Monday, 19 December 2016

Advertising is failing because it is a ‘lawless game of chance’ says market research boss

Advertising is a “lawless game of chance” according to the CEO of market research firm Forethought.
Speaking at Mumbrella’s Marketing Science Ideas Xchange, Ken Roberts, CEO of Forethought, said 99% of advertising failure is because marketers aren’t rationalising reasons to deliver an advertisement.
Ken Roberts at Mumbrella’s MSIX Conference.
“Why is so much advertising failing? The reason is because it’s just a lawless game of chance indiscernibly better than gut instinct,” Roberts said.
“I believe our focus should be empirical dissection of behaviour in both ways, rational and emotional, and then to develop a creative brief based on these drivers.”
The session discussed how marketing science could help creatives quantify the drivers of consumption.
Roberts said brands need to stop focusing on “made up” measures such as brand equity and “global norms” and test for “validated drivers.”
“You are interested in what the drivers of purchase behaviour are for your product in your category,” he said.
Ken Roberts: Advertising a “lawless game of chance”
“If you’re trying to influence sales, than that’s what you are setting about to influence, why do you need to measure some made up measure called brand equity? You are seeking to change people’s behaviour.”
Also in the session, Roberts said building associations with emotional events can be an effective way of communicating with an audience.
Giving the example of beer brand XXXX, Roberts explained the association with Queenslanders and the State of Origin links the brand with emotion.
“It’s not actually building emotion into XXXX it’s about building the association of XXXX into State of Origin,” he told the audience.
State of Origin
Roberts: “It’s not actually about building emotion into XXXX, it’s about building the association of XXXX into State of Origin”
However, Roberts said measuring emotions is most effective if marketers can understand implicit and discrete emotions such as love and pride.
“If you’re using physiological ways of measuring emotion you are wasting your time. If you are using facial coding – you’re semi-wasting your time,” he said.
Roberts said the best creative work comes when agencies are “constrained” by this process of analysing rational consumer behaviour.
“If the creative agency argues to you that you shouldn’t be constraining the creative guys that’s not right,” he said.
“The best creative comes when they are constrained, when they are having work through this process where they’re fenced.”

Friday, 16 December 2016

Simpler is (sometimes) better: Managing complexity in consumer goods.

Here’s how consumer-goods manufacturers can master complexity—and even turn it to their advantage.
With consumers’ product preferences diverging and retail formats proliferating, consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) companies have compelling reasons to constantly launch new SKUs. Fast-growing niche markets—such as health and wellness products, socially and environmentally responsible wares, and ethnic foods—represent enticing opportunities for CPG companies, as do new online and offline retail channels. Indeed, product innovation can help CPG companies win shelf space and capture growth, which is crucial at a time when many CPG categories are experiencing flat sales. But manufacturing more SKUs means having more complexity in the entire business system—and that’s not a trivial matter to CPG companies already under pressure to cut costs and to become ever more efficient. We estimate that complexity among food-and-beverage manufacturers, for example, is costing them as much as $50 billion in gross profit in the US market alone.
Many companies are painfully aware of the problem, and acknowledge the difficulty of keeping complexity under control. CPG executives from a range of companies—including Campbell Soup, Colgate-Palmolive, ConAgra Brands, and Hershey—have made public statements about their efforts to reduce complexity in their businesses. It’s a tricky undertaking, precisely because some level of complexity is necessary and advantageous. Traditional approaches to simplification—such as “cutting the tail,” or discontinuing the lowest-volume SKUs—are suboptimal, both because they tend to address only one aspect of the business system (a cut-the-tail program is all about assortment) and because they can produce unintended consequences. For example, by discontinuing a low-volume SKU, a manufacturer might inadvertently eliminate a product that plays a unique strategic role in the assortment. Or it might unknowingly drive up the per-unit cost of manufacturing other SKUs made on the same production line.
Read rest of article HERE.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Five ways to lead with humility

Whether you are a marketing manager, sales manager, product manager or even a brand manager, you are a leader in your own right and must possess the inherent qualities to lead.

Here are five ways where you can lead with humility and not arrogance.

It doesn’t take a great leader or person to rule with an iron fist. The true jewels among us in the leadership community are those that are able to simultaneously deliver results and create an unparalleled environment for their teams. Handling your leadership with humility is a surefire way to keep your team happy, unified, and productive. Here are 5 thoughts to keep in mind to successfully lead with humility.

1. Separate yourself from the vision

We all have passionate views about our workplaces. Often, this passion is why we are in positions of leadership, to begin with! However, you must remember that your company’s vision is the ideal that all employees are working toward, from the founder to the trainees. Even in a position of responsibility, take care not to imagine yourself as any closer or truer to your company’s vision than your team. Instead, instill in your team the idea that you are all in this together. Achieving goals will be much more meaningful to your team when you can celebrate as an unstoppable force, rather than a glorious leader standing on their shoulders.

2. Delegate to make your team the stars

Understand that as a leader, the ultimate judgment of your success is not simply whether or not your team achieved an established goal, but also how your team developed along the way. You might think taking on most or all important tasks by yourself is a sign of dedication, but it only establishes to your team that you have no faith in them. Furthermore, your team’s growth is hampered as a result, indicting your ability as a leader to foster development. To avoid this, delegate important tasks to your team frequently, and ensure that you are available to offer guidance. You can have your fingerprints on everything without leaving your team out in the cold.

3. Take responsibility

The ultimate measure of humility is being willing to answer for unforeseen challenges. Your team is there for you every day while chasing down your goals; a worthwhile leader never abandons or throws them under the bus for shortcomings. Rather than blaming your team for challenges, fight for their inclusion in creating a new strategy. The business’s goals are theirs as much as yours or anyone else’s, so keeping them involved can only increase your chance at success.

4. Express Gratitude

Just like your customers, your employees are an indispensable ingredient in the recipe for your success. Generating novel ideas to show your team that their contributions are appreciated can be difficult, but any effort you can make to reinforce to them how important they are is worthwhile. Not every effort has to be grandiose, either. Small gestures like offering a “Thank you” without fail for the completion of daily tasks may not seem like a big deal, but they go a long way toward creating a positive culture for your team.

5. Encourage Feedback

One way or the other, your employees provide you with feedback, but as a leader, you have a degree of control over whether you receive the feedback in a positive fashion. Limiting feedback channels denies your employees of the ability to contribute to the very culture in which they exist, converting them from team members with a real stake in your team’s goals into drones, cynically working towards ends they might not even know and possessing no real reason to stay. Open various channels of communication between you and your team to ensure everyone has a method to voice concerns and ideas with which they are comfortable, and you’ll reap the rewards of an engaged team who cares about goals because they had a hand in creating them.
Remember that every member of your team is important in the attainment of your goals. When you approach your leadership with humility as a guiding principle, you and your team can achieve what you may not have thought possible.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Emails .... are we writing them right? The new art of communication.

People who are in the marketing and sales professions write to customers, but unlike the good old days where it was done via type written letters, today it is all by email. Despite the fact, the pitfall facing our personnel is the weakness in the English language, but with a little guideline, the email can still appear to be professionally written.

How to compose emails such that they will be read and responded to? How do we grab the readers attention effectively who has a full inbox? Be it business or personal, the knack to draft an effective email is exceptionally useful in responsiveness as well as productivity.

All of us are busy, and we all have received long, equivocal and circuitous email. Many of us have also been regretful of writing such voluble email while soliciting for someone else’s time.

The subject line deserves the equal importance as on the body of the email – Spend Time:

The subject line is as good as a conversation starter to the email as that is a headline is to an article or blog post. The most impressive literature or the most splendid offer in the universe is not going to do any shade of good if the email is left unopened. The subject line with few words are the driving words in the conversation and so they need that extra love.

The best of the subject lines are intended to use a mix of clear importance to the reader - concise prose that’s not too boring or too smart, and gives a thrust to make a move. Picture your busy reader saying ‘So what?’ while floating over a full inbox. What do you think that grabs the interest in split seconds?

Think of a specific problem that we intend to help the reader with offer or email, then elegantly construct the subject line around that. Say, a message about a training and development program might tap into the resentment employees feel in their jobs, we might as well make the subject line “A Way out from dead-ended Career”.

Be it in a subject line or elsewhere, the key to any good content is this: Be sure this is definite enough to be pertinent, but general enough to be apt.

[For rest of article, read HERE .....]

China : Is the country on the innovation road?

Monday, 24 October 2016

The four pillars of distinctive customer journeys

New research reveals that focus, simplicity, “digital first,” and perceptions matter most.
In recent years, customer experience (CX) has emerged as a major differentiator for large companies, including financial-services providers. In a McKinsey survey of senior executives, 90 percent of respondents confirmed that CX is one of the CEO’s top three priorities.
It’s a priority because the stakes are so high. For financial institutions, for example, rising customer expectations are pressing organizations to come up with more functional improvements even as alternatives to traditional financial services are emerging. In this dynamic environment, financial institutions face a stiff challenge to differentiate their offerings while reducing cost and complexity for customers—and to do it at a profit.
Overcoming these challenges is critical not just to meet rising customer expectations and to compete with new digital attackers but also to generate significant business impact. Our research indicates that for every 10-percentage-point uptick in customer satisfaction, a company can increase revenues 2 percent to 3 percent.
At a time when the customer-satisfaction scores of top-quartile institutions can exceed those of bottom-quartile players by as much as 30 to 40 percentage points, the financial payoff from best-in-class CX can be significant indeed. These gains come from a variety of sources, including additional product purchases generated by cross-selling and upselling, such as when a borrower increases the value of a loan.
[For rest of article, read HERE ...]

Monday, 17 October 2016

Mission accomplished !!

After seven months with the company, last Friday, October 14 2016, was my last day with QP Industries Sdn Bhd as its marketing consultant. Last photo shoot with the marketing staff before we said 'Goodbye'.

Thanks, guys, it has been nice working with you and please continue to keep up with the good work.

Monday, 26 September 2016

New insights for new growth: What it takes to understand your customers today

Companies that know how and when to use the wide array of research tools available today have a big competitive advantage in generating insights that lead to new organic growth.
What do Unilever, Philips, Amazon, and Netflix have in common? At first sight, nothing much. They compete in very different industries, and while Unilever and Philips are firmly rooted in the 19th century, Amazon and Netflix are unthinkable without the Internet.
What they have in common, though, is that they drive growth by meeting consumer needs better than their competitors do. Core to this consumer focus is a strong belief in insights, and in the active use of a diverse mix of insight tools—new and old, qualitative and quantitative, digital and analog—to get better answers.
Unilever, for example, has successfully engaged in consumer cocreation to launch TRESemmé, a fast-growing dry-shampoo brand that is now one of the best-selling mass hair-care products in the US. Philips has achieved major market-share gains in highly contested home-appliance categories through city-level growth analysis. Thanks to its data-driven recommendation engine, Amazon attributes more than one third of its revenue to cross-selling, and Netflix saw its subscribers triple between 2011 and 2015, largely because of its ability to develop hit shows such as House of Cards, based on advanced analysis of subscribers’ past viewing behavior.
Developing a better understanding of customers is increasingly a strategic necessity, because fast-moving markets, new technologies, and new business models are changing what customers want and how they shop. Yet many companies still spend the bulk of their research budget on traditional techniques (e.g., focus groups, interviews, and surveys), or treat insights as an afterthought, which leaves them with a limited and often incorrect view of what customers want. That is a recipe for obsolescence in today’s economy.
While there is a vast array of marketing analytics and insights capabilities, this article focuses on those tools, techniques, and approaches that specifically lead to new commercial growth, i.e., new products, services, or markets. (An insight is defined as the discovery of a fundamental consumer need that companies can use to create value for the customer and the business.)
[For rest of article, read HERE]

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Winning the expectations game in customer care

Call centers aren’t what they used to be. Here’s how to capture the loyalty of increasingly demanding customers.
The customer, so the saying goes, is always right—and these days it’s increasingly evident that customers don’t hesitate to flaunt their power. Assisted by technology, they wield unprecedented influence over the purchase of goods and services, as well as the ongoing care from the companies that offer them. Customers want service now: experiences marked by immediacy, personalization, and convenience. When they don’t receive it, substantial numbers defect, often after just one bad customer experience.1
This rising bar of customer expectations has significant implications for customer-care organizations in all regions and sectors. As channels—in-person visits, telephone calls, web contacts, and mobile platforms—proliferate, customers are demanding seamless and consistent service in all of them, not to mention human interaction and security for personal information.
In short, this added power is posing novel challenges for managers as a new era unfolds. We believe that customer care will change dramatically in coming years around two key dimensions: first, understanding the evolving value and complexity of transactions and, second, choosing the right level of human interaction and automation for superior service.
[For rest of article, read HERE]

Monday, 29 August 2016

Winning in consumer packaged goods through data and analytics

McKinsey & Co 2016 survey of North American companies highlights best practices in customer and channel management.
Consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) companies today are dealing with a host of challenges—including political and economic uncertainty, value-conscious consumers with fast-changing needs, and intensified cost pressure due to retailer consolidation and the rise of hard discounters. Against this backdrop, growth has been particularly elusive for the largest CPG players: over the past four years, large food-and-beverage manufacturers—which account for about half of total category sales—have remained stagnant, growing only 0.3 percent on average per year. By contrast, midsize companies have expanded sales by 3.8 percent and small companies by 10.2 percent.1
But irrespective of size, certain best practices set the most successful CPG companies apart from their competitors. Our latest survey of North American CPG companies, developed in partnership with the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Nielsen, brings to light the customer- and channel-management practices of “winners”—companies that outperform their peers in the categories in which they compete.

Five imperatives for growth

As once-average performers have upped their game, it’s become harder for CPG companies to differentiate themselves. The survey results bear this out: the gap between winners and others in sales strategy, for instance, has narrowed significantly—from a difference in sales-growth performance of 5.4 percentage points in 2014 to a mere 1.1 percentage points in 2016. Yet even this small gap can be worth tens of millions of dollars in sales and is meaningful in today’s slow-growth market. We have identified five imperatives for CPG companies seeking to break away from the pack.
[For rest of article, read HERE]

Monday, 22 August 2016

What sales companies need to get right for digital success

To realize the full value potential of digital, successful sales organizations reorganize top to bottom, front end to back end. Here’s their road map.
“We’ve got to go digital.” Every sales leader has heard some variation of that statement. But what is digital, actually? And of all the digital things to do out there, what matters most for driving sales growth?
To help answer this question, we conducted a survey of more than 1,000 US and European sales executives, as well as interviewing dozens of sales executives and doing research for the book Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders. In our first article from this data set, we looked at the five areas where sales leaders outperform their peers (see “The sales secrets of high-growth companies”).
For this article, we looked at the how organizationally sales leaders drive performance. Our analysis revealed that fast-growing companies1successfully connect seemingly opposite approaches:
  • Front to back: Create a dynamic experience for customers, and use digital tools and data to power operations. It’s common for companies to overemphasize one or the other, but the greatest success lies in a marriage of both.
  • Top to bottom: Successful sales organizations also overhaul the way things are done, from sales leadership all the way through front line sales reps.
While this structure might sound like a “do everything” approach, its value is in providing a simple way to think through the connections needed throughout the organization to get the most from digital capabilities, from automating processes to delivering experiences across all channels to using analytics to enable the sales force.
Of course, this is all much easier said than done. In our survey, a majority of sales executives said that their companies are increasing their investments in digital sales tools and capabilities for the near term. Yet less than 40 percent believe they are even moderately effective at it and a mere 17 percent rate their capabilities as “outstanding.”
[For rest of article read HERE]

Thursday, 18 August 2016

This is the CEO guide to customer service.

Companies that create exceptional customer experiences can set themselves apart from their competitors.
What do my customers want? The savviest executives are asking this question more frequently than ever, and rightly so. Leading companies understand that they are in the customer-experience business, and they understand that how an organization delivers for customers is beginning to be as important as what it delivers.
This CEO guide taps the expertise of McKinsey and other experts to explore the fundamentals of customer interaction, as well as the steps necessary to redesign the business in a more customer-centric fashion and to organize it for optimal business outcomes. For a quick look at how to improve the customer experience, see the summary infographic.
[For rest of article, read HERE ...]

Monday, 15 August 2016

A PR exercise that went so wrong

I have always admire Singapore Airlines for it's sound public relations policies with its customers as well as the public.  But this time, it went so wrong and someone is left with a red face.

SINGAPORE Airlines has been criticised for making a big deal about Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medal winner ... but relegating him to the back of their photos on social media.
Swimmer Joseph Schooling, 21, beat Michael Phelps to win gold in the men’s 100m butterfly in Rio but that wasn’t enough for him to nab prime position in a photo plastered all over Singapore Airlines’ social media.
In a post on the airline’s Facebook page, the swimmer can be seen standing at the back of the photo, with the airline’s staff in front of him.
Singapore Airlines has since deleted the much-criticised post, which attracted hundreds of angry comments from Schooling’s fans.
[For rest of news article, read HERE ....]

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The QUANTUM Sales Management System is launched.

At last, after almost 12 years of careful research, the Quantum Sales Management System was finally launched on July 20 2016.

The delay was regrettable as much study had to be given due to the dynamic changes in sales management today as well as the willingness of the sales personnel in embracing such system as part of their work culture.  Next, a partner had to be sought, one who has the aptitude to collaborate on such a project especially in the field of programming, to program the system, and on this we welcome Infotree Sdn Bhd (a member of the Ikram Group) to the team.

How does the system work?  Basically, it operates on four simple forms, i.e. the Weekly Planner, the Daily Sales Report, the Prospect Information Sheet and Call Objective Form.  However, these four forms are so well integrated into the system that they are hardly seen at all but the Sales Personnel will be using them, nonetheless.

The system has two sections :

Section 1 : For use by the Sales Leader, whereby he will set the tone and direction for the sales team -
1.1 The number of calls per day
1.2 Determine the call ratio for a certain period, e.g. New Account:Follow up Calls.  Depending on the sales situation of a period where sales are not doing well, the Sales Leader might want to set the Call Ratio at 80:20 percent, i.e. 80% on New Account and 20% on Follow-up Account.  However, in Key Account Management, the ratio may be reversed, e.g. 20:80, i.e. 20% New Account and 80% Follow-up Account.  Once the ratio is set, the Sales Personnel will then begin to plot their sales calls as such.  Any deviation will prompt the system to alert the user that he is not within the parameter of the required calls.
1.3 The system also allow the Sales Leader to dictate the number of visits per client for the staff.  This is to time manage the staff so that they will not waste productive time on unproductive prospects.
1.4 The Call Objective section is for the Sales Leader to highlight to the Sales Personnel the kind of products that needed to be sold in the market.  This will help in moving slow stock which in return help in inventory management.  The other objective is to ensure the Sales Personnel to cross sell company products.

Section 2 : For use by the Sales Personnel to plot their calls for the coming week.  Every item decided by the Sales Leader will be reflected in this section which must be abided by the Sales Personnel.  It will start with the Weekly Planner and then their Daily Sales Report.  Any deviation will be picked up by the system and staff will be alerted.


1.  In the past, as well as present, hard copies are being used in sales planning and reporting. This will now be a thing of the past especially in this age of technology. Companies can now go paperless.
2. Sales Personnel can now do their reporting wherever they may be, even in a mamak shop or kopitiam.
3. Senior management staff, e.g. CEO, ED and/or GM can now view the staff activities and give timely decision to assist them in closing the sale.  However, the senior staff are not allowed to make comments other than the Sales Leader.  They can only view the plan and report, and they do not need to wait for the staff to complete their written report (which might take days) in the office to have it then called for review.
4. Sales Leader can now use the report to execute public relations exercises with new prospects.
5. Sales targets henceforth can be seen as achievable.
6. Staff confidence level will be boosted as they now have a sense of direction in pursuing their sales objectives.

System Effectiveness
 This is a tried and fully tested system used in a club, bank and trading house environment where the writer used to manage. It can also be applied in other kind of businesses.

Suitable for :

  • Securing new acccount
  • Key Account Management; and
  • Managing The Dealers

Current Users :
1. QP Industries Sdn Bhd
2. Protasco Trading Sdn Bhd

Billy Ong (seated second from left) with the technical support team.  On his right is Business Associate, Regina Ng.

The above is just a gist of what the system can do.  For a free demo, without any obligation, you may contact the following :

Billy Ong
Handphone no: 012-688 4989

Regina Ng
Handphone no: 016-288 3091

Or Email us at:


In the final leg of the preparation before the launch, the blogger (designer) and the programmers sitting down for one last check.

Billy Ong reviewing the flow of the system

Yes, it is working

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Some lessons from Latin America’s leading consumer-goods companies

The Latin American economy has seen better days. Over the past few years, Latin American countries have experienced slowdowns in both GDP and private-consumption growth, a rise in inflation rates, and devaluations in currency. In this difficult environment, consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) manufacturers must make careful choices and deliberately weigh trade-offs.

How are the region’s leading CPG companies managing their customers and channels? Our survey of 35 companies offers some best practices. We examine what “winners” do differently from their peers—winners being companies that achieved higher sales growth than the categories they play in while also outperforming peers on one or more customer- or channel-management metrics. 

The survey results show that by applying best practices, companies can grow sales by more than seven percentage points ahead of others, while reducing selling expenses as a percent of net sales (Exhibit 1). This difference in performance between winners and others is bigger than in any other market we studied except China, where the gap is 17 percentage points.1

Read rest of article here.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Playing catch-up: How to partner with the retailer of the future

There’s no denying that the balance of power in the consumer industry has tilted. Retailers have the advantage over consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) manufacturers—and retail buyers are deftly using their leverage at the negotiating table. Retail buyers are more sophisticated, more analytical, and more demanding than ever. Consider this: each of the top ten US retailers employs dozens of big data professionals who provide buyers with valuable insights. The same retailers have also hired more than 70 executives from European retail companies, known for having more aggressive negotiation styles than their American counterparts. In this increasingly adversarial environment, what’s a CPG key-account manager to do?

These changes in the retailer-manufacturer dynamic are the result of three trends that have been playing out in the US consumer industry: the steady rise of newer retail channels including hard discount and e-commerce, stagnant growth among the largest CPG brands, and burgeoning capabilities in big data and advanced analytics. The trends have been evident for a few years, yet in our experience the majority of CPG sales leaders are still largely doing things the way they always have. They continue to use the same key-account management (KAM) model and they haven’t enhanced key-account managers’ skill sets to keep up with the increasingly competitive business environment.

The future success of CPG sales teams rests on how aggressively sales leaders move to overhaul their KAM model and upgrade their sales capabilities. In this article, we discuss the most important changes that CPG companies will need to make. Companies that have implemented these changes have driven incremental growth of up to 3 percent above the category, while also reducing sales expenses.

Read rest of article here.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Jack Ma speaks about the value of customers ...

Jack Ma once said, 'When Selling to close friends and family, no matter how much you're selling to them, they will always feel you're earning their money, no matter how cheap you sell to them, they still wouldn't appreciate it.'

There will always be people who do not care about your Costs, Time, Effort, they rather let other people cheat them, allowing others to earn, then supporting someone they know. Cause in their heart, they will always be thinking, 'How much did he earn from me?' instead of "How much did he SAVE/MAKE for me?"

This is a classic example of a poor person's mentality!

How did the rich people become rich? One of the main reason is because they are willing to SUPPORT their associates business, taking care of one another's interests thus naturally they get back more.

Your Friends will in turn support you, thus the circle of wealth continues to grow and grow!

Simple Logic, you will start to get rich once you understand it.

Jack Ma on Sales: 'When doing Sales, the first people who will trust you will be Strangers, Friends will be shielding against you, fair-weather friends will distance from you. Family will look down upon you.'

The day you finally succeed, paying the bill for every get-together dinner, entertainment, you will realised: Everyone else is present except the Strangers.

Do you get the meaning of this?

We need to treat our dear Strangers better! And even more so to Friends who know what you are doing and yet still SUPPORT you!

Let us treat STRANGERS who buys from us better from today. They are your BEST customers!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Greatest Barriers to Growth, According to Executives

A large, iconic multinational is now struggling to keep growing while being chased by leaner, more aggressive competitors. To find the next wave of growth, they were taking a hard look at their bureaucracy.
“When I joined the company, the front line management jobs were the best,” the CEO told us. He had started his career in one of those jobs, as a country manager, and worked his way up. “It was like running a small business with only a few targets on performance and obeying the rules.” Today, he confessed, “it is the worst job.”

It takes more than 10 approvals for front line managers to get a green light for any investment, and many have tacked to the wall a whole sheet of targets, requirements, weekly and monthly templates to fill out and submit to different corporate offices.

No surprise, the data reflected this struggle: Employee loyalty at the front line was the lowest in the company. The key product and customer jobs no longer attracted the best talent. Headcount in the corporate office had grown at more than twice the rate of the rest of the company over the past decade, and people with the least contact with the front line were making a larger share of the decisions than ever before. After seeing this data presented, the CEO left the meeting committed to reversing course.

It’s a common story in business today. Eighty-five percent of executives say that the greatest barriers to achieving their growth objectives lie inside their own four walls, according to research by Bain & Company. In the largest companies, this rises to 94 percent of executives who believe that their most difficult challenges are internal, not external.

Our analysis showed something else, too: Most of these barriers resulted from complexity and bureaucracy that had accumulated as these leaders scaled up their businesses. The pattern holds true for some of the most studied cases of sudden business declines, like Nokia losing out to Apple or Sony getting out maneuvered in video cameras by GoPro. The stall-outs point more to a loss of internal metabolism, speed, self-awareness, sense of urgency, and general bloat of staff rather than any outside factors they may have missed.

We call this dynamic the “Growth Paradox:” Growth creates complexity and yet complexity is the number one killer of profitable growth. You cannot win on the outside, in the marketplace, if you are losing on the inside, with an organization stifled by its own growth. But what can you do about it?

A first step is to understand the five ways that bureaucracy distorts behavior in your company. You can think of these distortions as a set of lenses to focus your attack on this chronic disease of maturing companies.

Distortion of speed: Young, founder-led companies often set the speed in their competitive arenas—speed to recognize the need to change, interpret how, decide on what, and react. Young insurgents whose speed allows them to get “inside” of the decision cycle of a large, slow incumbent competitor can reap an enormous advantage. Think of how fast Netflix is adding new programming and changing the game of television versus traditional networks. Speed is measurable and can be benchmarked. But as companies grow, they become sclerotic, like the company described by the CEO at the start of this article.

One simple way to maintain speed as your company grows is by having fewer, higher impact meetings. An example is the Monday Meeting used by L Brands, the company run by Les Wexner, cited by HBR last year as the CEO with the best unadjusted financial performance in the world. L Brands companies, like Victoria’s Secret, have Monday meetings with all of the most influential management members present (or on the phone) to review the major initiatives and to ferret out blockages to progress. A Tuesday follow-up call is used to see whether the blockages are being removed. One senior manager told us: “You never miss it. It is the most disciplined thing we do. It has morphed to ‘we can’t live without it.’”

Distortion of motive: Young organizations have no place to hide and the founder knows everything. Meritocracy can flourish when things are transparent. Yet, as companies grow, promotions fall in line with corporate processes, complex “balanced” scorecards of performance, and regression to the mean. Companies that have lost meritocracy often turn into political organizations where how you look and sound can trump what you actually do.

Yet, the loss of meritocracy is not inevitable as companies grow. One of the best organizations at maintaining meritocracy and the “owner’s mentality” is AB InBev, the world’s largest beer company. “There is no delegation and little tolerance for excuses,” Jo Van Biesbroeck, former head of strategy and one of AB InBev’s longest-serving employees, told us recently. “You either perform or not; you are paid for solutions, not effort.” Simple targets, no places to hide, and simple communication is where it starts.

Distortion of time: Our colleague Michael Mankins recently calculated the cost of an executive committee meeting at one large company: preparation across departments for the meeting—backup books, power point presentations, pre-meetings, rehearsals—added up to 300,000 hours. This is probably more hours than some start-ups expend in a year to manage their entire firm.

Several practices can help prevent the take-over of executive agendas by the tyranny of the corporate calendar, including the imposition of rules on meeting length, number of attendees, or composition (no large meetings without the decision-maker present). However, it starts with self-awareness. Management teams should study how they use their time as carefully as how they use their money, starting with three questions: How much time do they spend with top customers? How much time do they spend with high potential employees? How much time do they spend on solving the firm’s top five challenges? Teams that ask themselves these questions honestly will quickly see the first step to take.

Distortion of decisions: A number of years ago we studied in detail how the most important decisions like product approvals were made at a large pharmaceutical firm. The results shocked the management team, revealing that nearly seven in ten decisions involved a process that the participants could not describe with a wide range of views on who the decision maker was.

Start your assault on the decision distortions of bureaucracy with your five or ten most important types of decisions. Map out how they are really made and how many people are involved. Then attack what will emerge clearly as obvious root causes of distortion: decisions that should be pushed to the front line with a few vital guiding principles; decisions that should have many fewer people involved; and decisions where it’s unclear who actually decides. This approach can re-empower the front line and renew the owner’s mindset at large companies.

Distortion of information: In a company’s early years, the founding team knows the customers by name and the products in detail. Intimacy and ground level knowledge are second nature. Yet, as companies grow this becomes increasingly difficult. Customer names give way first to customer group averages and then to summaries of research interpreted and re-interpreted as it flows up through layers to the desks of the senior team, sometimes diminishing the role of insurgent, smaller competitors or of customers who are the “canaries in the coal mine” of market challenge.

Haier, one of the world’s leading appliance companies, has built its organization around the goal of its founder Zhang Ruimin to reduce the distance between the CEO and the front line. The underlying principle is to push as many decisions as possible down to the place where the ground-level information exists—in this case, down to a network of semi-autonomous teams.

But there are other, simpler ways to renew this aspect of a founder’s mentality and its connection to the front line. We have seen management teams benefit greatly from setting up ways for them to “drop in” on customer calls, or call-center service discussions. Some teams have insisted that every discussion of the marketplace begin with actual named customers. Others have set up fast feedback surveys of front line employees (in Bain’s case, we survey every project team every two weeks, down to the most junior analyst, and make the data available), with the requirement that all issues be discussed within a week.

Vague attacks on bureaucracy are not precise enough to renew a company efficiently. You must disable the specific root causes and measure the impact on these five outcomes. It is not enough to address organizational layers and managers, because the most lasting results come from reversing the deep distortions of bureaucracy to rekindle a founder’s mentality.

Chris Zook is a partner in Bain & Company’s Boston office and has been a co-head of the firm’s global strategy practice for twenty years. He is a co-author of a number of bestselling books including Profit from the Core and The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth (Harvard Business Review Press, June 2016).

Monday, 30 May 2016

The Sales Secrets of High Growth Companies

What distinguishes sales organizations at fast-growing companies from their lagging peers? In a wide-ranging survey of more than 1,000 companies, we unearthed five meaningful differences:

1. Commitment to the future

That the world is changing ever more quickly may be a cliché, but that makes it no less true: all sales leaders know that they need to anticipate changes that could turn into opportunities or threats. Yet the best leaders move beyond acknowledgement to commitment.

They make trend analysis a formal part of the sales process through systematic investments of time, money, and people. Building and sustaining the capability to take a forward-looking view of the market is not easy. In discussions with more than 200 sales leaders while researching our new book, Sales Growth, two common characteristics emerged: the mind-set of sales leadership and resource commitment.

Sales leaders must consistently monitor the macro-environment in search of sales opportunities, no easy task given the relentless pressure to hit near-term targets. Forward planning must be part of someone’s job description—not just part of top management’s lengthy to-do list—with sufficient resources to take advantage of the best opportunities. Companies have to be willing to take risks now to create sales capacity long before the revenue will materialize. More than half of the fast-growing companies1 we analyzed look at least one year out, and 10 percent look more than three years out.

After planning, sales leaders aren’t afraid to put their money where they think the growth will be: 45 percent of fast-growing companies invest more than 6 percent of their sales budget on activities supporting goals that are at least a year out—a significant commitment in an environment where sales leaders fight for each dollar of investment.

[For more, read HERE ...]

Thursday, 28 April 2016

How to Get Prospects To Use You Instead of Their Existing Supplier

How often does this happen? You make a call to a new prospect to introduce them to the idea of using your products and services and they tell you that they already have a supplier with whom they are happy,thank you. Not you, I am sure, but poor salespeople would say, "Oh, that's okay good-bye." They would lose the opportunity of ever doing business with this person simply because they had never worked out what to say, when this objection comes up.

The objection probably comes up frequently too. What if you had the perfect answer to this objection? Then every time it came up, you would have an answer to keep the prospect interested?

I suggest you don't immediately start data dumping all over the customer about how much better your product or service . The best tactic is to show understanding and get the customer talking by asking questions.

Let's explore some different ways of dealing with this:-

Start every answer to an objection with empathy to build rapport.

"That's fine Mr/Mrs ______ I understand that you would most likely have a supplier already." (note you use empathy to build rapport.)

Then continue with the option of your choice below:-

Option 1.

"May I ask who you are using?"

"What is it you particularly like about your existing supplier? (wait for answer)

What else would you like them to do for you to make them absolutely perfect? (wait for answer)

So, if we could do or give you (what they like about their current supplier) and (the thing that would make them perfect), you might want to talk to us further do you think? What time would suit you to get together next week, Monday or Tuesday?"

Option 2.

"What would happen if your current supplier, all of a sudden, could not fulfill your requirements? (or ran out of stock?)" (Depending on their answer, you would continue with:-)

"Howabout we send you our contact details and information about our services so we can be your standby if such a scenario occurs?

Option 3.

"How long have you been using your existing supplier?" (wait for answer and repeat what they say)

"Sometimes it is good to check whether you are paying the right price for services when you have been using the same supplier for a while. Howabout I give you a quote for using our services so you can make sure you are getting the most value for your money? Please note when comparing prices that our products/services also include ........." (add your value here - it may put doubt in their mind.)

Option 4.

"What would have to happen for you to consider changing your supplier?"

Option 5.

"That's great that you are happy with your supplier. When you changed to your current supplier, you must have changed for a specific reason. Do you remember what that was? When you next get around to contemplating a change, what would you want your next supplier to do?" (It may give you a chance to offer what they want.)

Option 6.

"I realise you may not be interested in our services right now but I would love to send you some information about our products/services so you will be well informed for the future."

Option 7.

"I realise you are happy with your existing supplier, so I am not asking you to give us all of your business. I would like you to consider giving us 1% of your business initially, so you have the opportunity to compare our services with theirs and see the difference. How does that sound?

Option 8.

If none of these work for you try this:

"So what do I/we have to do to be able to do business with you?"

It is recommended you put your favourite option on a wall in front of your phone so you will never choke on this objection again!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Developing a customer-experience vision

To provide a distinctive experience for customers, an organization must unite around the goal of meeting their true needs. Done well, the effort can power a vast amount of innovation. 

Almost every successful company recognizes that it is in the customer-experience business. Organizations committed to this principle are as diverse as the online retail giant Amazon; The Walt Disney Company, from its earliest days operating in a small California studio; and the US Air Force, which uses an exotic B2B-like interface to provide close air support for ground troops under fire. Conversely, companies that are not attuned to a customer-driven marketplace are remarkably easy to spot. Consider the traditional US taxi industry, which is facing significant new competition from the likes of Lyft and Uber. Customer-service standouts clearly understand that this is central to their success as businesses.

Read rest of article here.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

From touchpoints to journeys: seeing the world as customers do

To maximize customer satisfaction, companies have long emphasized touchpoints. But doing so can divert attention from the more important issue: the customer’s end-to-end journey. 

When most companies focus on customer experience they think about touchpoints—the individual transactions through which customers interact with parts of the business and its offerings. This is logical. It reflects organization and accountability, and is relatively easy to build into operations. Companies try to ensure that customers will be happy with the interaction when they connect with their product, customer service, sales staff, or marketing materials. But this siloed focus on individual touchpoints misses the bigger—and more important—picture: the customer’s end-to-end experience. Only by looking at the customer’s experience through his or her own eyes—along the entire journey taken—can you really begin to understand how to meaningfully improve performance.

Read rest of article here.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Here comes the modern Chinese consumer, from China, that is .....

Despite concerns about economic growth, the country’s consumers keep spending. Yet our latest survey reveals changes in what they’re buying and how they’re buying it. 

Cooling economic growth, a depreciating currency, and a gyrating stock market are making political and business leaders concerned that China’s economic dream may be ending. Yet Chinese consumers remain upbeat. In fact, consumer confidence has been surprisingly resilient over the past few years as salaries have continued to rise and unemployment has stayed low.

Read rest of article here.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

My consulting work with Protasco Trading Sdn Bhd

My office at Protasco Trading for the next three months wef March 3 2016
Laying the ground rules for the staff

The company located in PJCC

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Stop selling and start providing solutions for free.

In all my 30 years of selling and managing sales teams, I have always advised my staff that once they meet a client, do not sell but start showing an interest in their problems and provide the solutions for free.  Sales will come much easier after that.

The reason is very simple.  Once you start to sell, they will not buy for any one of the four reasons :

  1. Your price is too high
  2. We do not have the budget.
  3. We already have another supplier, and the worse is,
  4. I do not like your company (for some rhyme or reasons).

SO Stop selling!

The other reasons are as follows.

Let's start with a controversial statement and one that flags the need for sales forces to recognise they have to adapt to stay relevant in today’s market reality.

To raise your professional sales capability, stop selling!  There is a strong reason to “stop selling”.

Buyers are better trained and better equipped nowadays, and they do not want to be sold to. They do not need or want a sales pitch.

Hence, sales teams have to play “catch up” on acquiring new skills and adapting to the new reality.
Research from Chief Sales Officer Insights indicates that the number of sales forces hitting their goals and targets hovers around the 50% mark, so there is a strong message to sales people: Adapt or become irrelevant.

In Jim Collin’s book Good to Great, he writes: “Get the right people on the bus, in the right seats, and get the wrong people off the bus.” He makes a valid point.

Further comprehensive and validated data is available from the Objective Management Group, the pioneers of sales specific assessments.

Founder and chief executive officer Dave Kurlan says: ‘‘We started designing and developing sales specific assessments in the late 1980s.

“Tools available then were limited to, or based on, personality or behavioural tools that had been adapted to sales, which is pretty much the case today.”
Kurlan adds: “Over those 20-plus years, we have evaluated more than 500,000 sales staff, over 50,000 sales managers and more than 8,800 sales forces across a diverse range of industries around the world.”

The validated data that has emerged should cause concern:
1)        ·85% of sales forces have no formal sales process;
2)        ·32% of sales staff cannot/will not sell;
3)        ·61% of sales staff sell inconsistently;
4)        ·Just 7% of sales staff sell consistently;
5)        ·21% of sales staff cannot be trained;
6)        ·45% of sales managers struggle to manage effectively;
7)        ·Few sales forces have genuine new business sales staff, that is hunters; and
8)        ·There is a mismatch in sales role allocation.

The good news is that the data indicates that the average growth potential of a sales force today is a whopping 85%.

Kurlan says: “Show me any chief executive office or vice-president of sales who would not be happy to have a genuine 20% uplift in revenue, let alone 85%.”

There is an inescapable fact — sales forces are leaving millions of dollars on the table.

Sales forces need to redesign their entire sales approach by moving away from “hard selling”.
They have to diffuse the pressure they create for themselves, thereby taking the pressure off the buyer.

Buyers want to engage in a business conversation, not a sales pitch. That requires a different combination of skills over and above traditional sales skills.

Buyers have a variety of issues, problems, perspectives, styles and personalities.

They are rightly demanding that the salesman has business acumen and is not simply focused on “selling what he has in the bag”.

The skill set of sales staff will need to look something like this:
1)        ·Business skills/acumen,
2)        ·Communication skills,
3)        ·Listening skills,
4)        ·Empathy skills,
5)        ·Presentation skills,
6)        ·Negotiation skills,
7)        ·Thinking skills, and
8)        ·Decision making skills.

A well-developed sales force will have the following characteristics:
1)          ·Learning and development is seen as an ongoing and frequent investment and not simply ad hoc sales training which does not work;
2)          ·Daily or weekly online and offline coaching, developed by great sales management;
3)          ·Access to learning and development workshops;
4)          ·The right people in the right roles based on an accurate evaluation, not gut instinct;
5)          ·Customised training. The notion that all sales staff need the same training at the same time is frankly naïve, yet it happens frequently today;
6)          ·Only “A” players, whether they are salesmen or sales managers;
7)          ·Accountability, with no excuses; and
8)          ·A compensation/benefits package that reflects and rewards great performance.

Makeover needed

  • The sales force recruitment process needs a makeover.
  • Wrong sales hires at any level cost money and potentially damage a brand.
  • The Objective Management data points to a robust 10-step process for sales personnel recruitment and that includes evaluating/assessing every applicant at the outset, not just those on the shortlist.
  • Many sales recruiters are missing both the critical skills and the major weaknesses in candidates that will determine sales success because subjectivity in selection is alive and well.
  • Sales managers and recruiters still hire people in their own likeness and, while understandable, the approach is flawed. – Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network