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

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.

 

There is a crisis of engagement. With 87% of employees disengaged worldwide, Gallup states in a 2016 report that “employee engagement has barely budged in years”. In the United States and Australia these figures are 68% and 76% respectively. These levels of disengagement represent billions of dollars in costs to organisations and governments.

Why are so many employees disengaged? How can organisations increase engagement? What effect do disengaged customers, students, welfare recipients and other stakeholders have on the bottom line and on organisational success? How can you find a superior means to overcome these engagement problems?

With a market in need of a viable solution, management has to address the symptoms, the foundations and find the solution, including a next generation of engagement tools.

Leaders MUST address the issues, the direct & indirect costs, the effect on customer experience, and the philosophies around minimising, and explore new & engaging methodology to deal with this problem.

MARKET STATUS QUO

Increasing employee engagement investments of 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year. (Source: Workplace Research Foundation). Employers are rapidly catching on to the positive ROI of investing in their employee engagement efforts.

Highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity. (Source: Workplace Research Foundation). This is a huge part of where we see increased profits coming from. Kevin Kruse (@Kruse) coined a great term to define this ripple effect that employee engagement tends to have on an organization, he calls it, “The Engagement Profit Chain”.

Companies that foster engaged brand ambassadors in their workforce report an average of 2.69 sick days taken annually per employee, compared to companies with weak engagement efforts, reporting an average of 6.19 sick days. (Source: Workplace Research Foundation). Sick days can be very costly in the way of lost productivity and reduced workplace morale. Reducing these costs is just another benefit associated with employee engagement efforts.

Companies with engaged employees, outperform those without by 202%. (Source: Dale Carnegie). “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a pay-cheque, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals.” – Kevin Kruse

Companies that implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback. (Source: Gallup). This is a big one folks! There are a lot of estimates on the cost of employee turnover, and honestly, that number is going to be different for each employee, location and company. The exact number doesn’t matter as much as the prevention of that cost. What is employee turnover costing you?

Only about 25% of business leaders have an employee engagement strategy. (Source: Dale Carnegie). There’s another powerful statistic. The benefits of building an engaged workforce are undeniable, yet so many companies haven’t made the investment yet. This disconnect seems like the opportunity for a strong competitive advantage over the other 75% of companies who don’t have a strategy.

The numbers don’t lie, organizations are going to need to invest in employee engagement in order to stay competitive, drive productivity and improve the bottom line.

THE FIRST STEP

Leaders need to develop sincere, motivating, inspiring alignment of teams for many reasons… Remove silos, undo secret agenda, create unity of effort, inspire initiative, minimise mistakes, etc.

At Launch Engineering, we deal with this under the “8th “P” of Marketing, “Politics”… were we recognise that Internal Marketing is key to Marketing Strategy & Planning. Readers should contact Launch engineering or visit…

http://www.launchengineering.com/MissionVision.htm

 

 

Brand Equity Grows with Business Productivity from People

Engagement Levels Around the World

Why Do Businesses Stray from the Proven Path to Making Billions?

I recall the adage, “Not advertising is like kissing someone in the dark… YOU know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.”

Market research tells you:

  1. If there are any kissable people in the dark,
  2. How to find them,
  3. What sort of kiss they would like, and
  4. How likely you are to enjoy it.

It is so, so easy for big businesses to make billions… why don’t they?

If research can tell you EXACTLY how to achieve your business goals, why doesn’t EVERY business do it?

THE FIRST, OF TWO REASONS, is that bad research has a GIGO effect (garbage in, garbage out). With most executives undertrained in how to brief research, appraise and assess its implementation, and interpret the findings (properly) in concert with strategic marketing know-how, research can simply go to waste.

The second reason is (in Warren Buffet’s words) because of “Corporate Cancer”… where arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency, combined with operational micro-thinking, dilutes or discounts the demand for, and reverence towards, market research.

In the high-profit, high-growth days of B2C (FMCG and Consumer durables), research was conducted with finesse, expediency, discipline, regularity and concise interpretation.

Nowadays, few executives demonstrate any respect for, tight management of, or scientific approach to the art of research … and the results speak for themselves.

We can all probably name brands that are weaker versions of what they were, and trace it back to a departure from the disciplines of marketing strategy built upon good research.

Where is the once-dominant Sharp brand? How long can Nestle last, relying on its long-term cash-cows? How out of touch and behind is Kellogg’s? What happened to Spillers? Where’s Ampol? Grace Brothers? Criterion Furniture?

The Hurdles to the Billions

Remembering that products don’t fail, businesses don’t fail, brands don’t fail… it managers making bad decisions who fail… It is possible to remove the hurdles for failure by opening business leaders’ minds to more productive and proven methods: Commissioning and utilising market research!

In 1983/4 when My Dog had failed to launch successfully for Mars, their Product Manager asked me for help. All I did was read the research overnight, and it was clear the positioning for the re-launch had to be “for fussy eaters”: 33 years later My Dog has not made less than $250M annual sales… simply founded on good interpretation of good research.

In 1994, simply reviewing the research data for Mersyndol revealed that 95% of sales came from the 5% of heaviest analgesic users, but Mersyndol loyal users were forced to buy another brand to avoid drowsiness. In a 20-minute meeting, my identification of this and suggestion of a “Mersyndol Light”, led to the launch of Mersyndol Day-Strength, that has generated around $200M p.a for the past 23 years.

All those billions came from objective interpretation of quality market research.

IF companies REALLY want the Billions, bad research won’t ‘cut it’.

Interpretation without the synergy of understanding strategic marketing science also won’t ‘cut it’. (e.g. Brand adoption theory, innovation theory, brand equity, brand loyalty, involvement, BCG Matrix, and about 100 other key models.)

But, with good market research… well planned, well conducted, well interpreted, and well respected and followed… the path to billions is simply “finding out what people want and giving it to them”.

How easy it that? So why don’t or won’t business leaders do it?

I think it would be healthy and beneficial for anyone to share thoughts, perceptions experiences, and concerns… or just comment…

 

43 years of Marketing… And it struck me that I have been obsessed with perfection of application and implementation of marketing excellence for 40 of those years – holy hell!

To be fair, my blind faith in commercially-usable academic knowledge has been the major reason I have pulled off some record-breaking successes in my career… by simply taking proven marketing science and applying it.

So, it’s no wonder that my peers shake their heads in dour and reluctant tolerance to what we call the “dumbing down” of skills and knowledge in the world of Marketing.

In particular, we’ve seen an awful downward slide in the quality and output of market research… reviewing studies done for clients who should have known better, but didn’t.

Is it the client’s fault for not have the skills to be a discriminating buyer?

Is it the researchers’ fault for not setting a standard and mentoring their clients to understand the importance of asking the right people, the right questions, in the right way?

Is it the pure academics, devoid of commercial experience, who are to blame for not delivering the education necessary in marketing graduates?

Is it the academic institutions that should be kicked for appointing inappropriate teachers of marketing for the hundreds of students who are paying for, expecting but not getting, skills that will empower them in commercial marketing roles?

Where does it stop and who will stop it?

Applying some of the theories of Marketing, we might predict that the commercial world will ultimately reject the inferior products now being delivered by academia… forcing academic institutions to return to the belief that only working practitioners marketing can teach it,  which was the original springboard of Marketing into wide-spread fame.

In the meantime, the absence of properly trained Marketing strategists, and the substitution of operational trained under-educated executives TRYING to make prudent business decisions likely to leave many of them face-down in puddles of business problems that shouldn’t even exist.

Absolutely, and without exception, any business that has been successful, accumulated profits and held major market share, should NEVER, that is EVER, g broke, die, or even experience a failed product launch.

Only when management goes wrong, get arrogant, or complacent, of suffers belligerence and apathy borne of bureaucratic inefficiency, do organisations begin to struggle or worse.

And ONLY, when leaders are empowered with strategic marketing knowledge and input, as well as authority to act and utilise this knowledge, will market leaders stop going broke, losing to competitors, or make other terminal business management decisions.

The questions is three-fold:

  1. What proportion of executives are drowning in puddles?
  2. How many partially strategic executives are face-down in shallow water?
  3. And how nay are truly able to survive in the deep?