Paul Sylvestre's Business Strategy and Marketing Blog

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sony's PS3 Strategy Against Microsoft's XBox 360

Sony may wait until 2007 to launch its next-gen PlayStation, depending on the success of Microsoft's XBox 360, According to the Analyst team at Wedbush Morgan Securities.

Gamespot reported that Wedbush senior analyst Michael Pachter set up the following scene for a delayed PS3 launch. It starts with the current-generation Xbox being priced down to $99 post-Xbox 360 launch, but no lower. Concurrent with that situation--an Xbox 360 at an unspecified price and the Xbox at $99--Sony would drop the price of the PlayStation 2 to $99.

The key point in Pachter's argument weighs heavily on what sort of showing the 360 has at launch. If the 360 tallies significant sales early, Sony would need to fire on all cylinders and get the PS3 into the channel ASAP. However: "Should Microsoft fail to garner sufficient software support to gain an insurmountable lead, we think that there is a possibility that the PS3 launch will slip into early 2007."

Pachter stated, "We believe that Sony will attempt to disrupt the Xbox 360 launch with a price cut, and as a result may succeed in diverting attention away from the higher-priced next-generation console." The redesigned PS2 carries a manufacturing cost of less than $99. At $99, the PS2 can be sold for profit. Consoles are usually sold at a loss, and that money is made back (and then some, hopefully) by game sales. So, Sony with its streamlined manufacturing and large game library could sit back and collect profits while building up a cache of PS3s for a later launch.

Ars Technica's Ken "Caesar" Fisher added to this analysis. Ken emphasized the importance that Wedbush also sees a potential for Microsoft launching without adequate title support. According to Ken, "All the console sales in the world can't make a popular platform, and a weak title list at launch can suck the air out of a room in a hurry". Furthermore, Ken reported that a delay in the PS3 could allow Sony to address a few other key issues. Sony is in the same boat as Microsoft as regards the difficulty of developing games for these next-gen consoles. More time should translate into higher quality games, and if Sony can afford to wait, they should. And Sony was embarrassed last year when they couldn't meet demand for the PS2. If Sony debuts the PS3 next year only to see more supply and demand problems, they'll lose customers to Microsoft.

Looks like a win-win situation for Sony. The PS2 is still a very capable system with a ton of really cool games. It still has a lot of life left in it and could easily throw a monkey wrench into Microsoft's plans for the Xbox360, which is vulnerable in the market due to its higher price and small game library. And waiting a bit would let Sony get its house in order. If it plays out this way, get ready for a PS3 launch in 2007 that is out of this world.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Harvard Business School Articles for the Week of 08/01/05

Harvard Business School released their weekly update. Articles and book reviews can be accessed below or on the right hand side of this page.

Articles:

Book Reviews:

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Additions to My List of Blogs That I Read

Thanks to Business Pundit for pointing out a new blog from Starling Hunter, a Professor at MIT, called The Business of America is Business.

Another really good business blog Business Pundit mentioned in a previous post (and one I also recommend) is Jeff Cornwall's The Entrepreneurial Mind.

The Blogosphere is increasingly being filled with junk blogs (blogs designed only to generate money, blogs that are no longer updated, unfocused blogs, etc.), and it is getting harder and harder to sort through the clutter.

Thanks Business Pundit!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Calling All Sales Executives. Time to Start a Blog?

Blogs started out as a form of personal expression; an online diary or cataloguing of one's experiences or ideas. However, with the growth and reach of the Blogosphere, companies and individuals alike are seeing the value it can have in business. In fact, for an individual, a blog's personalized nature make it an excellent tool for building your personal brand and controlling your online presence.

The importance of this can not be underestimated. A recent Harris poll showed that 23% of people search the names of business associates or colleagues on the Internet before meeting them, and 63% of recruiters are "Googling" candidates (Recruiter's World).

For a sales executive, this can be a great differentiator. Creating a professional blog to showcase your skills, ideas and personality that can help you win business. Prospects want to work with people who can solve their problems but also who they like and trust. A blog goes a long way by helping you to create a successful personal brand, being viewed as an expert in your field and establishing rapport with your prospects even before they meet you in person. It helps your prospects answer questions like:
  • Is this person trustworthy? Do I believe what they are saying?
  • Do I like and respect this person? Do I want to work with them?
  • Can they deliver on what they promise?

And since a good blog takes time and effort, your blog will show you take your profession seriously, going above and beyond what most sales professionals will do to earn business.

Read more about blogging for yourself and your career by reading this article from the Ladders (a job site), titled Build Your Blog to Build Your Career.

To your success!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Harvard Business School Articles for the Week of 07/25/05

Harvard Business School released their weekly update. Articles and book reviews can be accessed below or via the links on the right side of this page.

Articles:

Book Reviews:

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Lead Nurturing Programs for the Sales Executive

Startling as it may seem, research shows that longer-term leads (future opportunities), often ignored by salespeople, represent nearly 80% of potential sales. The secret to successful lead generation and marketing in the business-to-business space today is the process called lead nurturing, which converts more inquiries into qualified leads and qualified leads into sales.

For the successful Sales Executive, working smart is the name of the game. All else being equal, Sales Executives who focus the most time on customers who are ready to buy will sell more in a shorter amount of time. But without an effective lead nurturing program, the Rep can get stuck putting too much time into leads that just aren't ready to buy, or spend too much time using brute force cold calling to fill their pipeline; both always time consuming affairs with relatively low ROI.

The solution is an efficient lead nurturing program that develops and queues leads for the future, leveraging technology as much as possible to minimize one-on-one time that the Sales Executive should be investing elsewhere. And with the apparent disconnect between sales and marketing in many organizations, it is up to the Rep to develop and run these programs in their territory.

Brian Carroll, an expert in lead generation strategies, is providing a web seminar titled "Lead Generation for the Complex Sale". While the target audience is marketers, Senior Sales Executives who run their territory like their own business should see this as a great cross training opportunity.

Click Here for more on this exciting Web Seminar on Lead Nurturing.

Click Here for more on this topic from Brian Carroll.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Get those Referrals

I once had a sales coach who reminded me to always ask for referrals after a meeting with a prospect. It's a great suggestion, and it doesn't really hurt to ask, but I knew that most times this would be a Hail Mary pass. That is, chances were slim that after just one or two meetings, the prospect would be comfortable enough to recommend you to someone else, let alone give you the names of some of their most trusted contacts.

So what does motivate someone to give you a referral? In a word, it is trust. But more specifically, according to John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, "People refer businesses, services, products, people, movies, barbers - you name it - if it makes them look and feel good."

So to get quality referrals on a regular basis, it's going to take some planning. And you are going to need a few things first. Namely:
  • A product or service that delivers measurable value. This almost goes without saying. People are more likely to refer you if you delivered something of significant value to them. If you didn't, what's the point of them giving you a referral? In their eyes you can't do anything for their contacts.
  • A reputation of meeting or exceeding expectations. People want to feel that the people they refer you to will, if they buy, have a great experience like they did. No one wants to be the source of a bad experience. It makes them look bad too.
  • Time spent building close relationships and trust with those whom you would eventually want a referral from.
With that said, here are some pointers that will increase your chances of getting those referrals.

1. Identify those people (most often your customers or strategic partners) who have a good network within your industry and with whom you have the potential to develop a close professional relationship. Building relationships takes time and energy. You can only focus effectively on a limited number of these, and it should be those that will give you the biggest return.

2. Don't force it. Remember, relationships are a two-way street. They have to be open to it as much as you.

3. Make it a point of having regular contact with your referral network. Make sure that the product or service you sold them is delivering the value promised. If it isn't, fix it. If it is, make an effort to quantify the value, and put it in writing. Not only will this show them your commitment to their success and help solidify your relationship, but the exercise makes for a great personal case study and sows the seeds for future sell-up opportunities.

4. Get to know the people in your referral network at a deeper level; both professionally and personally. What are their goals? How can you help them outside of the product or service you sold? I've had Customers act as professional references and actually go out of their way to help me find a new job. Why? Because over time I earned their respect on a personal level. I helped them achieve their personal career goals and they wanted to repay me in kind.

5. When you think the time is right, ASK for referrals. Don't feel you need to wait for them to offer.

6. Keep the process going. People notice right away if you only contact them when you want something, and are much less inclined to help when you are not investing in the relationship.

These are obvious suggestions to most, but many people don't follow these basic principles. It's understandable. Anything that takes time and energy, and which doesn't have a short term return, can be difficult to maintain. A suggestion: make this a process and commit to it for at least 6 months. Write down your key referral contacts and put it up on your wall where you can't miss it. Then, start off by giving. Once every month or so, review your list to see how each of your relationships are developing, and take action where necessary.

Putting in a little extra effort now will pay off big in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Harvard Business School Articles for the Week of 07/18/05

Harvard Business School released their weekly update. Articles and book reviews can be accessed via the links on the right side of this page.

Articles:

Book Reviews:

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Top 20 Companies for Leaders

Hewitt, a global HR outsourcing and consulting company, has released its 2005 study of the top companies for leaders.

According to the report, the top 20 are:
    1.) 3M Company 11.) Capital One Financial Corporation
    2.) General Electric Company 12.) Whirlpool Corporation
    3.) Johnson & Johnson 13.) Colgate-Palmolive Company
    4.) Dell Inc. 14.) Pitney Bowes Inc.
    5.) Liz Claiborne, Inc. 15.) Pfizer Inc.
    6.) IBM 16.) FedEx Corporation
    7.) The Procter & Gamble Company 17.) Washington Group International, Inc.
    8.) General Mills, Inc. 18.) The Home Depot, Inc.
    9.) Medtronic, Inc. 19.) Avery Dennison Corporation
    10.) American Express Company 20.) Sonoco Products Company

Key findings from the study include:
  • Top 20 Companies boast CEOs and Boards of Directors that are actively engaged in leadership development programs and are personally involved in the selection, review, and development of their best talent.
  • Top 20 Companies more actively manage and develop their best talent compared to other companies.
  • Top 20 Companies differentiate themselves by effectively integrating and utilizing their practices to develop leaders in support of their business strategy.
  • Top 20 Companies formally hold their leaders accountable for the success of leadership programs, the development of their employees, and the development of their own leadership capabilities.

For more on the topic of leadership, check out the Marshall Goldsmith Personal Library on the web. It is chock full of useful information and articles on leadership. Marshall is a a renowned Executive Coach and Founder of Marshall Goldsmith Partners, LLC.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Harvard Business School Articles for the Week of 07/11/05

Harvard Business School released their weekly update. Articles and book reviews can be accessed via the links on the right side of this page.

Articles:
  • The New International Style of Management
  • Is it Time to Shift Strategy?
  • The Benefits of Business Process Standards

Book Reviews:
  • Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Practice of Leadership
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for your Company and Your Cause
  • Five Regions of the Future: Preparing Your Business for Tomorrow's Technology Revolution