Regardless whether the economy is recovering, or sinking in your specific region or industry, one thing remains constant: you need to drive up sales to boost your business.
While most sales people are valued for their assertiveness and action-orientation, sometimes it makes sense to stay calm and observe before making your move. After all, moving too fast and over-committing yourself in the market could drain your resources too fast, leading to wastage.
Hence, this month's topics:
This issue's main article is on "Zen and the Art of Sales & Marketing", and we will share with you some tips and insights on how sales people and business leaders can sometimes be more aware of their external surroundings and internal thoughts to achieve greater results.
Zen and the Art of Sales & Marketing
by c.j. Ng
Anthony was given the task of doubling the sales target of his region again this year. He has been doubling his team's sales targets consecutively for the past 3 years, that everyone thought he is a Superman.
Everyone, except Anthony himself.
3 years ago, the company Anthony had just launched a winning product that had a huge demand in the market. Prior to this, the company had very little sales, and was still struggling.
With the launch of the new product, sales shot up like a rocket. Anthony was part of the action too. After all, it's not enough to just have a winning product. Someone has to sell it too.
Anthony worked hard to educate the market. Soon enough, he had to build a sales team to get the product out to as many customers as possible in a short time. Hence, sales has been doubling for the last 3 years.
However, when Anthony received news that he had to double sales again in the 4th year, he's beginning to have doubts. He had built such a sizable market now, and to double that is going to be a lot more harder. Furthermore, competitors had also come in to his market with new competing products. It's not like 3 years ago where he had the definitive winning product without any competitor.
One thing is clear in Anthony's mind. If he merely repeated his tried-and-proven sales strategies, he won't be hitting a 100% growth. He might not even maintain the same level of sales results as well, and competition is fierce. He had to do something different, and unlike most sales people, Anthony decided to think and observe first, before taking action.
If You are Not Awake, You are Asleep
It is common knowledge amongst many sales people that the first couple of years in the sales job are the toughest. You start out without much customer contacts, and you don't have a customer base.
When you start making sales, you will also get more customers who could be repeat buyers, and this forms your customer base. The good thing about having a customer base is that you can have some peace of mind knowing that a certain percentage of your sales targets will be provided by your existing customer base. In some cases, some sales people have as high as 80% or even 100% of their sales targets contributed by their existing customer base.
However, the downside of your customer base is that it may give you a false sense of security, so much so that you may over-rely on your customer base, and not working hard enough to develop new leads and get new customers.
More importantly, if you feel too comfortable, you may not be awake enough to notice subtle changes that are taking place within your customers, or in the marketplace such as:
Hence, if you are not being wide awake in keeping your eyes open to your customers, your competitors, the market place and other factors that could affect you, you are in fact sleeping. And if you are asleep for too long, your customers will just simply switch and buy from someone else.
Whenever you feel comfortable about achieving your sales targets, you may just want to help yourself stay awake by asking yourself:
You can Observe a Lot by Just Watching
Being awake allows you to keep your eyes open to potential opportunities and threats. You still need to figure out how you can capitalise on certain opportunities, and resolve the threats you face.
One way of finding out what you could do next by watching and observing what goes around you. You can choose to observe:
The success of Taobao.com in China comes at the expense of eBay in China. Essentially, Taobao.com was able to win over a lot of eBay China's online merchants, thus making itself the bigger platform with more choices available for end users. It was successful in getting a majority market share from eBay China within the first 3 years of its launch, from 2002 to 2005.
Taobao.com started as an imitation of eBay. However, it had been keenly observing how their merchant and end users interact with eBay and itself, and was able to customised its user interface and services to enhance the user experience such as:
Legend has it that the home button of iPhones, iPads and by extension most smartphones and tablets got the inspiration from something unrelated.
According to the legend, the engineer who was tasked to design the first iPhone with no more than one button on the phone got his inspiration from the toilet. Apparently, he was finishing his business in the toilet when he flushed the toilet bowl, and then he realised that the flush was also a "one button solution" for the toilet bowl.
You could push for a half-flush, or a full-flush or even flush-and-hold. And if one flush does not finsih the work for you, you may need to flush twice. Hence, we get similar functions with the home button, whether we press once or twice to get us where we want to go on our smart devices.
Be an Empty Cup
While we could draw inspiration from just about anywhere, from our customers to our competitors to something that's totally unrelated, most of us either reject such observations as rubbish, or that such observations simply go unnoticed.
Some of the reasons why we don't learn from our observations could be:
Hence, in the case of our opening scenario, if Anthony were to make any attempts to try to grow sales by 100%, here are some suggestions on what ideas he could try out:
As the definition of insanity could to to use the same strategies over and over again and expect a better result, sometimes a touch of Zen in looking at the world differently and take some non-linear actions could produce some quantum improvements in your business results.
Need help in coming up with innovative and unusual strategies that could help you exceed your sales targets? Simply e-mail email@example.com or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.
Power Breakfast Hour: 18 Jul 2013
Zen and the Art of Sales & Marketing
How to stay wide awake so that you observe and take notice of the subtle changes in your customers, competitors and market sentiments;
How you can draw inspiration and find workable solutions by observing your customers, competitors and just about everything else;
What needs to be done BEFORE you can implement breakthrough ideas and solutions that deliver quantum improvements in your business results.
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Tips for Working Professionals:
Having the Winning Attitude at Work, and in Life
Recently, the Acting Manpower Minister of Singapore made a speech about work ethic. He said, "The best form of welfare is work, because the dignity that comes with work is very important. To be able to provide for your own family, to stand on your own two feet, I think there's a value that comes from that that public assistance cannot replace."
Being an entrepreneur, those words resonated with what
my values are, and what I personally believe will be
values that will lead to success, regardless if you run
your own business, or work as an employee.
Unfortunately, responses on social media take it that the Minister meant one has to work till he/ she drops dead, and that one has to end up working as toilet cleaners after retirement in order to support oneself. Some responses even suggests that desirable work is to have a comfortable pay-check without having to learn new skills.
There's ONLY 2 Kinds of Attitude
Generally speaking, we can catergorise attitudes in 2 broad catergories:
Problem-bringers are those who saw a problem, then complains incessantly about those problems, lay blame on others who (might) have cause those problems, and do absolutely nothing about it.
In a certain way, some political analysts believe that part of the reason why Mitt Romney lost the American Presidential Election of 2012 was that he complained too much, and suggested too little possible solutions.
Problem-Solvers, on the other hand, are NOT the Super-men or women who have solutions to every problem. Instead, they are the ones who will try to suggest solutions, consult with others to help get a solution, or at least get people explore ways to tackle the causes of the problems that we could not solve today.
Problem-Solvers are what we would normally call a "positive attitude" or a "winning attitude", and this is usually what we advocate as the attitude to look out for when we hire people.
However, personally I believe that this is also the attitude if one wants to get a better outcome at work, and in life. It's the attitude that helps us to pick ourselves up when we have stumbled, and learn from our mistakes or acquire new skills so that we can achieve more.
As it is, way too many people complain too much about their jobs, bosses, and yes their governments. While it's true that some governments are corrupted, some companies are dysfunctional, and some bosses are simply a*****es, you can choose to change them, or leave them if it gets real bad. However, if the attitude remains as the "Problem-Bringer" negative attitude, then you will ALWAYS face difficulties and obstacles wherever you go. You will also gain less support and buy-in from your colleagues, friends and family members in whatever you do. In other words, life will be miserable because of a negative attitude.
Hence, if you want to be happier or give yourself a leg-up in face of difficult challenges, sometimes it's a matter of adjusting your attitude. Even if you fail today, you can still stand-up and move forward another day. In the words of Sun Tzu, "If you can march 1,000 miles and NOT feel tired, you are undefeatable." Because your adversaries, be they people or circumstances, will have given up, but not you.
About Directions Management Consulting
Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.
In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia.
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Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Unilever, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Freudenberg etc.
Through collaboration with consultancies such as Forum Corporation, MTI, de Bono China, ProWay etc., the consultants in Directions Management Consulting have served clients such as PwC, Air Products, Evonik, Wacker, Epson amongst others.
Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.
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