How to use innovative thinking to improve how you create or increase demand for what you offer
Those who aspire to maximize the impact of their marketing initiatives will find the material in this HBR book invaluable. It is one of the volumes in a series of anthologies of articles that first appeared in Harvard Business Review. Authors of the ten articles focus on one or more components of a process by which to identify what one’s company’s business really is, how to collaborate with others (including customers) within and beyond the organization to meet both current and future needs, select the products and services that create jobs do the work that must be done, get a “bird’s-eye view” of one’s organizational strengths and weaknesses, identify new markets “that are larger than China and India combined,” deliver superior value to B2B customers, and end of avoid a “war” between sales and marketing.
Having read all of the articles when they were published individually, I can personally attest to the high quality of their authors’ (or co-authors’) insights as well as the eloquence with which they are expressed. Two substantial value-added benefits should also be noted: If all of the articles were purchased separately as reprints, the total cost would be at least $60-75; they are now conveniently bound in a single volume for a fraction of that cost.
I now provide two brief excerpts that are representative of the high quality of all ten articles:
In “Marketing Myopia,” in my opinion the single most important article as yet written about marketing, Theodore Levitt identifies and invalidates four myths that most often put a company at risk of obsolescence:
1. An ever-expanding and more affluent population will ensure out growth. “We increase the efficiency of making our products, rather than boosting the value those products deliver to customers.”
2. There is no competitive substitute for our industry’s major product. “Believing our products have no rivals makes our companies vulnerable to dramatic innovations from outside our industries – often by smaller, newer companies that are focusing on customer needs rather than the products themselves.”
3. We can protect ourselves through mass production. “By focusing on mass production emphasizes our company’s needs – when we should be emphasizing our customers’.”
4. Technical research and development will ensure our growth. “”When R&D produces breakthrough products, we may be tempted to organize around the technology rather than the consumer.”
Later in the article, Levitt suggests, “the organization must learn to think of itself not as producing goods or services but as [begin italics] buying customers [end italics], as doing all things that will make people want to do business with it.”
In “Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing, the co-authors (Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, and Suj Krishnaswamy) offer invaluable advice on how to achieve integration between sales and marketing by focusing on four categories of specific tasks:
Integrate activities (e.g. Jointly involve sales and marketing in product planning and in setting sales targets)
Integrate processes and systems (e.g. Implement systems to track sales and marketing’s joint activities)
Enable the culture (e.g. Emphasize shared responsibility for results between different divisions of the organization)
Integrate organizational structures (e.g. Split marketing into upstream and downstream teams)
Other articles in this anthology I especially enjoyed include “Rethinking Marketing” (Roland T. Rust, Christine Moorman, and Gaurav Bhalla), “Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure” (Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook, and Taddy Hall), and “Getting Brand Communities Right (Susan Fournier and Lara Lee).
The Marketing Imagination
David A. Aaker
Al Ries and Jack Trout
After having read and reviewed so many business books, I now share brief comments about what I consider to be the 25 most valuable business insights and the books in which they are either introduced or (one man’s opinion) best explained. Here are 16-20.
16. PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT: First, determine which tasks are most important. Then, make performance expectations crystal clear to each of those whose performance will be measured. Next, co-determine with them what the metrics for measurement will be. Third and finally, review measurement data after 45-60 days and revise (if necessary) (a) performance expectations and/or (b) the criteria by which performance is measured.
Transforming Performance Measurement
Analytics at Work
Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris, and Robert Morison
17. PERSUASION: This is the art and science of convincing another person or persons to agree with what they are asked to think, believe, or do. The basic requirements include eloquence, conviction, logic, and clarity as well as sufficient information to justify the given proposition or action. The most persuasive people respond effectively to a question that may only be implicit: “What’s in it for me?” One of the most effective persuasion strategies is to appeal to enlightened self-interest.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Robert B. Cialdini
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
18. POWER: This is probably one of the most difficult terms to define because it has both positive and negative connotations and can be experienced in so many different dimensions (i.e. mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual). As Thoreau, Ghandi, and then Martin Luther King, Jr. suggest, non-violent resistance can have great power; we also know what other forms of power can do in response to that resistance.
Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t
The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence
Terry R. Bacon
19. PRODUCTIVITY: Get the most and best results from the least consumption resources (e.g. time, energy, materials). It is imperative to know what those desired results are, first. Otherwise, Peter Drucker’s observation applies: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Experts recommend that, in meetings and conversations, focus on discussion of what must be done, not on what to discuss.
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm
Now…Build a Great Business! 7 Ways to Maximize Your Profits in Any Market
Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy
20. SELLING usually requires these components: a seller, a buyer, and a product and/or service of some kind. The term is also used with regard to convincing people (getting their “buy-in”) such as during change initiatives or during a negotiation (“I’ll buy that”). Whatever the situation, the challenge to anyone selling is to possess the right information (i.e. accurate, sufficient, relevant, and verifiable) and present it effectively (i.e. convincingly).
Selling to the C-Suite: What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top
Nicholas-A.C.-Read and Stephen J. Bistritz
Konrath shows sellers what it takes to be successful with today’s crazy-busy prospects. As a popular speaker at sales meetings and conferences, she teaches them how to crack into new accounts, keep momentum going and close sales faster with minimal competition. She is the author of SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers, published by Portfolio/Penguin (May, 2010). She also wrote Selling to Big Companies that was selected by Fortune magazine as one of eight “must read” sales books, together with classics such as How to Win Friends & Influence People and Getting to Yes. Her second book, Get Back to Work Faster (Oct. 2009), shows job seekers how to leverage sales strategies to find a new position. Salespeople, entrepreneurs and professionals from over 90 countries read Konrath’s newsletter and blog. Her clients include IBM, GE, Microsoft, Accenture and Hilton, along with numerous growing companies.
Morris: Before discussing your books, a few general questions. First, all careers have pivotal moments, turning points, etc. Thus far, what have been yours and why has each proven to be so significant?
Konrath: Great question! My first pivotal moment was getting hired as a salesperson by Xerox. I was teaching high school at the time and not loving it. Some friends and I came up with an idea to start a services business. We went to SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) with our concept and they were impressed.
I’ll never forget the retired General Mills VP saying to us, “Now which one of you will be doing sales?” We were stunned. We thought it was such a good idea that it would sell itself. None of us wanted to be in sales – not even one iota. I finally volunteered because I was the most miserable in my current job.
I was fortunate to get hired by Xerox. From my first day on the job, I knew I was in the right place for me. I never looked back – and never did start that entrepreneurial venture.
Another pivotal moment was moving into computer sales. My company loved their technological superiority and touted it all the time. I was totally technophobic; my eyes glazed over the moment they started talking about bits and bytes.
What I learned, though, was how to focus on and sell the business benefits of the technology. As a result, I earned International Rookie of the Year honors. But more importantly, I started a consulting business with a focus on helping companies that loved their technology too much. This highly profitable niche consulting practice was my lifeblood for 15 years.
Morris: Here’s a related question. Who or what have had the greatest influence on your professional development? How so?
Konrath: When I was hired by Xerox, they had the best sales and management training program in the world. I took advantage of every professional development opportunity available to me. Plus, I had an incredible manager and mentor named Diane Gulbrandson. She was one of the first women hired into sales by Xerox and she was committed to helping women succeed in sales.
Also, I immediately resonated with Neil Rackham’s work on the power of asking insightful questions. As a teacher, I’d already seen how good questions could stimulate discussion, engage students and build relationships. So I embraced his SPIN Selling methodology right away – which was a key component of my early sales success.
Morris: The results of thousands of surveys that generated millions of responses clearly indicate that both customers and employees rank feeling appreciated 1, 2, or 3 on a scale of what is most important to them. Nonetheless, why in your opinion do so many people who have direct contact with customers and so many managers who supervise others still do not get that?
Konrath: I think they do get it. But the salespeople, customer service reps and managers don’t feel appreciated. Their company is driven by shareholder value. Quarterly results are all that matters.
As a result, they’re under intense pressure to reach ever-increasing goals, in shorter time frames and with fewer resources. They’re overwhelmed and stressed out. This past year, fewer salespeople reached quota than ever before. And, the average tenure of a sales manager has shrunk to only 18 months.
When employees aren’t engaged, fear losing their job, and feel unappreciated, they don’t give good service. It all starts at the top of the organization. In my opinion, the excessive focus on shareholder value is the root cause of the issue you’re describing.
In this series, Bob Morris poses a key question and then responds to it with material from one or more of the business books he has reviewed for Amazon and Borders.
That is the subject of one of the volumes in the HBR series, “Ideas with Impact.” Here are excerpts from three of the eight articles in the anthology.
From Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing: When sales and marketing are combined, “this means integrating such straightforward activities as planning, target setting, customer assessment, and value-proposition development. It’s tougher, though. To integrate the two groups’ processes and systems; these must be replaced with common processes, metrics, and rewards systems. Organizations need to develop shared databases, as well as mechanisms for continuous improvement. Hardest of all is changing the culture to support integration.” Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, and Suj Krishnaswamy
From Match Your Sales Force Structure to Your Business Life Cycle: “When the sales force starts to worry about downsizing, the best sales people will be the first to leave. Even as companies prepare to let other people go, they must pay stars handsomely to keep them. In addition, strong leadership is essential during downsizing, and only timely and straightforward communication from sales leaders can maintain a reasonable level of morale and motivation.” Andris A. Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimar
From The Ultimately Accountable Job: Leading Today’s Sales Organization: “If the customer is king these days, who lives within his inner circle? Of all the functions, the sales organization comes closest, and the CSO is thus the most effective conduit for funneling customer-related insights to the rest of the senior executive team. The successful sales leader spends more time with customers today not only because they have valuable things to say but also because they demand to be heard by their suppliers’ most senior people. As other, nonsales senior executives throughout the company respond to such demands, the CSO can serve as a role model for his peers in interacting with customers.” Jerome A. Colleti and Mary S. Fiss
I also highly recommend these sources:
ProActive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game
William (“Skip”) Miller
The Secrets of Great Sales Management: Advanced Strategies for Maximizing Performance
Robert A. Simpkins
The Sales Manager’s Success Manual
Wayne M. Thomas
Comments, questions, requests, or suggestions? Please share them. They will be most welcome and I thank you for them. Best regards, Bob