Roy's Blog: March 2018

March 26, 2018

How to improve marketing and sales working together

In every organization there is a degree of conflict between marketing and sales.

Marketing complains that sales don’t move products or services effectively; sales claims they don’t get the support from marketing they need to do the job.

Marketing says that certain sales activity is off strategy; sales responds by criticizing that marketing doesn’t provide clear enough direction.

Around and around it goes.

Around in circles

A certain amount of this dance is healthy; too much, however, and it’s dysfunctional and can adversely impact organizational performance.

These 6 actions will help link marketing and sales in harmony.

Clarify the roles of each party
Marketing sets strategy; sales executes it. Sales is a channel to market; setting the channel strategy — i.e. what channel sells what product — is the responsibility of marketing.
Sales has no formal role in setting overall market direction other than providing input as the frontline customer facing team.
It’s critical that all align with these roles otherwise dysfunction occurs as groups trip over each other and little constructive gets done.
If there are issues about who does what, escalate to the highest level in the organization to get resolution.

Develop a detailed marketing plan
The marketing plan must have sufficient granularity for sales to create their sales plan incorporating the strategy focus and priorities they must carry out.
This is often a major issue where the marketing plan lacks the clarity required to define the specific actions sales must take to execute successfully.
Without absolute clear translation for sales they will be forced to make their own interpretation of what marketing expects. This puts sales in a quasi-planning role for which they are not responsible nor ill equipped to play.

Revenue target

Engage sales in setting the overall revenue target
This does not mean sales has a decision making role in setting the target; this is the responsibility of marketing.
Sales, however, should be looked to provide critical input on the available revenue potential and decide how it should be allocated at the customer level.
In addition, should there be any shortfall between the tops down marketing driven revenue target and bottoms up sales driven quota — and there always is — sales should decide how the difference will be allocated among customer groups and specific customers.

Implement an internal report card
The “report card” is a vehicle that allows marketing and sales to review and rate one another in terms of how well each function supports and meets the needs of the other.
The process is simple: marketing defines their 6 critical needs of sales who, in turn, outline what they expect of marketing.
Every 6 months report cards are exchanged and each side rates the other — ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘F’ rating — on each support item.
Results are analyzed and actions taken by both sides to address where performance has fallen short of expectations.

Jointly review revenue results monthly
Joint action planning based on results against monthly revenue objectives will solidify and direct the relationship to enhance performance.
Name calling is reduced and energy directed to resolving issues rather than blaming the other side for any performance glitch.
I mandated that these sessions be formally planned and would drop in unannounced to witness the proceedings and ask questions that challenged how well the team was working together. It became an integral part of “how things were done around here”.


Celebrate achievements together — good or bad
You either make it together or you fail together. There is no finger pointing, only sharing. Remarkable teams are created by jointly owning performance results.
As president of the organization I hosted quarterly performance celebrations between the two groups. We reviewed the successes — and recognized the heroes — and shortcomings — and what was learned through the process.
We tried to recognize groups of individuals with a mix of marketing and sales to further the notion of teamwork.

At the end of the day, aligning marketing and sales is not good enough.

They need to be “joined at the hip” in order to deliver the high level of performance every organization expects.

Leadership needs to be engaged to make it happen otherwise nothing will change and mutual distrust will continue.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 3.26.18 at 03:55 am by Roy Osing
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March 19, 2018

7 proven ways a leader can pick the right people

How does a leader pick the right person when all candidates appear to be equally qualified?

This is a common question posed to leaders; but it’s one that has no answer.

The question is flawed; it’s based on an incorrect assumption.

It assumes that two candidates can be equally qualified.
The fact is that no two individuals are “equally qualified”; no two people possess identical capabilities in terms of creating value for the organization.

No two are equal

The question assumes identical academic achievements in the same discipline (never happens); equal experience (never happens), equal skills (never happens) and equal potential (never happens).

If a leader can’t choose because they are unable to see the the differences in individuals, they’re failing in their role.
If they do not have the insight necessary to break down common stereotypes in people, they are unlikely to be able to develop amazingly successful teams.

For those leaders who have difficulty seeing the differences in people these are the necessary actions to take.

Usher yourself out
Leave and seek another opportunity if you can’t see the difference in people. Because if you stay you are likely to make bad people decisions and rob your organization.
The right thing to do is own up to your leadership deficiency and leave.

Ask more detailed questions of the candidates
Ask questions that probe their DNA. I was hiring a VP Marketing and the candidate had a history of Greek dancing. I asked why it mattered to the marketing leadership position and how they would apply the dancing skill to the position he was applying for.
His answer was threaded with skills like creativity, spontaneity and risk taking which were helpful in painting a picture of what he was all about.
You can’t discover differences in people if you don’t probe in detail how their skills and experience could be applied specifically to the job in question.

Greek dancers

Insist that they ask you the top 3 questions on their mind as a candidate
This will tell you what they think is important (and how well they prepared for the interview) and how well they can focus on the few things that are truly important.
I would frame the question this way: “If I make my decision to hire you based on 3 questions you feel are vital to ask me, what would they be?”
This question separates the ramblers from those that can pinpoint their interests in a few words — good to know; the crowd has difficulty doing this.

Test their understanding of your company
Ask tough questions on your products and services, main competitors, strategic partnerships and financial performance to see if they have done their homework.
I would ask each person to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 on how well they think they understood our organization and the priorities it had — amazing how you can spot the bullshit.
Truly committed candidates will have thoroughly researched your organization and will standout from others you are interviewing.

Ask them “If you were to be hit by a bus and killed what would you be remembered for?”
And ask for a one word answer. What THEY define as their special redeeming value is critical information to test whether their is a fit between the candidate and the values of the organization.
Ask “What do you mean?” questions based on their one word reply to bring out what they specifically mean answer. Most replies tend to be high level and vague — “I think I will be remembered for my generosity” which tells you little about the actions they would take (and the values they live) to be generous.

Killed by bus

Have more than one person engaged in the interview
It could be a peer but it could also be a high potential junior level manager who would gain from the experience of sitting in.
I used to invite who I considered high potential employees to sit in on candidate interview for positions more senior than theirs.
They were blown away by the trust I gave them; they returned my trust with creative questions that reflected a more inclusive view of what the organization deemed important.

Ask them what they learned from their grandmother
Grandmothers have amazing life smarts that are unmatched by most others and represent an amazing source of mentorship.
Discover what your candidates have learned about life that can be traced back to an old soul who has forgotten more life lessons than most of us will ever learn.
Individuals who can see the wisdom in experience have much to offer, and will show themselves as different from their “equals”.

Recruiting top talent is an incredibly tough job. Don’t make it even more difficult by assuming any two candidates are equally qualified.

Your job as leader is to discover their differences and select the one whose unique attributes exactly match the needs of the organization.

If you don’t see the inequality between candidates, look closer; dig deeper.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
What should you do when you want to change jobs?
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  • Posted 3.19.18 at 04:38 am by Roy Osing
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March 12, 2018

What should you do when you want to change jobs?

The first thing you do is STOP and PAUSE!

And take a look at the reasons behind why you want a move.


What’s driving the need you have to move on?
— a boss that’s making everyday a crummy day for you?
— a bad recent experience on a project that’s left you questioning your future in the organization?
— the sudden realization that there is no fit between your personal needs and the organization’s value system?
— your conclusion that the future opportunities from your current employer are limited and your long term career plan is in jeopardy if you stay?

Whatever the reason, it’s critical to get your thinking straight on why you want to change before you jump.

You should take action if moving out the only way to achieve your long term goals.

Once you go you’re gone and the likelihood of returning is slim to none.

At one point in my career I was demoted from the executive leadership team due to a company merger and I felt intense pressure by many people around me (including family) to leave the company because of the way the new leadership treated me.

Even though I was emotionally driven to leave this organization that didn’t “recognize my worth”, I decided to stay because I felt that, notwithstanding the short term hit I received by being demoted, in the the long run hanging in would present opportunities to regain my position in the hierarchy and continue my rewarding career.

Burning bridges

It was the right call; it paid off.

I didn’t particular enjoy being removed from the executive leadership team and told to report to an individual who previously was my peer. But within a year of hard work and keeping my head down, I was appointed to the position of president of our exciting data and internet business and rejoined the executive leadership team.

Looking back, the easy thing would have been to pack it all in; to escape the emotionally ego draining experience I was buried in.

But, fortunately, I gave the matter considerable thought because it was a huge decision I had to make; I couldn’t afford to react to my plight and make a quick decision.

Be thoughtful when thinking about making a job change; do it for the right reasons.

Once you’ve decided to go, create a “moving-on” action plan.

Define the things you need to do to not only get you out of your current situation but also leave with your currency strong and your head high.

Burning bridges when you leave a job is not in your long term interests; it’s dumb. Leave on the winds of elegance.

Your moving-on plan should include these five elements.

Dust off your career game plan and revise it based on your current circumstances.
Look specifically at the organizations you are interested in and wish to target, the position you would like to get and the “foxes” you should connect with to help you. Always consider your career plan a work in progress;  constantly update it because you never know when you might have to revisit it to make a move.

Revise your resume to reflect any changes you made to your career game plan.
As your career game plan changes, your must your CV change to reflect the latest conditions. And keep morphing it to try and make it different from the thousands of résumés out there that all look the same. The way your career story will be noticed by prospective employers is to make it unique and have it standout from others in some meaningful way.


Meet with each of the top 5 in your personal network.
Start the conversation on what opportunities exist in other organizations and get their views on how you should move forward.
Actually, engaging with your network should be an ongoing priority even when you are not looking to move — be in a constant job hunting mode; it will prepare you if and when you decide to pursue other opportunities.

Contact close colleagues in your present organization and explain why you are intending to leave.
This includes bosses that you have had that you respect. It is extremely important that you leave with strong currency and personal integrity, as you never know when you might need their support in the future. NEVER close the door on the possibility of returning to the organization at some point.

Thank the people in your current organization who supported you and ask if there is anything you can do for THEM.
A little recognition for the people who helped you out goes a long way. They will often give you valuable advice and will recommend you to people in their network.
When you decide to close the pages on the current chapter of your career, make sure your champions and allies know they each played an important and valuable role in your life.

The decision to leave your present job is one thing, but doing it in the right way is another.

Don’t fall victim to a knee-jerk reaction and an emotional exit.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
Why do people on the frontline make you successful?
8 ways marketing leaders can be remarkable
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  • Posted 3.12.18 at 04:15 am by Roy Osing
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March 5, 2018

Why do people on the frontline make you successful?

Fast forward — because successful strategies involve doing stuff for people WITH people (technology can support, but will never be the complete solution).

Ok. Now the narrative.

Every organization is looking for the ingredient that will give them a competitive advantage; make them standout among their competitors.

Frontline defenders

In my experience most organizations turn to what the prevailing strategy development theory says, which often promulgates these types of ways to outpace “the bad guys”:
— introduce a disruptive technology
— achieve cost leadership
— lead in product or service quality
— differentiate products or services
— form an alliance with another company
— leadership in new product development
— expand markets
— offer low prices
— achieve economies of scale and scope
— focus on a product or market sector

These are all valid ways of looking at competitive advantage, but beating the competition in the long term isn’t about the brilliance of a strategy; it’s not about whether or not a strategic plan conforms to strategic planning methodology as espoused by the experts.

Competitive advantage is derived largely from not from WHAT you aspire to achieve but HOW you actually achieve it in the real world where organizations are challenged by unpredictability, uncertainly and constantly changing conditions.

If, for example, your strategic intent is to outdo the bad dudes by providing excellent service quality, your success will be determined by HOW you execute on this goal. Actions such as providing customer-friendly rules and policies, recruiting people who have an innate desire to serve others, empowering employees to make decisions in favour of a customer and compensating teams on the level of customer service provided will enable the service quality goal to be achieved.

Help desk

The common element to most of these tactics is people.

Successful strategies typically get executed on the frontline at “the coal face” between the customer and the company — the territory normally occupied by employees in sales, banking, coffee bistros, call centers, repair service centers, retail outlets and on receptionist desks. The people who control every customer moment of truth.

Frontline people live your brand. They invest their emotional energy to keep customers loyal.

It’s one thing to send prospective customers to your website to learn about new products and buy them; but it’s quite another to make the engagement process so enjoyable and painless that the new product flows off the shelf and continues to provide value to the customer over the life of their purchase.

The frontline fills a critical void in business today.

Organizations are morphing to an operations topology devoid of humans. Online research, purchase, chat and warranty claim tasks are more and more being performed by the customer themselves. And new self checkout technologies are being tested to further remove people from the cost equation and provide consumers more speed and convenience of DIY.


But even in the face of a migration to DIY, successful organizations keep a strong people element in their sales and service operations to simply be there to help a customer when they don’t get satisfaction from a technology face.
Let’s face it, precise and accurate algorithms for every customer need can’t be formulated so if a “backup” person isn’t there to deal with hiccups and follow up questions, the customer is not only pissed, they leave telling their friends and family how crummy your service is.

My experience is that the frontline is rarely viewed as a critical element of strategy.

The focus and attention always seems to be on the brilliance and cleverness of the grand plan and the importance of execution is given second shrift and is taken for granted.
In fact most organizations assume that the people piece will naturally understand what needs to be done (rarely happens without the leader’s translation of what it means to various functions) and will willingly devote themselves to executing it effectively (never happens without leadership convincing them of its importance and supporting them to get it done).

The frontline of any organization is THE key to a successful strategy and yet they “get no respect”.

Don’t be a member of the herd that doesn’t get it; honour them, help them and reap the rewards of long lasting competitive advantage.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
8 ways marketing leaders can be remarkable
How do great leaders get people marching together?
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  • Posted 3.5.18 at 03:07 am by Roy Osing
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