Roy's Blog: September 2009
September 27, 2009
In Athens Greece at the moment as part of our 2009 vacation in Europe. I am always on the look-out for BE DiFFERENT companies to use as examples for my readers.
The Athens Marriott Ledra is doing the DiFFERENT thing right! Here’ are some of the things I noticed during our most memorable recent stay….
- An unmatched 8th floor view of THE attraction in Athens - the Acropolis.
- Personalized room service - you get to pick the time you want your room made up.
- Consistent service across all Marriott properties - same caring attitude & responsiveness wherever you go.
- A say yes attitude. We showed up at 9am after getting off a cruise ship and they checked us in. We asked for flowers for some friends and they found them and had them delivered to our room precisely when they promised.
- The best BEDS in the world! A distinguishable difference in comfort between the Marriott and any other hotel.
- a Retail Offering - bed packages - around their beds. Their customers want the Marriott comfort at home.
- Images of their other international properties at the reception area, scrolling on flat screen TV’s. This emphasizies their scale and scope and it visually displays the beauty of their properties coupled with dazzling service.
- Multiple power outlets in each room with 110 and 220 service to accommodate their international guests.
- A ‘Ledra Business Package’. For 49 Euros you get breakfast for 2, unlimited high speed Internet access and mini-bar contents - water, soft drinks, wine and beer. No talk of discounts either. Brilliant marketing!
- The manager is part of the customer serving team. It was extremely busy in their 8th floor Panorama Restaurant and the manager was actively engaged providing sealess service to the customers.
- Personalized communications. We had messages on our TV asking if we were interested in having them arrange for airport taxi service on the specific day we were leaving. They were offering a competitive fixed rate to avoid any surprises and to make it easy for us to pay for the service - on our hotel bill.
There you have it. Simple things that they do to BE DiFFERENT and earn my loyalty. The only time I will stay elsewhere is if Marriott isn’t there.
Cheers, Roy Osing
September 17, 2009
Much has been written about Sales Recruitment and how to attract and keep the best sales people. Human Resource experts will tell you that there are certain competencies and skills one must possess to be a great sales professional. And much is written on the experience levels necessary to predict whether or not someone will be effective. All good stuff.
The issue I have with the Sales pedantics when it comes to recruiting is the absence of strategic context from a BE DiFFERENT point of view. Effective sales recruitment for YOUR organization cannot be done in isolation of your strategy. You can’t look at skills, competencies and experience in absolute terms to discover who will do the right thing for you in front of your customers.
Before you know what to look for in a salesperson, you need a solid Strategic Game Plan for your organization. One that clearly articulates your only claim in compelling terms. HOW you intend to compete and WIN in an environment with numerous competitors is surely an antecedent to determining what you need to look for in your sales warriors.
In addition, you need to break down your Strategic Game Plan into your Sales Brand and further into the Sales Behavior Charter that defines precisely what behaviors the organization wants expressed when dealing with your most precious asset - the customer. This Charter will tell you exactly what type of person to look for in Sales in terms of experience, skills and competencies.
Develop your recruitment guide from the Charter. Devise the specific interview questions with the behaviors you want to see in mind. It may not fit the HR stereotypical way of looking for sales people, but who cares? The point is it is relevant to YOUR organization and YOUR BE DiFFERENT Strategic Game Plan.
And, remember to look for Relationship Builders not product floggers. Floggers may produce short term gain but relationship builders will get you loyal customers who will produce a steady stream of revenue for the long haul. Which do you prefer?
Reinforce your sales choice with the organization to drive home the strategic decision making principles you used and how the person fits within your strategy and expected behaviors. This isn’t about hiring a sales person with ‘classic’ sales potential. Its about acquiring an asset that possesses the requisites to live your strategy in front of customers every moment of the day and every day of the year.
Cheers, Roy Osing
September 10, 2009
It is extremely important to put a sale at risk if it means deepening the relationship you have with your customer. Sales heresy I suspect to sales advocates who believe getting the sale is worth whatever it takes - the product flogger and ‘one-sale wonder’ speaking.
Relationships are all you have in Sales, and it is absolutely critical you do whatever it takes to preserve and strengthen them. The absolute worse thing you can do is to erode your customer relationship by maintaining a product sale focus.
There are times when your solution doesn’t cut it. It perhaps doesn’t have the right functionality to do what the customer specifically wants. Or, it might not be available when the customer wants it. Or it might not meet the price expectations of the customer (in which case you should be adding value to the solution!).
In any of these circumstances you need to abandon your sales quest and walk away.
Re-focus your efforts on ensuring the relationship is deepened even though you don’t have a solution that will work for the customer.
BE DiFFERENT Sales Principle #1 - Own the customer forever. The long term health of an organization depends on a healthy annuity revenue stream not on a series of ‘one-sale wonders’.
BE DiFFERENT Sales Principle #2 - Do whatever it takes to protect this position. Every action taken by Sales must reflect this directive and not be influenced by short term objectives.
I would love just once for a sales person to take time to work out a solution for me that involved one of their competitors because it was the right thing to do for our relationship. Trouble is they rarely do it. They sluff you off because there is no short term gain for them.
How about ‘Sorry we can’t help you at the moment, but I know XYZ Company in the mall carries exactly what you are looking for. If you would like, I will call them for you.’ Can you imagine! My positive feelings for the company would grow and would be back to them to give them more of my business not less if I were treated this way.
Finally, sales compensation needs to reflect relationship-building behavior. If it doesn’t we as consumers will continue to get stuff flogged at us in wild abandon.
September 7, 2009
So, you have created a great idea that you believe will capture the hearts and minds and, hopefully the pocket books of people. You have laboured for months and maybe years making sure your product or service concept works; the technology is sound and consistently stable.
You have now arrived at the point where you need to morph your idea into a business. More specifically your challenge is to turn your innovative idea into a thriving economic engine. So how do you do it?
The BE DiFFERENT mantra: If you’re not different you’re dead (or soon will be) should be your guide.
If you can’t provide unique reasons to attract business then your startup idea will never get off the ground.
The number one consideration for anyone looking to start a business is that your idea has to be unique in some way or it can be morphed into a unique state. As I said above, you can have a great technology idea, but unless a BE DiFFERENT mindset is applied, you may never have a great business.
The starting point: develop your Strategic Game Plan based on answering three questions:
- HOW BIG do you want to be?
- WHO do you want to SERVE?
- HOW will you compete and WIN?
Declare your financial or market goals first. Second, select target customers that have the potential to deliver to your financial expectations. Third, create a differentiated market approach that will beat your competitors. Your Strategic Game Plan can be created in 3 days; you can start executing it on the fourth!
The essential component of the HOW to WIN part of the strategy is the need to create the ONLY statement for your business; this is the essence of your strategy to beat your competitors in the trenches. The challenge is simple to explain but challenging to complete:
‘We are the only ones that…..’
This is the ultimate manifestation of a real differentiation strategy and you should look in every nook and cranny in your business for this edge.
Figure it out with your team and then test it with prospective customers. Make sure it is real, compelling and believable and that you are not mesmerized by your own thoughts of grandeur.
Your Strategic Game Plan must be set in place first; all action plans, tactics and activities are driven from it.
The bottom line for you entrepreneurs out there is that if you cannot define your business in relevant terms to your target customers (i.e. you will deliver something that is a high priority to them) and if you cannot explain in clear concise terms how your offering is DiFFERENT from the other alternatives available then STOP. Continue to work on your idea until you meet the BE DiFFERENT criteria. You will reap the rewards later.
If you want a guide to your efforts, work with my BE DiFFERENT Quiz. Use the 40 Practises in the Quiz to build your business in a BE DiFFERENT way.