Five Fail-Safe Predictions–and Actions–for Manufacturers in 2019

By: Kyle Uebelhor Manufacturing, Revenue Growth Strategy, Sales Strategy

Whether flipping the last page of 2018’s calendar meant a sigh of relief or celebration of a record year, 2019 gives everyone an opportunity to reset. In fact, according to the Chinese Zodiac’s Year of the Pig, 2019 “will be a year great to make money, and a good year to invest!”

As we look into the future, we at Alexander Group see five significant trends that will shape 2019 and beyond for all manufacturers. The root cause for each trend is a single issue: buyers, not products, will drive future revenue growth and differentiated market value.

Now is a good time to take stock of where you sit on the continuum of these inevitable market-changing forces.

  1. Selling “X” as a Service for Differentiation and Customer Success
  2. Emerging Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) to Lead Marketing, Sales and Service
  3. Super Charging Revenue (Sales) Operations to Optimize Omni-Channel Models
  4. Integrating Partnership Programs Based on New Buyer Journeys
  5. Sizing the Prize in a Post-Conglomerate World

1. Selling XaaS for Differentiation and Customer Success

Rising digital connectivity and automation through the Internet of Things (IoT) has forced many manufacturers to begin shifting from one-off sales to a combination of selling products and services in unison. This transformation is disrupting how manufacturers engage with their customers. Fortunately, hi-tech and software companies have blazed the trail; now manufactures will need to learn the lessons of how to monetize operational services (op ex) and how to implement the “ILAER” (identify, land, adopt, expand and renew) model.

2. Emerging Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) to Lead Marketing, Sales and Service

With connected customers, who expect ubiquitous service, comes the need for a breakdown of internal barriers and to drive organic revenue growth across all marketing, sales and service functions. Though it has several names (CRO, CSMO, Head of Revenue, etc.), the emergence of a Chief Revenue Officer will be the pivotal role to synchronize all revenue functions, guide all revenue-related activities, maintain an excellent communication framework and ensure value delivery to customers throughout their non-linear buying journeys.

3. Professionalizing Revenue (Sales) Operations

A dedicated sales operations team is necessary for manufacturers who want to take advantage of growth opportunities. In fact, according to Alexander Group’s findings from the Global Manufacturing Sales Practices Study, of the 60+ manufacturing executives interviewed, those who have dedicated sales operations teams in place realized 31 percent higher revenue growth, 17 percent more revenue from new customers and 23 percent lower expense-to-revenue ratios.

But despite the tremendous opportunities and new complexities faced by commercial teams, less than a third of interviewed manufacturers are supporting the revenue function with a dedicated, center-led revenue (sales) operations/enablement team. World-class manufacturers will bypass simply doing the basics of sales operations and will develop revenue operations teams to drive insights for marketing, service and finance and help sales teams continuously adapt to new market opportunities.

4. Integrating Partner Programs

No, we are not predicting the death of the distributor. Rather the notion of deeper, but few key partnerships will drive 2019 revenue success for manufacturers. Regardless if your firm needs service partners to help support implementations, installations and product training or requires tech specialists to augment your sales teams and offer your customers a complete solution, find a win-win for both your company and your partners.

The ever-increasing symbiotic relationship with your partners begins by determining what role you each play in the end-to-end solution for your mutual customer. Hallmarks for next generation partner programs begin by defining the minimal level of expected service, focusing on partners who have a growth mindset and co-creating multi-year development plans.

5. Sizing the Prize in a Post-Conglomerate World

Honeywell, UTC and GE–all current or former Fortune 100 manufacturers–created shareholder value in 2018 by spinning off business units. After all, did it really make sense that GE Water (now Suez) was under the same corporate umbrella as GE Locomotive (now Wabtec)? Behind each of these market events was a need to better align commercial teams with focused opportunities among specific buyer sets.

Regardless of your portfolio position, each of your business units must understand the account-specific market opportunity and develop a coverage strategy to extract the highest share possible. Sizing the prize and achieving differentiated growth compared to your specific competition will be a metric from Wall Street analysts and boards of directors this year and well into the future. Luckily, there is a proven process and straightforward science to building a dynamic opportunity model. Done correctly, you have win-right-now opportunities that will move the needle this year.

Understanding these insights and developing strategies for implementation and making some simple investments will put your manufacturing organization at the forefront of industry to “make money” in 2019.
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Kyle Uebelhor

Kyle Uebelhor is a principal in the Chicago office. He is a leader in the firm’s Manufacturing and Distribution practices. Kyle’s clients include leading companies throughout manufacturing and wholesale/distribution. By applying the Alexander Group’s Sales Management System™, he helps companies achieve their sales objectives through a variety of techniques, including improved channel design, sales ROI, sales metrics, sales forecasting, quota allocation, sales force automation solutions and sales compensation. Kyle frequently speaks on sales enablement topics. He has authored several articles and whitepapers including most recently “The Power of Playbooks: Execute Your Vision.”


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Kyle spent 10 years in commercial banking. As a relationship manager and lender to large middle market companies, he developed a broad expertise across numerous industries and developed solutions-based selling strategies with his C-suite corporate clients. Kyle has an MBA from the University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business and B.A. from Wabash College. He is also a Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP), WorldatWork.


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