What Kind Of Customer Are You Targeting?

Not all customers behave the same way because they are motivated by different things.
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Cost-Oriented Customers

  • Focus largely or exclusively on the cost of the product or service, will want to get to discounts and prices very quickly.
  • See the product as a commodity easily substituted by a competitor’s product or service.
  • Want a favorable cost, either in terms of price, or ease of acquisition.
  • See no value in your sales force (and might even resent the time sales people spend with them).

Value-Oriented Customers

  • Interested in solutions and applications.
  • Put a premium on help and advice
  • Build relationships with suppliers that go beyond the mere transaction.
  • Want more investment of selling time to ensure that the potential solution is grounded in their business needs and issues.

Strategic Customers

  • Demand an extraordinary level of value creation.
  • Want to deeply leverage a supplier’s core competencies.
  • Build a bi-directional relationship to create a level of value that neither would be capable of generating alone.

Where many Sales strategies go wrong is when they take Strategic or Value based messages to cost-orientated customers, who then complain about complexity and expensive ‘extras’ . Equally, taking a cut-down offering (to get the price right) to strategic customers will alienate them for the opposite reasons.

The current economic conditions will encourage many suppliers to embark upon a race to the bottom, cutting prices and slashing services. If you seek out and/or nurture your Value and Strategic customers you may be able to avoid the worst excesses of price driven business.If you would like to talk more about how SalesPathways can help with your customer strategies contact us.

A Sporting Story – Tiger Woods Might Not Only Be A Great Golfer But Also A Good Guy

Winning is only everything when you care about nothing else. Just wait and see what life gives you when you stop winning.
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At this years’ US open Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate in a tense play-off. No real news there. What was more interesting was about the Tiger knee. Almost immediately after winning Tiger announced he was finished for the season and going to have surgery on a serious knee injury. Many people had sniped in the months beforehand about this ‘phantom knee’ believing it was a bit of kidology on Tiger’s part, when in fact he has been playing in some pain and at some risk to his chances of a full recovery.

Tiger simply said he didn’t want the knee to be an excuse if he lost, because Rocco Mediate had played fantastic golf and would have made a worthy winner, and nothing should detract from that. The interesting background to this is when he won his first major (The Masters in 1997). Golfers are a pretty self absorbed lot, when they finish a tournament they leave, only waiting around for the winners ceremony if they are directly involved. However, when Tiger went up for his first Green Jacket, there was one senior golfer who has stayed behind to applaud this little piece of history – Rocco Mediate, something Tiger has obviously not forgotten.

When Jack Nicklaus (by most people’s reckoning the greatest golfer of all time) said of Woods after he had won another major “he plays a game with which I am not familiar” he was paying him some compliment. Perhaps as Tiger matures he could also become something more than just a winner.

Empowerment: Getting Behind The Many Misunderstandings Of This Powerful Organisational Capability

Why don’t the people in my team show more empowerment? Why doesn’t my manager give me more empowerment? This common cri de coeur is often built on a misunderstanding of what empowerment really is about:
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  1. Empowerment is not a synonym for delegation. Delegation is about giving authority and responsibility but not accountability to someone. Empowerment goes a step further by ceding accountability as well.
  2. Empowerment is a two-way street. It can only be given to people who are looking for it. It can only be taken from organisations (or particular managers) prepared to give it.
  3. It is more about mind-set than technique.
  4. Empowerment will not work in a Parent/Child Culture, only in an Adult/Adult one. You cannot tell people to be more empowered; neither can you obtain it by constantly complaining about its absence.
  5. Empowerment naturally thrives where there is high ownership, because empowerment is a synonym for accountability.
  6. Empowerment is about wanting to take control of something and being prepared to own the outcome.
  7. It’s never about doing what is asked, but always about doing what it takes.
  8. Empowerment also thrives in values driven culture, because an organisation’s values create a ‘permissive space’ for desirable behaviours. Rules based cultures achieve the opposite effect, constraining people to stay within set boundaries.
  9. Empowerment feeds more empowerment, because extended licence is obtained through successful disobedience, or something we more commonly call initiative.
  10. Taking empowerment requires people to have ambition for their role so they can stretch themselves, to take more on, to show what they are capable of. People who only want to do their job will see the language of empowerment simply as a ‘con’, being asked to do more without any benefit to them. This also might make them more visible, which can be dangerous.
  11. Empowerment also naturally occurs where leadership is present, because self confidence and confidence in team members promotes the taking on of new tasks and perhaps failing before getting it right. Leaders constantly create opportunities for this.
  12. The same goes for organisations that have a coaching culture. A good coach will be someone who makes people feel they are empowered, because they will encourage people to believe in themselves.

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To summarise, empowerment is about a compact of understanding between the organisation and the employee. For a full definition of the term Empowerment and other Organisational Development terms click through to Predaptive’s Organisational Development Glossary. To contribute to the glossary or to talk through your particular needs please contact us.

Performance Management: Let’s Start At Your Beginning

Performance Management is a hot topic in many organisations as they struggle to define themselves as high performing businesses. The difficulty many face is that the organisation holds many different views about what performance management means and different parts of the business deliver performance management differently.
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This can mean that more time is spent discussing the differences and problems that the similarities and opportunities. Every organisation is on a performance management journey, the skill is in knowing where you are on that journey as well as having a clear idea of where you want to be.

A disparate set of current approaches may mean that some parts of the business need to take a different track towards improvement than others. This doesn’t signify failure and certainly shouldn’t result in mixed messages. By setting key goals and ensuring that there is a shared view of what the organisation aspires to in performance management terms, each area can move forward from where it is, at a pace that makes sense.

This careful assessment avoids a sheep dip approach which may cause frustration as well as prove expensive and ineffective.

Sales Management: The 7 Most Common (And Expensive) Mistakes Organisations Make When Creating The Role

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    1. Let’s get the hoary old chestnut out of the way first. Promoting the best salesperson in the team to be its manager. Sometimes works, more often doesn’t. Few companies actually think about the (different) competencies required to be a sales manager, they just hope ‘some of the magic rubs off’.
    2. Sales managers need to be full time managers, not having their own target. Their primary success measure should be the achievement of results through other people. If they have their own target as well, this comes first, for credibility reasons and simple motivational ones as well. Some organisations compound the problem by incentivising them more around the individual target than the team one. The reason most often given about why Sales Managers have their own target is that ‘full time managers can’t be afforded’. This contains a significant logic failure. They could be managing up to 6 salespeople part time, all achieving less than they could if they had a full-time sales manager, motivating, coaching and generally supporting their own sales efforts.
    3. Sales mangers being allowed to earn bonus on the aggregate performance of their sales teams. This allows them to carry under performers because the stars of the team over perform. All salespeople should be at a minimum 100% before their sales manager start earning (potentially significant) bonuses.
    4. Not paying a larger enough salary differential between the first-line sales manager and salespeople. The job has to carry real meaning; often salespeople don’t want the job because they can easily out-earn the management position on offer.
    5. Not giving sufficient decision rights/authority to the incumbent. The number of sales managers who are really senior salespeople with a title is significant. Everybody loses, the sales director looks like a control freak, the managers are undermined and the salespeople become cynical about who can make the decisions.
    6. Allowing new sales managers too much time too sort out under performing team members. We often hear of 6 months being given ‘while I review things and get to know the people’. Hopeless. In their first week (the year’s slipping by) the sales manager should ask for a review of all performance, the meeting driven by each individual. The manager simply listens at this stage, perhaps ask a few probing questions. If the poor performance is due to non-business related issues (personal stuff, health etc.), offer appropriate support. For business related short falls, ask for a timed action plan to get the performance back on track. Depending on the size of shortfall, set up progress review meetings, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Implement any required support, resource input etc. to underpin the plan. Expect an improvement in the next meaningful cycle, if there is none; increase the focus, moving towards more remedial strategies.
    7. Not insisting or designing the job to be field based. Sales managers should be in the field at least 50% of the time. The rest can be in the office/home. Only quantities and conversion rates can be monitored at a distance, QUALITY of activity can only be observed.

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    We hope you don’t suffer any of the above. Structured Training not only deliver industry leading Sales Management courses, but can also help with designing effective roles, and performance coaching sales managers to higher levels of success.

Why British Teams Can’t Win At Penalties

England football fans have long bemoaned the national teams’ inability to win matches in penalty shoot outs. Those fans will not be happy to learn that Open University (OU) researchers predict that Germany will beat England at a penalty shoot out in three out of four encounters.  This statistic isn’t based on the individual penalty taking skill of each country’s current line up, it’s a projection based on national characteristics.
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Based on Hofstede’s work on how national characteristics express themselves in work situations, the OU team spotted a correlation with penalty shoot out success. Teams coming from countries with highly individualistic cultures, such as the UK and the Netherlands do badly. That seems strange as penalty taking is intrinsically individual, yet it seems the amount of pressure felt by individuals from an individualistic culture is higher, and their social bonds and sense of group responsibility are lower, leaving them feel alone and stressed as they kick the ball into Row Z. It’s not Stuart Pearce’s fault, one-third of that overshoot potential could be attributed to national difference.

Argentina and Germany have for more collective cultures, placing them at positions 2 and 3 in the penalty shootout victory table, behind South Korea who have built an international footballing reputation on penalties alone.

Whilst we may not spend our working days worrying about tie-breakers in international football competitions, many people do spend there days ensuring that people from different national backgrounds do work together well and deliver results both individually and as a team. Understanding the basic drivers of how people view themselves and others in the workplace is vital to creating integrated, successful teams, and we’ve worked with companies in the UK and throughout the world to help their managers make sense of the international world they operate in.

Now if only someone could fund research to work out why Team GB looks set to win a disproportionate number of medals from sports that involve lots of sitting down.
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To find out how we could help you develop a successful team, please contact us.

What Does It Take To Be A Leader?

Many organisations are over managed and under led? Why? Often, leadership is the stuff that gets squeezed out by all the ‘management’ requirements.
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Part of the difficulty of leadership is that it is viewed as an attribute as well as an activity; this is the old argument whether leaders are born or made. We have a seemingly banal view: it is both. Leaders can start with some very useful raw material, great interpersonal skills, physical presence, and lots of stamina, to name some, but just as critical is what they learn and develop for themselves.

Below are some of our views to inform your own leadership thinking:
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  • We believe leadership starts with self awareness. You can’t effectively lead (other than in the despotic sense) with huge blind spots. Self awareness brings personal insight, which facilitates the skills development of how to bring the best out of others.
  • Leadership is about giving a sense of real purpose to what people are doing. It sounds a bit ‘pink and fluffy’ but without meaning, people’s work simply becomes transactional. If you are trying to engage Generation X you’ll know the problem. An apparently highly committed individual of 25 decides that they are going to travel, or set up something for themselves, or asks you why they shouldn’t be cynical when they see what your plc has just done with its pension scheme. People are looking for more meaningful answers than ‘Get on with it’ or ‘The money’.
  • Leadership is not about being liked but being effective. It’s about getting things done and about taking a firm position on debatable decisions. Leaders have to stand for something. They are not judgmental of people, but of poor performance, low standards and flaky values.
  • At the same time, leadership is about being comfortable with ambiguity and paradox. Not everything can be resolved, not all issues reduced to this or that, right or wrong. The leader can cope with this. Where there isn’t clarity of solution they can at least bring clarity of problem, and realise that binary arguments are by definition win/lose ones. What about a tertiary point of view? Some typical seeming contradictions leaders are being asked to ‘find answers’ for include; short term profitability v medium term investment, valuing our people (as a belief) v making redundancies, and consulting the team whilst being fast and decisive.
  • Leadership is about being pro-active, using expertise that adds value to what’s currently going on. That doesn’t (necessarily) mean just functional expertise, the turbo charged version of what others have, i.e. the best technician, salesperson, rocket scientist etc, but the kind of expertise that often falls between the organisational cracks. Teambuilding, coaching, facilitating, planning, organising etc. Credibility is founded on having stuff you give others access to. Ask yourself ‘What can I bring to the team?’
  • Leaders don’t value traditional status signifiers, position, job title, corner office, car type; they value the status of contribution. They seek out and attach themselves to people who are creating things, getting things done and are prepared (as they are) to be accountable.
  • Leaders create an environment and atmosphere where ‘doing the right thing’ becomes implicitly understood and explicitly acted upon. Team members have a platform of values and behaviours to build up and out from, whether official leaders are present or not. This creates the self-managing team, one that doesn’t wait to be told what to do, but gets on with it. When managers complain that their people are too reactive, it says as much about the manager as it does about the team.