Roy's Blog: January 2010

January 29, 2010

WHO do you want to SERVE?

Traditional business planning methods have issues; they’re all screwed up

The second question to answer in the Strategic Game Plan creation process is which customers should you serve.

Choose customer groups that have the capability to generate the growth you are expecting. You may have the products and services they want, but if they don’t have the latent potential to meet your HOW BIG objectives, you shouldn’t be chasing them.

If you do, they will suck up your precious resources with little return. you will surely fall short of your growth goals..

HOW BIG should determine WHO to SERVE.

There’s no such thing as a bad customer; its just that some are better than others.

Examine the customer groups that you currently do business with. Can they deliver to your new revenue expectations? Are their market characteristics appropriate to give you the growth you want? Apart from demand factors, what about the competitive environment - is it intense or are there opportunities to enhance your market position?

And how “fast and easy” are they to engage and close? Remember, a 24-month plan period needs a relatively short selling cycle. You can’t afford to take 18 months closing a deal with any customer. 

Carefully evaluate your options and choose the customer segments that can deliver you BOTH the growth you need as well as leverage the competencies of your organization.

WHO considerations:
1. Customer groups in which your customer share position is low. If you currently have a small percentage of their total business you have a good growth potential.
2. Customers that are currently growing in the double digits and where you have an advantage over others.
3. Geographically defined segments which have easy access at relatively low cost.
4. High lifetime value customer groups where investments will provide healthy returns. 
5. Customer groups that have been loyal to you.
6. Segments where your competitive position is strong and where your advantage is clearly defined.
7. Choose the MINIMUM number of customer groups that will generate the revenue you want. The more you choose, the more diluted your efforts are likely to be. Choose the “critical few” groups rather then the “possible many”.

What do you do with customer groups you currently serve but can’t serve your growth needs? Be prepared to walk away from them. You have to let them go in favor of focusing on the few choice segments that will provide the revenue growth you need.

A client’s feedback: “Roy led us through the development of our Strategic Game Plan using his practical BE DiFFERENT Practices. The 2-Day experience for me and my Leadership Team was amazing! We not only created a Strategy that will take us on an exciting journey, we had fun and learned a lot about business at the same time. We decided to stay with Roy to help us execute out new SGP and keep us on track. A great investment and I would definitely recommend it to others who are looking for a way to break away from the pack.” — Carolyn Douglas, Founder, Intranet Connections, North Vancouver BC

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other Strategic Game Plan articles you might like…
HOW BIG do you wasn’t to be?
WHO do you want to SERVE?
HOW do you intend to compete and WIN?

  • Posted 1.29.10 at 01:53 pm by Roy Osing
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January 27, 2010

HOW BIG do you want to be?

Traditional business planning methods have issues; they’re all screwed up

This is one of three posts intended to explain how to create a Strategic Game Plan. It is a proven and practical process that incorporates the answers to three critical questions.

It begins with the HOW BIG do you want to be question.


Traditional strategy-building methodology typically begins with an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It then moves on to developing an overall strategic direction. Objectives and action plans are struck. Finally the expected financial results are produced. They are the output of the strategy-creation process.

In my experience, the financial results get scrutinized by the top executive and often get modified as the CFO and CEO decide they simply aren’t aggressive enough. Sound familiar? As a result, higher growth and financial numbers are driven out of the tabled strategy rather than adjusting the strategy to deliver more aggressive financial results.

This is a huge mistake. Assuming that the assumptions behind the plan are reasonable and acceptable, forcing more aggressive numbers from a strategy without increasing strategic risk is a fool’s game.

The expected higher performance numbers will not happen.

My Strategic Game Plan process is to treat growth and financial expectations as inputs to the strategy-building process. Do you want to grow top line revenues 25% over the next 24 months? Or would you be satisfied with growing at 10%?

Clearly the former target would require more resources and would entail greater risk than the more modest scenario.

In addition, the character of the strategies would be different. The 25% growth strategy would require a different set of actions than the 10% incremental option.

For example bolder growth expectations might require new markets and strategic partnerships that might not be necessary under a modest growth plan. The bolder the plan the more you have to move away from organic growth.

So declare right up front the growth and financials you intend to achieve and THEN develop the strategy to deliver them. And if you have been growing at 10% don’t expect doing more of what you have been doing will be good enough to deliver on a 25% plan.

It won’t happen. You will have to be more creative, more aggressive and be more accepting of more risk. If not, suck it up and be prepared to stay with your 10% strategy.

HOW BIG Rules:
1. A growth goal should be bold enough to drive innovation and creativity.
2. If HOW BIG is “realistic” its not appropriate. Pick another number.
3. Your chosen growth goal should make you perspire.
4. HOW BIG is a declaration of intent without a specific idea on how to get there.
5. A growth goal should disrupt past performance not trend line it.
6. HOW BIG detests extrapolation.
7. Choose a 24-month plan period. It better aligns with execution and allows for faster response to unforeseen events.
8. HOW BIG has no time for 5-year plans.

A client’s feedback: “I invited Roy to speak to the Vancouver Women Presidents’ Organization on his Strategic Game Plan creation process and it was an overwhelming success. Not only did the attendees take away Roy’s extremely practical methods to develop a strategy that can be executed, they all enjoyed the learning experience. I would recommend Roy to any organization looking to take their game to the next level.” — Barbara Mowat, President, Impact Communications Ltd. and GroYourBiz

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Other Strategic Game Plan articles you might like…
HOW BIG do you wasn’t to be?
WHO do you want to SERVE?
HOW do you intend to compete and WIN?

  • Posted 1.27.10 at 01:52 pm by Roy Osing
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January 22, 2010

How to empower employees to serve customers

Let me be clear: when I speak of empowerment I am referring to it as it applies to customers, and how to use it to serve a strategic purpose.

Many organizations fear the ‘e’ word.

The common myth is that if you allow people to do what they believe is necessary they will ‘give away the farm’; they will break the rules; they will disrupt the rhythm of the organization and create needless stress and strain.

Nonsense. These beliefs come from a misunderstanding of what empowerment really is.

Empowerment is the provision of specific degrees of freedom to employees consistent with the strategy of the organization.

What it is; what it is not:

- it is bending the rules of the organization in specific circumstances for specific customers; it is not allowing rule bending for all circumstances and for any customer. Rule bending is a critical component of the Service Strategy of an organization and results in dazzled customers with deep loyalty to the firm. It must be allowed but only under controlled circumstances;

- it is a planned course of action with its own set of rules in terms of the process an employee is to follow and the options available to them; it is not doing whatever an employee thinks is right at the time;

- it is being a few things to seleced customers; it is not being anything to all customers;


- the actions allowed are defined directly from the strategy of the organization; they are not invented on the run;

- the effectiveness of empowerment is measured against the desired outcomes; it is not ‘winging it’ and let the chips fall where they may;

- it is a proactive set of activities; it is not an unplanned reactive event;

- empowerment is contained within a ‘box’ with rigidly defined parameters and behaviors expected of an employee; it is not unfettered activity with no boundaries.

Critically examine your strategic game plan and define the critical operations areas where empowering employees would be helpful to achieving the results expected.

Create an empowerment plan: which customers are to be included; what operations activities are ‘empowerable’ (like service recovery, service sign-up etc.); what measurable outcomes are expected and what behaviors must an employee exhibit - i.e. what is the empowerment process to be followed.

Honor your empowerment champions.

Tell stories of what they did to paint a picture of what success looks like.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

  • Posted 1.22.10 at 03:48 pm by Roy Osing
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January 16, 2010

8 proven ways to have really amazing sales listeners

Some sales people use a potential customer as an audience to try and impress with their product knowledge and what they believe to be their scintillating interpersonal skills.

They talk, and talk, and talk about their product pausing every now and then to appreciate the wisdom of what they have just uttered.

This 1-way deluge of information on an individual is painful reminder that sales people have healthy egos and they love to be in the transmit mode a great deal of time.

Sales should be a relationship-building event which is impossible to conduct in the face of a sales monologue.

Salespeople need to be terrific listeners; asking the right questions to expose the needs and more importantly the secrets of their prospective buyer.

It really doesn’t matter what the sales agenda is; the objective is to ask questions, listen and learn in order to come up with the best solution possible.


Here’s how to create a sales listening team:

1. Recruit people with a background of listening achievement. You can always train them on product knowledge; look for those who listen innately.

2. Train them with listening skills. You can’t hold them accountable for listening if you don’t teach them how you want it done.

3. Build listening into their performance management plan. If listening is not part of how you want the job done, it won’t happen.

4. Pay for listening in their compensation plan. Make listening a healthy part of their bonus pay. Start at 40% and increase it every year.

5. Measure listening performance and engage the customer in the process. Create a Listening Report Card with 6 key behaviors you want sales to consistently demonstrate with customers. Have the customer complete the Report Card to rate their salesperson’s performance.

6. Measure sales listening performance monthly. Review results with each salesperson. Develop an action plan to address shortfalls.

7. Honor the brilliant listeners. Shout out those who do it well and who receive accolades from their customers. This tells the organization that listening matters and gives others a picture of how it is done.

8. Establish an annual sales listening award to honor those who listening consistently.

Sales Listening 101.

Have a go at it and reap the rewards.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

  • Posted 1.16.10 at 12:07 pm by Roy Osing
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