fighting

What Factors Make Sales People Successful?

I recently shared a Linked In comment, and in my keynote presentations and workshops discuss, a large & intense formal commercial study of selling skills, that showed only two significantly important factors determine a sales person’s success…

  1. How hard salespeople work (calls, preparation, & face-to-face time in front of a prospect or customer, no ‘brass-plating’, procrastination, or poor time-management), and…
  2. The distribution of speaking time between seller & buyer (the greater the percentage of time the buyer spends speaking, the greater the salesperson’s sales success, relative to team peers’ success).

As a throw-away I mentioned that increased average productivity across the whole team of salespeople occurs if they have access to, and understand, properly identified market segments but I probably DDN’T emphasize the point enough that If a company really understands its market segments and responds accordingly, then all the salesperson really has to do is take orders… the selling is already done before the sales meeting.

What Factors Interfere with Sales People being Successful?

Multi-national corporations, in the main, already know a about the world-wide crisis in employee engagement: With only 24% of Australian workers engaged, and with 202% productivity gains to be had from the 76% unengaged, employee engagement & organisational alignment has become TOP priority, particularly in the wake of Millennials displaying even greater need for engagement, than generations past.

An issue that doesn’t receive enough attention is that 18% of any workforce is made up of “disengaged” employees – ones that deliberately want to “sink the ship”. and THAT is seriously lose sales and detrimental to future opportunity!

If silos are known to exist, any decent leader should be tearing them down, YESTERDAY!

But how often do we hear about disconnects between Sales & Marketing teams?

I’m betting silos between research and other departments even interfere with distribution of segment identification and recognition… that information isn’t shared, synergy is lost, and sales results end up being suboptimal across hundreds of industries.

It is an easy bet for me, I have uncovered plenty of situations just like this over my consulting career, from doing marketing audits, deficiency analysis and even in competition analysis… through to ‘war-stories’ from delegates to my workshops who confess this goes on far too often.

Often the problem stems from CEO’s who are too busy with distractions… too complacent towards improving productivity, too cynical to believe that a small investment in correction will deliver a significant ROI, or just fearful that they might be “exposed” as less than 100% competent.

How Badly Do YOU think Silos Interfere with Sales People being Successful?

I’d be interested in any comments, observations, cases in hand, or thoughts readers have as to silos, sales productivity and leadership, relevant to these thoughts.

By the way, I use an approach that has helped FMCG, transport & big pharma grow corporate profits by as much as $250M p.a. that can be used to help all sorts of businesses… If you want to have a peek, check out: http://bit.ly/OpAudit

“Customers” are NOT identical. A “market” is only a corral of market segments. Until business leaders fully accept that fact, businesses will not do as well as they could, probably flounder at some stage, and ultimately fail as their competitors (who DO “get it”) out-manoeuvre them.

The Most POWERFUL tool in a business strategist’s arsenal is Market Segmentation

For years I have used market segmentation to successfully “breakthrough” and improve the direction of employers’ and clients’ businesses. Market Segmentation is the “secret sauce” which helps businesses find the best customers.

Multi-million-dollar outcomes have followed market segmentation. It simply is the single most powerful tool in the marketing manager’s arsenal of marketing tools.

Identification of market segments almost guarantees optimal decision-making

With superior segmentation, you can identify attractive market segments so you can target and position your marketing mix and best satisfy the needs and wants of your “preferred” primate target audience prospects. This helps you “marry” your capabilities and appeal to the potential customers who desire your unique offering. (Every offering is unique, but that’s another topic.) Market Segmentation secures sustainable competitive advantage and market dominance.

Better customer insight and segmentation

Using proven market research methods, Market Segmentation means you’ll best be able to deliver differentiation strategies that achieve brand loyalty and brand preference.

You can get insight into where your profits come from, how to improve them, and how to best spend your marketing budget to reap the greatest returns.

You get insight and direction for decisions regarding:

* Distribution strategies and channel management

* Product management strategies and brand management

* Pricing and discounting strategies

* Improving demand & identifying high return customers

* New product development

* Brand Equity movements and brand portfolio opportunities

And more!

Market segmentation studies help identify opportunities and threats, competitors and trends… all helping you maximise your competitive marketing advantage.

Are you doomed, or are you set up for success?

Outside of micro businesses (under $5M p.a.) if your business hasn’t undertaken a proper, professional segmentation study in the past three years, you’re cruising for a bruising.

Worse still, if you (or your business leaders) think “marketing” is a word that accurately describes “advertising” and/or “promotion”, you’re likely in for, or already experiencing, a world of pain!

Almost all of the most successful businesses in the world, certainly the most profitable and powerful companies, all undertake annual or bi-annual segmentation studies. It is typical to find businesses that have failed who neither understand the definition of marketing or undertake (proper) market segmentation.

Common Sense

When management meetings happen and someone says, “Everyone wants…”, “Nobody will…” or “Buyers prefer…”, you NOW you’re in trouble: Subjective opinion is no more than unsubstantiated assumption, and “assumptions are the mother of all mistakes”.

It makes perfect common sense to ask… to ask enough people to know, and then if you ask the right questions you get the right answers , and if you ask people what they want and they tell you… and you LISTEN… then it is an effort to go wrong.

Remarkably, this common sense escapes many operational executives who get caught up in micro-economic detail and “can’t see the wood for the trees”.

I wonder if this could explain why businesses fail, and why corporations don’t experience ongoing success and longevity.

Do you agree? Please comment and let’s discuss?

Remember these business quotes?

“There will never be a bigger plane built.” — A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin-engine plane that holds ten people.

“There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” — Albert Einstein, 1932.

With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market.” — Business Week, August 2, 1968.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

Over my career, I’ve helped many an entrepreneur solidify and achieve his/her dreams, not because I am particularly smart, but for the following two reasons:

  1. Religiously applying strict business analysis disciplines in strategic planning and being harshly objective to the predictive outcomes. If the figures don’t “add up” then no amount of determination and “positive thinking” will turn a lemon onto a diamond.
  2. Believing in the figures even if they seem far-fetched… Sometimes you just have to trust that “shooting for the stars might just land you on the moon”

Nowadays I spend as much of my time helping bigger businesses overcome their self-imposed, limiting perceptions as I do developing new perspectives… with many huge companies refusing to open their minds to their true capabilities.

 

Warren Buffet says this is the “ABC’s of corporate cancer” … A for arrogance, B for Bureaucracy and C for Complacency… My take on it is the wrong people are making top-level governance decisions, which is why my Hierarchies of Marketing model is so important for growth focussed leaders.

 

Anyone wanting a copy of my book on the topic should connect with me on Linked In and request one. Now in its 2nd edition, some people even declare they experience an epiphany after reading it.

It takes a special type of executive to to believe in breakthrough opportunity
It takes a special type of executive to to believe in breakthrough opportunity

Why So Many Huge Companies are Floundering in the Digital Age.

I explain the detailed reasons “why” in my book, “The Four Faces of Marketing” which readers can download below… but summarily, Companies aren’t “good” or “bad” it’s their decision-making leaders that are the important variable!

In larger companies like P&G, Unilever & General Mills, those with operational skills are promoted to strategic positions where they simply don’t have the tools… they are smart, street wise and intuitive, convergent thinkers, but lacking in knowledge and missing the ability to think divergently… They’re like Nokia’s execs, believing, “We did everything right” when they are doing too much wrong… They’re performing “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” management routines… with extraordinary high salaries, and the major shareholders of similar ilk are blind to their shortcomings.

Until these Companies nurture balance in their “Hierarchies of Marketing” they’ll continue to flounder.

Old Warren Buffet really nailed the curse of Corporate Business when he coined the term, “Corporate Cancer” and identified his “ABC’s”… When companies exhibit Arrogance, Bureaucracy and Complacency, they’re either done for, or in for a LOT of pain!

If you’re keen to know more, get my book from http://j.mp/ALLmktg

confused business leaders

Many great executives lose sleep every night wondering “what am I doing wrong?”

Is it Time to Change the Way We Remunerate Recruiters?

 

As someone who is champion to the science of Marketing, many an executive throws down a gauntlet for me in terms of Marketing innovation: In a recent Pricing Workshop, someone challenged me to develop a better “model of exchange” in recruitment. Well here goes…

 

For a long time, some business leaders have harboured a certain dissatisfaction in the price-value equation for recruitment services in Australia.

 

For employers, there has been a suspicion that recruiters are paid excessively for what they do. For recruiters, there is a perception of the importance of correct recruitment that justifies their high commissions. For applicants, there is a frustration that they have been screened out with inadequate diligence, and that recruiters deliver an inefficient service to both applicants and employers.

 

Recruiters argue commissions of 30% of more for senior and key appointments are justified, citing “costs and overheads” that form an impeccable service. Sophistications such as advanced CV screening, diligent and deep reference-checking, background research, best-quality personality testing and other “overheads” are presented as depth and value in the service provided, giving the employer the best chance of securing an “A-class” candidate.

 

However, recruiters are very quick to limit their liability to a three-month trial period, before the waive all responsibility and leave the joined match to its own future.

 

For quality candidates who refuse to lie or exaggerate in their CV, there is a loss of trust in a system that doesn’t give a honest applicant a “fair go”.

 

A bad appointment can mean the end with blame being purposeless

All too often the employee doesn’t reveal weaknesses or inability to deliver until well past that point… with employers discovering all too late that they should have employed someone else.

 

Recruiters blame their clients for incomplete or inappropriate briefs, or simply the decision responsibility being beyond their mandate.

 

Employers blame recruiters for presenting tool limited a field of appropriate candidates, not consulting in a fiduciary manner, filling the brief rather than offering alternative (better?) options, of simply doing a personality match rather than a skills/competence match.

 

Regardless, a bad appointment can mean loss of profits, milestone negative implications that can extend to downturn, loss of jobs, or even the end of the organisation.

 

A Better Way to Remunerate Recruiters?

It is only right and proper that recruiters who genuinely match the best possible candidate to the right employers be handsomely rewarded.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, it is also unproductive to reward recruiters if they present inappropriate, badly selected, unsuitable or inadequately competent candidates.

 

An alternative Model to Reward Recruiters

What if recruiters could be rewarded for quality of employee service?

What if recruiters could be rewarded for duration of employee service?

What if recruiters could be rewarded for contribution to employee performance?

Wouldn’t it be fairer if recruiters shared in employees’ bonuses?

Wouldn’t it be fairer if recruiters shared in employees’ salary increases?

Wouldn’t it be fairer if recruiters shared in employees’ career progression?

I wonder if it is time to reward recruiters with a superior win/win/win approach?

How about rewarding recruiters on a longer-term basis? What if they were paid an override for every year of service? 10 years in the job would be a great appointment – worthy of a handsome commission. 18 months of hair-pulling agony, sub-optimal results, and organisational disharmony not rewarded significantly means recruiters have “skin-in-the game”.

The override could include bonuses and pay-rises… that would be fair too, while NOT receiving huge commissions for appointing short-duration candidates would also be fair.

 

FEEDBACK Please!

I genuinely would like to hear comments on this … form recruiters, employers AND candidates… it could be an opportunity to bring about constructive change… but if it is not, I’d like to hear other thoughts.

CEO evaluation, identify a good CEO

Is your CEO a Time-bomb?

They say, “Cream Rises to the Top”, and generally it does… rancid or not!

How can you determine if the CEO, leading the Company you have your life savings invested in, or who is the employer controlling your professional and financial future, or is the head of the organisation you’re counting on for your security… is adequate for the job?

 

Here’s some symptoms to look out for that are sure give-aways your CEO is NOT up to the job.

 

1. CEO gives employees, investors and stakeholders no idea of the Company’s Mission and Vision statements.

Particularly staff, but everyone who contributes to the business, should understand their “reason for getting out of bed in the morning”. Without direction, how can people apply initiative, work as a team, and contribute top “the cause”? The answer is they can’t, and frustration, boredom, and complacency prosper, becoming the “norm”. For customers, if you say a “the lowest cost air-travel possible, their expectations come in ‘line’ and less customer dissatisfaction & complaints follow, with less costs, less staff pressure, … etc. (you get the picture.)

When CEO’s arrogantly boast profits inherited or experienced due to incidental or fragile circumstances (usually circumstantial) you want to watch out for short term profits that don’t dissipate faster than they came.

 

2. The CEO doesn’t understand the Hierarchies of Marketing.

My favourite quote for this year is borrowed from David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard fame, who said, “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people”.  He was expressing an understanding of STRATEGIC MARKETING, in a world where OPERATIONAL marketing people are the functional folk who manage our daily marketing activities.

If your CEO doesn’t intimately understand the Hierarchies of Marketing, he’ll be loading his team with operational people delivering clever tactics, but in the absence of a single holistic strategy. Business will be reactive not active, budgets will be way out, production shortfalls and overruns, desperate discounting and high pressure sales drives… pressure, pressure, pressure, cost, cost, cost… while R&D will be minimised, market research will be nominal or “postponed till next financial period, and so on.

In the words so Sun Tzu, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

 

3. The CEO doesn’t Thoroughly Understand that Ethical Options are a Huge Business Opportunity and Not the Problem

Social media, the internet and globalisation, and all the communication ramifications have changed the game… It is often said, “Those that don’t observe the mistakes of history are bound to repeat them” and history has proven – so often – that when the “masses” discover contempt from the “elite”, heads role!

There is no reason a corporation can prosper and be immortal… companies don’t fail, its leaders who fail to run them properly who fail.

People want ethics and need satisfaction… it is up to C-level executives to deliver and they will secure customer loyalty. What’s incredible is that innovation using creates blue-ocean opportunities, and companies that deliver always prosper even more so. Imagine if tobacco companies had self-controlled their greed and capitalised on customer goodwill and brand equity? Marlboro was the 7th most popular brand in the world – it COULD have spawned industries! Imagine if building industry had introduced an innovation to replace its asbestos voluntarily at any of the times points since 1918 when it was discovered to be dangerous. Ethical leadership could have created HUGE opportunity in every time this was ratified, in 1933, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1955, 1960 and 1964. Ethical leadership would have led to R&D with something better/safer/ newer. They could have “upsold” and avoided the legacy of corporate criminality. Imagine if petrol companies hadn’t bought up and buried alternative energy patents decades ago when they wanted to protect their businesses… So many companies might still exist if their CEO’s had vision through an ethical high-road expressed in Corporate Values.

 

4. The CEO Takes Bonuses and High Salary Regardless of Company Performance

Any CEO who puts personal gain before their Company can’t be trusted to lead. If they don’t have “skin in the game”, a sense of balance, dedication to employees, customers and shareholders before themselves, a higher purpose than personal wealth, beware.

 

4. The CEO Doesn’t Intimately Understand the Importance of Balancing all the Elements of the Marketing Mix.

If your CEO perceives the word, ”Marketing”, to mean sales, selling, promotion, advertising, getting people to buy stuff, marketing communications , and doesn’t recognise the 8 “P’s” of Marketing… you’re doomed.

 

My firm surveyed every Australian IPO over 3 years during the 2000’s and found almost everyone, WITHOUT a Marketing qualification of the Board, experienced a less than issue price per share. EVERY company with Boards inclusive of a marketing qualified board member, had a higher than issue-price market value per share. Not one failure/collapse, was experienced by tertiary qualified marketing representation on the Board.

 

Remember, businesses don’t fail. Brands don’t fail. Products don’t fail… It is Managers, leaders, decision-makers who make wrong decisions who cause failure.

 

BuildingBrandEquityBrochure.pngRecently, I was part of a discussion on Linked In about Brand Strategy. My colleague, a branding expert, declaring, “Brand Strategy Work Is No Job for Ad Agencies”.

His article should be mandatory reading for everyone is business, from CEO to business-studies student, and definitely every person working in advertising.

The problem is simply that advertising folk just “don’t know how much they don’t know” about the greater issues in Marketing that go beyond those relevant to just the discipline of Marketing Communications (there ARE 7 other “P’s” in the Marketing Mix).

Too Many Ad Agencies are Untrained in “Marketing”

Its could be deemed hypocritical, particularly if you consider how violently ad agencies protect, and roll their eyes when a client tries to develop their own creative! But when the shoe is on the other foot, they glaze over, insisting they know best.

I recently experienced an ad agency completely wash away the significant and proven findings of consecutive, in-depth market research, because an arrogant account director of my client’s agency simply wanted to push through the creative they passionately believed in.

They got sacked months later, but not before they created a small misdirection in thinking, pressed upon my client, leading to a complete dismissal of statistically valid research findings, in favour of the emotional delight with the agency’s ‘tricky’ creative.

Of course, this happens often under the umbrella of “Marketing”. Synonymous with the rift between “sales” and “marketing”, but more complex due to the external nature of the appointment, it takes focus, wisdom and humility of decision-makers to resist.

 Ad Agencies Should Listen  & Understand

For 40 years I’ve observed strong willed, strongly opinionated and overtly arrogant ad people insist they know better than their humbler, better educated and brow-beaten clients.

Every makes this mistake sometime in their career: I have done it myself, in my earlier days, I naively perceived my worth, so I am guilty too – but at least I have the benefit of strong academic grounding and extraordinary mentoring and experience across the 8P’s rather than just advertising.

Creative Genius is Important, but Marketing Strategy is Key

Nobody denies the brilliance of a great creative, the street cunning of a whip-smart suit, or the genius of great copy, but when advertising agencies present a ‘strategy’ person, I’ve yet to find one (in 40 years) who actually understands the complexities or issues of ‘marketing strategy’. (Some years ago, I presented the Law of Diminishing Brand Loyalty to the Strategy Director of Australia’s biggest ad agency, and was shocked to observe she was lost, overwhelmed by concepts she had never heard of before!)

My colleague’s insistence, that ad agencies should stick to advertising strategy and heed the input of those empowered with marketing knowledge, is pure gold to those who don’t yet understand the limitations of ad agency services… but also a home truth to those who do.

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