Managing Against All Odds


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The challenges and problems encountered by management with business, marketing and sales

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Managing Against All Odds

  1. 1. MANAGING Against All odds MANAGING MANAGING Against All Odds Copyright © 2009-2010 by Engago Technologies Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from Engago Technologies Ltd., except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 1
  2. 2. MANAGING Against All odds Contents Introduction 3 Watch out when your competitor loses steam 3 Your competitor isn’t your main competitor 4 When your main competitor gets acquired 5 Why you should not listen to your customers 6 Kill the sales hero – praise the sales team instead 8 The origin of leads is worth knowing 9 Morphing from a project to a product company is a challenge 10 The management of an accidental one hit wonder company 11 Prepare your salesmen for the market shifts! 13 18 Reasons salesmen are quitting the company (how bad this is) 14 If the customer has more interest in you than in your products 15 Successful companies: innovation or good decisions? 16 Conversion rate is influenced by pricing on your B2B website 17 The biggest competitor for any CRM is the spreadsheet 19 How to get the real customer experience: buy your own product 21 The importance of the url branding value is evaporating 22 Saas chops up the B2B complex sale in smaller buying decisions 23 Increase your sales with fewer products in your offering 24 The 10 Commandments of Email Replying 25 Selling the Going Green: only with a benefit 28 The Curse of the Market Leader 29 Business is going fine! Says the CEO – Don’t believe it 30 The 14 reasons for not killing or acquiring your last competitor 31 Blogging is like cooking for your family – everyday 32 The most important job: Getting invoices paid 34 The Entrepreneur vs The Venture Capitalist Paid Job Man 34 Confusing your customers and leads by offering more services 35 Differentiate or Die? Not! 37 Who are the best: the big invoice or the engaged customers? 39 The next generation of CRM: data source instead of data entry 40 Will a booth on a conference generate enough quality leads? 41 Which of these 10 marketing challenges applies to you? 43 The 2 most important departments in any company 45 In der Beschraenkung zeigt sich erst der Meister – Less is more 46 The worst service pricing: “Unlimited use” 47 The Good, The Bad and The Ugly salesman 48 Against all odds: Benefit perception versus disadvantages 49 Concerning LEADSExplorer 51 The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 2
  3. 3. MANAGING Against All odds Introduction: This “MANAGING Against All Odds” represents the many challenges managers encounter and is based on several experiences in company management over many years in different markets. If you are in management, marketing or sales you will recognize situations and learn about certain tactics and strategies. Watch out when your competitor loses steam Since years you have been fighting your main competitor on: - Products - Services - Pricing - After sales service - Marketing events It was a neck to neck race or even a cut-throat competition turning in advance for them in most cases. However since a few months it seems you are winning easily deals that previously would have been won by the competitor. The reason of change You need to know why this sudden change: - New management - End-of-life products - Pricing issues due to technology lagging behind - Change of focus to other products or services - Underpaid sales men - Changed commission schemes - Reorganization - Acquisition ahead - Change of technology The main thing you need to find out is if the cause related to: - Their internal affairs - Management vision or focus changes - Management anticipation for yet-to-come changes - External causes: Market changes or Technology advancements Maybe the company management of your competitor has already anticipated on an external fact or developments that will hit your market soon. These type of changes could make your products or solutions almost obsolete overnight. You have to find out if the change or the reason of change of your competitor could be a threat to your company or market soon. Don’t cheer – Watch out instead Don’t cheer and consider yourself as the Master of the Universe when overnight you The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 3
  4. 4. MANAGING Against All odds start to win market share without making any significant changes. Instead be careful and investigate if your main competitor all of a sudden decreases fighting for deals as their might be a bigger problem lurking around that just might change your market. Your competitor isn’t your main competitor The main competitor: The main competitor for: - Coca Cola isn’t Pepsi but water, tea, nimbupani and Pepsi - Vittel isn’t Evian, but tap water - ABInbev (Anheuser-Busch InBev) isn’t Heineken, but wine - Visa isn’t Mastercard or American Express but cash - Newspapers isn’t Google but Twitter, Facebook or the web as a whole - Microsoft isn’t Google or Open Source but pirated software and older Microsoft software - Banks in BRIC and emerging countries it isn’t the other bank, but the un-banked people - Many software solutions are pen and paper. The unmarketed market You nearest competitors aren’t always the other leading brands but often the replacement products that are in place since ever. The biggest challenge is to get people move from a certain solution or service to an innovative or new solution. Once people are convinced of products or services then they have taken the big step. Now as these newly acquired customers have gotten used to these services, the competition between brand competitors will start. They might shop around in case better deals or more features are offered. Two competitors is a market – just like two is a crowd In any market it is always better to compete with several competitors instead being sole in this market. In that case you need to ask yourself if there is a real market and a market demand. Together with your competitors you will send more marketing messages to the potential buyers and you will create more interest than alone. The competition creates interest. People like to compare between products or solutions. Alone is alone – Two is a crowd. You have to investigate into your direct competitors. However you should look beyond them and try to obtain a picture of the entire market or the problem that you are solving The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 4
  5. 5. MANAGING Against All odds Who are you really competing with ? What is the problem that you are solving ? What competition are you really in ? When your main competitor gets acquired When your main competitor gets acquired you probably should be happy about it. Instead of becoming a bigger threat your competitor is likely to become less threatening – at least for the first couple of years. Executives – Management If a company gets acquired the main objective of all CxO’s, VP’s, directors and managers of the company is not to increase or improve business, but to keep their job and position. Some might even hope getting a better position or more power. For every CxO, VP, director and manager in the company there is at least one person having a similar function in the acquiring company. The battle of survival will start as soon as the acquisition negotiations start. Internal politics and shifts of power will make executives and managers spending their time on internal matters. Politics, perception, image and status become more important than achievements or business. Wasting time and money After an acquisition the two companies need to unify in products and solutions. Time and money will be wasted in meetings, forecasts, budgets and reports on products or services, business plans and human resources. Once the new visions and plans for the future have been agreed upon (if ever) and laid out, then this vision or message needs to be shared and explained to the employees of both companies. Next the market with potential customers needs to be informed, educated or ‘brainwashed’ with marketing. During all this wasting of time and money, the existing marketing spending of both companies will keep on being executed not having a unified or complete fitting message. The main change executed is the new logo or a mention of the acquiring company next to the brand name of the company. Less business – more internal affairs Thus instead of doing business, the newly emerged company will need to spend a lot of time and money on: - Their internal affairs - Their execs, managers and employees will waste efforts on politics - Defining a plan for the future The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 5
  6. 6. MANAGING Against All odds - Laying off excess personnel - Informing and motivating the employees - Laying off (excess) employees - Unifying the company cultures (or not) - Building branding awareness the new company to the market and potential customers In most cases these matters and issues will take a few years. Window of opportunity In case your main competitor gets acquired, you have a window of opportunity of a few years for expanding your market presence and market share, while your competitor is fighting internal struggles instead of doing business. Your actions during this window of opportunity can be: - Increase your marketing spending - Hire salesmen from the company: promising them stability and income - Sign-up their resellers or partners: stability, continuity of products and support - Go after their customers: better service – better customer relation After this window of opportunity time has elapsed, you need to be prepared for fierce competition. However in some cases the new competitor starts to focus on another market segment: typically high-end as more operational or overhead costs need to be carried. The best thing to happen is when the acquisition was a bridge to far: too complex, too different culture, too different products, too big, too different business, … your window of opportunity continues. Is your competitor becoming an acquisition target? Why you should not listen to your customers Is their feedback relevant ? Before releasing a new product into production / operation or during the life cycle of a product or solution it is common to ask your users / customers feedback in order to improve the service or product. Product management of companies ask for suggestions, defects, errors, improvements, features and ideas in order to have a feel of the issues, adoption and the acceptance of a product or solution in order to be prepared for the ever changing market demand. The question is whether the feedback is relevant and representative for you population of customers. Those people that provide feedback are probably those who are the most negative, the most difficult, the most positive or the best outspoken of your customers. The people at the extremities of your user population will give you feedback. The average user, who might currently be happy with your solution, finds the balance The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 6
  7. 7. MANAGING Against All odds between functions / features and the complexity to use just adequate or ideal Those who don’t give any feedback just stay quiet and some might even quietly change vendor without letting you know. Biased feedback requires interpretation and relevancy There will be always customers challenging you with their negative feedback in order to get lower pricing, recognizable by their threatening to change vendor. Others will write a feedback because they have a very specific need, not applicable for the rest of your user community. Any feedback can be very biased for various reasons as they all have another agenda than you. You should find out or know the real motivators of the people giving feedback. If you pay or reward people for their feedback, then your information can be completely fake. Feedback from your customers is to be handled carefully, needing interpretation and relevancy before taking the decision to launch into a redesign of your product or solution as your average user is not the one making the most noise or speaking the loudest. Any redesign based upon the loudest speakers only could define a product no longer suited for your main market of average users. Observe the behavior instead In order to obtain feedback the behavior of your users with the application or appliance should be investigated and observed. The goal is to find out what users actually do with the product or solution and what they don’t do or identify the feature they don’t use. Just asking for feedback and suggestions will project a very biased image of your product or solution. Feedback can be and is in most cases biased. In the behavior the real and true feedback is embedded. Hence you should observe your customers and not listen to your customers in order to avoid biased feedback that can or will lead to biased conclusions bringing the wrong products or solutions to the market. What are the motivators for you to give feedback ? The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 7
  8. 8. MANAGING Against All odds Kill the sales hero – praise the sales team instead When a sales deal gets closed it is always the salesman who gets the applause and the commission. Especially when he has closed a big deal he becomes the sales hero of the company. A sales team achievement In reality in most cases sales deals are team work, especially with larger deals. Not only the salesman has worked to obtain the win, but the sales secretary, the sales engineer, the pre-sales engineer, the marketing team. All have brought their contribution to the deal. Even a seemingly unimportant telephone call or statement from one of the team members can have induced the shift towards the decision in favor of the company. As an example: the receptionist picking up the telephone faster and dispatching the incoming telephone efficiently to the appropriate person, can be one of the decisive reasons if the competitor isn’t picking up the phone. Probably it is hard to pinpoint exactly what has made the decision makers to change their mind or to elect the solution. In most cases it is the total of all efforts of the entire team that has made it possible to close the sale. The best salesman of the year is not alone Still in many companies the best salesman of the month, quarter or year gets his picture in the entrance hall after getting his award during a company event. It is the cult of the person and personality. Maybe the community just needs heroes and wants to worship heroes. This need for stardom is achieved by defining the sales hero. However all the other employees involved might just get frustrated and lacking motivating by not getting the attention, reward and status. Even if the sales hero during his speech thanks his collaborators or sales team, as it is he who walks away with the bonus and the status. In reality there is no sales hero as he works in a team and needs the team. Instead the sales team should be praised and cheered. Did you ever received salesman of the year award? Are you still proud of this achievement? The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 8
  9. 9. MANAGING Against All odds The origin of leads is worth knowing Do you know where your leads and customers are coming from? How did they find your company or products? How did they end up contacting your salesmen or sales team? What was the first contact or who established the first contact? You should ask your salesmen, sales team and marketing how leads have really found your company or products. Asking leads and customers directly would even be better. The CEO prejudice of leads origin Most CEO’s and managers make many assumptions and take for granted what they believe is the truth. They have a certain prejudice: like they believe leads are generated on trade shows or by print advertising. The only way to find out is to ask how they found your company or how they became aware of your products. You need to register the origin of leads. If you don’t measure you will not know. Statistic analysis of marketing channels Not knowing the origin of your leads, means you will be wasting time, money and effort on channels that don’t or hardly bring revenue. The number of leads and customers a company has is limited, hence it should be feasible to review or ask every single one of them in order to make a statistic. The ration of the amount of money spent on a marketing channel, events or efforts over the number of leads generated or customers acquired will show the best lead generation method for your company. The lost leads analysis of your funnel As a matter of fact the analysis should be taken one step further: why or what was the reason the leads left the funnel? Why did you loose those leads? Again this should be grouped by lead source of marketing channel in order to find out when and where the biggest churn happens and the marketing channel that is the least successful in the sales process. What holds you back not investigating in the origin of leads? And where they left your funnel? The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 9
  10. 10. MANAGING Against All odds Morphing from a project to a product company is a management, marketing and sales challenge Originating as a project company Many software companies have started out as project companies specialized in a specific field of information technology or a business vertical. Even Oracle. In order to keep their operational costs low they try to re-use their software code for different projects just developing the necessary specific additional code for each project. Eventually the software becomes more fully fledged, mature and having almost all possible functions and features for a certain target market. The step from a project company to a product company seems evident and simple, but that isn’t. Less is more The first hurdle is to decide what functions and features from the large set of available subroutines and applications to include. What does the market really want and what has been developed on demand for a certain customer. The more functions and features that are included into the product(s), the more maintenance and support costs. The sales cycle differences A project company is in the typical cycle of: - Finding a deal - Winning the deal - Developing the necessary additional code - Partial invoicing throughout the project – and getting paid during the project - Delivering the project - Keeping a revenue stream for additional services for each customer Whereas a product company has a sales cycle of: - Marketing - Selling - Invoicing - Maintenance invoices The changes in organization The morphing from a project company to a product company requires many changes: - Marketing needs to promote products instead of services, which is a change of mind - The website needs to market and explain the products instead of a vague capability description - Marketing and sales team needs to generate much more leads - Sales cycles will be shorter - Sales will need to adapt to the fact customer changes are no longer possible - Sales will need to close more deals as prices are lower - Development needs to maintain the product over many years The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 10
  11. 11. MANAGING Against All odds - Product architects need to design for growing the product and keep it maintainable - Product management is new and needs to develop the product plan - Product marketing is required too for specific promotion of the product - Accounting needs to change their revenue recognition too: less complicated - Maintenance revenue is lower and fixed - No or little revenue from system engineers on site Dealing with the change? The questions are: - Can top-management cope with these changes? - Can middle-management live with the different attitude? - Can the company bear the weight of the additional functions that are created? - Can marketing management steer product marketing? - Can marketing generate enough leads? - Can salesmen close enough deals? - Can salesmen adapt to the different sales attitude or should a different type of salesmen be hired? This and many more problems emerge while morphing from a project to a product company. How well did your project company deal with the change into a product company? The management of an accidental one hit wonder company One hit wonders are known in the record industry when a singer or a band scores a world wide hit and all the subsequent records fail to generate any sales. The overnight commercial success The same can happen to companies: they have one product that sells relatively well in a market niche or they even have become market leader. It is like a sitting duck that due to events beyond their control their products have become in demand and popular. The almost overnight as success took management by surprise, however due to this success management starts believing they are great and invincible. Management has this high self-esteem although the great success of the company is just a one trick pony due to the accidental commercial achievement. The end product life-time As all products or solutions have a limited span of time during which they solution is in demand, slowly the success fades away – just like a music hit in a few months. In case of a product it will take several years to the end of the product lifespan. The major challenge is then to find another product or solution. A new product needs to be developed for the market based on the current market view. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 11
  12. 12. MANAGING Against All odds As management has no vision or no experience in market research chances are the new product will be a FAIL. In case the success product brought the company to become a market leader, the management believes they can achieve the success again and keep their market leadership. They have no doubt in their own capabilities although they hardly exist. Especially in case the first one was an accidental commercial success there is no reason for them to be able to create another wonder. However creating a new success product is hard to do and depends on many events and economic factors beyond the control of any company. The challenge of marketing and selling the next product The problem for sales and marketing is when the new product, that has been developed, needs to be marketed and sold. This will become very challenging due to missing experience and the high believe of capabilities of management based on their previous achievements that were beyond their control or just good luck. The original product or solution had probably an unprecedented market opportunity that made it an instant success once the market was demanding it. Moreover due to the high demand, no big budgets have been spent previously on launching and branding the original commercial success product. Thus instead of having well crafted marketing strategy with a significant budget and a well represented and trained sales force the original success was more due to the coincidence and the huge opportunity at that moment instead of a well planned marketing and strategy. Marketing plans and strategy: missing When launching the next product the management experience in marketing plans is lacking and the market opportunity is less big as previously. Moreover the original product or solution still sells to the same market. Marketing is put under pressure to overachieve without much budget or a well planned strategy. The Sales team is under pressure to redo the incredible sales achievements of the first product without a real big demand from the market. It is almost certain that both marketing and sales will fail. Then the management of the company will blame marketing and the salesmen for under achieving. They used to be so much better during their conquest of the market. However management will never question themselves as they are convinced of their own greatness proven by their first overnight accidental commercial success. They still live on the dream of their original achievement not wanting to see the truth. Only good management is capable of continuing bringing successful products to the market – most companies are a one trick pony. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 12
  13. 13. MANAGING Against All odds Is you company a one hit wonder? Will your management be able to create another success? Prepare your salesmen for the market shifts! Salesmen work hard by concentrating on their products and customers. They mainly see the next lead, the next potential customer, the next deal. They are digging up new leads, pushing aside objections and convincing buyers in order to reach their targets. Things need to get done, actions taken, emails replied to, calls answered – all in function of getting deals closed and bringing in revenue, all in the here and now. The sales hurdles During their sales journey they will encounter hurdles and dead ends that make them stop dead in their sales cycle. A possible problem is they often don’t have a complete market overview and only notice those hurdles that are right in front of them. As these hurdles are their #1 roadblock at that moment they will blow up their importance and present them to their Sales Manager. If the Sales manager is in need for Sales revenue (which one isn’t?) he sure will expose the problems his Sales team is facing to company management. Sales hurdles as a market shift indicator The hurdle or problem encountered by each Sales man might be an indication of something bigger, but in order to define a trend or a market shift a more distant approach is needed. This is where marketing or product marketing should be ahead of the Sales team. Even before any hurdle or bump in the sales cycle, marketing or product marketing should have remarked the trend or market shift and informed company management about it. They might have even started to prepare new products or solutions in order to anticipate the upcoming market shift. If the Salesman hits the bump it’s probably too late. The Salesmen should be on the ground, in the trenches, whereas marketing or Product marketing should be hovering over the market in order to spot trends and market shifts in advance so they can at least warn and try to prepare the salesmen. Does your marketing team anticipate market shifts and guides the salesmen? Or… does this only happen in an ideal world? The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 13
  14. 14. MANAGING Against All odds 18 Reasons salesmen are quitting the company (how bad this is) What does it mean when your sales people are leaving the company? Not just one Salesman, but 2 or 3 within a short time span of several weeks. The company problems Something must be wrong: 1. The commissions you are paying are way to low 2. The products or services are bad 3. The after service is bad 4. Training or support is barely existent 5. Your products are outdated 6. The company has no (more) vision 7. Brand name has gone down the drain (various reasons) 8. The resellers need to take too much inventory 9. The products are too complex to explain: too much effort for the benefit 10. The implementation is not easy and your resellers have a hard time to invoiced them 11. The products are more difficult to sell than those of the competitors 12. The work pressure is too high compared to the income 13. The price is too high compared to the competitors 14. Management is mainly busy with themselves instead of the company 15. The Finance dept has taken over the company and business has become secondary 16. More pricing list changes per year than the channel can deal with 17. The pricing list has become more complex than the manual of the product 18. Administration consumes more time than prospecting and selling Any of these reasons is a fundamental problem for the company. Each of them is hard to overcome and to change. Salesmen are like sole traders Sales people act as sole traders or entrepreneurs who sell their skills and services to their employer. They will work for best employer they can find at the best price (not necessary for the least effort). When the business is no longer interesting your Salesmen will start looking for other opportunities and change employer when they see a good opportunity. The last call for your company When your sales people are leaving your company, it is indicating the problems have become significant and it is probably almost too late: it’s your last chance to make changes or to change course. Of course you first need to understand the problem. If Salesmen are leaving your company it is like the last call as without Salesmen no revenue. In order to make the problem even worse: your best Salesmen will leave the first as they The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 14
  15. 15. MANAGING Against All odds are the best in selling themselves. Your company will be left over with the leftovers in Sales. Are any of these signs apparent in your company? Any other reasons for quitting to add? If the customer has more interest in you than in your products The potential customer fancies you It is apparent the products or solutions your company provides are OK or interesting but you have become the main interest. During the sales process it becomes clear the potential customer (he or she) has a crush on you. In order to meet-up with you additional meetings are being scheduled. At first this doesn’t seem a problem and you feel like you are heading for an easy sell. You will win the deal – no doubt. Your competitors will not understand it. The question is what should you do? Can you live with this situation? Will you be able to live with this situation later on? Or do you run away and forget all about the sales? In any case trying to get another decision taker in this company for these purchases will be difficult if not impossible. Thus you are stuck. Recurrent sales increases the problem Once the first sale has been closed your Sales manager expects additional or recurrent sales from the customer. This requires you to go and visit your “lover” again. Everything can be handled and kept under control until he or she starts making advances to you or proposes to meet over a business lunch. Then you need to come up with a good plan where you are heading too: - An escape route - Play the game for while and look for an early exit. - Go for it: the relation. In all cases the situation will become complex and difficult. Keeping it a secret Getting into a relation with a customer needs to be kept secret. However as more people are involved in company management, decision processes and purchases in B2B people will start guessing and gossip will emerge as several facts and events are being put together. For example you are winning deals with this company you normally could not win. Once a gossip started it spreads faster than any good news. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 15
  16. 16. MANAGING Against All odds The power of the potential customer over the sales rep. As from the moment you engage in this relation the potential customer obtains power over you as a sales rep.: - Relation means sales – No relation implies any more sales - The secret can be used against you when problems arise by both companies involved It is very likely that one day problems will arise in the relation or with the products or services of your company. At that moment your relation will be exposed and used against you as the customer is always right. So what would be your best solution? What did you do when such situation occurred? Successful companies: innovation or good decisions? Successful companies are those companies that take the least bad or wrong decisions during any day. Great companies are not solely made by having superb ideas that are brought successfully to the market or great innovations. Only a minority of companies are truly innovative, still there are many more successful companies in each industry. Decisions decide Great companies are those that make the least bad decisions. Not taking any decision can also be a bad or wrong decision, but it takes longer to notice it was a bad decision not deciding. During any day all companies take decisions on purchases, on personnel, on marketing, on products, on pricing, on competitors, … The stream of decisions and decision points never stops as there is always a next decision: - To be taken - Not to be taken - Postponed until later. During any day: The best companies take the least number of bad decisions. The worst companies take the largest number of bad decisions. The main problem is that one cannot look into the future, making all decisions equal good when taken. It is only afterwards that the real verdict becomes clear. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 16
  17. 17. MANAGING Against All odds Innovation is no guarantee for success It is not the genius CEO with the great ideas, innovation or market concepts that make a company successful as there are not so many alternatives and variations on the same theme in a certain business. Many companies with great new or very innovative concepts or products have failed or have gotten acquired to be forgotten. In the end it is the company that makes most profit that survives, rules and is successful. Innovation doesn’t bring revenue. Innovation is not a guarantee for success – for becoming a successful company. Moreover the more innovative the more new and fresh problems arise in a company that need to be decided upon. The more likely the wrong decision can be made. Decisions of competitors It is not just the number of good or bad decisions: it is the level of bad and good decisions compare to the competitors that make a difference. If your competitor is making a lot dumb decisions, your company can take advantage by making less stupid decisions. In order to be successful, try to make less bad decisions than your competitors. What’s your average bad and good decision rate? Is your company making more ‘good’ than ‘bad’ decisions or more ‘bad’ than ‘good’ decisions? Are the competitors making less or more bad decisions? Conversion rate is influenced by pricing on your B2B website The benefits and disadvantages of pricing on a B2B website Having pricing on your B2B website is a question that is posed by many. A high price will turn away those that don’t grasp your services fully. In order to have your visitors understanding completely the benefits, advantages and differentiators of your services requires more or clearer information on the website and time from the visitors. A low price will turn away people who find your service or product to cheap to believe or expect no quality of service for this low price. You need to prove your high or industry standard quality which is not easy to do over the Internet: having references can solve this problem. By putting the pricing publicly on your website, you will only address to those customers willing to pay this price for the perceived value of your products or services. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 17
  18. 18. MANAGING Against All odds Pricing on B2B website Putting the pricing on your website shows: - The confidence you have in your product. - The confidence you have compared to your competitors. - That you are challenging your competitors. - That your website explains fully the benefits, advantages and differentiators. - A sign of competing on pricing instead of quality or customer service. At the same time the website pricing will bypass all sales people. They have nothing left over than to give an equal or a ’special’ lower price than the one posted on your website. Similar problem occurs in case your sales model uses resellers or system integrators. No pricing on B2B website Without a price people can only guess about the price. If they are interested in your services or products they have to make the effort to contact you for a pricing inquiry. If your website expresses an expensive image, then the avaricious, penurious or bargain hunters will not even take the time. If your website looks cheap or giving the idea of providing low-cost services or products, then those in search of quality and top service will not even consider contacting you. Without any pricing on your website: - Your website content or brand name needs to push the people to contact you. - Your competitive advantage needs to be very compelling and convincing. - An important factor of your products or services is missing. We have experienced both. Pricing on B2B website: Lower conversion rate At first we had a form proposing different options (users, visitors, leads in buckets) that calculated the price on the website. From day one it was the most popular visited page of the website after the home page. It seemed to be an attraction to have a price calculated. Compared to the number of price calculations relatively a few of them ever signed up. Apparently people visiting the website, are very curious to know about your price or an indicative price for a market, even if they are not interested in buying at all. Thus good traffic but no conversions to sales or even to sign-ups for 30-days free trials. Additionally we found that our pricing was too complex for a first time visitor as it proposed 2 different plans. Higher conversion rate with ballpark pricing Thus we removed the pricing calculation from the website and replaced it by ballpark pricing for the 2 different services we provide. In order to get a price quotation we asked to contact us by email. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 18
  19. 19. MANAGING Against All odds Due to the fact we engaged with the visitors into a conversation by email the conversion rate was much higher. Still writing an email as simple is it might be seems difficult, especially if some basic information that we asked for on the page, is required for a price quote. So we had many email going out asking for the necessary data. Additionally many people used a non-company email address to send the email, thus we couldn’t verify if they were actually working at the company. Improving inbound marketing by simple pricing inquiry form To avoid the large number of incomplete quotation requests, we appended the pricing page with a simple form in order to streamline our pricing quotes and save us some time with email replying. The form needed to be as simple as possible as any additional fields or complexities might keep the visitor from completing the form. We clearly defined the items asked in order not to confuse the visitor. As a form normally doesn’t permit any freedom we added an additional field allowing posing any questions regarding our service or pricing. Giving a ballpark pricing is more effective than to have a complex pricing calculation or your complete price list on your website. Both can be too complex and cumbersome to use as it needs a manual or explication. Additionally, having to reply to the inquiries by email lets your sales team establish a first contact with a lead: inbound marketing and engaging leads into conversations. On the Internet speed is all important and people want to know quickly the price range. If they have to take time to: - Enter much data in a complex form - Understand your pricing structure - Send an email requiring formulating their needs This is likely to happen less than completing simple form. Having ballpark pricing and a simple form to complete improves inbound marketing. What are your experiences or thoughts of having complete or ballpark pricing on your website? The biggest competitor for any CRM is the spreadsheet Many CRM vendors are competing for selling to small and medium businesses. However their main competitor is the spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel). Spreadsheet companies Spreadsheet companies are companies that use a spreadsheet for any administrative task: customers, leads, products, pricing, order entry, invoicing and personnel. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 19
  20. 20. MANAGING Against All odds In most cases the smaller companies started using a spreadsheet to keep track of the contact data of their customers, leads and prospects as this seemed the most convenient and simple solution. The apparent advantages are: - The flexibility of adding a data field (column). - The widespread knowledge of spreadsheet use. - The no cost as the spreadsheet was already available. - Quick and dirty set-up and implementation. - No external involvement. - Sufficient enough to suit my/our current case. - The boss/founder understands and is happy with it. Issues using a Spreadsheet as a CRM However they have ignored the several other issues that are related to spreadsheet use: - The entered data will not be consistent as people always know a work-around. - More data can be stored in a cell than visually presented. - Spreadsheet locking when several people access the sheet. - No retrieval if someone erases or changes data in a field. - Multiple versions of the same spreadsheet can easily exist. - When multiple versions exist, duplicate records are obvious. - The larger the data in the spreadsheet(s) become, the harder to use the spreadsheets. - Entering duplicate records is a waste of time. - Worse updating duplicate records is a real loss. - Retrieving data will be cumbersome and time consuming. - Compiling or consolidating data becomes a tedious time-wasting challenge. - Company-wide overviews about leads, funnel, and pipeline are almost impossible. - Invoicing based upon the spreadsheet data can become cumbersome. - Using the CRM spreadsheet as an invoicing system can increase even more the problems. - Security is very low as a spreadsheet can easily be emailed or copied on a memory stick. All these issues are good business reasons for companies to switch over to a real CRM, still many smaller companies haven’t switched. Although CRM solutions bring several benefits and advantages: - The resistance to change - The perceived low costs - The ease of use are keeping the spreadsheets in use at these companies. CRM competing with spreadsheets The challenge for CRM Vendors is not to compete with each other with more functions and features, but to get these ‘Spreadsheet Companies’ to start using a CRM. In order to achieve the vendors need to listen to these ‘Spreadsheet Companies’. It is not just enough to convince the management with benefits and advantages, but also to win the real battle with the users as they need to make the change and do the effort. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 20
  21. 21. MANAGING Against All odds CRM vendors need to come up with tangible and intangible benefits that will convert both management and the users. It is probably easier to convince management than getting the users on your side as they need to commit to use the CRM. They have to leave their ‘Unlimited Free World’ for a more structured systems environment. This requires the CRM to deliver clear benefits over the spreadsheet or useful functionalities that are not achievable within a spreadsheet (e.g. LEADSExplorer provides the company names of the visitors and visiting data useful for improving both lead generation and customer retention, email integration and visual analysis of visit behavior in relation to communications). Do you work for a ‘Spreadsheet Company’ or has a CRM been implemented? If a CRM has been implemented, then are you really using it? Or you don’t see any benefit (thus the implementation wasn’t successful)? Do you still use your spreadsheet next to the CRM system? How to get the real customer experience: buy your own product As a vendor you might use your own product for your business. However still that is not the real customer experience that your customer gets. The real customer experience As a first step you should imagine what problem people are looking for to solve or a benefit they need. In order to have the real customer experience you should have to go through the process of: - Search - Selection - Evaluation /comparison - Purchase In order to go through the complete customer experience, you should even place a real order and really buy your own product. You should experience: - How to find your products. - How to find the products of your competitors. - The presence of your brand. - The presence of the brands of your competitors. - If you can understand what you actually sell. - If you understand what your competitors are selling. - The information you provide. - The information the potential customer receives from the different vendors. - If you can perceive the differentiators with your own competing products. - If you can perceive the differentiators with products from competitors. - If you can understand the differentiators between competitors. - The expectations you create by your marketing. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 21
  22. 22. MANAGING Against All odds - The expectations created by the different vendors. - The perceived value of the different products offered. The complete customer experience: buy products Finally you should also buy a similar product from your main competitor and the main challenger. Only this will give you the possibility to even try out the Customer Service or the After Sales Service of your company and your competitors. After this experience you can evaluate and compare the different offerings on the market. Never forget that the perceived value is sometimes more important than the real value. The price is what the customer wants to pay for a product or service. Also the expectations created can create an additional perceived value. Have you ever experienced your own customer experience? And compared that to the experience your competitors are offering? The importance of the url branding value is evaporating Companies used to spend large amounts of money on domain names for their company name and flagship products in all possible combinations and even misspellings for a whole bunch of tld’s. We think this is becoming less important: 1. Most people use a search engine to start a session: they search using keywords instead of entering the url. 2. Even domain names are entered in Google’s search form with the comfort that Google will correct or suggest if they make a typo. It’s also faster compared to having to edit the http://… in the url-bar. 3. Url shortening services are masking the domain name /url: short urls are used in comments and micro blogs. Although we might see a bit of a backlash against these in the near future, as twitter started filtering malicious url’s today. 4. Links from other websites are increasingly gaining importance compared to on-page SEO. It is usually better to have 10.000 links to 1 domain vs 10.000 links to 10 domains. The value of the url / domain name in branding is evaporating as people are no longer using the domain names direct or landing by accident on typo’s (still no documented decline in typosquatting?) So why would you pay more for all those domain name combinations and tld’s? Your keywords and the content of the website have become more important as the search engines need to present your website top ranked in the Search Engine Result The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 22
  23. 23. MANAGING Against All odds Pages (SERP). If people search your website, product or company then it should pop-up on top. Are you stil hanging on to all those domain names and their derivatives? Should you? Saas chops up the B2B complex sale in smaller buying decisions The change of decision makers In the era before Cloud computing and Saas (Software-as-a-Service) for on premise software solutions, one of the important decision makers in the B2B complex sale was the CIO, IT Executive or EDP manager. Currently the key decision maker or buyer for web services is the business process owner or the executive managing the line of business. The involvement of the IT department has diminished. There are no specific IT requirements needed in order to use a web service: any browser will do just fine. The manager and the users are getting more involved in the decision process as it is a service for their use. Usually it’s also possible to get a free trial period: just sign op and start using. Goodbye to the day-long installation procedures where database and client/server installations are required. The change from monolithic to best of breed solutions Instead of buying one monolithic solution suite that needed to solve and cover all problems of the entire enterprise the Saas trend has enabled to embrace best of breed solutions. Thus several separate solutions that excel in their area will be selected, driving down the costs at the same time. The change to shorter sales processes This shift has changed the B2B complex sale for software solutions for ever. Instead of having one long sales cycle, the different main functionalities are segregated leading to smaller separate buying decisions. Each of them has a shorter sales process with the goal optimizing the cost benefit for each separate function. Due to this a new problem is created as all these individual processes need to collaborate and exchange data: driving up the total cost of ownership again. The Marketing shift These changes in decision makers and buying process implies also change of focus in marketing as the CIO, IT Executive or EDP Manager are no longer involved and concerned directly. The marketing message can even put more focus on the benefits, advantages of the The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 23
  24. 24. MANAGING Against All odds solution addressing the business process owners or the executive line manager. It is no longer about great technology, but usability and usefulness. A large part of the decision making process has often shifted to the actual end users, as they have been able to try the solution in advance. For the entire software business this is a tremendous marketing shift as information technology started out to be marketed very technically and has now become a non- technical product. Just like cars the function is known: cars drive fine – web services operate neatly. Features and usability can make the difference. Passion is lurking around the corner. Has your marketing evolved from technical to practical? Increase your sales with fewer products in your offering Are you proud of the number of products or varieties you’re offering? Are you convinced offering so many choices actually increases your sales? You might be wrong! Behavioural scientists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper conducted a (now classic) study in order to find out if offering too much choice made people indecisive. They set up a booth in a large supermarket, well known for it’s abundance of choice, where shoppers could sample a number of jam flavours all from the same relatively inexpensive brand. During the study, the number of flavours were varied so that either 6 or 24 flavours were displayed. The selection was rotated hourly. After tasting, shoppers were given a discount coupon. So regardless of the flavours encountered at the booth, shoppers were eventually confronted with the full range of flavours in the aisle. The results were surprising: of the shoppers passing the extensive selection of jams, 60% stopped vs 40% of those who passed the limited selection. But from those who were able to sample the extensive selection, only 3% actually bought the jam compared to a staggering 30% from those who had sampled from the 6 flavours. Overall result is that 6 times as much jam was sold when there were only 6 compared to 24 flavors to sample from! The researchers suggested that too many choices, although highly appealing at first, might lead to frustration in the decision making process. Too many options to differentiate might result in the customer not being able to engage with the task at hand, leading to an overall reduction in interest in the product and a decrease in sales. We think there might even be a fear of loss involved: ‘what if I pick the wrong choice?’ The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 24
  25. 25. MANAGING Against All odds When Procter & Gamble reduced the number of Head & Shoulders varieties from 26 to 15, they experienced an immediate 10% increase in sales. Not as dramatic as Sheena and Mark’s jam study, but still too large to go unnoticed. Offering a limited set of products or services for a market or as a solution will also make it more likely for people to retain the main features and differences. Offering too few products however might mean you miss a part of the market you are addressing. As usual, finding a good balance is key here. On the other hand your marketing collateral and website will be less complex as you only need to explain a few products and their differences. Less products mean: - Less product development - Less product maintenance - Less manuals to write or to keep up to date - Less product changes in manufacturing - Less inventories - Less marketing costs - Less sales trainings - Less storage space - Less raw materials All of this leads to less overhead costs. Your lower operational costs can be reflected by lower pricing. And as a ‘bonus’, you might even make the decision for your customers easier, sell more and win market share! Have you ever wondered whether you’re giving your customers too much choice? The 10 Commandments of Email Replying Email communication issue We encountered a commercial communication issue while organizing a voyage to Tuscany (Italy) by trying to book by email several Bed & Breakfast (Agriturismo) stays for our journey. Not use of the Italian language as any online translation provides you the basic comprehensive Italian, but the email communication itself and the information provided. It is relatively easy to find and select several Bed & Breakfast locations in each area as most seem to have a website or are grouped on portals. Sending them a standard inquiry email for availability of a room and pricing is the easy part, fast and can be done in large quantities. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 25
  26. 26. MANAGING Against All odds The delay in replies As these B&B’s are commercial enterprises that need to make money by booking guests, you expect to receive an email response within a few hours after sending. Especially as this is a very competitive market with very similar services provided (Location – Bed – Breakfast). However typically it will take over 24 hours to get answers (A minority does answer within a few hours). The incomplete responses People browsing for solutions to their problem (holiday booking) expect a fast answer (reservation). In most cases you will receive very short incomplete replies missing valuable information like the included services (breakfast included in the price? Kitchen in the room) and the method of accepted advance payment. Thus for every response you need to reply the email and ask more specific questions. As you send out many similar emails, it get hard to know which B&B is answering: including the name of the B&B and link to the website would be a great help in order to make your information gathering more efficient. The failing follow-up Once you have made the advance payment by bank transfer or credit card payment, it requires additional emails and telephone calls to get your confirmation of your reservation. They seem to forget that however the advance payent has been made, the main revenue still needs to be generated: additional services, food and drinks. Especially the alcoholic beverages in the evening are an important revenue stream for the B&B businesses as these probably make the difference between break-even and profitability. The missing the commercial drive Although these bookings are their main income for the B&B owners, their commercial drive is very low. Maybe the people who start a B&B want to be away from commercial pressure and want to feel on holiday every day. Still they will be facing the financial issues by not being commercial. The 10 Email Commandments 1. Read Read the email first before answering. Many emails are replied without answering to the specific questions or case. 2. Label Label all incoming and outgoing emails in order to be able to retrieve them later. Even more practical if your CRM automatically collects your emails by customer or lead. Additionally you can add a keyword in the reply subject in order to know the content. 3. Max 24 hour delay If you have an interested party, it seems logical you try to answer within 24 hours or less in order to keep his attention and the stay ahead of your competitors. Except during The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 26
  27. 27. MANAGING Against All odds weekends of course. People do remember the first reply, especially if it brought additional info or an additional benefit. 4. Answer the easy and short ones first If you reply the easy and short replies first, you satisfy more people in a shorter delay of time and you have less pressure while answering the difficult and long ones as you are near the end of the process. 5. Efficiency: batch and completeness In order to increase efficiency and limit your writing work it is best to: - Batches: Reply emails in batches (every 2-3 hours): getting interrupted for email answering is not efficient. - Completeness: be as complete as possible in your first email. Respond to all the questions asked. - Pre-empt: in order not to get unnecessary additional emails: Provide the necessary information concerning your operations. 6. Standard email for standard business In case your service is fairly straightforward and regular (like Bed & Breakfast), a standard email consisting of a few standard responses completed with the specific additional info. If your service is complex or one-off (like project business) then your answer can take longer, but at least you would send out a confirmation of receiving the email with a possible first question. 7. Call to action The reply email should have a clear call to action: what should the interested party do next. This can be the link to the payment page or the free sign-up. In case of B2C (like B&B) the action is probably the purchase (payment), whereas in B2B a meeting, references or a free trial should be the action to aim at. 8. Keep the door open In any case in Business to Business (B2B) the reply email should still leave the door open for further communications. Thus if you have questions, don’t spoil all your questions in the first reply email. Keep one or two for a follow-up email. 9. Signature with links Your signature not only should mention your name but also: - Email address: in case your email gets forwarded and the original email address gets obscured - Links: functional and useful website link(s): at least your website home page 10. Re-read Before sending: re-read. Once send – recall and correction is impossible. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 27
  28. 28. MANAGING Against All odds How fast, complete and commercial are your email replies? Selling the Going Green: only with a benefit Ecology and renewable energy The new hype is green: Green cars, green cloud computing, green light bulbs. Green energy. Renewable energy (no energy is renewable as far as we know) Everybody is convinced we need to save the world by producing less CO2 gas to slow down global warming. Consumers: Ironically when it comes to having our daily meal we don’t cut down on eating meat, although cows produce more CO2 gas than cars. Consumers need to see a direct benefit before they start buying green as in most cases it will involve higher costs. Governments try to solve this by subsidizing investments in green technology or technologies that help to consume less energy. Still people will continue to eat large amounts of meat. Businesses: If a company has to decide upon the higher costs involved with green or renewable energy it is unlikely they will chose this as this will decrease the operating income. Companies will only buy green tech if: - There are significant benefits compared to the higher costs involved. - There is a clear image benefit for the company: improving their branding. These benefits can range from subsidizes to image improvement of the brand. The additional costs need to be covered by the benefit The costs related to the green energy or green manufacturing processes have to be bared by someone in the entire production process or food chain. In most cases, the decision of going green comes down to a balance between higher production or operation costs and the intangible benefit from the PR or increase in brand naming of the company as there is no direct related tangible benefit. If the place in the production process, where the additional costs are made, have no relation to the tangible or intangible benefit else in the process, then the going green is unlikely to happen. If the implementer of the green production process can calculate the incurred additional costs into his sales price then there is no problem. However in most cases this is not possible. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 28
  29. 29. MANAGING Against All odds If you are trying to sell green tech to companies make sure you have a benefit beyond just going green as business don’t survive on idealism. The Curse of the Market Leader If your company as a market leader is at the zenith of their power many will vendors will challenge your company as the company has shown the market size and all want to grab opportunities: - Competitors with similar products or services - Challengers with innovating competing products or services - Contenders that focus on a niche segment in the market. Reasons for The Curse of the Market Leader: a) Complacency: self satisfaction The management of the company believes they are the best. And nobody can take their place. The management is unaware of actual dangers or deficiencies. b) The need to: - protect the current market share - innovate for new market segments - keep up with the challenger - retain the attention from the media - retain the support of the market by advocates c) No clue: The original founders of the company are long gone or moved to less influential positions. The people with vision have been replaced by people who can execute, but have no vision. The company management is clueless what to do next as they always have operated within the same constraints. d) Risk avoidance: The founders of the company spotted a market opportunity and took the risk to start the company (as they had nothing or little to lose). Once the company got successful and bigger, risk avoidance became more important than taking risks. Innovation and new products are a big risk. Entrenched Player’s Dilemma Most, if not all, market leaders are faced with this entrenched player’s dilemma: - The commercial success of the existing business increases the dependency of companies of them. - The changing marketplace requires product modifications that will only bring marginal results at a high risk. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 29
  30. 30. MANAGING Against All odds - New ideas and concepts can only be embraced by abandoning current revenue streams. It is the dilemma between the proven business of yesterday and today versus the new business of tomorrow with all the risks and uncertainties involved. Leading companies just don’t take the risk for the apparently small rewards. Continued leadership requires to re-invent as it is limited in time Re-invent Only a few companies have been able to re-invent themselves, like: - IBM - GE - Apple - Microsoft - Sony - Samsung -… Limited duration of market leadership Although it might seem great working for the market leader, but please note: The duration of the leadership is always limited in time as change is the only constant in life and business. This is the curse of the Market Leader. Example: Google as market leader Currently Google is the market leader in search and many are challenging or teasing: Amongst others: - Competitors with similar products or services: Microsoft with Bing - Challengers with innovating competing products or services: Quintura - Contenders that focus on a niche segment in the market: WolframAlpha Has your company incurred The Curse of the Market Leader? Has management enough vision to counter it? Business is going fine! Says the CEO – Don’t believe it If your friend, colleague or customer, who is the CEO or the Sales manager of a company, tells you that: - Everything is great. - Business is going just fine. - Lots of new opportunities and good business. - We don’t have any problems: business as usual. then you better start wondering how really bad their current situation is, especially during this recession. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 30
  31. 31. MANAGING Against All odds If the business is: - Still relatively good but less than last year - Missing an above average number of sales CEO’s and Salesmen will admit and don’t hide it. However if the business is really bad, then they will not proclaim this at all. They will hide the truth. Thus be aware of companies with a CEO or Sales manager who paints a very positive or rosy picture of the business of the company. What do you tell your friends or suppliers currently? The 14 reasons for not killing or acquiring your last competitor During this recession almost all companies will have lesser sales. Some will be still doing fine others will run into problems. As the fight for survival sharpens the competition between you and your nearest competitor for survival or market share, you could push the envelope so far you are driving your competitor to bankruptcy. You could offer such low prices or you could provide a better sales process as you still have the money to spend, that your competitor isn’t winning any deal anymore. Keep the competitor alive You could just keep on undermining his pricing or sales process so the competitor doesn’t close any deal anymore: thus no sales – no revenue. As he runs out of cash and bank loans are scares these days, you would even get the opportunity to acquire the company or the assets of the company. The advice is don’t kill or acquire! - Don’t take all his sales away. - Don’t make him desperate. - Don’t acquire the company. - Don’t acquire the assets. - Don’t kill your market. The 14 reasons for not killing or acquiring Eliminating your nearest competitor will not grow the market and could even decrease your sales as: 1. Your competitor attracts the attention to the (your) market. 2. Your competitor makes the market more interesting. 3. Your competitor will keep challenging you. 4. Your competitor will help or drive you to innovation. 5. Your competitor and you offer people choice from different vendors. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 31
  32. 32. MANAGING Against All odds 6. Your competitor could become desperate and ruin the market by exposing trade secrets. 7. Your competitor can open new parts of the market: niches too difficult to supply for your size. 8. Your competitor can open new territories not yet reachable or profitable for your large scale operation. 9. Your competitor will close the sales deals that you don’t want. 10. Your competitor will please as the underdog. 11. Your pricing will be questioned and will drive less sales. 12. Your sales attitude will change as you win all deals: not making your brand popular. 13. Your market will shrink instead of growing due to the lack of competition. 14. Your marketing will become less effective, thus less interest from the potential customers. Keeping alive You can kill, eliminate or acquire several competitors in your market but make sure to keep the last one. As without any competitors there is no market but a monopoly that nobody likes and trusts. You have personally extinguished the market as there is no market: just one vendor. Thus keeping the competitor alive and small enough so he can’t become a threat is the best situation. Every now and then let him win a deal, just in order to keep him alive. How many competitors are in your market? How well are they doing – surviving? Are you the market leader, the underdog, the challenger or the laggard? Are you in the position to kill or to acquire the competitor(s)? Blogging is like cooking for your family – everyday Everyday or several times a week a blog post needs to be written. Everyday you need to cook the evening dinner for your family. Cooking is a challenge everyday If you need to cook for your family, you need to have an idea, look for and find the recipe. Buy the ingredients. Then cook the dinner and serve the meal on time as the family expects the meal. Good there are no dishes to wash if you have a dishwashing machine. Almost every hour a show will air about cooking giving the necessary ideas for change. Still you can always cook the same dish as 2 weeks ago without receiving a complaint. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 32
  33. 33. MANAGING Against All odds It is very challenging to serve a good meal that is being appreciated by your family. Moreover as your goal is to keep your family together for the dinner, you have to excel over previous dinners. Blogging is a challenge everyday If you have a blog, you need to have an idea, look for the concept. Collect the related links and data. Then write the post and publish it on time as your readers expect your essay. Good there is no physical delivery to be done. Bloggers can relate to and refer to other blog posts to write their posts. However if you haven’t got a clue what to write, then you have a problem as you can’t copy previous content. It is very challenging to serve a good blog post that is being appreciated by your readers everyday. Moreover as your goal is to expand your readership and reach you have to excel over the previous posts. Out eating – Guest post Having a guest posting on your blog is like take away food or going out for dinner to a restaurant. Mothers and bloggers are related Thus bloggers and mothers (assuming most family cooking is being done by mothers) are related as they both feel the pressure to achieve: - To feed their family with food. - To feed their readers with content. Both require skill: cooking sa kill and a blogging skill. Still there are big differences: - Cooking happens at the kitchen at home which is a steady location. Whereas bloggers can blog from anywhere. - Cooking limits itself to the family: thus limited reach. Whereas blogging reaches as far as possible: almost unlimited reach. - Cooking can become hectic as other events occur. Whereas blogging has less pressure from other events. - Once the meal has been eaten and digested it has become history. Whereas a blog post can live a long life on its’ own. What skill do you have: cooking or blogging? The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 33
  34. 34. MANAGING Against All odds The most important job: Getting invoices paid Due to this recession, most of your customers are delaying their payments as much as they can. Receiving payments later means your company has less money on hand to pay the bills of your suppliers. The Day Sales Outstanding (DSO) is increasing for the company, thus less cash. Aside from all other functions and jobs, the most import one is getting the invoices paid. That is essential for the continuity of any company. A deal is only done when the money has been paid and the customer is happy and confident. Collecting the money of the invoices Thus who is collecting the open invoices? The accountant or the salesman? The accountant has little or no relation with the customer and has little insight in the relationship or the problems with the products delivered or services supplied. On the other hand the salesman knows his customers and is aware of the entire story of the different deals from the beginning to the end. He also has indications about potential further purchases, which can make him weak as he is already aiming for the next commission or bonus. Can the Salesman appear to be the nice guy in order to keep the relationship going? Whereas the accountant is then the bad guy as he is collecting the money? Or should the Salesman collect the money and use the conversation opportunity to engage in a sales conversation if that is still possible? Who is handling the collecting of the open invoices in your company? The Entrepreneur vs The Venture Capitalist Paid Job Man Bernard Lunn of ReadWriteWeb presents a top 10 checklist for knowing if You are Really an Entrepreneur. He has published several other articles concerning starting up a company and entrepreneurship for Microsoft BizSpark which is a global program designed to help accelerate the success of early stage startups by providing key resources when they need it the most. In all these interesting articles like “10 Things to Be Clear About Before You Start a Company” and “Startup 101: Introducing Our Serialized “How to Build a Startup” Book” with lots of good advice and hints, both Marketing and Sales are missing. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 34
  35. 35. MANAGING Against All odds In our view an Entrepreneur will discover a market opportunity, find a solution or build a solution for it. Then his major task and challenge is to market the solution, find leads, sell, close the sales and get the invoices paid. Bernard Lunn confuses an Entrepreneur with someone who has or aims to have a Venture Capitalist Paid Job. This someone with a great idea or concept who will seek a Venture Capitalist or Business Angel for funding his company. Funding with enough money in order he can get paid for the next couple of years. Both are marketing and selling: An Entrepreneur will market and sell a solution to customers. Someone eager to have a Venture Capitalist Paid Job Man will market and sell an idea, a concept or a proof of concept to a Venture Capitalist or Business Angel and get money to spend. This is a huge difference. The differences: The Entrepreneur will generate revenue. The Venture Capital Paid Job Man will burn money. The Entrepreneur looks for doing business with customers. The Venture Capital Paid Job Man looks for business with Venture Capitalists. The Entrepreneur is not looking for funding although he will need loans for expanding his business. The Venture Capital paid job man needs funding and after a while more funding. An Entrepreneur can be found anywhere in the world. An Venture Capital paid job is mainly to be found in Silicon Valley. Who do you sell to? Potential customers or Venture Capitalists? Confusing your customers and leads by offering more services Want to confuse your customers and prospects? Just advertise that you offer more services than before as Laura Ries explains using the advertising campaign of UPS: “We do more than shipping” (New York Times campaign spotlight). The UPS Store has a $30 million advertising campaign that should explain a large number of new services, like document printing and office supplies. Their goal is to compete with FedEx office (formerly Kinko’s). This advertising campaign sure will confuse their customers and potential customers as UPS is known for parcel delivery. That has been made very clear over many years. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 35
  36. 36. MANAGING Against All odds The service from a brand People and companies expect one certain service or services in just one field from a brand. This is the service for which the brand stands for. It has required many years to build this relation between the solution offered and the brand. Adding on more services can kill the image of the brand and it will confuse customers and leads. A company cannot be good at many things and different services in different fields. Moreover if you need a certain service, it is the power of the brand that makes you connect your need with the service of the brand. If too many services are related to the brand, the image for what the brand stands for will become less strong. And the newly added services will pop-up less in the customers’ mind. For every new service added, the message of information needs to be presented to your customers and potential customers as your company needs to make clear it supplies this service too. The more services to explain: the more chance to become boring or to overkill. The more services per brand, the lesser the likelihood that someone will remember one of the services. Still each of them requires being presented and explained in detail. Thus your marketing cost will increase significantly due to: - The additional content to be generated - The increase of the number of messages using advertising, email campaigns, direct mail campaigns, … - The increase of marketing collateral (printed and online) - The increase of different advertisements each explaining a different service. - The required efforts of focusing and balancing the amount of messages per service. Stick with your business The conclusion is simple: The company should stick with its current business. It is already complex enough to pass the message to your group of potential customers. It can be possible to add related services or products at a slow pace: - At the speed of the amount of information the customers and the potential customers can digest. - Not at the speed marketing can send out and confuse everybody. What does your brand stands for? Does your company offer one or many services / products for solving different problems? The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 36
  37. 37. MANAGING Against All odds Differentiate or Die? Not! Do you need differentiation? “Differentiate or die” was coined by Jack Trout as title of his book. - Do you really need to differentiate in order to survive? - If you have been doing fine until now, why change? - Apparently you have found a market for your products with a certain quality and functionalities at a certain price. - A price that your customers want to pay as they find it reasonable enough to buy. Comparing costs Compare the opportunity cost of being different with the costs involved of being different. Opportunity: Will you sell more if your products or solutions are different? Cost of being different: What will be the cost of designing, producing, marketing and selling a product or a solution that is quite different? In your marketing and during every sales process, you will need to explain the difference and convince your potential customers of the benefits provided by the difference. That will be consuming money, time and effort. Lost sales: if people don’t understand or miss to see the benefit, sales will be lost. Marketing the differentiators is hard to do Of course being different gives you the opportunity to explain, stand out of the crowd and break away from the average or the mediocre. If you have been heard or if your messaged gets passed on, people might listen or retain your message. If not: then you stand no chance with your very different, unique and outstanding solution. The questions are: - Will the audience be listening and will they understand your differentiator? - How much effort and costs will go into explaining the differences and the related benefits? - Will they buy? It will be harder and more difficult to explain the specific features, functions and benefits, than to tell what the audience wants or expects to hear. This allows them classifying your solutions or products in a certain category: that’s easy and convenient. Understanding something new demands an effort. And it cannot be classified easily. Even if they pay attention, they still can misinterpret and draw the wrong conclusions. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 37
  38. 38. MANAGING Against All odds In case a business has a requirement or a demand, the decision makers or influencers will make a short list of solutions and solution providers, where your much different solution might not fit in anymore. Thus being left out of the short list as being too different. There are more risks involved in being a differentiator than go with the flow. Example of differentiator problems A good example of differentiator was the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner with differentiators: - No bag - Constant suction - Higher cost of purchase – lower cost of operation due to the no bag James Dyson wrote a book about it: Against the Odds (autobiography). It took years before the product was designed and it took a long time for addressing the right market: - Originally the Dyson vacuum cleaner was intended for the High Income and it had a first success in Japan at a premium price. - In the end the Two Income Families have bought the vacuum cleaner in large quantities. The High Income families had cleaning ladies and thus didn’t care about the dust bag or the constant suction. The Two Incomes Families had to vacuum themselves and running out of dust bags or less suction causes an interruption in their cleaning work. The Dyson vacuum cleaner turned out to be a big success, but how many other solutions or products that are different turn out not to be successful at all? To be different or not It is well known that two shops with similar products in a street sell more than one, as it gives the buyers the opportunity to compare. Thus why be different? People like to compare similar solutions and products. Thus why would you want your products or solutions to be different altogether? - The total price of being different can be too high: development, production, marketing and selling. - The risks involved of technology failure and marketing failure. - The incomparability problem: your different solution doesn’t compare with the other solutions in the market. Having a market offering similar to the competition might be the best solution in many cases for most companies. Standing out from the crowed is hard and challenging work and involves many risks. Being different could be highly successful or a very big waste and loss: in most cases nothing in between. If you have a ‘me-too’ product, you will need: - Your marketing or your pricing need to make you stand out from the crowd. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 38
  39. 39. MANAGING Against All odds - The best lead generation solutions to get the most and the best leads of your market. This could turn out to be better than being a differentiator. Do you have ‘me-too’ or differentiator products or solutions? Who are the best: the big invoice or the engaged customers? It is great to have customers that allow you to invoice large amounts of money as this keeps the company running and growing in revenue. However the most valuable customers are those that make suggestions for improvement, report errors or defects in order to improve your products and solutions. It is not just money they bring to the company but mainly their market and business intelligence, knowledge and experience. They participate for improving your solutions. Thus the most valuable customers in B2B are those customers that communicate and make remarks on your products: they engage in your future. Engaged customers These customers challenge the company and management, but at the same time help the company prepare for changes in the market and future demands. Instead of relentless producing or generating the same stuff, these customers will make sure you never will sit back and forget to adapt your solutions to the ever changing needs of the market. Indifferent customers The danger with indifferent customers is that you don’t know: - What they are thinking. - What they have on their mind for the future. - What they are already preparing a next decision without you knowing. Not communicating or even not complaining customers are a risk for your future. Engaged customer benefits Benefits for the customers: On the other hand, the employees or managers of these engaged companies will get some satisfaction by experiencing the changes made to your solutions. This adds enormously to the relationship with these managers and employees as a part of the solution becomes “theirs” being based upon their ideas or suggestions. Benefits for the vendor: For the vendor this type of managers or employees is a big win as these people: - Provide market insight and market demands at hardly any cost - Allow to learn from their experience The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 39
  40. 40. MANAGING Against All odds - Eliminate errors and avoid big mistakes for your solutions - Build a relationship with your company - Will probably recommend your solution to others as they are proud of their own suggestions It is hard or even impossible to influence or generate this engagement, as the first reaction needs to come from your customers themselves. Once the conversation started, you need to stay open and positive for their remarks and suggestions. Still you can make the engagement easier by: - Providing convenient means of communication - Responding quickly and positively to their messages. Big invoice customer: the current – Engaged customer: the future The big invoice companies are is very valuable for the current situation of a company, whereas the engaged companies are important for the future of your company. It is rather uncommon that the big invoice companies are also your most engaged companies as the size of the company creates a bigger gap between vendor and user than in case of a small or medium sized company. Still it can happen that your biggest customer is also your best engaged customer. How about your customers? Engaged customers or indifferent customers? The next generation of CRM: data source instead of data entry Since ever CRM solutions have required data input from their users. For the employees (the Sales reps and Sales teams) who should in the end benefit from the CRM , the implementation of the CRM resulted in more work: - Inserting customer data into the CRM - Keeping the data up-to-date. Change of business methods In the nineties when CRM model was introduced, the employees and the economic use of CRM where different: - In the beginnings of CRM the employees entering the data were mainly tele-operators or lesser paid employees, whereas now valuable high cost time of sales reps, sales manager and account managers is required as they are urged to use the CRM too. - The change in technology and the use of technology by Sales has changed significantly: . From letters, telephone and fax to email and online website forms. . From printed leaflets to be send by letter to the website. . From a physical meeting to a web seminar. . From landline telephone calls to mobile which increased the number of communication messages significantly. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 40
  41. 41. MANAGING Against All odds - The amount of data has increased significantly as electronic communication uses have lowered the cost of a communication: . A letter or a fax costs significantly more than an email. . A physical meeting costs a multiple of a web meeting. . A voip call or an Instant Message costs less than a landline phone call. This results in more data to be entered by higher qualified employees means the CRM is becoming more costly to operate. Required change of CRM Therefor the model and concept of CRM should change from: - a data entry application into - a data collecting and aggregation service that provides the necessary information of the customer or lead instantly (real-time). Exisiting electronic data: It is obvious all data that is already electronically available within the company should be streamed into the CRM: - Email: a CRM should have all in- and outgoing emails by customer or lead. - Online forms: a CRM should capture the data from the online forms by lead - Website: a CRM should present when a customer or lead has been visiting your website and what he has visited on your website for lead generation and customer retention. - Internet data concerning customers and leads should be presented in the CRM in order to be up-to-date as a Sales rep., Sales Manager or Account Manager before a meeting or telephone call. These changes and integrations will turn the CRM as a data entry solution into a data source which is the future of CRM. How much information that you haven’t entered yourself does your CRM currently provide? Will a booth on a conference generate enough quality leads? The main advantage of a conference is the target audience is well defined compared to public on a trade show. The industry focus on a specific subject should support the interest in your solutions. Thus apparently a conference is the ideal place to expose your brand name and to get into contact with your market. Due to the high fee for attending the conference, it is likely the real decision makers or the influencers will be present. The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 41
  42. 42. MANAGING Against All odds Thus you just need to rent a booth for getting exposure and get valuable leads. These should be quality leads compared to the leads of an industry trade show. Are the attendees sales ready? As good as it sounds, there are some problems as the attendees to come to conferences are mainly there to: - Listen to the presentations - Get informed by learning from experiences of their colleagues - Talk to their industry colleagues - Learn about what is happening in the industry - To network - To look for a new job Their intention is not to visit a trade show as their mindset is on vision and obtaining expertise, not in getting into a sales conversation or pitch, even if these products or solutions are related to the subjects of the conference. Attendees are not ready for a Sale. Short sales time – The Sales-label Besides the limited number of attendees on a conference that limit the nulber of potential leads, there are two other limiting factors: Short amount of sales time A trade show runs the whole day during several days. A conference is only one or two days with several very short amounts of time for opportunities to communicate with the attendees: - In the morning before the conference starts when some have a coffee or a small breakfast. - During the coffee breaks. - The brief moment when the attendees leave the conference room and move to the restaurant. Thus most of the time the entire booth staff is standing or sitting idle. Labelled as Sales Your staff being connected with the booth and your brand, they are immediately labelled as “Sales”. This will block most open conversations with the attendees. Sales people they don’t know are not perceived as a trusted party on the conference. The speakers are the trusted party, not your sales people. Is having a booth at a conference a waste of time and money? The right people will visit the conference, but will they pay attention or take time for your products and solutions? Having a booth will expose your brand name, but will it generate enough leads? What’s your experience? Is it worth the money and time? The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 42
  43. 43. MANAGING Against All odds Which of these 10 marketing challenges applies to you? Any company is faced with marketing challenges, even the market leaders. Many of these challenges rely upon perception of the market. Thus Marketing is required. In most of these cases advertising helps, but that is the most expensive method. 1. The unknown alternative solution Your solution addresses a common problem differently but nobody knows. What to do: - Create awareness by press releases, industry analysts and bloggers - Start blogging in order to get attention - Improve the SEO of your website in order to be found on the Internet - Create content related to your solution in order to be found on the Internet - Be present on trade shows and on conferences on a tight budget 2. A solution without a known brand name Your solution suits a specific category of problems or servers a specific industry, but you are never considered or invited for a first meeting: they just don’t think of or remember your solution. What to do: - Branding is required in order to make sure people connect your brand with a specific problem. - Start blogging in order to build authority in these matters - Be present on trade shows and on conferences on a tight budget 3. The ‘me-too’ solution Even if you are recognized as a vendor, buyers and decision makers don’t see the benefit or the differentiating features or functions. Thus they don’t put you on the short- list. What to do: - Publish comparison charts - Create awareness with industry analysts and bloggers 4. The wrong pricing perception solution The solutions of the market leader are selling at a high price tag. Decision makers and buyers have the perception of expensive solutions. Due to a number of reasons (less marketing, less overhead, better design, improved production methods) your sales price is much lower. Still people don’t take your solution into consideration as they think it will be also too expensive. What to do: - Put your price list on your website if possible - Put a starting price tag on your website and on leaflets 5. The cheap perception Somehow the solutions of your company are considered as “cheap”. Still you are offering good quality for a decent price. Not “cheap low quality”. What to do: - Show your references on the website The LEADSExplorer blog by Engago Technologies Ltd. 43