My name is c.j., your trusted Sales Advisor, and here's the October 2009 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter.
While we were having lots of discussion last month on Sun Tzu and the Art of Sales Leadership, many people were asking what’s the difference between a plan, and a strategy.
It’s also coincidental that some companies start planning their strategies now, and so this month’s content will be on creating winning strategies. Hence, this month's topics:
This issue's main article is on "The 3 Building Blocks of Formulating Winning Strategies", and it gives a simple yet practical approach to formulating winning strategies. Whether you are the CEO of a multi-national corporation, or if you are a sales manager figuring out how to meet your sales targets, there will be some ideas to help clarify your thinking, and act strategically.
The 3 Building Blocks of Formulating Winning Strategies
by c.j. Ng
With increasing pressure from the competition, the customers as well as shareholders, many managers responded with “We MUST implement a better strategy”.
However, when asked what exactly is being done with the new strategy, the reply is usually along the lines of “we plan to launch a new product”, or “we plan to have a new sales/ customer initiative”. Strategy seems to be related with some kind of planning.
More importantly, most new sales strategies tend NOT to deliver the expected results. Somehow, the managers either seem to miss some important ingredients, or don’t know how to mix the right ingredients with the right processes.
In any case, here’s a simple yet practical guide to formulating winning strategies. All you have to do is to master these 3 key building blocks:
The Goal, and How to Reach It
Whether you are hatching a plan or formulating a strategy, it all starts with a Goal, i.e. what do you want to achieve eventually. Before we even look at the steps on how to achieve this goal, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself first:
Interestingly, most managers blame the lack of motivation of their staff and team members when goals are not met. However, if team members don’t resonate with these goals, or in these days, they feel that achieving such goals will only serve to inflate the bosses’ pockets and not theirs, they won’t want to commit themselves to help you achieve those goals.
In short, if your team feel that it is your goal, and NOT theirs, they won’t make it work for you. This is not a New Age gimmick to motivate younger Generation-Y team members. Rather, making your goal feel as if it’s your team’s dates back 2,500 years ago in China when military strategist Sun Tzu mentioned the need to arouse your people so that they identify with your Goals. He called it the Way; in today’s terminology, we call it the Goal or the Vision.
Having asked the question “Why this Goal”, the next question will be “How are we going to achieve it”. In a nutshell this involves:
Some people set strategies and Goals so far out in the future that they could not answer the above questions. Without providing the answers, such “goals” are at best “hopes”, and such “strategies” are more like general directions. It will be difficult to get your desired results as such. But if you do, you empower your team to take the appropriate actions.
The Resources Required
Having passion and a drive to succeed is not enough to achieve your goals. You will also need to have the right resources as well.
In many cases, companies whose strategies fall short of expectations make one of the following mistakes:
The former tends to occur with companies with tighter budgets. Some typical incidents could be when a company is launching a new product, it tries to save costs by reducing the manpower in the R&D department, or cutting the marketing budgets. At times, when expanding into overseas territories, some companies even hire commission-only agents to develop those territories.
The result of such under-allocation of resources is simply there isn’t enough coverage in the market to get the customers to know you, let alone getting a significant number of them to buy from you.
On the other hand, companies that are cash-rich tends to waste their cash by spending them on resources that are not needed. Typical examples are the Dot.Coms in the late-90’s and early 2000, where I a bid to generate “eye-balls”, most Dot.Coms simply advertise indiscriminately.
The result is that the Dot.Coms wasted the cash which could have used in improving their product offering to attract steady revenue streams instead.
Is cash or funding the only resources to allocate in your strategy? Absolutely not. Here are some other resources that you may want to commit to make your strategy a success:
Ultimately, no company will have endless resources to allocate or commit to a strategy. You may want to prioritise what needs to be one first, and allocate your limited resources accordingly. Failing to plan, is planning to fail.
Responding to Customers’ and Competitors’ Responses
When you take action, there will be either positive and negative responses from customers and competitors. Here’s the difference between formulating a plan and a strategy: when formulating a strategy, you will have to anticipate what will be the likely responses from customers and competitors.
If you get positive customer responses, expect competitors to exert their pressure, usually by providing similar products and services. That was something Netscape did not anticipate when it was the leading web browser in the mid-nineties. It didn’t take long for late-comer Microsoft to literally drive Netscape out of business with the Internet Explorer.
Even when a new product or service fails, competitors can also learn and improvise from your failures. Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) launched one of the earliest and most ambitious Personal Digital Assistant (PDAs), the Newton, in the late 80’s, but it flopped. In 1996, 2 years before Apple decided to cease development for the Newton, Palm Computing launched the Palm Pilot, and it was a great success.
Whichever the case, you will be imperilling your plans if you don’t take into consideration of competitive pressure. Here are some tips on how you can counter-respond to the responses of your competitors and customers:
As illustrated above, you will need more than broad directions to formulate your strategies. You will need to gain insights about you customers, competitors, industry trends and even the mind-sets of your team to make your strategies deliver your expected results
Need more ideas on how you can improve your quality of selling, meet your targets and make your customers adore you? Simply e-mail email@example.com or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a cup of mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.
Power Breakfast Hour: 11 November 2009
The 3 Building Blocks of Formulating Winning Strategies
Join International Sales Leadership and Performance Coach c.j. Ng in this Power Breakfast Hour in Shanghai where he will be sharing with you how to formulate better strategies that will meet your expectations in simple yet practical ways:
VENUE: 567 Tianyaoqiao Road (near Xietu Road, Near Metro Line 4 Shanghai Stadium Station), Level 3, Senben Plaza, Shanghai 上海天钥桥路567号（靠斜土路，地铁4号线 上海体育场站）3楼 森本大厦
DATE: Wednesday, 11 November 2009
TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
PRICE: RMB 100 ONLY!
To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to firstname.lastname@example.org To allow more participation from more companies, ONLY 2 registrants per company are invited.
Have a Sales Problem that You Can’t Solve?
In case you have some challenges when handling customers, or if you have some issues getting your team to produce better results, here’s what you can do.
Simply e-mail your challenges to email@example.com or call +86-21-62190021 to let us know your situation, and we will give you some pointers within 48-hours.
It’s our way of saying, give us a try, so that you can be the judge if you need our help whether it’s in the field of consulting, coaching or training.
Practical Tips for Sales People:
Mind Your Gap
One of the biggest challenges at the negotiating table is commoditization. Buyers say they can get the same thing from the competition at a cheaper price and the price war begins – 3 percent here, another 1 percent there, free shipping thrown in for good measure. Why does it always seem to come down to this when your reps know they should be selling value, not price? The answer: they don't understand what Brian Dietmeyer, CEO of international sales consultancy Think! Inc., calls "the gap."
At its essence, the gap is what you have that the competition doesn't. And while most reps could probably rattle off a few items they believe to be their gap, the reality is that they haven't figured out, on a customer by customer basis, how they differ from the competition in a way that is materially valuable to each potential client. Your reps can bring real weight to the negotiating table only when they understand which of your offerings are important to the customer and are not offered by your competition.
So how do you go about discovering your value and defining your gap? Dietmeyer recently worked with SkillSoft, a global provider of e-learning and performance support solutions, to do just that. In a workshop with a regional sales manager and roughly 25 sales reps, Dietmeyer asked the SkillSoft team to imagine they were scientists comparing SkillSoft and its competition side by side. What points, Dietmeyer asked them, should a prospective buyer be considering and comparing in the purchase of an e-learning or performance support solution? The SkillSoft team came back with 43 specific, measurable points that included everything from breadth and depth of content to ease of integration to technical support and training.
Armed with its 43 points, the SkillSoft reps then worked on a sale by sale basis, asking themselves two questions: 1) Which points are not important to this buyer's decision? And, 2) Of the remaining elements, where are we truly equal with our competitor? What remained after eliminating the elements in these categories, says Dietmeyer, were two or three points which were both important to the buyer and capabilities offered by SkillSoft but not its competition. Bingo! Now the SkillSoft reps could enter the negotiation process from a position of strength and clarity. Or as Tom Cunningham, SkillSoft's VP of talent management puts it, today the negotiating process "strengthens our relationships with our customers because we're responding to what they want most by targeting our value to their individual needs."
Keep in mind as you go through your own gap discovery process that it is not a one-time exercise. "The gap is never stagnant," warns Dietmeyer. "It shifts with individual customer needs, who the competitor is, and your own offerings. That's why, to ensure it remains wide and deep, the gap must be continually monitored." Dietmeyer recommends creating a cross-functional team that includes product managers, marketing, finance, legal, sales, and others to meet on a quarterly basis and perform a gap check. This team should report to a VP or president or, depending on the size of the company, to the CEO. "They should be able to say, 'Here's what we've done to make the 43 (or however many) things more robust and here's how we've applied it to the three or four deals that are going to make the quarter for us," says Dietmeyer.
Once you go through this process and have a firm handle on the gap, you'll find negotiations no longer sink into price wars. Instead, your reps will be able to confidently state at the outset: "You need to come with us because here are the three things we offer that our competition doesn't and that are must-haves for your organization." Deal closed.
For more information, visit www.e-thinkinc.com .
Sales... ...the lifeblood of a company, a matter of "life and death", survival or extinction. Indeed, something that needs to be studied, applied and re-modified consistently.
Psyche-Selling TM is set up so that companies and sales people can make healthy profits and STILL provide genuine solutions to customers.
Psyche-Selling TM would like to create an environment where customers can trust sales people to give them what they want, and NOT be pushed with all kinds of products and services. In return, customers will become loyal fans of these ethical and professional sales people, and repay them many fold for the long-term.
Psyche-Selling TM will not rest, until the above is achieved. Not just in China. Not just in Asia. But everywhere where buying and selling takes place.
Psyche-Selling TM is a wholly-owned brand of Directions Management Consulting Pte Ltd that specialises in the field of improving sales performance by enhancing the performance of the entire sales team. Apart from the regular "selling skills training", Psyche-Selling TM conducts pre- and post-training analysis, interviews, monitoring and reviews, working closely with managers and even senior management, to deliver real improvements in sales leadership and performance.
Hence, Psyche-Selling TM would like to be known as the preferred choice of outstanding and remarkable clients, and pride ourselves as such. We will also be continuing to assist our clients achieve greater heights in 2009 and beyond.