Roy's Blog: Sales

July 23, 2018

12 simple reasons to kill the old sales model

Adapt or die —we have seen this consequence play out for centuries.

Now it’s time for sales to pay attention.

Old school traditional sales has outlived its usefulness.

It no longer works.

If sales is to maintain relevance in today’s world, a transformation of the way it is practiced is required.

Not just incremental change, but a complete approach.

Blowing up the old model; building a new discipline.

Blow up

This is why it’s such a big deal:

1. The drivers of customer demand have changed. What motivates a person to buy today has changed dramatically. New buying behaviour requires different sales methods.

People have unlimited choice

2. People have almost unlimited choice today from a variety of suppliers that grows daily. Fierce competition steps up the challenge to attract and keep customers.

Selling the sales relationship is the new mantra.

3. “Me” personal markets are replacing “many” mass markets. People want their personal desires taken care of; they are turned off by the assumption that they are like the crowd in any way.

Crowd-based messaging is returning less as a communications investment.

4. Customers wield the power now; organizations no longer can dictate to the market what they get.

Customers are fickle

5. Customers are able to switch suppliers with ease. Barriers that once existed are disappearing as switching costs approach zero. Fickle customers use this opportunity to hop from one organization to another much more frequently than in the past.

The sales focus should be on creating barriers to customer exit.

Barrier to exit

6. Sales is less of an island in the organization. It is only one element an organization has to deliver as part of its value proposition. The sales identity is rapidly blending with marketing and customer service to respond to the holistic needs of a customer.

Sales itself is morphing to the service arena.

Organizational ideals matter

7. The nature of customer engagement has morphed from transactions-based to more of an idealistic alignment.

People are more and more doing business with organizations that demonstrate the same values (social responsibilities, environmental-friendliness, philanthropic intent and so on) that they believe in.

8. Experiences are trumping products and services. Material goods don’t create long-term happiness; experiences do.

Flogging products is moving to the back seat behind creating memories.

9. Customer loyalty has to be earned at every touch point be it personal contact, an organization’s web site, communications media and social media.

All customer interfaces must work together seamlessly and synergistically and must carry the same message and engage the customer in the same way.

Why should I buy from you is unclear

10. Communications clutter is making it very difficult for customers to decide whom to do business with. Every supplier looks the same and gives no compelling reason why they should be selected over their competition.

Most messages talk about price; any value reference is aspirational and vague. The need for sales to practice their art like no one else is critical.

11. Pushing general advertising messages to the masses is no longer an effective investment.

Targeted personalized sales communication to individuals is required to ensure customers get the precise value they want.

12. Acquiring new high value customers is now a function of fans talking an organization up to their friends and associates.

The sales referral is now a critical success factor.

New sales muscle is required to address these new realities.

Are you re-inventing your sales machine?


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 7.23.18 at 04:33 am by Roy Osing
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May 7, 2018

How to turn a service nightmare into a sales win

My assistant burst into my office with a horrified look on her face!

The General Manager of one of our premier hotel clients in Vancouver was on the line and wanted to speak with me IMMEDIATELY.

My EA warned me that he was going ballistic.

So angry

Apparently we had somehow put his entire communications network out of service earlier that morning and he had been “in the dark” for at least 3 hours.

I was the executive leader for business services at the time, and he chose to escalate the service breakdown to my office.

I took the call of course and listened to his concerns. He “wailed” on me with wild abandon. He couldn’t contain his anger; he screamed and let it flow.

He wanted my head!

His demands were quite simple. He wanted to be compensated for the lost business he suffered by virtue of having no communications service and he wanted it taken care of fast.

I told him that I was extremely sorry for our screwup (exact words) and that I would take care of this right away.

I called my sales director who was going apoplectic over the situation and asked him if there was a ”secret desire” the GM had that we could satisfy and perhaps turn things around.

The sales guys had done their job and discovered through the GM’s assistant that he had been coveting an antique telephone for his office credenza for quite some time but had never make the decision to buy it. For some reason this particular type of phone was almost a fetish of his; an itch he had never scratched.

Armed with this information, we executed our recovery plan.

Our recovery plan

First, I got a cheque cut for him as my way of responding to the business he had lost during the service outage. There was no way I wanted to get into a negotiation of exactly how much business he thought he lost.
My strategy was to preempt that whole process. (Important side note: I didn’t tell our lawyers what I was up to as they would only tell me that I SHOULDN’T do it because it would be tantamount to admitting that we were in the wrong. REALLY?)

Next, I contacted our installation folks and asked that they get the specialty phone the client wanted and join me at his office within the hour.

Deco phone

Finally, cheque in hand, I headed to his office with my sales director riding shotgun.

About an hour and a half after his call to me our team arrived at his office.

This is how it played out.

At his office

I apologized (again) for our shabby treatment and handed him the cheque as restitution for our sins. Right away I could see him “come down” from his emotional peak. “It’s ok” he said. “Mistakes happen”.

I then asked the installation team into his office (with his permission of course) with the object of his affection and asked where it could be installed. He could not contain himself when he saw the phone.

Suddenly our meeting was not about the egregious way we screwed over his business that morning. And it wasn’t about whether the cheque actually was sufficient to recover his lost business (which by the way we were not obligated to do by law in any event).

The conversation and energy in the room was channeled to the actions we took to recover from our blunder rather than the blunder itself.

The meeting ended with our sincere apology (once again) and an offer to do more to atone for our sins if he thought more should be done.

He was quite frankly delighted with where we ended up; we could do no more for him.

This sales tale ended miraculously; it couldn’t have been better.


A fan forever

After the service incident and our recovery, I heard stories from other clients who recounted how this GM told the story of our service OOPS! and how amazed he was at how far we were prepared to go to make amends.

This client never left us in spite of what we did to him.

In fact his loyalty to our organization intensified over the ensuing years.

The morals of the story

1. Always apologize (endlessly but earnestly) regardless of the circumstances. And NEVER quote company policy or “it was beyond our control” reasons that caused the service disaster.

2. Don’t consult lawyers or anyone else; don’t ask for permission; do the right thing to serve the customer’s best interests;

3. Act quickly to remedy the offence. You don’t have much time before the customer leaves screamimg how crummy your service is to one and all.

4. Charge sales with the role of discovering customer secrets which contain the power to recover from the inevitable client screw over;

5. If done correctly, a mind blowing recovery actually build loyalty and turns the victim of the offence into a raving fan who tells everyone they touch how great you are.

P.S. This is not an isolated story illustrating the power of service recovery. Over my 33+ year career I have used the strategy to build remarkably successful sales organizations.

Brilliant recovery when you screw a customer over always works.

Try it and see.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 5.7.18 at 02:30 am by Roy Osing
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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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May 13, 2016

FOR LOAN (and for free) guest writer

I love writing and I would be pleased to write for you!

I have my own blog and I post weekly.

I have had the good fortune to achieve success in virtually every aspect of organizational performance; this makes me different than most other writers who talk to some particular aspect of organizational “life” such as leadership, marketing, human resources and so on.

I speak to all organizational functions from the point of view of having demonstrated success; the benefit of a 30+ year career as an executive leader. I speak to want actually works not what theoretically SHOULD work.

My passion is to help others who are looking to improve themselves personally and their organization.

To offer my perspective on what works because it worked for me.

I am looking to continue to “spread my word” through as many channels as possible, and to do it as a complimentary service.

Here’s a sample of the posts I have written for other channels…

On leadership...
16 secrets of mind-blowing leaders
What differentiates an exceptional boss from the rest

On career development...
How online dating can help your #career
4 steps to building a killer resume

On public speaking...
5 reasons why I don’t listen when you speak
8 things I do to make my story compelling

On sales...
Self-assessment: Are you a sales stand-out?
Shattering Sales Stereotypes: The Six Rules of Un-Sales

On marketing...
Playing the price cutting game isn’t good marketing, it’s insanity
8 ways to build marketing muscle

On organizational culture...
10 workplace dysfunctions that must be eliminated.
How to cure a sick company culture

On strategic planning...
Traditional strategic #planning is all screwed up
Why benchmarking sucks
#StrategicPlanning: 8 ways to dump your CRAP

On competitive advantage and differentiation...
How to create a competitive claim that is more than just hot air
How NOT to have a competitive position

On customer service and the service experience...
3 essentials to provide stand-out #customerservice
Customer complaints are a #PAIN or…

On small business and entrepreneurs...
6 tips for bucking the small business failure rate
6 steps that will prevent your startup from going down in flames

On recruitment...
If you want to dazzle your customers, hire for goosebumps

If you are interested in my complementary writing expertise just ask.

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

More examples of my work...
Chart your #sales success with this library
Your #leadership library
How to take your #career beyond the crowd
Roy’s tips for #business success

  • Posted 5.13.16 at 04:00 pm by Roy Osing
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