Paul Sylvestre's Business Strategy and Marketing Blog

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.


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.


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.

  • 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

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Finding Your Own Voice in Sales: Rule #1

Rule #1: Be Passionate About What You Do

What if...

People pursued what they love; what they are passionate about, in their professional career.

Have you ever had that kind of a job? What motivated you? What kind of supervision did it require? Right. You provided your own motivation and supervised yourself.

When you are fully expressed, you have "found your voice". When people find their voice within the vision of an organization, executives can focus much less on supervision, bureaucracy, rules and regulations. In this environment, executives and managers can shift (if they know how) from managing people to leading teams. And this leadership is infectious. Everyone becomes a leader, not just the managers. That is, through finding their voice each individual becomes fully committed to the team and helps others do the same.

Is this possible in the sales organization? I think so. But it takes at least one good leader who is 1. passionate about what they do and 2. willing to help others find their voice within the framework of the team.

And then maybe I would stop seeing so many sales management books with phrases like "managing with fear and love". Instead, how about inspiring Reps to build something greater than what any Rep could do alone? Of course, you need the right people. You need Reps who are passionate about what they do and are excited about being part of something bigger. Yes, money is important. Being aggressive and competitive is important. But with a passion for the job and the desire for greatness beyond the individual, comes the added benefit of having an evangelist for the organization. And THAT is truly a convincing force and powerful motivator in the marketplace.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Harvard Business School Articles for the Week of 07/04/05

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

  • Should You Outsource Your Marketing?
  • Getting New Managers Up to Speed
  • Making the Cost-Migration Decision

Book Reviews:
  • Becoming a Strategic Leader: Your Role in Your Organization's Enduring Success
  • The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent
  • Innovation That Fits: Moving Beyond the Fads to Choose the RIGHT Innovation Strategy for Your Business

Saturday, July 02, 2005

What's In a Name? Sometimes More Than You Think.

Everyone's heard about the failed Chevy Nova automobile in Latin America (a.k.a. No Va or No Go). While very believable, it's actually an urban legend. Well, here's a real story (as far as I can tell) that highlights a potential pitfall for international marketers.

The marketing team behind Kelloggs' Coco Pops recently launched Coco Rocks, which, according to Kelloggs, is an exciting new jungle-inspired spin-off of the cereal. Unfortunately for them, they don't seem to have done their research. The new cereal brand launched in the UK earlier this year means something very, very different to some consumers.

Coco rocks is a term used to describe dark brown crack (cocaine) made by adding chocolate pudding during production. God knows why anyone would want to do that, but they do.

"You'd think people like Kelloggs would have teams of people checking new brand names out to see what they might mean," said a spokeswoman for leading drugs advice charity Drugscope.

Vicki Barton, a public relations spokeswoman for the cereal company, said the association was, "not funny - someone could lose their job over this."

The Coco Rocks concept was initially launched outside the UK without mishap. But according to Con Doherty, a writer with the London Line, it follows a number of international brands which don't translate well to new markets. Check these out for a laugh:

Zit Lemon-lime - Greek soft drink
Colon Plus Liquid - Spanish detergent
Polio - Czech detergent
Krapp - Swedish toilet paper
Homo Sausage Beef jerky - Japan
Mucos - Japanese soft drink
Pansy - Chinese men's underwear
Fockink - Dutch liqueur
Pshitt - French soft drink

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 01, 2005 Showing Some Growing Pains

How scalable is, really? While it is theoretically possible that information technology should allow businesses to mass customize products and services for all their customers, there are limits to how well technology can be leveraged to meet everyone's needs.

To illustrate the point, I share with you this example taken from an article in Computerworld.

"What once looked to be a marquee deployment of hosted CRM software at Cisco Systems Inc. is now the subject of a damning report from a research firm that says the project has stalled. In a note published on June 22, analysts from JMP Securities LLC suggested that a deployment of CRM software from San Francisco-based Inc. had been temporarily delayed. signed a deal with Cisco during the second half of 2004 that called for an initial rollout of up to 2,000 seats and a later installation of as many as 10,000 seats by June 2005, according to the JMP Securities report. But end-user resistance and integration challenges forced the deal to be renegotiated so that the rollout is staggered. Completion is now set for March 2006."

The moral of the story? Be careful of the hype. Even the best, most mass customizable applications have their limits. In truth, a company can't be everything to everyone, no matter how good the technology. Jim Billington of Harvard Business School argues that you can mass customize effectively for only about 20% of your customers. Personally, I am a bit more optimistic on the power of technology than Jim and think it is a little higher than that, but he still makes a great point.

If your company needs a customized solution, and is about to ink a deal with a vendor whose strategy is built around the concept of mass customization, check to see if your company has similar needs to that vendor's top 20% of customers. If you don't, and/or if your needs are clearly out of the scope of the vendor's core product (i.e. you need A LOT of customization), look for another vendor.