through customer experience strategy
  • [14:05] Product model innovation for highly engineered solutions
  • [26:10] Changing the product offerings from service to congfigurble products
  • [30:06] Factors that affect customer experience strategy
  • [34:15] Closing thoughts
  • [37:42] Outro

Key Takeaways

  • Once they shifted that mindset, they invested in technology to support the customer’s needs. And the customer’s ability to stay in touch with the business. And then obviously, their ability to service the business when needed on almost on demand.
  • The more you can put in control in the hands of that user, the better off.
  • Holding the price meant better margin, it meant better consistency and the pricing strategies. It gave them just a better way to say, no we really are the ones who you can count on. You can count on for what you bid and propose and see through that process. But all the inevitable variables that will come up even once we start once a job starts. Once the production starts, Once the installation starts.
  • If you’re really solving problems like assurance, quality, safety, the moment you elevate that problem statement. Just for a split second. Typically it illuminates the way people process technology systems. This speeds up what you can and to allow the value add conversation to really add growth. And add more attention to your relationship with the customers. And help them grow their businesses.

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About Kirk

Kirk Thompson is a 30-year marketer, having led marketing teams and growth strategies for retail & hospitality giants. He has won branding and innovation awards across four corporate roles, and speaking at industry conferences and marketing organizations. Today, he is focused on building revenue performance, go-to-market, and content strategies for professional services firms and distribution companies as part of Chief Outsiders, a national management consulting firm. Passionate about the customer experience strategy, Kirk works with small & medium-sized businesses ready to accelerate growth to the next inflection point.


Full Transcript

Kirk Thomson 0:00

Holding the price meant better margin, it meant better consistency and the pricing strategies, it gave them just a better way to say no, no, we really are the ones who can count on for not only what you did, and we propose and we see through that process, but all the inevitable variables that come up even consequences.

Intro 0:20

Growing a business requires a holistic approach that extends beyond sales and marketing. This approach needs alignment among people, processes, and technologies. So if you’re a business owner, operations, or finance leader looking to learn growth strategies from your peers and competitors, you’re tuned into the right podcast. Welcome to the WBS podcast, where scalable growth using business systems is our number one priority. Now, here is your host, Sam Gupta.

Sam Gupta 0:56

Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of the WBS podcast. I’m Sam Gupta, your host, and principal consultant at digital transformation consulting firm, ElevatIQ.

Most people think of customer experience strategy as providing the best customer service. But in reality, it’s much bigger than that. It’s about removing the friction and choppiness from each, and it’s making the experience personalized while not compromising on scalability. The customer experience strategy requires a rounded approach starting from your team alignment, offerings, processes, and the product bundle.

In today’s episode, we have our guests Kirk Thompson from Chief Outsiders, who discusses how team alignment may be necessary to align with your customer experience strategy. He also touches on removing the choppiness in the sales and operational cycle by systemizing the processes. Finally, he shares several stories where businesses had hit the wall in their growth journey and required a refined product and pricing model to grow.

Let me introduce Kirk to you.

Kirk Thompson is a 30-year marketer, having led marketing teams and growth strategies for retail and hospitality giants, winning branding and innovation Awards across corporate roles. And speaking at industry conferences and marketing organizations. Today, he’s focused on building revenue performance, go to market and content strategies for professional services firms and distribution companies as part of Chief Outsiders, a national management consulting firm. Passionate about the customer experience strategy, Kirk works with small and medium-sized businesses ready to accelerate growth to the next inflection point. With that, let’s get to the conversation. Hey, Kurt, welcome to the show.

Kirk Thomson 2:41

Hi, Sam, it’s great to be here.

Sam Gupta 2:43

Of course, my pleasure. Just to kick things off, do you want to start with your personal story and current focus? I would love to.

Kirk Thomson 2:48

I’d like to think of most of my career as having dealt with the major verbs of life eating, drinking, design, shop, build travel. I feel like sort of a couple of of those verbs. I dealt with most of the major things that I think people enjoy and are challenged by and just treat as part of their lifestyle, different types of companies, a lot of corporate background, but I evolved several years ago into a consultant because I loved that whole problem-solving aspect that was part of taking a business and really driving it into a growth space.

And that has led really to where my current focus is helping businesses that have maybe hit a sticking wall, if that makes sense, Sam, yeah, kind of just get to that point where the growth doesn’t seem to come quite as naturally. It’s not as organic to the business. They just get a pass-through.

They got to figure out more problems to solve more new territories to go into. And that, just to me, is ripe territory for really helping businesses grow. And from my lens through the perspective of really dissecting what’s a new customer area? What’s a new customer group? What’s the way to really take that customer experience strategy to a whole different level and open up new revenue growth?

Sam Gupta 4:08

So you might be stealing my questions here because that was going to be the next question I was going to have for you.

Kirk Thomson 4:15

I’m happy to anticipate your next conversation. I really am. It’s funny, I think it’s just a natural evolution, and I like the nature of telling my story, but kind of tilting it over towards where I think the most interesting business problems and business opportunities are, and that has been really through that lens of the customer.

It’s just one of those things I’ve honed through all my career, and I find that as I am a consultant and I work with a wide array of businesses, so everything from construction and chemicals to retail to manufacturers to real estate to services. I find that as long as we come down to the, I’m in a conversation about, hey, are you really getting as much out of your customers as you can?

Are you focused on what your customers are going to need next? And where are the next sets of customers that fuel the next round of growth, then typically that bridges into whatever that companies category is and helps them navigate through that inflection point they’re in where they’re trying to figure out how to double their growth or double their territory?

Sam Gupta 5:30

So basically, my next question was going to be, what is your perspective on growth? And you probably answered by right, do you have anything else to add? In that, we are looking to see what growth means to you?

Kirk Thomson 5:41

Sure, growth to me. I think once upon a time, I thought growth was purely around sales and revenue and great efficiencies, and where’s my bottom line? And those are certainly important metrics to me. But I like to think of growth much more through the lens of where’s more customers, where’s the next customer, where’s the next customer opportunity.

And sure, that starts from a marketing perspective. I’m a marketing guy by training and background, but to me, customers represent all the growth that if I were an operator, if I were a developer, if I were a manufacturer, if I were an entrepreneur, I would be searching for where are those customer groups that I can find, attract, attach, and ultimately really build a long term relationship with and to me, the growth factor in particular that I’ve seen clients and businesses that I’ve worked with bring to the table is that hard point that I think so many businesses have faced about a typical traditional customer relationship of an attracting a new customer and selling them through and then post-sales service or follow-ups to it.

Then it goes to making that work in an online environment and on-premise environment, in my hand environment in terms of tablets, and other sorts of tools, and of course, product specifications, product development, I feel like, in the end, the work that I’ve done throughout all of this leads me back always to really being in touch with the customer to drive growth and then leading the customer because sometimes they don’t know what they need next.

Sam Gupta 7:15

So let’s talk about these different customer groups that you are talking about. And obviously, we are going to be talking a lot more how the customer experience strategy because that’s your focus. From the customer experience perspective, let’s say if you look at different industries that you mentioned, do customer experience needs differ among those industries?

For example, let’s take an example of manufacturing versus distribution versus retail inside manufacturing. It could be, let’s say, aerospace manufacturing, the aerospace manufacturer could have very different customer experience strategy needs, then let’s say, F&B manufacturer.

So what are some of the plans that you have seen from the customer experience strategy perspective? And how do they vary across these sub-industries?

Kirk Thomson 8:01

Certainly, I think the unifying theme to me has been across any of my industries. And I’ll touch on some of those that you mentioned with an example or two. I think just to illustrate that recurring theme really has been that the sales process has changed from the way it once was. And the standard sort of here’s my future benefits specifications. What do you want me to make? I’ll make that for you kind of perspective is now not actually sufficient.

In a world in which everything is tailored, customized, personalized, there’s some sort of value add quotient being added to it. And I speak about that across literally any category. In the case of retail businesses that I’ve worked with Sam, each one of them has struggled with being commoditized. And that commoditization gets obviously in the big way of growth because there’s always a competitor who will be nipping at your heels, there’s always a competitor who will low bijoux, or overwhelm you as a customer with other aspects.

Kirk Thomson 9:02

And to me, if you get down once and for all to what you do uniquely, then in a position that across all the different ways your customers will actually buy from the retailer or from the retail business, you’re going to dissect it differently than you would in the old days in which it might have been a one to one sales operation that then matched up with what manufacturing was making.

And then obviously, everything around service and support would take care of itself. Today, so much B2B sales. So much of every category is driven on an online basis, not a one-to-one sales relationship. Those high-touch moments when sales are really needed. Those are the ones where you’re really developing a custom solution. And that’s a build off of your basic sort of purchasing patterns that happen in retail, ensure it’s about outlets available distribution points are made available, how close can I get to the customer, but At the end of the day that the customers or the clients that I’ve worked within different retail, food, and beverage, or true shopping, retail, or real estate services, all of those really have recognized that to be in front of the customer.

Kirk Thomson 10:15

And to put all the services and the touchpoint in their hands, let the customer control, let the customer dictate more, let the customer take advantage of all that you can bring in a solution, not just a variety of equipment or products.

As another example, I’ve worked once with a commercial kitchen manufacturer, designing a manufacturer, and that business was led for years on the backs of an equipment solution that needed a variety, a range of services and solutions and support. And the CEO, in that case, had the vision of wanting to flip that model.

And to really recognize that while he was a manufacturer, he was a distributor, he was in that kind of the logistics business. The fact is he offered solutions; he added brain power to how to design to fit the needs of the customer. And that dramatically changed the way the use of digital tools, content information, examples really add value to the services or to the equipment solutions that were put on the table.

It made a dramatic difference in helping drive growth by flipping the model to a solution orientation that was empowered by equipment solutions, or manufacturing offerings are technology. And that was a growth path. It changed the way the sales cycle the sales ladder, went for that business, and reproached ultimately to go to market strategy as well.

Sam Gupta 11:41

So interesting, I’m definitely interested in knowing more about this particular story, how they flipped the model, what changes they made, because if you look at our landscape from the industrial manufacturing and distribution perspective, the majority of our audience is probably selling very commoditized product. And that’s how they feel they typically are very sales driven, they don’t really have a lot of marketing background, and then they don’t even have the ecommerce capabilities.

Kirk Thomson 12:06

That’s a very relatable problem. Frankly, it is that process of saying, I’m going to flip the model, right, I’m going to actually offer an idea and a solution that Oh, by the way, comes along with equipment or a manufactured product or a distribution model that supports your business.

And in the case of the example, I’m citing the CEO who rethought how to align account managers and product managers and aligning that in a way that started from basically your solution should fit your business operation. And supply is not just hey, I’ve got a limited supply of equipment that fits your specs, and I’ve got service windows to deliver that or logistics to distribute it to you and meet you, wherever you are. This sort of our greens fees, what made the difference was sitting down with a customer to understand what that business’s growth plan looked like and to fit a solution that was scalable.

Kirk Thomson 13:06

So it is not just manufacturing for one location or for one site in the case of a retail business. But to actually think about what is the next ten going to look like? Are they clustered? Are they all in the same configurations from a design standpoint or from a requirements standpoint, and instead of designing it from listening to what do they want that business to be able to grow into what’s their next customer base look like and then pausing and feeding all that information back to what a product solution set should look like versus just sort of working from what products do I have available and how that matches with it flipping that model made all the difference?

And it didn’t matter what categories we were talking about. It didn’t even matter what types of restaurant or commercial kitchens or commercial foodservice enterprises he was serving. It was the hard pause of saying what your growth plan is. And I’m going to fit that with a more tailored, a little higher-touch selling process, but a more tailored solution of equipment service design custom needs.

Sam Gupta 14:05

So in this particular case, and obviously, I’m very interested in this particular topic because this is right-aligned with our target audience. And there are going to be a lot of manufacturers that are going to have, let’s say, similar offerings or they are going to have very customized offerings.

And they are customized to the extent that they cannot be configurable, right? Because each job that they are doing, probably job is going to be different. So they need to have tons and tons of salespeople, and that process is probably not scalable. So I don’t know if you had to do this in this particular example that you’re citing.

But let’s say if you were the manufacturer, who is doing, let’s say, very highly engineered components and each project or the job that you are doing at this point of time, and you have to make the process scalable. As soon as you introduce any time manual intervention, obviously, the process is not going to be as scalable.

So you have to bring some system components fair in terms of making the process scalable, and Even if you have the organizational process where you are bringing people, the process from the people perspective needs to be scalable as well.

So let’s say if you are in the highly engineered component process where when you look from one job to the next, you are not probably similar. But you have to, number one, make a personalized label. You have to make it customizable. But you have to also make it scalable.

Kirk Thomson 15:25

So the interesting thing for me is I’m going to flip to a different example. So in the case of a chemicals manufacturer and distributor, that line of business is very specific to standards and compliance and regulation—quality Control.

Yeah, there isn’t a lot of variabilities, obviously, in those offerings, right? They are very fixed. And that’s comparable to what you’re describing is the situation that that might help that many might face about Look, I’ve got a pretty locked-in product design or product manufacturing process.

And, and putting that into a nice match for them what the solutions are, for scalability purposes, means I’ve got to actually figure out a way to package together what the right things are that come together.

So in the case of the chemicals manufacturer, for instance, most of their end-user conversations, which is where most of this always begins, Sam is with an end-user conversation, describe to me what the end-user is going to face or find helpful about this or it’s going to speed up the overall production capabilities describe what the end-user case is going to be like.

Kirk Thomson 16:39

That means I can actually take a little bit of work and create that set of packaged solutions that come together in a product solution. After that, some digital or electronic support to it. System support to it’s something that makes the process work smoother for that end user. So end-user case that they’re going to pace for the chemical plant I’m describing, for instance, there was a hard pause on categories of end-users and understanding where those categories existed.

And then taking a little bit of work manpower hours to create what likely were the 80-20 kinds of rules of what solutions would they likely add in beyond the obvious purchase of this line of product? You know what other equipment that they need to support and what other equipment would they need to finish it, and then obviously transport onwards to the ultimate customer, the ultimate manufacturer in this equation, and then stopping one more step and going through content and information that supports that.

Kirk Thomson 17:30

The only way to that we talked about for them to grow the business beyond just sheer numbers, that top of the funnel prospects for that for their chemical lines, was to design the solutions in such a way as to say we’re going to help you with your end-users. And here are half a dozen of the key ways that we can do that beyond just the one product that might have brought you here, to begin with.

There’s always a sort of love for a lead product. And then there are the next ancillary products that go beyond that, that really rounded out for the end-user. And the chemicals. Industry, for instance, starts with one key product, of course, but it is always supported and extended into other end-user categories or other packaging forms or delivery forms. And that requires a more thoughtful approach upfront that can be scaled because that same set of questions is going to be asked across multiple customers.

Sam Gupta 18:31

Okay, so this would be an example of where you did more of the, let’s say, product line extension, right? I mean, the product base innovation where you had revenue coming from, let’s say one product, and now we have some supported products that are actually supplying more revenue, which is amazing, right.

But the example that I had offered, that’s slightly different. So in this particular case, this is going to be slightly more commoditized. Here, one product is not really different from the next. In my example, it was more of the highly engineered components.

So, for example, this is going to be an example of, let’s say, a manufacturer of the parts. And they might be supplying to a machine manufacturer or something like that each part is going to be different. In this particular case, obviously, it is very personalized.

The customer experience strategy is very personalized because each point is different. So anytime the way the sales process is going to look is let’s say if the customer is coming, they are going to talk to the salesperson, they are going to do the entire analysis of whatever they are looking for, then there is going to be a design process, then that design goes to the customer, and then they approve. And then finally it goes to the production, right. So that’s how the highly engineered components work. But now this proof is not scalable,

Kirk Thomson 19:39

But to me, that whole process of ultimately doing the highly engineered and highly customized, highly specific sorts of solution sets needs the toolsets underneath of it so that you know to a certain degree. There’s a whole lot of specification that’s going to come very naturally out of a customer.

I don’t truly need to have the one-to-one conversation to go through the basics to really define that end user. And ultimately, to define all the different very specific requirements that tailor it for that solution that I’m looking for, that one customer for that one use, or for that one product that I’m going to ultimately make.

Kirk Thomson 20:14

So going through almost the rigor of customer profiling is something that obviously system tools really support. And that’s what we’ve applied across a couple of the businesses and clients that I’ve worked within these areas is how much will the customer knowingly and happily give you as profile information upfront to get all of that sort of sorted out from a system standpoint, from a platform interaction standpoint, before we start to actually add the brain and the conversation to it.

There’s an awful lot when you’re thinking about how to manufacture design and ultimately create the specifications that fit that one, use that one specific customer. And a lot of that, frankly, is getting it out all on the table, categorizing it the way we can through proper systems, information systems, entry information from that customer. And then move into a value add dialogue, where the sales team is coming into place, or the product design teams coming into place, then to take the raw material and actually move it. I’m speaking almost in a manufacturing term, but that is exactly what’s needed is more raw information out of the customer to get to the point of tailoring it for the ultimate specifications.

Kirk Thomson 21:27

Otherwise, scalability is difficult. I have to laugh at what you’re describing. Of course, everything becomes a snowflake, right? Yeah. And you got it. You got to design one by one by one. And that’s not scalable.

So that you’ve got to create scale easily in the areas in which most of it is information gathering, specification, establishing and use-based, any of the other technical requirements are going to accompany and getting all of that out upfront, but in a processed automated fashion before you start to add the value add live conversation, live interaction, where now I’m really going to tailor and specify what you need.

Sam Gupta 22:05

Okay, do you have any other stories where you have done either the personalization work or maybe the scalability or the growth was a problem? And then you solved using either finding out some sort of scalable model for the product? Do you have any other stories?

Kirk Thomson 22:19

Well, so one of the retail businesses that I worked with has to do ultimately with supplying services to commercial properties. And everything that involves construction design, additional equipment, support, additional system support, everything that is absolutely pertinent to the operation of a commercial property.

And their efforts were very much with the obstacles. You’re describing Sam, meaning everything became a one-off conversation. It was very time-intensive upfront. Then the solution set would come together. And then obviously, the timeline to actually produce install, ensure that everything is at full operational levels and capacities and off you go, and that the mission there with that particular client was to condense the upfront time in order to allow the actual installation almost post-sale pieces of it, where operational success was the focus to allow that to be where the humans the human beings in the value of the human beings expertise and experience really could come in and help from a team to team perspective.

The process of going through all the litany of requirements of design, manufacturing, installation needs, everything from power requirements to what kinds of protection and security needs would be accompanying it any kind of a solution set for this particular commercial properties, commercial property customers, it meant that doing that had to be as quick almost as it could, in order to really zero in on how to bring it install it and service and support to make sure operational excellence was there.

Kirk Thomson 23:58

That meant standardizing. That meant a more automated approach to capturing all that information. Not in an impersonal way. Of course, yeah. But in a way that allowed for I might call it easy data dump, right? Easy collection of information from, in this case, the property management, the property design, and property construction teams so that it wasn’t so time-intensive.

Most of these solutions are variations on each other. Very few things were true snowflakes to pick that up for a second, they were variations on a couple of key packages or a dozen different key packages of design configurations and installation models and specification models, and it changed dramatically for that business.

It changed the course of their sales growth by 20 or 25%. In the course of about a year year and a half’s investment in working through how to capture that information in a systematized way that meant from the customer’s perspective, it was faster to place a bid, a proposal, a specification list faster to get to actual commitments to how the manufacturing process would work or the installation process would work.

Kirk Thomson 25:10

And then faster to actually getting the team on-site to finish that work and to ensure that everything was up to standard and thereafter let it go and create the business production lines that it needed to it was invaluable.

But it was a laborious exercise, I’ve got to say sand, quite honestly, one that the client knew would take an investment of time and a lot of thought where to get to what are those core sets of upfront inputs that were required.

And once they were done, it meant so much speedier process of working with new customers, onboarding new projects, getting quicker to the ability to manufacture, install and support. For them, it was well worth it to take a short trip to figure out how to automatize and systematize information-gathering specifications, lockdown variations, and customizations. That’s where they needed to be able to jump faster to the actual manufacturing installation and operational success.

Sam Gupta 26:10

This is going to be related to a similar discussion that we are having right now. And I get a lot of customers, especially in the construction space, or the hybrid of construction and manufacturing. And these seem to believe that they don’t necessarily have a product even though they have a product. So from their perspective, because see, every business can have a product, even the service business, you can define a model, you can productize it, right?

They don’t seem to believe that they have a product. And the reason for that is because they don’t, or they are not able to find a common model to be able to create a product, and then they can tailor the experience around that product for that specific customer. Yes, the jobs are going to be different across the customers.

But that does not mean that the underlying attributes or underlying specifications cannot be a product. So what would be your thoughts on that? We believe that most businesses can have a product. And if they can, what would be some of these strategies to define a product model for service-centered businesses.

Kirk Thomson 27:15

I’m gonna think about it, or I’m gonna talk to that through the lens of a client in the construction industry. Okay, and they believe that all they had initially was great relationships and great and great, basic products that could be viewed as commodities, and in sitting down and planning what their growth plan could look like and should look like we pause and said, you’re selling more than equipment, you are selling the benefit of assurance of that construction, going off as planned, going off as safe and secure and efficient as possible.

Because at the end of the day, construction industry businesses live and die on, can they get the job done as spec as originally spec or bid? And can they get it done on time, if not even faster? So that there is where margin lies. So are you selling just a bunch of equipment and in construction equipment?

Kirk Thomson 28:21

No, you’re actually selling the means by which that project gets done efficiently on time, on budget. Those are important metrics when bidding and succeeding in that industry where the margins can make such a difference with a day’s delay, a second day’s delay, a delivery that isn’t there.

And making all of that run like a railway train was important. So it meant a lot of systematizing of logistics flow and managing and managing it like it’s like it was a logistics business, not just managing it like it was obviously manufacturing or an equipment sales business.

Once they shifted that mindset, they invested in technology to support the customer’s needs and the customer’s ability to stay in touch with the business. And then obviously, their ability to service the business when needed on almost on demand, which would be hard. Normally in that kind of business without the infrastructure of good processes and good technology systems. It allowed them to product to truly productize something that ordinarily probably would have been thought of as just the way you conduct the transactions and provide information to the customer.

And instead, it became the value add proposition. It became the assurances of being able for that construction site for that construction manager for the business that are the business and organization that became the means to count on it and therefore locked down expectations around budget and cost and delivery and labor, and those, of course, are the magic formulas right for managing growth and managing successful growth on a sustainable, scalable way.

Sam Gupta 30:06

Yeah, and I’m actually going to talk now about this problem from the pricing perspective; let’s go back to the same example of either construction or construction focused manufacturing, or slightly more engineered manufacturing. They’re a very simple business model, in my mind, so let’s say if they have the highly engineered products, and they might believe that they are slightly more service-centric, and they might not feel that they have a product.

And if you don’t have that, then your pricing is going to be obviously slightly more difficult, right. And you think about the customer experience in case of customer experience. Pricing actually plays a very important role. Because, let’s say if your customer is coming to you, and they are asking for a quote, so let’s say if you are slightly more service-centric business, where you have to go every time, and you have to, let’s say, reconfigure your quote, and you have to price it out, and then you go back to your customer, let’s say that process is going to take two days before you can get approval from your manager before your feasibility team looks at it, right.

So this whole churn is what I call could actually affect the customer experience, because number one, it actually delays your sales cycle. And number two, it’s actually going to not provide the kind of confidence that customers nowadays look for when they transact with a business, right. So if you bought them, right, if your product is like this, then there’s going to be a lot more confidence because you have probably slightly more standard pricing. And it’s actually not going to delay your sales process.

Kirk Thomson 31:31

So one of the side benefits of what I just described that construction business was getting rid of the choppiness in all that delivery process hitting the site at the right time, logistics and distribution part of the business, it got rid of some of the choppiness in that, and it got rid of the choppiness in the pricing conversation, it was a really direct line, just like you’re describing.

So it was a really direct line to supporting a pretty standard. We’re not playing discount games. We do not sort of match competitors, all those things that we all face in business, right? Well, when you can provide assurance when you can truly say what you mean and mean what you say and deliver when you say those things have value and selling assurance and control to a business that often is not in full control and circumstances change, the speed slows down, and delivery slows down, or labor gets sideways somehow or another.

The more you can put in control in the hands of that user, the better off.

Kirk Thomson 32:48

And it meant that what was already a pricing strategy that was not built around, well, we’ll beat our competitor, which many businesses are built on that pricing model. Yeah, they were not built on that pricing model. But it meant when they got through that good work of setting up better processes upfront like that with their customers and clients.

It meant that there was even greater support for the way the pricing strategy would hold. And there was less choppiness realize that prices held the better margins held better, but it also held better because as a business, they were managing the business tighter, they were managing it tighter for the benefit of the customer. They were hell-bent on managing the business tighter for their own business.

And so holding the price meant better margin, it meant better consistency and the pricing strategies, it gave them just a better way to say no, no, we really are the ones who can count on for not only what you bid, and we propose and we see through that process, but all the inevitable variables that will come up even once we start once a job starts once the production starts Once the installation start. There are always those last-minute variables that come into play.

And again, we build the business model from one of assuring customers that all that’s going to go away, and we have the means to pull from our kit or part or kit apart in terms of solution equipment solutions, or added services or quicker service or whatever else picks up the problem for them all the better support for the pricing strategy.

Sam Gupta 34:15

Okay, amazing, that’s it for today. Do you have any last-minute closing thoughts?

Kirk Thomson 34:18

The only thing I always want to come back to is if we just always start from not only what problems are we really solve for the customer, and I don’t mean just the product solution or the delivery solution.

But if you’re really solving for problems like assurance, quality, safety controllable, the moment you elevate that problem statement just for a split second. Typically it illuminates the way people process technology systems to speed up what you can and to allow the value add conversation to really add growth and add more attention to your relationship with the customers and help them grow their businesses.

It’s certainly the way I’ve approached any business, from one that is manufacturing and distribution oriented to one that is more tech and SAAS oriented to one that is retail and consumer-facing. They all benefit from that hard work of just pausing and thinking through the customer experience and where we really add benefit and value to it, as well as then ultimately get rid of all the noise and the choppiness and the mistakes and the problems.

Sam Gupta 35:25

Yeah, and my personal takeaway from this conversation is going to be your customer experience is much bigger than just thinking of it as customer service.

Kirk Thomson 35:35

Sam, thank you. But it absolutely is that customer experience starts from the moment they even think about a need or they think about a project, or they think about what they need to supply. And it goes all the way through ultimately to post-purchase, post-installation, post-production line, and post-manufacturing.

It goes all the way down to the end. I find that growth comes when you think your way, all the way through to that endpoint, because it helps you loop back to another purchase helps you loop back to another project as opposed to the kind of just stopping with I got the sale done. And we’re, and we’re on to the next.

Sam Gupta 36:13

Yeah, exactly. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much for this powerful conversation. I totally enjoyed it.

Kirk Thomson 36:19

Sam, it’s been a ball. I love talking about growth. It’s good.

Sam Gupta 36:23

Absolutely. It’s always fun. Thank you so much.

Kirk Thomson 36:26

Again, thank you again. I appreciate it. Sam,

Sam Gupta 36:28

I cannot thank our guests enough for coming on the show for sharing their knowledge and journey. I always pick up learnings from our guests, and hopefully, you learned something new today.

If you want to learn more about Kirk and his detailed bio, an introductory video is available at Chief Links and more information will also be available in the show notes.

If anything in this podcast resonated with you and your business. You might want to check other related episodes, including the interview with Mark Jaffe from strategic growth consulting, who discusses how macroeconomic trends impact consumer behaviors. Also, the interview with Enrico Parodi who discusses the sales organization’s key components.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe and spread the word among folks with similar backgrounds. If you have any questions or comments about the show, please review and rate us on your favorite podcasting platform or DM me on any social channels. I’ll try my best to respond personally and make sure you get help. Thank you, and I hope to get you on the next episode of the WBS podcast.

Outro 37:42

Thank you for listening to another episode of The WBS podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform, so you never miss an episode. For more information on growth strategies for SMBs using ERP and digital transformation, check out our community at We’ll see you next time.

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