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Becoming the number #1 co-development partner A case study of Webs and Veco Precision (may 2018)

How Veco Precision Metal builds a future-proof commercial organization and grows revenue in the digital era

Veco wants to become the number one co-development partner in the micro-manufacturing of metal components. This case study shows a snapshot between 2016 and 2018, and how they successfully grew their business by transforming its commercial organization.

Veco Precision: the early years

Back in the year 1934, some important innovative breakthroughs took place in filter plate technologies. The founders of Veco Precision immediately took advantage of this opportunity and mastered a – at that time rather unconventional – additive manufacturing technology called ‘electroforming’. It did not take long until they also ventured into etching and laser cutting techniques. Since its establishment in 1934, Veco has built a track record of innovation.

But the world is changing. In order for many companies to innovate today and maintain a position of relevance in the market, miniaturization of products - and the components that go into those products - is more important than ever. Engineers are increasingly looking for ways to fabricate micro-precision metal parts, which can be produced cost-effectively and at industrial scale. Veco can provide this added value to companies through next level electroforming, etching and laser cutting technologies.

On top of that, Veco has a full-scale R&D team that transforms complex design challenges into micro-precision solutions for her customers. From defining the first product parameters all the way up to the creation of the sample and producing it at industrial scale. By offering this level of co-development, Veco can claim it enables innovation for companies in many industries worldwide.

Today, Veco serves customers worldwide from their offices in the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, India and the USA and remains the world leader in micro fabrication of high precision metal parts.

Are you utilizing growth potential in new applications and markets?

Seeing the exponential growth in miniaturization of products, combined with great ambition, Veco determined that globally, there were many applications and markets still untouched. However: in order to utilize this potential and grow their business, there was an important shift that needed to take place.

At that time, quite a percentage of their customer base consisted of companies with mainly ‘shelf-ready’ metal components that needed little to no R&D. Veco knows that the order size from this type of customers strongly diminishes over time. On the other hand, there was also a small share of customers that did develop their metal components together with Veco. In these cases, the life cycle of the product is significantly longer. This type of customers start small, but grow and become valuable partnerships in the long term.

Veco realized they could no longer depend as strongly on their current customer base as they did. Their goal was clear: to grow revenue from new business by tapping into new applications and serving new clients. But the road to become the number one co-development partner was not paved out. It was in the end of 2015 when they decided to take the leap. This case study shows a snapshot between January 2016 and May 2018, and how Veco successfully grew their business by transforming her commercial organization.

Marketing is missing, and Sales is cold calling

Filipe Oliveira da Silva, Group Director Sales & Marketing of Veco realized there were were some important hurdles to overcome.

Filipe: “Our Sales department consisted mostly of account managers that were serving both existing customers as well hunting for new ones. And they attempted to achieve the latter through cold calling! The lead lists were not qualified and we didn’t have enough common ground to connect and start a conversation with prospects. Also, there was little to no Marketing force present. We had to admit that this was not going to work.”

Also, potential customers - engineers - are looking for solutions for their miniaturization challenges that go beyond the forms of metalworking they are familiar with. They are unaware of some technologies such as electroforming. Let alone that they know Veco can co-develop the product with them, saving them time, money and energy. Online visibility of Veco’s technologies and services in search engines like Google was almost zero. If potential customers searched online to learn more about these technologies - which they certainly did - they would not find Veco’s website.

Filipe: “I felt like we were not only ignoring a lot of potential, but also that we were facing the risk of not meeting our commercial targets if we did not change our approach to Marketing and Sales. We missed insight on who our ideal customer is and how we can help this customer overcome challenges. We also had no insight on the behaviour of our potential customers on digital channels. If we would not change our commercial strategy we would keep attracting the same type of customers. I was afraid we would not be able to compensate this later on.”

From lead generation to customer retention

The goal of Filipe was clear. On the Marketing axis, the very first step to take was to find a way to attract qualified leads via digital channels. On the Sales axis, Filipe wanted to be able to predict future revenue through clear prospecting.

Filipe: “In the beginning, we didn’t have the right processes, people or tooling in place to attract new customers through online channels and nurture them all the way up to the sale. When it came to tooling, we were using only BI software that was connected with our ERP system. This ERP was very much product-oriented: it didn’t help me understand the needs of the customer, let alone how prospects behave on our channels and why they buy. We needed tooling that could fill that void.”

Also, Veco needed to scale up the Marketing and Sales force by adding new people to the team that had the right competences.

Last but not least, the most important point on the agenda was implementing new processes. Filipe: “We didn’t have a clear vision of where exactly to start, but I knew implementing the right Sales and Marketing processes, and aligning them, was the most important part of making this whole thing a success. We needed to find a way of working where Sales and Marketing structurally work together in generating, nurturing and tracking leads. While putting the customer first, not the product! With our highest goal in mind - customer retention and share of wallet - clear processes were our number one priority. We want to help our customers grow with our innovations, and they help us grow through the partnership. I was determined we would reach that goal.”

Building a future-proof commercial strategy

Filipe decided to put the trust in his network to kickstart the commercial transformation Veco was up to. To achieve goals through renewed Marketing and Sales processes, upscaling the team, as well as implementing and thriving with modern Marketing en Sales tools they partnered up with Webs.

In the first year, Filipe unrolled an Inbound Marketing strategy in his organization along with a HubSpot Marketing Automation platform.

Filipe: “We knew a good CRM was also important, but Webs helped us set priorities which led to the decision to start with a Marketing Automation tool to attract and nurture leads. Webs helped us set up the entire process and made sure the management team was aligned with our plans from day one.

One important eye-opener in this process turned out to be ‘Engineer Jim’ a persona we set up to understand his wants and needs. Our entire organization now has one clear definition of our decision making unit. For the past 2 years, our colleagues have been working closely with Webs’s team of consultants, copywriters, designers and technical specialists to produce physical campaign assets to generate leads and measure and improve results.”

When after a few months the first qualified leads from Marketing were handed over to Sales, Veco also rolled out an Inbound Sales strategy and the HubSpot CRM.

Filipe: “Our Sales activities relied strongly on gut feeling. The way our offices abroad followed up on leads was a black box. We didn’t have a clear plan either: we would hop in the car when we felt we had a good lead! So when Marketing was up and running, my next goal was to structure the qualification and follow up of leads.”

Important milestones:

  • Set up a clear Growth Plan to get Veco’s technologies and co-development services ‘out there’;
  • Implement Closed Loop Reporting and a mindset of continuous improvement;
  • Set up an Ideal Buyer Profile and define Personas to attract more (co-development) prospects;
  • Lead Validation: qualify every lead to determine whether they fit the Ideal Buyer Profile;
  • Setting up Marketing and Sales funnels and unroll an online (content) strategy to attract more, and better leads via online;
  • Implement a set of Marketing and Sales tools to generate more leads and close deals.

The road to co-development

From 2016 until today, Veco has worked hard to implement the new strategy and tooling to achieve goals. And not without result:

  • An increasing number of customers that recently partnered up with Veco fit the Ideal Buyer Profile and have a big potential to become large accounts in the future;
  • The Netherlands, UK and USA offices all work with the inbound methodology and use HubSpot tooling;
  • The Inbound Marketing & Sales team grew from 1 to 4 members: first an Inbound Marketeer, after that a designer and most recently an Inbound Sales rep;
  • Marketing and Sales are fully integrated and work together to attract leads en close deals.

After implementing Inbound Marketing in the organization, Veco saw a big increase in traffic and leads.

However, there were still a lot of new customers coming in that did not fit the Ideal Buyer Profile. Filipe: “We are slowly shifting from explaining our technologies and applications, to expressing more and more that we are a co-development partner. And it slowly starts to pay off: the latest customers that we have acquired are exactly within our sweet spot. The data we collect from the tooling shows us exactly what is working, and what isn’t.

When it comes to Sales, Veco made some big improvements, too. Filipe: “We learned that we did not have to wait for the leads to come from Marketing, but that we could be proactive in finding prospects ourselves. To make a quality connection, we share the content that we have and adjust it to the specific accounts we are targeting. This way, we immediately add value.”

When comparing numbers from 2016 with 2017, Veco has made big steps in setting up an ‘Inbound’ organization:

More traffic: from 3000 website visitors per month to 30.000 website visitors per month;

More leads: from 0 qualified leads per month to an average of 40 qualified leads per month: leads that Sales can follow up. A white paper about Electroforming has been downloaded 1000+ times;

More customers: almost 30% of new business comes from online (Inbound Marketing and Sales efforts). At the start, this was 0%. In the first year, Veco could point out 21 new customers that came in touch with Veco through online efforts.

And what about the future?

Filipe: “We’ve grown exponentially in traffic, leads and customers with inbound Marketing and Sales. We are also taking big steps in business development with proper lead validation. My biggest priority now is to increase the quality of leads, so that in the future we will have more and more customers with whom we can co-develop their next innovation.”

Furthermore, Veco aims to further professionalize the lead execution process with application engineers, in order to deliver ‘first time right’ prototypes to each new customer. The last step in the commercial transformation of Veco is setting up proper key account management, whose most important goal is lead retention.

In 2018, independent investment company Gilde Equity Management (GEM) Benelux had acquired Veco. Filipe: “The investment of Gilde will further accelerate the path we have chosen to execute our commercial strategy. Our Inbound Marketing activities are a key enabler to put us where we want to be; the number one co-development partner.”

Want to build a future-proof commercial organization and grow revenue?

Are you working at a B2B company with a growth ambition? And are you curious to learn how improving your Sales and Marketing processes can help grow your business?

> Talk to an experienced Sales and Marketing consultant from Webs about the challenges in your market

> Ask Filipe about his experiences with Inbound Marketing and Sales

> Visit one of the monthly knowledge sessions in Eindhoven where you can learn from other high tech / manufacturing companies how they successfully transformed their commercial process

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