Archive | June 2014

If you want to convert more sales, stop quoting…

Written by Jason Langford Brown, Lucid

For businesses seeking to increase sales conversion in a business-to-business environment it often surprises them when we say, “quote less”.

Businesses crave the opportunity to quote as often as possible in the hope some of them will covert. Sales teams justify their very existence on the amount of quotes they send out and sales leaders apply pressure and manage them on this measure.

From our experience of working with hundreds of small businesses across the United Kingdom the number one reason we see for low conversion rates is that businesses quote much too soon in the sales process and as a consequence lose the sale. Let me explain…..

??????????????????????????????The typical scenario starts with a sales manager or leader from an organisation engaging a prospect in a discussion to do business with them. The first meeting provides the opportunity for the sales manager to understand the prospects needs and look for a way they can solve their problems. The sales manager then asks for the opportunity to quote so that he or she can negotiate and close a deal.

The above example is a logical process but the problem is that in today’s complex business world it is typically not enough to convert the opportunity. Why? Customers want MUCH more from the sales process and a business’ conversion rate will rise dramatically if it is provided to them. So what more can a business provide during the sales process?

Firstly, a business needs to be more selective about the prospects they engage. Spending time in the sales process with the wrong client profile for your business is a waste of time for all parties and leads at best to a bad type of customer and more likely will never to convert to a sale at all.

The second aspect is understanding that just matching a prospects problems to the businesses solution is not a deep enough conversation. Most prospects already have an idea about what they might need to do. They have access to information and the internet in this modern business world so are looking for a business to provide new insights and challenge to their thinking. Ultimately a prospect wants a business to customise a great value adding solution to address their specific challenges.

Finally a prospect wants a business to assist them in engaging all their internal stakeholders as even if they are the leader/owner, decision making is becoming more and more collaborative as organisations become more risk adverse.

So imagine if businesses engaged the right client profile, understood their world, added valuable insight and challenged their thinking, collaboratively developed solutions that added demonstrable value, engaged all the stakeholders in the process and then quoted? What do you think it will do for conversion rates? From our experience implementing these adjustments has seen businesses achieving more than 80% conversion rates where previously they achieved less than 10% and yes, they are quoting less often but when they do it counts.

Advertisements

From Rants to Raves – Social Media and Employment

Written by Suzanne Whitmarsh and Andrew Thoseby, 1st Executive

There is a lot of talk around about employment.  In Australia, unemployment remained steady in April at 5.8%, the US saw a sharp fall in benefits applications and unemployment fell to 6.3% and in the UK, the number of unemployed fell to 2.2m from a post GFC high of 2.7m with a rate of 6.8%.

Troubled Western economies are recovering and even in Australia, where recession was avoided, the economic baton appears to have passed from mining construction to civil and residential construction with private and government infrastructure spending on the rise.

social-media-management1There is no doubt that social media has played a major role during tough times – sometimes outing bad business or management practices and often just facilitating stream of consciousness venting The tide is turning though. The recruitment industry, whether in-house or agency has had a multi-speed approach to engaging with social media. There have been HR drives to ensure employees understand that their rants about an employer could result in disciplinary processes, some recruiters have over done the application and many remain bewildered by it. In our view, it is just another tool.

The internet is just one “big data” list of potential employees. Social media platforms are the windows through which they can be viewed. If the strategic and creative thinking is right – social sourcing can pay dividends.

Two simple examples for us have been with a regional transport company (think really big blokey trucks) and Tigerair who opened a new flight base in Brisbane and needed 50 cabin crew – fast.

There are common elements – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. Each application was different. YouTube played a big part for the transport company. The problem they had was securing longer term, family oriented drivers who struggled to convince their partners to leave the city for the country. While it certainly augmented numbers, the ability to send a link to a lifestyle video for the area and to deliver the family values of the business on film was a winner – we found wives following up on their husbands’ applications.

For Tigerair, the challenge was delivering 200+ candidates to fixed assessment centre dates as part of time line to takeoff. We knew this age group would go viral, and we only advertised for 3 days. The ability to link all social media platforms to a (database) application form was critical – we needed the interest, but we needed technology to handle the volume that came from sharing. We filled all 3 assessment centres and hit new employee target within a very tight time frame. Our reference site for this was https://www.facebook.com/hardrockcafefirenze which is leading European volume recruitment case study. Our page at https://www.facebook.com/1stExecutive/app_230343010345368 gives a preview of how this will look when rolled out to a multi-branch network.

There are a few simple questions that need to be considered before rolling headlong into social media:

  1. What is the real business problem? Our first example was about solving a communications challenge and our second was about driving volume for a job that many young people would covet.
  2. What is the best vehicle to solve the problem? Video tells the best story, but often Twitter and Facebook content will be shared faster (of course all of these can be combined).
  3. Can we cope with the response? In simple terms, if we are using social technology, we need a “back office” that can cope – quantitatively or qualitatively as appropriate.
  4. Is this a one off or do we need social to be part of our strategy ongoing? This will lead to ether investing in creating apps or to using what is already there.

In summary, the hype about social media and recruiting has created everything from raving fans to gibbering wrecks. It needs to be looked at as just another tool and what it can do needs to be considered as a value add on a case by case basis. However it is used, employers will always want to meet (even if by Skype) their potential employees.

3 Key Ideas for Success for Business Leaders in 2014

1. Have your challenged your Vision, Mission and Purpose lately?
Image For too many businesses their vision, mission and purpose are more ‘marketing’ pieces created for placement on their website or in a company brochure. Rarely are these statements of a nature that can drive the business, its people and its decision making forward. Why not review your own website and vision / mission statements over the next month. Are they easy to understand? Will they help transform your business? Will they help in decisions on strategies?

2. Are you transforming your star team members into head coaches?
In most businesses there are always high performers which traditionally means they progress through the ranks of the organization and eventually start leading the business and teams. However it cannot be assumed that just because you have a star performer that they will be great at leading or managing teams. A great leader works with star performers to ensure they have the skills to transition to being more the ‘head coach’ guiding and mentoring fellow team members in the skills required for high performance.

3. It’s all about change!
Pick up any management / business literature and you will typically read in the first 4-5 pages about the need for leaders to be visionary, innovate, adapt their products, adapt their business models, transform their teams or improve their bottom lines. The difficultly is focusing on all of those areas at the same time. However stand back from each of these specific issues and they all have a common theme which is……they are all about change. So how will you improve your ability to implement change successfully, regardless of the topic?