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  • Writer's pictureIng. Alberto Scanziani

Export: without specialization you cannot go far


farsi notare per specializzazione

Think about it, when companies hire staff, the first requirement is that candidates have specialization in the role and, very preferably, in their industry. This is particularly true in sales.


However, when the same companies—or at least many of them—present themselves to potential foreign clients, they do not pay much attention to the aspect of specialization: they might have it, but it is not communicated adequately. Consequently, it is not perceived by the counterpart.


result: such companies all look the same

Last year, around this time, I was managing the business development of two diametrically opposed companies:


One, in the mechanical sector, specialized in ultra-precision machining for OEM machinery (see this post): precisely due to the results achieved through its specialization, I nominated it for the Premio Export Italia;


The other, in plastic processing, was not specialized and therefore generalist, capable of producing a bit of everything for multiple industries, naturally working with quality.


Conceptually, there is the same difference between a general practitioner and a specialist: sooner or later, the first will refer you to the second. How many times have we "skipped" the first to go directly to the second?


Guess which company I had more difficulty promoting to new clients: indeed, for the second one—the plastic processing company—I encountered potential clients asking if it had specific experience in their industry; unfortunately, the answer was often negative.


At most, I could try to argue that the acquired expertise was also suitable for their sector, without much success: in fact, there is always a specialized competitor that takes over.


In many cases, therefore, the potential client did not follow up with a request, even though my client company had all the technological solutions to meet such clients' needs.


When any of us present ourselves to others, we must make them perceive how we can be of help thanks to our sector-specific skills and the specialization developed over the years.


The same applies to companies; my advice is to deeply review the concept of value they attribute to themselves.


It is no longer enough to demonstrate value in a generic product, as almost all competitors can do it now.


When entering new markets or approaching new clients, it is advisable to start with a specific competence, even a small one, that is intrinsically linked to those markets or types of clients: it serves to break through, to obtain an initial positive perception, to show that one can indeed be useful thanks to that competence.


value should be unveiled little by little, starting with what specifically interests the client

Some examples of appreciated specialization in manufacturing are:


  • the ability to perform special machining thanks to particular machinery (production differentiation)

  • holding certifications for specific sectors such as automotive, food, aerospace, medical, etc. (certification differentiation)

  • having particular quality control methodologies (technological level differentiation)

  • having specific skills in the technical office (internal competence differentiation)


Let's remember that everyone wants to be assured they are in good hands; nothing better, therefore, than going to a specialist.


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