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

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Qantas – sad but true

February 6, 2014

A peer sent me this email. The subject line sad “Sad but true”…

A man is alone in an airport lounge. A beautiful woman walks in and sits down at the table next to him.
He decides because she’s wearing a uniform, she’s probably an off-duty flight attendant.
So he decides to have a go at picking her up by identifying the airline she flies for, thereby impressing her greatly.
He leans across to her and says the British Airways motto, “To Fly. To Serve”?
The woman looks at him blankly.
He sat back and thinks up another line.
He leans forward again and delivers the Air France motto, “Winning the hearts of the world”?
Again she just stares at him with a slightly puzzled look on her face.
Undeterred, he tries again, this time saying the Malaysian Airlines motto, “Going beyond expectations”?
The woman looks at him sternly and says, “What the f*** do you want?”
“Aha!” he said, “Qantas!”.

The Qantas cynic might say, “THAT is why QANTAS is losing ground, bad staff is the anchor around management’s neck!”

In fact, bad Management creates bad staff. What drives some QANTAS staff to be so rude, and offensive? Why are so many like that?

People are psychologically ‘wired’ to want to do their jobs to the best of their ability. They WANT to be proud of what they do, how well they do it, and genuinely derive endorphin (physiological) gratification for doing so… beyond the intellectual reward of remuneration and benefits.

However, when frustrated by politics, ineffective or inadequate processes, insufficient support or resources the psychology turns to protecting their higher motives with coping mechanisms. Unable to grasp the nuances of why they are frustrated, they lash out negative, emotionally, irrationally, and the rest is exemplified above. The spread disharmony among peers, disenfranchise supports, do there jobs even worse. Is it satisfying? No! Is is spite against an employer they perceive is unsupportive? Perhaps. Can it be changed? Yes!

Decent training, decent support, decent supervision, decent employment mentoring, and QANTAS would be the best, most highly regarded airline in the world… with travellers thrilled to pay a premium!

Good Management would ensure good staff… staff who are empowered, motivated, inspired to impress, and ‘market’ the brand positively.

QANTAS has potential. Even under existing management, the diminishing brand decay is not yet reversible, but this cannot last long.

The madness is that major shareholders appear to be, ignorant of this incompetence in management and rewarding it!

Well, they say, “A fool and his money are soon parted”. What they don’t say is “The incompetent word-smiths at the top of funds management companies who do NOT have the know-how to make intelligent managerial appointments, are wasting away the superannuation of millions of people.”

Shame… not only for the punters who trust their superannuation managers to do a better job, but also for the icon we once proudly new to be QANTAS.

The academic study of Marketing was initially undertaken to make business decision-making easy… and it worked! Marketing decisions that religiously, if not fanatically, followed the technical revelations of academic marketing teachings, have worked, and worked, and worked.
In my career, every single marketing plan based upon the teachings of my studies, and implemented accordingly, has “hit-the-ball-out-of-the-park”, so to speak.
In my 3rd year at Uni, a recent graduate guest lectured on the launch of Moove & & Good One in the 70’s, explaining how they simply applied text-book marketing theory and would up with the most successful marketing outcome in the history of milk marketing. It was text-book theory that was used to save and re-launch My Dog & in the 80’s.
With reverence to the KISS principle, after 13 years of studying marketing, 38 years of applying it, 7 years of teaching marketing at University, I can confidently suggest that the core to successful marketing comes from knowing the segments in the market place and targeting and positioning to attract preferred segments.
So, with segmentation being the virtual “road to riches”, you would think all marketing executives would scramble for any segmentation market research above all else, and covert the opportunity to get as much as possible to empower them and simplify their whole function.
Alas, few good marketers stand in the ranks of business, and many of these are constrained by superiors whose limitations create the black holes into which fall opportunity and money.
Reality slapped me in teh face recently, when my firm decided to systemise a method of empowering clients with segmenatation knwoledge, and offfered a promotion… 2 (ideally sequential, not mandatory) segmentation studies, worth around $160,000 for just $60,000 – with an $11,000 social media marketing promotion thrown in. This offer was sent to a select 60 key individuals I know needed a market segmentation study.
Can you guess the response?
Now these guys KNOW that “the segmentation studies they get now” – are likely (at best) to be performed by the guys that taught market research to their current suppliers of market research, so its not a matter of quality.
Loyalty? OK… is that loyalty well advise in the light of the best interests of shareholders? Is it in their own best interests to miss out on more frequent, timely and recent information? Given that fresh segmentation information could make the difference between growth or deletion, between profit and loss, between market dominance and market share erosion, wouldn’t it be worth the effort?
To a great marketer – this would be a great opportunity… there are just too few of them about.

What is the Marketing Concept? What is the basis of all marketing management?

Is it not meet the customers’ needs with available resources?

Is pushing an imperfect satisfaction of needs, via advertising, personal selling, tricky copy and negative options, give-aways and incentives, going to imbed success in a brand?

Is a badly thought-out product or brand extension, timed well or not, a failure because of insufficient advertising?

Not necessarily.

Looking at the purpose of a marketing expert’s being: For all exponents of the marketing profession, there is one focus… The needs and wants of the markets (or the targeted segments in which you are interested).

IF the market NEEDS advertising, if the ACTUAL product (as opposed to CORE product) includes imagery and positioning, then the marketer’s responsibility is to deliver those needs. In delivering the needs of the target audience, a marketer maintains brand equity, and thus, the life of the brand/product.

If the marketer just invests in advertising without understanding the customer, life cycle is bound to prematurely terminate, brand decay will set in, and brands will die…. in response, of course to substitutability, imitability, comparative value and rarity.

This turns focus not to the science of marketing but the skills abilities and talent of marketing management personnel.

Does management “get it”? Do they really UNDERSTAND ‘marketing’ or do they perceive it hype, advertising, or selling? Are they CAPABLE of embracing and applying marketing science, or simply charismatic diplomats, climbing the corporate ladder? Are they EMPOWERED with funds, autonomy, flexibility and leadership support to implement? Do they have the ACUMEN to pull it all together and planning skills to imbed the direction for years to come?

[The answer, by the way, is that ego and corporate arrogance, stop people like us helping people like them 😦 ]

There are no specific strategic models for FMCG brands to manage lifecycle because any generalisation would be fictitious nonsense.

The secret for ALL marketers is market segmentation.

Until decision makers recognise that there is no singular ‘market’, but a unique combination of segments that make up an individual market, we are unimpowered.

“Markets’ are as unique as people, segments as unique as human characteristics. Noses vary, size, hair, eyes, teeth, skin… just as segments are different. Individual products must be made to fit the attractive/targeted segments.
Just as nose drops may be useless as skin moisturisers, some products or brands may not appeal to some segments.

Brands can and do survive anticipated life cycles as a result of disciplined marketing strategies based upon trend analysis and rational strategic response to changes in segments.

Brands fail when companies choose to deliver what is easiest for them rather than what is demanded by the market. You can’t maintain a brand without market satisfaction. You can’t go wrong if you achieve market satisfaction.

But we can delve deeper into brands than that… For example, several years ago “Marlborough” was the 7th most valued brand in the world. Tobacco giants could have brought out new products to extend the life of the brand… not cigarettes, but other “Marlborough man” themed products… capitalising upon this brand equity and developing it according the changes in the market at a core product level – where the core product for growing segments was not ‘tobacco smoke for inhalation’, but (as a result of long term brand positioning) became ‘virile and manly country & western masculine image’. [For more on “Core Product see: http://www.launchengineering.com/ModelsLawsRules.htm, for more on “Market Segmentation see: http://www.launchengineering.com/Market_Segmentation.htm%5D

In summary, the commercial reality is that lifecycle is almost completely a function of competency of management rather than some ‘cosmic inevitability’. If management can identify and respond the change, a brand can live forever.

Ultimately, it is the 5th “P” of Marketing, PEOPLE, (in this case executive acumen) that make the difference between brand immortality and brand decay.