Tag Archives: Purchase

When Does It Make Sense to Buy a Company? Three Guidelines

Situation: A Company has a key customer that wants to upgrade the Company’s status as an approved supplier. This comes with a catch – the customer demands that the Company reduce the amount of its total revenue represented by its business with the customer. The customer doesn’t want the Company to be overly dependent upon them or their business. One option that the Company may explore is purchasing another business. When does it make sense to buy a company?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The Company may be working under a false premise.
    • If the Company is truly a critical supplier, the customer is not likely to go away just because they don’t like a single ratio on how the Company runs its business.
    • The risk that the Company takes on buying another business is that this distracts the Company and ends up jeopardizing current business both from thus customer and others.
    • It makes more sense to explore acquiring another company if the Company’s broader goal is to become more diversified, or if new business commitments are forthcoming from this or other current customers.
  • What about this strategy makes sense?
    • Provided that the purchase of another company makes strategic sense, it may be feasible to finance the purchase of that company through a leveraged buy-out.
    • Be sure to build an earn-out with incentives contingent upon the seller staying on and helping to maximize long-term value of business.
  • As an alternative to buying another business, it may be possible to build a new lower cost/price version of the Company’s current product or service and build a new customer base for the lower cost version. This is how automobile companies use the same or similar frames, engines and many of the same components to create different cars for different markets.

How Much Inventory Should You Carry? Six Considerations

Situation: A company has been offered the opportunity to buy a container of raw material from China at what may be a favorable price compared to local supply. This raw material will last 6-12 months at current and anticipated production rates. Does it make sense to purchase 6-12 months of raw material inventory in advance? How much inventory should you carry?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • This is a fairly straightforward economic question. What are the risks and costs of purchasing this large lot of inventory vs. purchasing month-to-month? Here are the factors to include in your evaluation:

o    What is the cost difference of a container versus local supply?

o    Another option is to commit in advance to 6-12 months’ supply from the current supplier. What pricing will the local supplier offer for committed regular purchases?

o    How many months of inventory are required if you need to change suppliers?

o    What is the viability of the local vs. the foreign supplier? If you cease purchasing from the current supplier for 6-12 months will they remain a viable supplier? Similarly, can you count on the foreign supplier long-term?

o    What is your cost of capital, and what is the tax effect of significant inventory at the end of the tax year?

o    If you purchase a container, what is the exposure to overstock of certain sizes of product? What is the carrying cost of this overstock?

  • Do the numbers and negotiate between the two suppliers.

Category: Manufacturing & Operations

Key Words: Inventory, Purchase, Advance, Container, Carry, Cost, Commit, Supplier, Tax, Negotiate

How Do You Sell in an Uncertain Environment? Six Suggestions

Situation: A company’s customer base is experiencing market softness and uncertainty. Customers are tightening budgets and delaying purchase decisions. How do you boost sales in an uncertain environment?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Offer incentives to prompt customers to buy now instead of waiting. Two potential options:
    • A limited time discount – Sign by <date> and save X%.
    • Pre-announce a price increase. Follow this with a promotion – buy now, before the price increase.
  • If you are selling a service, package your service options in smaller chunks while pricing them so as not to erode your margins.
  • Consider 30 day trials for $X, or discounted pricing for large or committed long term purchase contracts.
  • Examine your sales process. Are your sales people speaking to the right people? Try to move the sales process up a level if this gets you to the decision maker.
  • If some of your sales people are significantly outperforming others, give them incentives to share their sales techniques with other members of the sales team.
  • If the issue is sales productivity, leverage someone else’s sales team through a partnership. The partner incurs the sales cost while you focus on implementation.
    • Look for opportunities where a partner can sell your product on top of theirs to boost value of the overall offering and increase their own top line.

What Are Best Practices For Managing a Due Diligence Process? Six Suggestions

Situation: A family-owned business received an unsolicited letter of intent to purchase the company. The Board is split on sale of the company, but has agreed to allow due diligence. Only a few key employees are aware of the LOI. What are best practices for managing a due diligence process?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • A due diligence process can be a major distraction. Put as short a fuse as you can on the due diligence process; insist that the information requested be limited in scope to essential materials to minimize distraction; and that the process not interfere with scheduled company commitments.
  • It is exceedingly difficult to hide reality from the troops. Good due diligence is incompatible with secrecy. Absent communication about the situation, if rumors develop at least a segment of employees will assume the worst leading to possible employee loss and erosion of leadership credibility.
  • It is better to explain the situation and put it in the best light. Here’s an example:
    • The company is not for sale but has received an unsolicited inquiry.
    • This is happening because the company is successful, is producing consistent value, and others appreciate our success.
    • Whatever happens, the company will continue as a going concern and if the company is sold, all efforts will be made to assure the retention and security of the employees.
  • Ideally, communicate this through a company-wide announcement, with video link to remote sites, and with the opportunity for employees to ask questions.
    • Brief all key managers in advance, with Q&A scripts to deliver a consistent message and address individual questions.
  • Strictly control the due diligence process.
    • Restrict direct contact with employees and, to the extent possible, with key customers.
    • Maintain your focus on the business – there is no guarantee of a sale.
    • Put retention packages in place for all key employees.
  • If the deal does not go through, assume that it will negatively impact company results for at least one quarter. Adjust your forecasts and incentive programs accordingly.

Key Words: Due Diligence, Purchase, Time Line, Distraction, Communication, Message, Coordinate, Q&A, Limit, Incentive, Retention Package

What’s the Best Way to Target Your Audience? Eight Points

Interview with Peter Koeppel, President, Koeppel Direct

Situation: The media industry is increasingly challenged trying to reach its audience. Media choices are fragmented, and the proliferation of new devices makes reaching purchasing audiences difficult. How do you best reach your target audience in this environment?

Advice:

  • Historically placement of advertising and pricing of media ad buys were driven by calculations of audience impressions – how many eyeballs a particular ad would reach. With the media market now highly fragmented this measure is no longer as effective. Sophisticated marketers now seek ROI driven media buy models to justify their advertising purchases.
  • Two companies, Facebook and TiVo, are in the lead in terms of potential to assist marketers in targeting distinct audiences, because they collect rich data on individual consumers, but this information must be balanced with privacy concerns.
  • Non-conventional channels like TiVo or Google TV and other research services can selectively present marketing messages to specific customer demographics.
  • The mobile search market represented approximately $2 billion in revenue in 2010. As more people consume media through mobile devices, this market will grow. The leader in this market is Google.
  • A growing format is longer length spots. These include short-form infomercials which are typically seen for insurance, legal services, and spots that drive consumers to web sites or an 800 number. Long-form infomercials are typically 30 minutes in length, composed of three to four 7 or 8 minute segments separated by commercials, which serve as calls to action. Infomercial marketing is not for every product, but is most applicable to higher priced products where specific demographic information is worth the investment and where the consumer needs more education about the product,in order to make a purchase decision.
  • Cable TV, print and radio, remain an effective way to target niche audiences. Television, among the traditional media, still drives the largest number of consumers to online purchases.
  • For the future, we predict a convergence between TV and online marketing and purchases. Many HDMI TVs and current Blu-Ray sets are already configured for both cable and either WiFi or Ethernet connections. Google and Apple sell devices that combine TV and online access. Netflix and Hulu serve content through either TV or online devices.
  • We see the future of TV as a device which will consume all media. As access to rich databases of consumer preferences and purchasing proliferates we see growth in content which will be increasingly tailored to personal preferences and desires of highly fragmented consumer demographics.

You can contact Peter Koeppel at pkoeppel@koeppelinc.com   URL: www.koeppelinc.com

Key Words: Sales & Marketing, Media, Audience, Choice, Fragmented, Devices, Purchase, ROI, Targeted, Facebook, TiVo, Apple, Google, Data, Privacy, Mobile, Search, Pay-per-Click, Infomercial, Convergence

Why Do You Need Uberinfluencers? Four Factors

Interview with Skip Brand, CEO, Martini Media Network

Situation: Thanks to the rise of social media, the 10-20 million individuals who were the influencers with the most purchasing power have increased to 70 million. Within the influencer group, there is a sub group deemed “uberinfluencers” who have the most influence. How do marketers reach the uberinfluencers and why are they so important?

Advice from Skip Brand:

  • Uberinfluencers increasingly spend more time online, are twice as likely to make a purchase, and spend three times as much per acquisition when they do purchase. Also, they always share new product experiences with friends and family via different social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blog’s, etc). For the first time, consumers control a brand’s reputation and are able to set the brand’s tone and image. This is why marketers need to focus more dollars to get in front of this audience.
    • Uberinfluencers spend more time online than the general US population. They are brand savvy, digital savvy and socially networked.
    • They have diverse and specific interests and leverage the Internet extensively to connect with their passion areas. Niche sites appeal to this audience because of the specificity and existence of community. If you better understand where these people spend their time at work and play –you are better positioned to leverage their influence.
  • The company that wants to reach and leverage these uberinfluencers needs to be scalable, exciting and relevant.
    • For this audience, small is beautiful and also scalable. Let’s use the example of golf, a passion for many uberinfluencers. Your site should feature the highest quality courses and equipment if you want to reach 50% or more of this target audience. It must be easy to navigate, provide enough information to make them feel comfortable about product selection, and have a social component to help them broadcast your message.
    • Uberinfluencers spend time on sites that are exciting, engaging and which have a single share of voice. This means one focused ad per page instead of multiple ads.
    • Particularly in a recessionary market the site must work diligently to maintain relevance by continually enhancing site content to provide a fresh experience with every visit.
    • Marketers should put uberinfluencers at the center of their media buy and strategy.
  • To attract and leverage this audience you must maintain a maniacal focus. Reach out to them using social networking tools, which find uberinfluencers where they work and play on the web. Let’s illustrate this with an example.
    • Let’s say that your uberinfluencer is a digital media executive. You will find them on social networking sites because they are living what they are doing. Put the right message in front of them. If they buy they will spend more, but it’s even better if they tell 10 friends about you.
  • Once you start figuring out the keys that attract uberinfluencers, they will start telling each other about you and news of your product will spread across the web, in turn maximizing your revenue!

You can contact Skip Brand at skip.brand@martini-corp.com

Key Words: Strategy, Sales, Marketing, Uberinfluencer, Social, Network, Media, Purchase, Opinion, Influence, Online, Work, Play, Hobby, Niche, Scalable, Exciting, Relevant, Focus, Viral

What are the Three Clarities that Every Start-up CEO Needs?

Interview with Naeem Zafar, President & CEO, Bitzer Mobile, Inc.

Situation: Starting a new venture is a daunting task. You must determine market need and land your first few key customers on tight timeline and budget. What are the most important foci for the start-up CEO?

Advice from Naeem Zafar:

  • The answer lies in what I call the Three Clarities.
  • Clarity #1 – Deep Knowledge of Customer Pain Points
    • The fundamental point is that your eventual success is not about your technology – it’s your ability to understand and address the needs of your customer.
    • Research and talk to potential customers. Ask them about their pain and problems (and not about your product). What makes their job or their lives difficult? Learning these facts takes time, patience, persistent questioning, and open listening both for what they are saying and what they are not saying.
    • Once you have a clear idea about their need and can succinctly define it, you must determine whether your capabilities can address the customer’s need.
  • Clarity #2 – Understanding the Purchasing Behavior
    • Once you have identified your target customer, their need and your ability to meet that need, you must understand their current purchase behavior.
    • Have they ever bought from a startup before? What happened when they did? Are they happy or unsatisfied? Where are the gaps in satisfaction?
    • Particularly for a start-up with limited credibility, it is critical to identify those purchasers who will take the risk to buy from a new company.
    • From what you find, determine how you will frame a personal relationship with the likely buyer – how you will frame both your solution and the buying experience – and build a psychographic of the buyer so that you can quickly determine likely customer candidates.
  • Clarity #3 – Understanding the Decision-Maker’s Sense of Urgency
    • Who makes the purchase decision? In B2B sales is it the CEO or someone further down the organizational chart? Who approves the purchase budget?
    • Why now – do they have their ”hair on fire” so a decision must be made now?
    • The essential question is: what are the alternatives to not having your solution?

You can contact Naeem Zafar at naeem@bitzermobile.com or check out his six books at www.NaeemZafar.com

Key Words: Start-up, B2B, Customer Need, Domain Knowledge, Purchase, Experience, Psychographic, Competition