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     With the under-performing markets in the US and Europe this year, multinational companies have put heavier emphasis on business performance in their China and Asia-Pacific markets.


    However, even here in China and Asia-Pacific, customers are either cutting their budgets, or they are postponing their purchases till a later date.  If they are spending any money, they are getting a lot more cautious and stringent.


     Hence, this all makes selling in China and the Asia-Pacific region a lot more demanding than what it used to be.  While this region may still be growing, making sales here today requires totally different mindsets and skill-sets to increase sales and profits when customers are cutting their budgets.


     We'll find out in this month's topics:

  1. How to Increase Sales & Profits when Customers are Cutting Their Budgets; and

  2. How Great Leaders Motivate Their Teams during Tough Times


     This issue's main article is on  "How to Increase Sales & Profits when Customers are Cutting their Budgets", and we explore what companies need to do when faced with customers cutting budgets across multiple regions and industries.


    In brief:

  • Based on a recent research by Huthwaite, customers are increasingly becoming a lot more cautious and stringent in their purchases due to the uncertainty surrounding Europe and North America;

  • Yet, many sales organisations and teams have yet responded to such changes and are pitching themselves as the best product or service provider, without thinking that customers may cancel or indefinitely postpone their purchases;

  • This is not to say that customers are no longer buying.  They still are.  It's just that they have become a lot more stringent in assessing if the purchase is a must-have or nice-to-have.  Hence, sales people would have work extra hard to prove that they are a must-have.  Read on... ...  


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     Now, even when the economy could be coming to a stand-still, there are ways to develop the leadership capabilities of your team in a comprehensive and affordable way. Click here to find out more, or e-mail for more details..

How to Increase Sales & Profits when Customers are Cutting their Budgets

by c.j. Ng and Asia Leap


     In a recent research by Huthwaite, customers are increasingly becoming a lot more cautious and stringent in their purchases due to the uncertainty surrounding Europe and North America.  In the research, the top 5 questions that business leaders ask themselves are:

  • Are there other places to cut costs that we haven’t identified?

  • Can we hold off on spending what we’ve budgeted for at least for another quarter?

  • Can we get by, for now, with what we already have?

  • Where do we need to focus our energies to increase revenues quickly?

  • We have to make investments, but can we balance that against revenue?


     What is not part of this research is if these companies are making money.  Well, a search on Google shows some conflicting pictures:

  • On 22 Jun 2012, the Business Insider reported that "Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low", BUT then;

  • On 8 Jul 2012, the Huffington Post reported "Corporate Profits Likely To Fall After Three Years Of Breaking Records"


     Whether profits are falling or not, one thing is certain.  Companies are still making money.  So if they are still making money, why are they cutting down so much on all kinds of purchases and investments?


     That's probably because of uncertainty.  In fact, so uncertain is the economy that there are reports that corporate profits rose 1.2% in Q2 2012, while there are also reports that showed profits dropped by 1.2% in the same time period.


     It seems like no one actually know if the company he/ she works for will be making money or not by the end of the year.  It may also seem that no one can be sure if he/ she can still have the same job by the end of the year.


     Hence, when things have become as uncertain as it is right now, many companies chose to stop buying or delay their purchases (especially new purchases) indefinitely, unless it's a proven must-have.


Selling Mission-Critical Must-Haves

     Hence, if we are able to understand customers' preference to buy nothing else except the must-haves, then we can look into what are some characteristics:
  • Price does NOT matter as much as performance, when it comes to mission-critical must-haves.  Customers simply choose to buy if they deem your products and services to be suitable, or they simply choose not to;
  • Customers don't just buy a mission-critical must-have from anybody, they only buy from trusted sources who will put their customers' interests first.  Customers would have to trust both the company AND the sales person whom they buy from; and
  • Customers will spend a lot more time, resources and manpower to evaluate possible solutions before deciding on a purchase.  They could eventually come to the conclusion that your products and services are NOT must-haves, and hence decide not to buy at all.
     As such, sales organisations and teams would have to adjust to new market realities.  This is especially more so in China and the Asia-Pacific region, where sales from this region are expected to make up for the short-fall in profits of other regions.  Some of the changes in mindsets and skill-sets may include:
  • A shift of focus on matching existing products and services to existing customer needs, to focusing on understanding customers' emerging and potential needs, and then come up with the right customised products and services to fulfill those needs;
  • A shift of focus from shorter sales cycles that is managed primarily by one sales person to longer sales cycles, with a lot of support for the sales person from various departments and levels within the sales organisation; and
  • A shift of focus from just being a provider of products and services, to becoming a trusted partner and advisor where the customer trusts the seller's Reliability, Relationship, Responsiveness and Resourcefulness.
     Yet, while the challenges faced by sales organisations and teams might be unprecedented, the concepts behind what sales teams and sales people can do to overcome such challenges have been around for decades.
     Sales people and managers have been going through numerous hours of training in these concepts, but somehow few have applied successfully, and even fewer sales organisations have undergone any form of transformation.

Transforming Your Sales Force to Win Over Customers


     To change a sales person's way of selling, the entire sales organisation has to change.  That includes the supporting functions such as finance, supply chain, production etc., who will need to be more proactive in supporting the sales team to win customers.  This will also mean that traditional reactive, back-end customer service and sales administration may be required to move to the "frontlines" to pro-actively serve and understand customers.

     As in any change initiative, the sales organisation will then have to instil in everybody:
  • Why we must change;

  • What do we need to change into; and

  • How are we going to make the change.


     Now that we know why we must change, and what to change into, we now turn over to our collaboration consulting partner, Asia Leap who has recently worked on real cases of sales teams in China and Asia-Pacific transforming to meet these new challenges successfully:


Case 1:  Multi-National Corporation (MNC) in the Chemical Industry


     An MNC in the chemical industry is facing new expectations for market expansion and revenue growth in the next few years.  Its management knew that in order to to achieve the goals, the sales force in Asia had to be aligned and ‘in-tune’ in mind and performance.  Thus it was essential to transform the sales force from a passive, reactive mode to a pro-active and spontaneous mindset.


     Supervisors and supporting functions also needed to ‘step-up’ to support the sales force in development.  Blended learning methodology was used in the design of the development, which lasted 18 months.  It comprised of modular development with assignments in between the modules.  In each module, tools and facilitation of personal leadership awareness, sales techniques and mindset adjustment were experienced by the participants.


     The supervisors of the participants, became their coaches during the period. They were tasked to follow-up with participants after each modular development, to reinforce learning applications immediately on the job.


     At the end of the development, both management and participants saw that the development provided ROI in several areas -- positive mindset shift, application of learning, team collaboration and contribution to better performance on the job.


Case 2: IT Multinational


     At the beginning of this year, a sales team overseeing sales in several Asian countries to small and medium sized companies began their transformation to match the growth needs of the region.  To meet the new market growth of the region, the sales team transited one of its team from a background sales support function to a frontline sales role.  It was desirous of having team development, to orientate and equip the team with awareness and changes to make in mindset and skill-set.


     The development process designed targeted the ‘soft’ areas of the team -- mindset, understanding of team members and skill sets.  The process did not address the structural issues, but rather, built on what was already present and reduced the need to create more new things for the team to restart learning altogether.  The organization also extended the development session to include selected distributors as a value-added and strategic relationship-building initiative.


     The team underwent a modular based development, focusing on mindset, self-discovery, the sales sales cycle and understanding what the market needs.  After 2 modules so far, the team and its leader applied the various skills learnt immediately, some of which were quick and easy to implement.  To date, the team has exceeded targets for the past 2 quarters, surpassing their revenue targets by an average of 35%.


Generating Sustainable Great Sales Performance


      This is not the end yet, as far as the transformation of your sales team is concerned.  Other areas that some of the leading companies have already implemented include:

  • Ensuring that the younger, newer sales people can stay in the organization, transit and learn from the more mature sales members in the company;

  • Learning from and avoiding the past mistakes that companies had committed in their sales team development;

  • The key elements to formulate an effective sales people development strategy beyond the short term, so as to take a long term perspective, etc.


     In other words, while the challenges could be tough and unprecedented, the concepts of how we could all over come such challenges have been taught in many sales training programmes for decades, but then again, sales training could sometimes be a waste of time and money if the trainees don't apply what is learnt.


     The cases that we have showcased here points to a path where the entire sales organisation buys in to the transformations that are required of them, and all levels and departments work together to implement an sustainable sales people development strategy that increase sales and profits even when customers are cutting their budgets.


     Need help in formulating your sales people development strategy, so that you can increase sales and profits even when customers are cutting their budgets?  Simply e-mail or 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: 21 Sep 2012

How to Increase Sales & Profits when Customers are Cutting their Budgets

  • What changes sales teams and sales people must make when customers choose to buy ONLY the must-haves, and nothing else;
  • What are the growing trends in sales teams development in this region, and what are the implications for companies, business leaders and HR;
  • How do we ensure that the younger, newer sales people can stay in the organisation, transit and learn from the more mature sales members in the company;
  • What can we learn from past mistakes and implement an effective and sustainable sales strategy to meet challenges in the market;
  • What are key elements to formulate an effective sales people development strategy beyond the short term, to take a long term perspective

VENUE:  Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 •  番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Friday, 21 Sep 20122

TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.



     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 tons to


     Pls. check out our web sites and for more inspiration.

Upcoming Events


     In case you'd like to know what other public events we have, here's a snapshot of what's coming:


    • 5 Creative Ways to Boost Morale and Improve Employee Engagement through Your Annual Party (Chinese)  《年会策划的5大创意》 18 Sep 2012 (Shanghai)

    • How Great Companies like IBM & Microsoft Motivate Their Teams during Tough Times (Chinese) 《如何在艰难困苦的时候激励团队以达致骄人绩效 19 Sep 2012 (Wuxi)

    • How to Increase Sales & Profits when Customers are Cutting their Budgets (English) 
      在客户削减预算时候增加销售额与盈利》 21 Sep 2012 (Shanghai)

    • How to Optimise the ROI of Your Sales Training through Action Learning (Chinese)
      《如何通过行动学习法以优化你的销售培训的投资回报》 21 Sep 2012 (Shanghai)

    • Are You a Manager or a Leader (English)
      《你是经理还是领导》 12 Oct 2012 (Shanghai)


     Simply e-mail your enquiries to to or call +86-21-6219 0021 for enquiries. Sample video and audio recordings available upon requests.

Tips for Managers:

How Great Leaders Motivate Their Teams during Tough Times


By Mark Murphy

Founder and CEO, Leadership IQ

Edited by c.j. Ng,

Master Trainer, Asia, Leadership IQ


Every organization is going to go through tough times, but it doesn’t have to be a cataclysmic tough time to want to know how to keep people energized and engaged.  It could be a restructuring, it could be a new change initiative, or you could be implementing a major IT system.  It doesn’t have to be a major recessionary period or giant merger; it could be something smaller. Whatever the situation, any time there is stress it is going to impact the organization.  It doesn’t have to be a giant stressor for people to feel it as stress.

We conducted a study that found that the tougher the times get, the more unproductive people become. Specifically, we studied about 6,400 people.  We measured them over the course of several years, both in good times and bad times, and looked at how much time they were wasting per day.  Because we’re a research company, people trusted us and were very honest about how much time they wasted.  We found that when times were good (according to the general economic state), and people were feeling more optimistic about things, they were wasting a smaller amount of time per day.


However, when times got stressful (in our study it was a negative change in the overall economic climate) the amount of time people were wasting per day went up by about 44%.  The more people were stressed about the world around them, about whether or not they were going to have a job, make their mortgage payment, if the country was entering a recession, the more time they wasted thinking about the bad things in the world.


During tough times, 71% of managers say, “I am communicating confidence in my people. I am communicating to them that I know they can overcome this.”


While that is good, the problem is that only 18% of their employees say that the manager is actually communicating those expectations.


Keep that in mind, most managers are better at communicating negative feelings than positive ones.  And, most managers and leaders don’t do enough checks as to the message they think they are communicating and also what message is being received.  That’s the subtle twist to this.  It’s one thing for you to assess yourself; it’s another to ask whether that message is being received in the way you intend.

Here’s another self-test you can do on the “me” side of the equation.  These five questions tackle our mindset or predisposition to want to acknowledge that tough times exist, but still approach it with confidence and hope.

  1. Do I get excited when people rely solely on me to get things done?

  2. Do I believe that I have control over my professional success?

  3. Do I believe that a problem has at least one solution?

  4. Am I known for challenging the status quo?

  5. Do I get excited when I’m given a really difficult problem to solve?

These questions start to get at whether or not we embrace tough times, do we acknowledge it, and does it excite us?  Does it make us feel good?  Do we see this as a wonderful opportunity, or do we look at this as an inherently bad thing?


Another critical and related issue is how we’re setting targets, and how we’re setting the goals that we’re going to need to overcome these tough times.  We’re not just going to sit back and let the tough times wallow all over us.  We’re going to figure out how to divvy up our work and break it into bite sized chunks so that we can get things done and overcome these tough times.


People tend to get motivated by goals that have a roughly 50/50 chance of success.  If you give people work that is too easy, not challenging enough and with a high chance of success, it’s not very motivating because achievement is a foregone conclusion.  By contrast, if you give them something that overwhelms them so much, with something that is so hard to do and requires so much work that there is no chance that they can complete it and has only a 10% chance of success, then that also isn’t motivating because failure is a foregone conclusion.


One of the things that happens when we go through tough times is we start to see some people reacting with denial, some start blaming each other, some make excuses, some get anxious, some freeze, and some (a smaller number) become accountable.  We have to deal with this and can do so with conversation. Leaders have a huge impact on the extent to which folks embrace accountability.  But, we do need to understand that there tends to be a very natural staging and system of reactions as we go through tough times.


Ultimately, as leaders, we’re going to have four simple conversations that can help people move through these various phases.  As long as you understand that this is the basic flow that people will often work through. In other words, not everybody is going to start at denial, some may start at excuses and work their way up.  Some may start at anxiety or blame.  But, as long as we understand that this is the basic flow, and you are going to have people in each of these categories, you can handle it when you hear denial, blame, excuses, etc.

One other key point about this, and that is that the reason we’re going to have these conversations, and the reasons we’re going to tackle this biologically, is that behaviour drives attitude.


It is going to be very difficult for you to change the attitudes of the people around you.  What you can do, however, is change your behaviour and change their behaviour by changing the dynamics in the conversation.  This is where attitude change comes from.  You’re not going to climb inside their head and magically alter their personality.  But, what you can do is change some of the language you use to begin to have a radical impact on their attitude because what you are doing is, by de-facto, altering and changing their behaviour.  That is what’s going to ultimately change their mindset and make them much more comfortable and able and accountable and much more ready to deal with the tough times around them.

If you would like to get the eLearning material on "Motivating during Hard Times " and 39 other eLearning topics by Leadership IQ, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001

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. is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.


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.


Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail or visit


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