The Situation

Hanging by a Thread

A sophisticated materials company had invested tens of millions of dollars in developing a line of chemical processing equipment. This novel technology had clear advantages over traditional production, but adoption didn’t take off as anticipated – four years after launch, just one piece of equipment had been sold. The client didn’t understand why the business was underperforming, but knew that unless they could figure it out, they would be forced to kill it or sell it off.

Outsiders Struggle to Fit In

Our client was an incredibly sophisticated innovator, but chemical processing equipment was a non-core play for them. They had gone into this new industry blind, and they had no focusing mechanism for their marketing strategy. As a result, their sales force was spread too thin to be effective. This is a common problem for B2B companies attempting to participate in new markets or different parts of the value chain – the learning curve is often prohibitively steep, and rates of success are depressingly low.

The Approach

All Hands on Deck

To figure out where to focus our client’s meager sales resources, we first identified one industry vertical – pharmaceutical production – where their product could add the most value.

industrial equipment segments


  • Throughput analysis of each reaction stage for 52 different drugs produced completely original data on the volume of constituent reactants being used at every step of the supply chain, which in turn helped us identify exactly where our client’s equipment could create the most value – down to individual customer facilities.
  • Competitive assessment showed that our client was more expensive than some similar products; they decided to leave some money on the table to get early penetration.
  • Voice of customer revealed that our client’s most scaled-down offering was still too big for a very common industry use case, so they developed a smaller product that helped them get in the door.
  • User experience interviews indicated that if technicians weren’t trained with our client’s product in school, it wouldn’t occur to them to use it in their jobs; in order to re-educate the work force, the client began forming relationships with several large research universities.

The Outcome

Long-Term Success and Long-Term Relationship

Based on our findings, our client adjusted their pricing strategy, expanded their product line, and provided specific direction and leads to their sales team. The business has now been profitable for over a decade. We’ve continued to assist the leadership of the business as they have explored other industry verticals and geographic regions, supporting everything from opportunity assessments to partner identification to creation of marketing collateral. 

Industrial Equipment

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