International Case Study from SMW: Business Development Manager for an innovative business in the DACH region

The client, a successful Swedish business with over 200 years of heritage and private owners, rolled out a 10-year strategy into the execution phase. The company has a strong global presence with factories in Europe, US, and China. The electrification disruption in the automotive industry was detected as a major force to substantially grow the business for an innovative material that could enable the auto industry to build electric systems of the future.


Although they developed and marketed the key material for over 30 years, it was still a niche business. The company felt it did not have the appropriate resource, network and automotive engineering experience to successfully master the step change that was necessary to get out of the niche into the mass market.


Action


Because of the importance of this business going forward in the 10-year strategy, the company reached out for an experienced interim manager who could use the window of opportunity that was assumed to be wide open.


The interim manager started immediately initial discussions with his proven network at car makers and suppliers, offering them opportunity of co-development to evaluate the full potential of this new material for their systems. He quickly learned that the system complexity that needed to be addressed, was a too high hurdle for the car manufacturers, incurring risks that would not allow an introduction in the short term.


But even more, there was no engineering experience in the market for some of the aspects to be considered, and the customers were busy with mastering their projects in the pipeline.


Near-term agenda:

  • Established a wide variety of new customer contacts to receive a relevant feedback from all areas of the market
  • Ordered a neutral market study with the goal to identify and quantify the customer needs as well as the relevant and addressable markets
  • Prioritized the further business development activities according to market size and lower introduction barriers 
  • Defined and presented a project plan to develop and build a demonstrator as a technology showcase
  • Suggested an additional pull strategy with the consequence to establish an engineering service business that shall lower the entry barriers for the customers

Results


The company learned that the objectives could not be achieved just by the planned business development activities (“Push”). They would need to add a completely new “Pull” approach, meaning that a material demand must be created in higher levels of the supply chain.
The Group CEO and the interim manager jointly worked out a concept for a new engineering company. The interim manager established the complete business plan. After 9 months into the project, the business plan was presented to the Management Board and was accepted with very positive feedback and some additional thoughts.


The Group CEO tasked his executive team and the interim manager to found a new company that would bring this business plan to life. Three months later the new company was officially founded, and the interim management partner was informed that the company would like to take the interim manager on board. The interim manager was contracted by the Group CEO to lead the build and market introduction phase for the new engineering company.


The feedback received from the client was very positive with high expectations going forward as a result from this interim project.

The longer term results have also been good. About 5 months after the successful conclusion of the business development project, the new company has been staffed with a powerful core team and successfully launched to the market. After another 6 months from public launch, the company presented a highly innovative technology demonstrator during a world leading exposition. On top of this, it launched a new platform business model, which is planned to be the basis scaling and global expansion.