Monday, November 17, 2014

Alignment: A Foundation for Lasting Revenue Growth

Your ability to win or lose more business is about alignment - configuring and calibrating key aspects of marketing and sales execution to optimize revenue growth. What this asserts is that the extent to which the organization consistently meets revenue targets is directly proportional to the degree of alignment between the organization's parts and its strategic priorities.Sustaining top-line revenue growth is an ongoing challenge for most companies. It's no secret that one of the most critical challenges facing every 21st century organization is consistently delivering against the #1 driver of long-term company success-top-line revenue growth. Over the past decade of working with CEOs to design and deliver better long term revenue performance, I've seen and see, that those unable to sustain success routinely lack much of a coherent or comprehensive plan. Moreover, their teams have little understanding of how it all comes together and what their roles are, and/or the sequencing of events in achieving future plans.When it comes to alignment, perception and reality often differ. That said, most executives think their companies are aligned. Over the past few months, they've put plans in place to align the organization and focus their resources to achieve maximum growth. They've organized a series of group and one-on-one meetings throughout the organization to communicate key initiatives, priorities, and growth expectations and get everyone on the same proverbial page. They sincerely believe that they are leading well-aligned companies, with all members of the management team and every employee clear on the rationale behind the strategic plan and their own priorities and accountabilities to support the plan, with specific time frames articulated.But the facts tell a different story.• 85% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy. (Norton)• 54% of executives say that company's capabilities do not reinforce one another (Booz@Co.)• Two-thirds of support units are not aware of corporate strategy or aligned with their own business unit's strategy. (Norton)• 60% of organizations don't link budgets to company strategy.(Norton)• 95% of employees claim they are not aware of company strategy.(Norton)It's clear that organizations may not have their resources as well aligned as they think. Managers would do well to ask themselves and their teams the following questions:• Are we all synchronized and systematically working towards the same objective-driving healthy revenue growth.• Do we know the big picture and where we individually and collectively fit into that process?• Are we clear on the critical factors that drive growth, there dependencies and that we've providing proper context for daily decisions being made in support of those objectives?• Will the cumulative decisions we make individually and collectively support us in reaching our revenue objectives?What exactly is alignment? Alignment means we're all on the same page, pulling in the same direction. All levels of the organization understand the strategic plan, the critical initiatives that will help to accomplish the objectives, and their individual and/or departmental role in achieving them. In my experience the most successful organizations have implemented a consistent framework for translating their strategy into well-defined initiatives across the company, in the form of objectives, incentives, time frames, and accountabilities for each department, team, and individual.

Without alignment, it's difficult-if not impossible-for workers in an organization to have context for the decisions they're making. Alignment and context allow an organization to move confidently beyond its current state to its future desired state.Alignment is such a simple concept; why is it so difficult to achieve? The importance of aligning the team is hard to dispute, and it seems logical and obvious. But when you consider that strategy is set by very few, maybe once or twice a year, yet the real work is done over a long stretch by many who weren't in those strategy meetings, you start to see the issue. The workers who ultimately carry out the mission have little understanding about how that strategy was reached, and they had no input on whether they think the strategy is plausible given the reality of resources, budgets, and competition they see out in the field. The result is that most do not have proper context for making good decisions in their daily work.When you think of all the possible decisions that are made daily, one or two bad calls might appear to have little impact in the overall scheme of things. Most leaders may never be aware of these tactical decisions, or only find out about them when review meetings take place after the fact. But collectively, over time, decisions made outside the context of the organization's overall direction will drive inconsistency and have significantly negative impact, with little opportunity to recover. This can result in confusion and unnecessary chaos, ultimately reducing the odds for success while driving down productivity and draining morale.Alignment can be the difference between business success and failure. CEOs struggle each day with new challenges and increased complexity both within their companies and in the external environment. The percentage of companies that have consistently achieved even a modest rate of growth of over 5% for 10 years or more has continued to drop, and the business environment isn't getting any easier.Why do some companies succeed where others fail? When you think about it, all companies have the same basic ingredients: unique products or services, value propositions, a marketing budget, managers, leaders, people, buildings, metrics, etc. But, within each organization, the system can't perform to its highest levels unless its constituent parts are aligned.Think of professional sports teams. They all have the same ingredients: players, managers, owners, equipment, stadiums, playbooks, the best athletes, etc. Each is a system that is trying to become more successful than its competitors. What brings success? Alignment of the constituent parts. This rule applies equally to championship sports teams, Ferraris, and corporations. For the latter, it means developing and implementing a strategic framework that is translated into specific objectives and measurable initiatives. This framework galvanizes, links, and governs the entire organization, bringing more consistent and repeatable high performance.Hitting your revenue growth expectations is proportional to your team's degree of alignment. What becomes paramount is how well the organization can become aligned in order to move faster, make better decisions, and ultimately win more than the competition. This will allow leaders to more successfully align and optimize the collective resources to achieve key initiatives. This is a critical step in becoming more consistent in winning more than your competitors and, as such, should be a managed and formalized process that executives focus on for the long haul.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Building or Breaching Trust: It Is The Responsibility Of Leadership To Communicate and Build

A coaching client of mine in a start up software company told me an interesting story the other day. He was looking for a sanity check on an opportunity that he was working on - one which truly needed to have value sold to the customer in order to overcome a large price variation between themselves and the competition.After months of working on a solution (in a sales leadership vacuum), he managed to rally both the internal and external stakeholders. With a solid, value laden solution in hand he went forward to the customer with his colleagues and management. In such a situation we would expect the leadership to have been engaged throughout the process and be up to speed on the issues and competitive threats within the account.We certainly would expect the leadership to clarify any barriers to closing the sale and to be prepared to support the sales team in removing these so that a deal is possible. However, that is not what occurred.The salesperson returned from the client meeting absolutely 'pumped' by the opportunity to win and to provide the customer with what they needed both today and into the future. As the Team worked through the items (the sales people, engineers, programmers and account representatives were all aligned on the 'ask' from the customer) they completed the re-write in record time. The Sales Leadership Team was not available to review the content as they were working on other deals (as often happens in a start up environment). Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the salesperson used initiative to acquire sign off on the language. Problem solved, right? Wrong.The Team was working with a partner company that owned submission of the bid to the final client - a health services/quasi governmental agency. With the sign off in hand they put forward a deal that was still more expensive than the competition but could be sold on value and positioned as a win for both the client and his organization. Part of this offer was to hold the pricing for new services (expansion of services) at the same negotiated price for the three years of the agreement. Since the software that is being sold is becoming a commodity that has downward pressure on the pricing it seemed like a win for all parties. Sales Leadership re-engaged and stated that they never intended to offer the client additional services (for which a follow on order is likely in the next 3 months) at the same price. Yet all parties (except the Leadership - which as you recall was sporadically engaged) remembered that the discounts offered would be extended to like products and services - especially since it was known that there were follow on licenses coming.

Instead of supporting the efforts of the Team, acknowledging her part in the confusion (due to lack of engagement and understanding the complete competitive environment), and using the opportunity to secure a win while also having a coachable moment whereby she could take the time to explain how she likes to be involved and why the deal might have been worded differently - thereby increasing morale and strengthening the relationship with the sales team - she forced the salesperson to retract the offer. Recall this was an offer signed off by the organization.Not only does this represent bad business (the customer will surely go elsewhere - or at a minimum place the smallest possible order), but the way in which it was handled with the sales person can only create a morale hit. Furthermore as salespeople discuss what happened (as salespeople do), the company (and that Manager in particular) will have real difficulty overcoming the perceived breach in trust.Perhaps there was a reason why the Sales Manager reversed her decision. Perhaps there were economic variables that the sales team was not aware of. Regardless the critical conversation between the sales person and the sales manager could have been handled much differently. It could have been the basis for a relationship of trust and respect and understanding.Unfortunately conversations and situations like this are all too common. Real or imagined misunderstandings hurt more of our opportunities and morale than anything else. It has been said (I'll give the credit to IBM Leadership Development since I remember the saying from my Executive training there) that people join companies and quit managers. While this sounds simplistic it is true.Be sure that you are attracting talent - not repelling it - as you interact with your Teams. The reality is that people will form, change, reform opinions of you and your company based upon the perceptions created by your interactions with your staff. It is the responsibility of the Leader to communicate and build trust. After all, a Sales Manager is only as good as her Team.---

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Top Ten Things Pre-Sales and Experts Do That Kills Deals

Pre-sales, gurus, solution architects, subject matter experts, wizards or whatever you call them in your organization, they are critical to winning complex deals.Many a holiday house has been purchased by a sales person off the back of a guru who wowed the client with their consummate mind-boggling expertise.If you have one, anoint their feet with ylang ylang oil and buy them the complete series of 'Breaking Bad' just to show you care.However, there are other pre-sales experts who, despite best intentions cause more pain for clients and in fact actually lead the client to say 'Nope... too hard, I'm going with someone else'.Here are my top ten things pre-sales and experts do that can kill the deal.1. 'Telling clients everything you've ever learned since you finished University''We know you have more letters after your name than a fake Nigerian Prince with an inheritance to share, but the client doesn't need to hear every teensy weensy detail on the origin of the technology, financial instrument or manufacturing process.You may think it demonstrates expertise. It doesn't. It demonstrates you're as boring as listening to their Uncle Bert's incessant medical complaints.Filter the content and only discuss the stuff that is highly relevant to them2. 'It's not a Debating Club'You may not agree with the client's views but it's not an opportunity to stand there proudly rebutting the finer points because you may be technically correct to three decimal places on software revision 3.0115.If the thing won't actually work, then you can succinctly guide the client to that fact but nit picking, pedantic points and correcting small errors on behalf of the client just pisses them off.3.' No, Nyet, Nup. Forget it. Can't be done'Really? The client seems keen on exploring a few options on how they might solve a problem only to be met with multiple forms of No.
You might think that there's only one best way to do things because you've tested it in the lab or for another client but there are nearly always more ways to address issues than you first thought.'I'm not sure yet, let's look into it a little further is much more likely to keep the client engaged than a flat 'No, that can't be done'4. 'Let me tell you everything that could possibly go wrong'We know you have to cover your butt and set expectations but telling the client you can't guarantee the solution if the wind's blowing the wrong way on a Wednesday or if they miss a deadline by a minute or they don't complete their side of things in time or if there's a nuclear explosion within 200 kilometres, subject to Wireless working which it often isn't, plus all their people need to be trained and accredited blah, blah.I feel like self harming just writing this.It's not helping the client. It's scaring the hell out of them.

5. 'Let's show you a 4 Hour demonstration''Come into our office and we'll make you feel like you've just watched 'Titanic' twice back to back including the Celine Dion soundtrack on repeat loop.'If you need hours to demonstrate your widgets, you don't understand the client well enough.Try more discussion, enquiry and research and less actual demonstration. It is possible to show how things work in minutes, not hours.6. Contradicting a colleagueWe know you don't want the client to get the wrong advice but when you blatantly say something like' Bob, I don't think what you've said is quite right' you become the married couple at the dinner table that everyone talks about afterwards taking bets on how long before the divorce lawyers buy new Ferraris.It screams no teamwork, no cohesion, no chemistry and no deal.If Bob is wrong, take him aside in a break or afterwards and let him correct the situation,7.' If I were you, I'd buy Solution X'The problem is you're not them. Clients have different prejudices, politics, budgets, perceptions and agendas.Just because you think it's great doesn't mean it fits the client's way of doing things.If that was the case 99% your clients would have Solution X, but they don't do they? Bigotry is death to many deals.8. Mitigated languageThis is the first cousin of 'Can't be Done'Phrases like 'hopefully', 'possibly', 'perhaps', 'maybe', 'might', 'potentially', 'all things being equal' and 'in the long run' fill the audience with as much comfort as sitting next to the smelly, fat guy on QF 464 to Sydney.Quite simply, will your solution do the things you say and deliver the results you're promoting or not?9. InterruptingKnock, knock
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow wh... MOOO!Nobody likes to be interrupted... ever... under any circumstances. The client is sharing their story and you get excited about an area that's right in your sweet spot.You've just interrupted them in full swing so they stop telling you all that juicy stuff about their business and for what?You then proudly share your rich knowledge which they might appreciate but you've only learned half the story, assumed the rest and now the momentum is lost. Don't Moo!10. Staying too longThere is always someone at the party who outstays their welcome. You've subtlely put on your dressing gowns, yawned five times, talked about going to bed and they are still sitting in your lounge room drinking your Johnny Walker Blue Label.Clients want you to visit for a while too, share your expertise, explore alternatives and see what you've got and then they have better things to do.Get to the point. Then, get out of there, Windbags aren't invited back.Experts who communicate professionally are always welcome.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Biopreservation Market Estimated to Reach USD 5.69 Billion by 2019: Transparency Market Research

A U.S-based market intelligence firm, a continuous rise in research activities in the field of biomedical sciences, rendered by the rising global demand for new medicines and medicinal therapies, will be one of the major factors leading to the growth of the global biopreservation market. As research activities increase, there would be an added demand for the procurement, preservation, processing and banking of biospecimen. This will lead to added demand for storage facilities that are adequate enough to accommodate the samples as well as to retain their stability. This will lead to additional demand for equipment such as refrigerators, freezers, liquid nitrogen tanks and consumables, along with media and laboratory information management systems (LIMS).Additionally, rise in funding from government and private institutions with an intention to boost the capacity for storage and preservation facilities will also help foster growth in the biopreservation market. Other driving factors for growth in this field are anticipated to be the rising awareness about general health, rising number of individual samples and growing instances of cardiovascular, oncological, autoimmune, orthopedic and infectious diseases throughout the globe.The report suggests that the biopreservation market, by product, will grow at the fastest rate in the segment of consumables. This will be seen as a result of the growing demand for cryo vials, cryo bags, gloves, cryo tubes and other consumables from the existing biopreservation organizations. A further growth will be achieved as a result of increase in the number of bio-banks and individual sample size globally.

The rising need for automation by storage facilities will allow growth in the sector of LIMS. This demand will be seen majorly from developed economies such as US, Japan, Canada, Germany and France. Demand from developing economies such will initially be slow due to the high purchase and installation costs of the systems, but will eventually grow with support for funding from government and private institutions.The biopreservation media market, comprising the two segments: home-brew media and pre-formulated media, earlier saw the dominance of the home-brew media segment. It is, however, estimated that the demand for pre-formulated media will rise rapidly owing to its rising demand and acceptance in the global market.By application, the biopreservation market, is segmented as biobanking, drug discovery and regenerative medicine. In 2012, the biobanking segment of applications ruled the market by capturing its major share. The same segment is also estimated to rule the market in the year 2019, according to the report. This is assumed based on the recent approval of new biobanking projects in developing economies such as India, Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil and many African countries.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Value of Relational Sales Team Building Activities

A new sales person joins the team. She is quiet and had worked in customer service before taking this sales position. Now, she realizes, she must talk to people face to face, demonstrate confidence and present a comfortable, working knowledge of the product. How does she sharpen the skills she needs to land the sale? By participating in relational sales team building activities.Relational sales team building activities allow newer and unseasoned people to become familiar with their co-workers and supervisors in a relaxed atmosphere. This allows them to:1) establish a connection
2) obtain valuable feedback about their sales pitch
3) get to know their coworkers
4) practice getting personal with an acquaintance in order to make the sale
5) pick up valuable relational sales tipsMaking the sale requires building a relationship with the customer. In the context of sales, this has to happen fairly quickly. The sales person understands they must become a trusted advisor at some point during the conversation. Naturally, the elements of trustworthiness, integrity, time efficiency and helpfulness help the salesperson move the relationship from acquaintance to trust advisor. In group settings, relational sales team building activities allow people to quickly practice becoming trusted advisors.

This happens because newer sales professionals are mentored by more seasoned salesmen. As the newbies watch, listen and learn from their colleagues, their confidence grows, they gather valuable information for their own pitch and performance, while relaxing in a non-threatening atmosphere. This sense of feeling cared for is necessary for their professional success because it needs to be demonstrated in the sales environment. Relational sales team building activities embrace the newer sales professionals and groom them for success through the sharing of experiences.In relational sales team building activities, especially with new teams, flowing through the tiers of connection in fun activities will help sales personnel. For some people, the actual sales moment is intimidating and difficult to navigate. Yet, you are sure you saw signs of success when you hired these newbies. If you want to build a strong sales team, invest in their success. Allow them to practice and learn from each other. This way, team members with low confidence can begin to gain personal and professional comfort through interacting with other members of the sales team. They will pick up skills on how to establish strong connections and become trusted advisors in order to make the sale.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Your Salespeople Running Out Of Gas? Supercharge Them With Neuroscience Based Sales Training

How Often Have You Heard Yourself Saying: "My Sales Team Has Talent, So Why Aren't They Hitting Their Numbers???"This is a problem that sales managers have been trying to solve since the dawn of business. You can almost imagine a merchant circa 1300 lamenting to a friend, "What stops my traders from calling on the bigger kingdoms and getting higher prices is beyond me!" This exact conversation is going on right now in the offices of sales managers and company presidents all around the globe. The commodity may have changed but the essence of the conversation is the same. What stops my salespeople from attaining the results I know they are capable of?According to David Stein, the CEO of ES research group, an analyst firm focused on the sales training industry, "American businesses spend over $7B a year in sales training and yet the failure rate is over 80%." ES Research's data shows that sales training has a motivational effect that fades with time. Stein explains, "Most salespeople revert back to their original production level within 80 days unless there is some sort of intervention that reinforces the training."There are many approaches to solving this problem, most of which don't work:Reward success: Vacations, money, and public recognition work for some. For others there is little or no motivational value. Beyond that, there is ample research that says rewards start losing their effectiveness the more you use them.Punish failure: This can be a great motivator for certain people, but overall it has a detrimental effect on the morale of the sales organization. And once again its effectiveness tapers off with repeated use.Upgrade selling skills: The sales manager or a hired gun comes in and teaches the sales team sales skills that they usually already know. On occasion something new is delivered that makes a difference. Sales Training does deliver a boost in sales. Unfortunately, sales usually slide back to the normal level all too quickly.Motivation: An impassioned speech from the CEO or a flavor of the month speaker can get the entire sales team fired up and ready to take on the world. Salespeople can usually maintain the fervor for days, sometimes for weeks, but eventually their fantasy collides with the reality. And the motivation fizzles out.External Motivation is Short-lived - Internal Motivation is PermanentOne of the key elements of sales training is its motivational effect. There are two types of motivation; external motivation, which is transitory, and internal motivation, which stays with you no matter what. Unfortunately, sales training delivers external motivation. It's no wonder that the "high" from a great sales trainer often fizzles out quickly. Furthermore, relying on external motivation means businesses constantly have to invest in ongoing sales training just to keep pace.
The key driver that determines sales success
Most sales professionals intrinsically know there has to be something more than traditional sales training. If we knew what the missing element was, we could transform training from just a motivational experience with short-term gains into one that provides a permanent change that delivers improved results.Salespeople as a group are notoriously difficult to study because there is such a wide array of sales methodologies. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Even if a company standardizes on a particular sales methodology, an objective study is still challenging because the individual salespeople feel more comfortable reverting back to their native sales techniques. This creates a mishmash of techniques within a company.Sandler Sales is a great sales training company that has hundreds of franchisees worldwide. These franchisees use the Sandler Sales system to sign-up new students. They also teach the system everyday as part of their job. They literally live and breathe this sales ideology. In fact, their commitment to the Sandler Sales System was so high they purchased a franchise ($60,000+). All of these franchisees are highly driven individuals who selling the same commodity, using the same methodology.A number of highly successful franchisees are very comfortable charging twice as much for the same service. While other franchisees feel uncomfortable asking for a higher price. Keep in mind all of these franchisees would coach their students to sell on value and get the highest price possible while being fair to the customer. This means that the "weaker" franchisees know what to do but fail to take action when it comes to price. This highlights that what's going on inside the salesperson's head (the human element) is more powerful that their sales skill-set level.With an empowering human element, a salesperson can attain results far in excess of what common wisdom would predict given their current skill level and drive. And conversely you can get a highly skilled and driven salesperson that gets less than stellar results because of a disempowering human element.

Sales training teaches new selling skills and provides much needed motivation to get out there and make things happen. Motivation can also temporarily overcome fear or inertia that hinders a salesperson's success. The area where sales training misses the mark is in addressing the human element. This is a clear case of 2 out of 3 is bad. As long as the human element goes unaddressed, the only way to get a lasting performance boost is to engage in a never-ending cycle of sales training.Understanding The Human ElementSalespeople are driven: they want to get better results, but sometimes it seems no matter how hard they try they can't break the bonds of their human element. The human element trumps skill and drive every time. For lasting sales success it's critical that we understand the human element.The first thing you need to know is that humans have several neurological levels. At the deepest level is where we hold our beliefs. We have beliefs about being a man, the government, about selling, money, and self-worth; there is a belief about everything in our awareness. Researchers have discovered we have anywhere from 50,000 to a 100,000 beliefs.Our beliefs shape our values, which sit on the next level. Values give us the rules of engagement that allow us to quickly navigate through our complex lives. These are the invisible lines that we will not easily cross.On the next level we have our capabilities, where we define what is possible for us to do or not do. A good example of this is where others can clearly see person X has the capability to do something (ask for higher price) but they can't even imagine it being possible for them (still cave-in on price). Paradoxically we call this prison the comfort-zone.The final level is what we are most aware of our behaviors and actions. We can see the results our behaviors deliver. If one of the higher neurological levels like beliefs is out of sync with what our sales training dictates we will not do that behavior. If we do attempt it we will quickly revert back to the old comfortable behavior."We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -Albert EinsteinIf you want to get better results, you have to change your behaviors. Changing behaviors is one of the hardest things on the planet to do, even if you really, really want to change. This is why sales training fails to deliver long-lasting results. In order to effectively change behaviors you have to go to a deeper level. The deeper you go, the faster the change, and the longer it lasts. In order to facilitate permanent change, you have to embrace neuroscience techniques to transform limitions in our higher neurological levels.Change happens in an instant!Change happens in an instant. People live under this illusion that change is hard to do or that change takes a long time. Another popular belief is that change is a painful experience. At one level, all of those statements are true because we try and facilitate change at the behavioral level."I wouldn't give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity; I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the far side of complexity"-Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841 -1935)Simplicity on the far side of complexity is where elegance resides. And elegant solutions are simple to execute and deliver extraordinary results. I know this sounds cryptic, so let me give you an example of what is possible when change takes place.I met Kim at a party where she told me that she was hitting a glass ceiling. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how much more training she received, she seemed unable to earn more than $150K/yr. All of her efforts were focused on changing her behaviors without changing her beliefs. She felt frustrated and stupid because nothing she did worked.It turned out that when she was five years old her father came home one Friday afternoon and discovered he lost his paycheck. That was the only time she saw her father cry. That experience created a belief about having to respect her father around money issues. Her father never made more than $80K/yr and here she was earning $150K/yr "disrespecting" her father. The old belief sabotaged her efforts to succeed.Using neuroscience she was able to transformed the old belief to an empowering one, the more I earn, the more I honor my dad. This new belief shattered her self-imposed glass ceiling that her sales career once again took-off. With the right neuroscience tools sales training becomes highly effective because the human element is addressed head-on. Bottom-line is with the right tools change happens quickly and permanently.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The 5 Worst Business Handshakes - Business Etiquette

Here are handshakes to avoid as they are seen as the most annoying and disliked:1. The Wet FishYou know... that limp, "sloppy dishcloth" type of handshake.What is says: the person is weak in character, cold in nature, insincere, lack of commitment.It can be due to cultural reasons - in Asian and African cultures it demonstrates respect. A firm handshake can be seen as offensive.At all times take the person and situation into account when shaking hands e.g. a young African woman shaking hands with an older traditional African male client - a limp handshake would be appropriate. The same young woman shaking hands with an older white male manager - a firm handshake would be appropriate.2.The "Fingerella" or Finger-Tip GrabNormally a female greeting -where just the fingers are given as a handshake. Women get it from outdated social expectations, when they were expected to shake hands softly.What is says: not interested in you, the situation. I would rather be doing something else-somewhere else. Also conveys weakness, uncertainty, and pretension.3. The Bone-CrusherA client once gave me the bone crusher and broke every nail on my hand!What is says: the person is wanting to take over, dominate the situation. They are insecure and trying to make up for this with a bone crushing handshake.What to do: If it's a colleague and you know them well make them aware of it... say "Ouch..that hurt me,your grip is far too strong."4. The two-handed handshakeEngaging one hand with the other person's hand, then placing the other hand on top, creating a comforting enclosure.

What is says: nurturing, warm friendly, endearing, sympathetic. It can also be seen as the "Politician's" handshake someone not to be trusted. Unless you know the other person understands the meaning of this handshake avoid it in business. Acceptable in the African culture.5. The Gas Pump HandleWhen shaking someone's hand 2/3 pumps is sufficient-avoid "over-pumping". This makes the other person uncomfortable as they don't know when to let go.What to do: Step into the person's personal space area and lower your hand - its almost forces an automatic release.Men to women handshakesMen don't be afraid to give a woman a firm handshake - as long as its not a bone crushing one. Women, shake a man's hand with strength, no dead fishes!The Correct HandshakeAim the web of your hand straight into the web (between your thumb and forefinger) of the other person's hand.Get the two webs contacting one another.Wrap your fingers against the back of the other person's hand. Two to three pumps.This handshake ensures:You get a good grip, sending messages of confidence and strength.
You convey warmth with a "wrap-around" feel.If you have no idea what your handshake is saying right now practice it with your friends and colleagues and get their feedback rather than sending out the incorrect message.Ensure you send out the best possible impressions in the first few seconds of interacting with anyone by giving them the correct handshake. Happy handshaking

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Need for Effective Market Positioning

Our observation of large and small businesses in various industries and countries indicates that most companies waste money because they work from nonexistent or weak marketing foundations.Marketing foundations, or fundamentals, are about differentiation, positioning, and focus on sending a consistent message to the market.The challenge for all companies, products and services is to stand out in crowded and noisy markets. The key to standing out is to be different in an attractive and meaningful way. The choice of one major differentiation factor is the toughest problem most marketers are facing because they all have a tendency to bombard us with endless lists of specifications, features and benefits (including the proverbial kitchen sink). They don't think hard enough about what not to say.Clear differentiation is, in turn, the key to successful positioning. Positioning is the act of imprinting a unique, credible and memorable message in the mind of the customer and to consistently work at defending and reinforcing this position.This takes time. The subtitle of the seminal book on positioning, published in 1981 by Al Ries and Jack Trout is: "THE BATTLE FOR YOUR MIND". The term 'battle' is a tad unfortunate because it suggests the possibility of a quick victory. Positioning is more like a war; it takes years. It's a long-term investment. Scan, in your own mind, the brands that have the strongest positive image. Most of them have been around for years, haven't they?The good news is that it is difficult to dislodge a category leader. Volvo is still the leader for safety, Mercedes for reliability, Rolls Royce for prestige, Ferrari for speed, VW for value, etc. The other good news is that, once the essence of your message is created, you can use it as basis for your entire market communication and quickly earn benefits from this important investment.Last, but not least: positioning is an art. It works better with the objective, external point-of-view of a specialist who looks at your company or products from a different angle and who brings fresh ideas. You need a second opinion like a doctor needs a colleague to perform surgery on himself. You want to avoid throwing good money after bad, don't you?

BASIC RECIPEAn effective positioning message has to be about half-way between your actual position in the market and the vision you have of the future of your company and of its products.To be memorable and effective, your message should be as short as possible, different, attractive, relevant and persuasive. So, it should achieve the right balance between facts and aspirations.Finally, your message has to pass credibility tests including:- Laugh test - if your claim is grossly exaggerated, implausible or unimaginable, it will provoke general laughter and you lose your prospect's confidence.- Yawn test - if your message uses conventional, hollow and boring business speak, you lose the prospect's attention and potential interest.- Blank eyes test - if your statement uses esoteric or fashionable expressions with obscure meaning, you probably irritate your prospect from the beginning.Then, your positioning message can serve as consistent basis for a series of documents such as:- Your marketing plan
- Tag lines and one-sentence statements
- One-page company / product briefs
- One-paragraph to half-page summaries
- Elevator pitches, 60-second speeches,..
- Website content (e.g. "about us" statement)
- Brochures, newsletters, direct mail, advertising
- White papers, manifestos, case studiesIn addition to its Sales Services, Sales Outsourcing | SFE, can help you on marketing matters, creating solid marketing foundations including positioning, and developing important materials and programs... to expand your sales outsourcing into new markets.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Competitive Intelligence for Your Business

Every business has competition and in many case executive leaders ignore competitors. Unless your business has an absolute monopoly on a life-essential product, there will be competitors offering alternative and substitute products and services. That level of competition is revealed in the competitor intelligence report. Competitive intelligence helps your company define and understand your industry and to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This includes the process of data collection, interpretation of the data, objective evaluation and dissemination of the data and defining productive methods for managerial decision making.A competitive intelligence report (CI) is an important requirement in any business plan because it (a) reveals the firm's competitive position in the "marketplace", and (b) assists you to develop strategies to compete. If you ignore or diminish the impact of competition, you will have an unrealistic and slanted approach to designing a strategy for sales perfection. The internet has dramatically accelerated the speed and availability to utilizing data and compiling a CI report. Do not fall into the trap of devoting too much time and effort to tracking this information. I have seen instances where company executive allot to many resources to this process thinking it will harvest a large reward, to the contrary, this exercise is designed to draw objective conclusions about the environment in which you operate. It will not provide you with detailed information on your competitors; only make you more aware of the environment and to avoid surprises by anticipating competitors' moves and decreasing reaction time.The success of your strategy depends on the quality and content of your CI report. This analysis utilizes the SWOT analysis as the initial stages to the process which will help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the competition. You will need to answer some basic as it relates to your competitors:

Who is Your Competition and identify the range and types of competitors that participate in your industry.

Categorize your competitors as direct, indirect, or emerging. Identify all the elements that create this unique profile list.

Finding your competitors is the easy part, you already know who they are for the most part and for those companies expanding into new product and business categories, there is a wealth of resources available.

Foot soldiers - your sales team, both inside and outside.

Suppliers who your company share in common.

D & B (Dun & Bradstreet) reports with a database of over 30 million companies worldwide.

Hoovers is a subsidiary of D & B which holds considerable information pertaining to public companies.

Patent databases such as Thomson Scientific's patent services or Google patent search.

Search engines, search utilities, etc.

Financial information sources (Company filings / public & private company data).

Legal documents - PACER (public access to court electronic records).

Newspaper and news resources.

Government sources.

Trade & industry sources.

Geographic / Country information & maps, satellite images, etc.

Trade directories.

Marketing research sources.

Legal information sources.

Competitive intelligence database software suppliers.

Other public information sources.

Analyzing your competition with the list of information you have compiled by populating data in a competitor intelligence grid (see below).

Writing up the results of your analysis.

Define Your Competitive Position, identify opportunities that were discovered and resolve any apparent threats uncovered during the process.

When we think about competitive intelligence, naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. You can derive a lot of information form these sites and you need to assign a member of your sales team (support person) to track your competitors on social media. It will provide you a wealth of information like who they are targeting, how they are interacting, if they are placing paid advertisements, and the frequency of their posts.In contrast, if you are paying attention to their social media presence, and if they are savvy business leaders, they are doing the same to your company. Pay attention to what is posted on your own social media sites and carefully monitor and analyze the content of the posts. The general rule is this, think about what you would say to an anchor person interviewing you on television, obviously you are not going to provide any sensitive or misleading information in this interview and you certainly should maintain the same policy as it relates to social media. More information on social media profiling, demographics and psychographics was discussed in chapter 2 under marketing.Competitive Intelligence has its drawbacks and limitations. First of all, you would most likely not take an automobile trip without a road map or GPS device, but let's assume you did. More than likely you are going to take a few, maybe even many wrong turns and even lost, but eventually will find your way to the destination. However, if you plan the trip in advance and rely upon past experiences, your journey will turn out completely different. The same is true in the process of gathering data on competitors, much of it could turn out to be useless and completely wrong leading you in the wrong path. A skilled executive manager will make decisions to eliminate erroneous information by pointing the team in the right direct and also disseminating the information to relevance and applicability.Conclusion: A thorough evaluation and competitive analysis will help you, your company, and your employees to grasp the intricacies of effectively defeating you're the competition day in and day out.Formulate a strategy to attain organizational uniformity. This is the concept of aligning and balancing the performance standards throughout your company. Organizational uniformity is based upon the assumption that all sales territories, sales and operating regions, and divisions operate in unanimity and consistent.A competitive SWOT analysis will help your company and your sales people operate with confidence.