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Andree Radloff, Partner - Technology Industrials

Andree Radloff is a partner in Simon-Kucher & Partners’ Technology & Industrials Competence Center and is based in the Zurich office. Andree is originally from Munich, Germany, where he studied marketing and technology management at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität.

He started his career in consulting at a smaller consultancy but moved to Simon-Kucher after three years, joining as a senior consultant. He is now an expert on sales transformation in the B2B industrial sector with a particular focus on machinery, plant engineering, electronics, components, and paper and packaging. Andree’s topic expertise includes growth strategies, go-to-market approaches, customer segmentation, sales setup and processes, salesforce effectiveness, compensation schemes, and value-based pricing strategies.

His clients include well-known B2B blue chips, as well as small and medium-sized companies in German-speaking countries. Given the nature of these companies’ business, the projects often involve global phases in major industrial countries, such as the US, Brazil, China, and Japan.

Please provide a substantive overview of what your practice area entails.

Simon-Kucher’s consulting practice is organized by region and by industry. Since we only consult on top-line topics (sales, pricing, and marketing), the challenges we address are specific to each industry.

In my practice area, Industrials & Technology, we focus on industrial B2B companies, which include machinery, plant engineering, electronics, and components. Simon-Kucher has grown to over 1,400 employees, and in the Industrials & Technology practice, we have more than 100 consultants worldwide.

What I find particularly interesting about our practice is that we often work with companies selling products that most consumers rarely encounter directly but are key components in the manufacturing of virtually every item consumers use on a daily basis. Many of our clients are leaders in their respective industries despite not being widely known. For our work, we also regularly travel to countries where our clients have large footprints, such as the US, India, and China.

Our consultants are encouraged to contribute to Simon-Kucher’s thought leadership in collaboration with more senior experts. We regularly share our expertise through white papers and blog posts and at dedicated Simon-Kucher forums for our clients around the world, organized with the support of our consultants.

Working for the Technology & Industrials practice can be a lot of fun. The most rewarding aspect is definitely maintaining close relationships with previous clients and seeing them succeed with the recommendations we developed together. The team building days we hold on a semi-annual basis are another great part of the job. Last time, we spent the morning sharing best practices and went surfing at a wave pool in the afternoon.

What types of clients do you work with? Please provide representative examples where possible.

Our clients can range from startup companies (often backed by venture capital) to typical German medium-sized companies all the way to large well-known corporations, like Siemens. Sometimes our clients are large private equity firms, which contract us to help companies in their portfolio become more profitable. Our clients’ products cover a broad spectrum, from tiny components to turnkey production machinery or even digital solutions.

It is interesting that many of the companies we work with are leaders in their fields but are unknown to the general public. These firms are referred to as “hidden champions.”

Take a company like Forbo, which produces conveyor and processing belts that are used in a variety of manufacturing processes, from the production of chocolate-chip cookies to car tires. Another example is SGB-SMIT, a manufacturer of transformers used in industry, power generation and distribution, rail transport, and infrastructure facilities such as large data centers.

What types of projects do you work on? Please provide representative examples where possible.

On projects in my field, the key question is always, “How can we sell more and improve profitability?” There are many aspects to pricing and sales, so quite often, we start with an audit phase where we look at the client’s pricing and sales approach in detail and ask questions such as:

  • How can the current pricing approach be improved?
  •  Where are salespeople being sent?
  • What is the best way to set up the sales organization?
  • How can the sales and quotation process be made faster?

The audit phase is often essential because it enables us to identify different profit levers and estimate the profit potential behind each lever. Then we develop a strategic project plan with our client to help them tap their full profit potential. We usually apply a multi-method approach in our projects, in which we not only leverage our expertise from hundreds of pricing and sales projects in our client’s industry but also hold internal expert interviews, review key strategy documents, and most importantly, analyze available transaction data.

Typical projects for the Simon-Kucher Technology & Industrials practice have included:

  • Developing a differentiated value-based pricing approach for an Italian automotive company’s spare parts portfolio.
  • Identifying growth pockets for a large plant manufacturer by evaluating markets in Germany and new country opportunities.
  • Supporting a machinery client in choosing the most profitable product bundling approach, price model, and price metric to monetize their innovative digital solution in Switzerland.

In addition, we sometimes develop monitoring and controlling software for our clients, in collaboration with our Digital Solutions practice, to provide ready-to-use tools that can help our clients gain insights quickly and react fast.

How involved are you in the actual implementation or execution of your recommendations? Is this more reflective of your firm’s specific services or your practice area in general?

Simon-Kucher develops and delivers state-of-the-art concepts, but we are fully aware that PowerPoint presentations rarely cause anyone to work differently in the short term. Therefore, we provide training and often even stay on to help our client with implementation. A good strategy isn’t worth much if it isn’t implemented properly.

When we are not actively involved in the implementation process, we conduct training sessions (often globally) for the key personnel to enable knowledge transfer and hand over a roadmap to support internal staff in planning the implementation phase. During the project, many activities already focus on the change process. However, these are always client-specific. Some clients feel readier to drive implementation on their own than others.

What is a typical day like for you? What are some common tasks you perform?

As a partner, I’m responsible for multiple areas. New project acquisition is an ongoing aspect of my role, which involves various sales activities, such as visiting potential and existing clients and writing proposals. To ensure the quality of the projects we delivery, I keep in regular contact with the different teams. My time is also spent developing new content, supporting many internal initiatives, such as recruiting events and improving our company’s processes.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

It certainly helps if you are interested in industrial companies and their products, but it is even more important that you enjoy working conceptually, analyzing data, interacting with clients, and collaborating on international projects. Generally, we look for bright, analytical people with drive and an understanding of our core topics – pricing, sales, and marketing.

How did you end up in your practice area? Did you actively pursue it, or were you assigned to a client in this practice area?

I studied marketing as well as technology management, and I liked these topics very much. It was a natural step for me to join the Technology & Industrials practice at Simon-Kucher.

Do you feel that your firm provides you enough flexibility or opportunities to explore other practice areas?

At Simon-Kucher, new consultants are given great flexibility to explore several industry practices before finally deciding on a focus area, which only happens after two to three years. Of course, staffing on projects is also driven by colleagues’ availability, but there is certainly enough room to incorporate preferences.

What do you like best about your practice area?

There’s a huge mix of topics within our field, different industries (machinery, plant engineering, components, paper/packaging), and a range of company sizes. The topics we address include a lot of conceptual and analytical activities but also practical implementation activities. Lastly, our projects often involve international phases where consultants spend a few weeks abroad.

How has your professional and academic background prepared you for success in your practice area?

I came from another smaller consultancy where I learned “consulting 101.” This experience was very helpful. My academic background provided me with an understanding of the main concepts in sales and pricing (the rest I was able to learn on the job), but even more importantly, it taught me how to structure problems and go about finding appropriate solutions.