Tuesday, March 31, 2009
If you've watched television at all in the past few months, you've likely seen the commercial for dishwashing soap, Electrasol, in which they show a lot of sparkling (plastic) diamonds and announce that "Finish is the new name for Electrasol."
Huh? Does this mean that good ol' Electrasol, that's been around since automatic dishwashers were invented, has been improved? Nope, they just decided to change the name. Period. End of story.
But why would they do that? Electrasol is practically the generic for automatic dishwashing soap and if it's not the leading brand, I'd be very surprised. My wife tried another "store" brand a few months back and the stuff just wouldn't clean the dishes. So she went right out and bought a new pack of Electrasol—problem solved!
Now I know that the name "Electrasol" kinda reeks of retro, but is that bad if the product sells well and has a name that is known and remembered for quality?
Finish is the name that the manufacturer uses for the product in other areas of the world—did they just want to consolidate? Personally, I don't care what they call it in France, I just like clean dishes.
Branding takes a lot of time and effort to develop. But once a strong brand is established, why mess with it? I had a difficult time remembering Electrasol's "New" name in order write this. After all, "Electrasol" means clean dishes. "Finish" means to complete something (what? ...dishes?) …or a native of Finland.
Point is: if the branding image is strong, why would you want to start over?
What's a good new name for Kleenex? How 'bout "Sneezex? …or V8 Juice? Could become V6 Juice with all the high gas prices. Wonder Bread …hmmmm?
Gotta go now, the dishes need to be done. Where's the Electrasol?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Michael J. Webb, president and founder of Sales Performance Consultants, is the author of Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way (Kaplan, 2006)
We picked this post up from Jill Konrath - it's getting a lot of attention because it offers such a powerful perspective.
B2B Sales executives often believe that hiring the right people and training them well is the most important success factor in their business.
Unfortunately, believing this is a serious mistake.
Want proof? Consider:
You would probably agree there are a LOT of great people in companies like GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
Yet, Toyota, Honda, and Mazda have been kicking their asses in the market for decades.
Would you say these landed Japanese automotive companies are winning because they’ve hired the right salespeople, or because they’ve trained them better? Is it because they use Sales 2.0?
Of course not. The greatest salespeople and the best sales training in the world will not save the American car companies.
The caliber and training of a company’s people are no match for the larger forces in play here. Yet, these same forces are pressuring every business all the time, especially in today’s market.
So, why are the landed Japanese companies winning?
They are winning because they create more value. The proof is in the market’s reaction: they sell more.
Clearly, the sales process is only one component of their success.
Unfortunately, many, many talented sales leaders are trapped in corporations that view the world in ways similar to those of American automotive companies.
It is high time for B2B sales executives to stop being so myopic about their trade.
I’m not saying people and training aren’t important; they are important. But they are not the most important thing.
The most important things are as follows:
- Find a starving market (i.e., what customers want)
- Develop a system that finds, wins, and keeps customers (i.e., a sales process)
- Develop and continuously improve the organization to execute that process (i.e., the people, training, machines, materials, systems, etc.)
Businesses need to grow out of the false assumption that the sales process is “what salespeople do.”
This error causes B2B organizations to get their sales process completely wrong. It is the reason salespeople only give lip service to the sales process. Salespeople know better, although they are usually unable to articulate why.
The fact is, processes that work create real value. Not only that, people follow them.
In sales and marketing, the sales process is what causes customers to become:
- aware of their problems,
- interested in your solution,
- convinced of your value relative to your competitors, and
- committed to your products and services
Companies must recognize it takes more than just salespeople to do all those things, especially in today’s market.
It is irrelevant whether the customer’s actions are caused (or enabled) by copy-written ads, social networking, web pages, or the words of talented, trusted salespeople.
If something your company did got the customer to take one of those steps, it created value.
If your competitor did a better job of it, they deserve the customer instead.
If your prospects are now looking for information they need on their favorite search engine, and you insist on hiring and training more salespeople to make cold calls, that is your problem, not theirs!
Further, consider all the things your company does that cause no customer actions, such as generating tons of brochures no one reads, spending millions on branding exercises customers care less about, consuming thousands of hours on proposals that are never purchased, or asking salespeople to pull out picks and shovels to turn over more rocks in their territories looking for leads by hand.
All these are mostly waste.
It is high time that B2B sales executives stop being so myopic about their trade.
They need to learn to think of their business as a system for creating value. Value is created when customers take the steps listed above: it is called the “customer’s journey.” Every one of those steps is measurable with hard data. Data from the flow of people through their customer journey is proof you will be able to deliver revenue to your company in the future.
If it is to work properly, your company’s system for getting customers to act needs to be designed. It requires the best selling savvy you can muster. It must be as automated as possible. Your salespeople need be able to implement the portions of the process that cannot be automated.
Executives who cling to old-fashioned notions about selling (hire the best people! make more sales calls! twist more arms! work harder!) are riding the Titanic to the bottom and will be looking for bail outs, just as the American automotive companies are doing today.
The quality of your people is important, but it is not the most important thing.
The most important thing is the quality of your business process.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
She recently had this great advice for all of us who are depending on the web to get all our new business without our direct involvement.
But people either buy services from nationally recognized firms that have spent a lot of money to gain name recognition, or from individual people they have come to know, like, and trust.
Here are the five best ways for professionals to get clients:
- Meet prospects or referral sources in person, at events, or by appointment
- Talk with prospects or referral sources on the phone
- Send personal emails to prospects who already know you (or mail a personal letter for 42 cents)
- Follow up personally with prospects over time
- Speak to groups likely to contain prospects at meetings and conferences
And here are the five things self-employed professionals most often try that don't result in clients:
- Placing ads in the Yellow Pages, trade publications, or pay-per-click ads on the web
- Distributing or posting brochures or flyers around their community
- Mailing mass-produced letters or brochures to strangers
- Sending their newsletter or ezine to people who haven't asked for it
- Building a website consisting of nothing but promotional copy for people to read
The main difference between these two lists is that the first group of approaches require you to talk to people. The second list consists of anonymous activities that allow you to hide out and never meet the people you are in business to serve.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Our pal Bill Doerr is a great mine of information. We were chatting about a big problem one of our clients was facing - she had a coaching customer who came to every meeting unprepared...and then blamed her lack of progress on the coach!
Bill said, "I’m going to suggest whether you do or not—with this client—you can better fix all the future clients who may present you with the same challenge as this one has." Here's his solution.
Your current client is presenting you with an opportunity to learn how to engage with your future clients so this will NEVER become an issue . . . EVER . . . in the future!
From now on, when you sign aclient up, ‘stripline’ them with a strong ‘post-sell’ step on the challenge of what’s going to happen on this issue BEFORE it became an issue.
Say something like, “Alright, I’m glad to learn you want to work with me. The feeling is mutual. Oh, by the way . . . one LAST issue we need to address along with this paperwork my attorney likes me to have you complete and sign.
This may or may not become an issue for us, but in case it should develop that way I need to ask you how you’d like ‘us’ to address an issue that has a funny way of developing in a coaching relationship BEFORE it develops. That way we can address it without the passion of emotions getting involved and making a resolution all the more difficult? Would you agree that makes sense? (Sure. What’s this issue you’re talking about?)
Well, sometimes, after we’ve completed a couple of coaching sessions SOME of my clients find that the ‘work’ I assign them to do gets to be something they feel they really don’t want to do. Surprising, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, if their work isn’t done, then the results they want from it won’t be realized. Certainly not a good thing, wouldn’t you agree? (Oh, sure!)
Well then, in the event it ever should happen during YOUR coaching project there are 3 ways ‘we’ have to address it.
First, I remind you of this conversation and your agreement—no, make that your COMMITMENT to ‘get back to work’ on the work you’re being assigned by me and we’re back on track.
OR, we change the status of our relationship so I become your marketing CONSULTANT rather than your marketing COACH. That means that I’ll do the ‘dirty work’ you may find you prefer not to do . . . the only thing is, my retainer fee, each month, as a consultant is going to be $ _________ more than your monthly fee to be in my coaching program.
And, if neither option is acceptable, then our third option means we have no other choice but to end our relationship.
So NOW BEFORE we ‘leave the dock’ can we agree that in the event you, not I, decide that you don’t want to do the work I’ll be asking of you but you still want the results it will produce for you that ‘we’ will have to make a decision and again, here are your 3 options . . .
1. you get your head back in the game and do what I’ve assigned to you
2. you ask me to become your consultant—with the higher monthly fee, of course
3. we agree that if neither option is viable, then our relationship is ‘over’
________________, ARE YOU OK with that? (Yes)
________________, look me in the eye . . . I’m not kidding . . . ARE YOU OK with that understanding? (YES!!!)
Good. NOW you can finish signing the paperwork and give me your check.
Old Chinese proverb: “If you don’t want weeds . . . kill the roots!”
My proverb: “There are no bad clients . . . only (coaches) who didn’t set the rules early enough, clearly enough, strongly enough and maybe high enough!”
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This post and the subsequent discussions showed up recently on BNETwith Stanley Bing
March 18th, 2009 @ 8:40 amI just lost my job. I feel very angry and want to kill everybody. At the same time, I have to go out and look for a new job every day, put on a happy face, and act like I’m a dynamic person ready to leap into action — while really all I want to do is hang around the house in my pajamas and start drinking at noon. Is there anything I can do to knock myself out of this? I’m really in no frame of mind to do interviews.
Down in the Dumps
I’m very sorry. Losing your job is more than simply a loss of income. Your job is who you are. To a certain extent it defines how you dress, where and when you eat and drink, your standing in the world. The more status and goodies attached to your former position, the harder the landing when you come down off that high...
It’s easy to tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and all that kind of nonsense. Of course you’re not going to be doing that. Don’t you hate it when people tell you to cheer up? I know I do.
You are, however, going to have to get yourself into gear. This you can do through two things, one interior and one exterior. From the inside, you’re going to have to use the one greatest asset you have right now — your anger. Anger is a terrific motivator. It wakes you up with a lump in your stomach every morning. It keeps you from falling asleep at night. You can eat your anger and make yourself sick, or you can use it to generate ideas, resumes, pitches, appointments, whatever keeps you in motion. That second part is the key to your external strategy: constant motion.
My friend Larry just lost his longtime post as the head of a department at a big publishing company. He is now running around town offering himself up for print and video interviews as a recently fired person. I’m not kidding. The media is starving for people to interview about the recession. He’s now got a small cottage industry going as a spokesperson for fired people. It’s not the thing I would do. But it’s what he’s doing, and it’s keeping him sane and in front of people, one of whom just might give him his next job.
Stay angry. Stay hungry. Stay busy. When you must, pretend to feel better in order to make whatever impressions you need to. The rest of time, be as miserable as you like. There are time in life when you just have to suck it up and go through the motions until things get better. They do, you know.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Here’s the scoop: If you read our article last week on “Two Step Direct Response Advertising” you know we recommend ads that ask the reader/listener to make a specific response or action.
If you have, and use, a web site, the action requested may be to go to the web site to get more information; download a coupon; buy on line; join a “preferred customer” group or whatever will further, or complete, the transaction process and establish a relationship with that most valuable person, a customer or potential customer.
Your web master, or increasingly, you yourself, can easily create a new “landing page” that is specific to your current offer e.g. – your web site is www.abc.com and you create a new page called www.abc.com/offer. Feature this address in your ad to create a super highway right to your specific offer page – most people who are interested will go there withing 30 seconds of seeing your offer and you can watch the visits add up as they happen! Customers have now driven right up to your site and you can bet they will also browse whatever else you have on the site while they are “in the store”—you have just given them another way in.
Why do this? Because whether newspaper, magazine, radio/TV or billboard, the space/time you buy is limited—on your web site, the space you need is almost limitless.
You can add all the details, all the pictures and all of the downloads you want—and what’s more, you can make it transactional! That is, in many cases you can make the sale right on the page by adding a PayPal link—how great is that!
It goes without saying that the way we buy has changed radically in the last decade. According to Internet World Stats: In 2008, Canadian retail e-commerce tallied its fifth straight year of double-digit growth. Online sales more than doubled in Canada from 2003-2006, and nearly half of Canadian retail firms now have a web site, compared to the 42% that did in 2005.
It is expected that the average amount that Canadians spend online will grow strongly over the next three years. Canadians are already either on par or ahead of their US peers in purchasing electronics, travel and event tickets online.”
So get with the program—put that web site to work in your advertising.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Is there anyone who hasn't heard of Starbucks? Even if you – like more and more customers each day – buy your daily dose of caffeine from some other coffee purveyor, you've heard of the brand.
Unfortunately for Starbucks, these days most of its awareness is based on ill-considered breakfast sandwiches, store closings, declining stock prices, and its attempts to boost sagging profits and bring back defecting and disloyal customers. With thousands of stores in 44 countries, Starbucks has by no means disappeared but it is a brand in danger of obsolescence.
So what happened to a brand that at one point was opening a store somewhere every day of the week? Is it simply a slowing economy that has caused the planned closure of 600 US Starbucks stores this year? No, the real reason is that it ignored all the things that made customers loyal to the brand.
Success was a double-edged sword. Starbucks was popular, and crowded, so it got rid of the comfy chairs to make room for the lines of customers.
Its process needed to work more quickly, so it didn't grind the beans any more. And without the grinding of the beans, the stores didn't smell or sound like real coffee shops. And without hand-pulled shots, the theatre was gone.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks' founder, said it best: 'We traded away our brand for vacuum packed beans.'
And, as loyalty is a leading indicator of consumer behaviour and, ultimately, profitability, eight months later Starbucks' share price had fallen by 43%.
buy your products (seven out of every 10 MP3 players sold are Apple)
buy more of your products more often (92% of Apple iPhone users also own iPods)
recommend your products to friends and family (Apple's 'willingness to recommend' has increased by 20% over the past 18 months)
invest in publicly traded companies (Apple has had a 52-week high of $202.96 a share)
rebuff competitive offers, especially price-based offers (see previous four points)
give your company or brand the benefit of the doubt in tough circumstances
Friday, March 13, 2009
What I'm saying is, "Don't forget to support the people in your own neighborhood who in turn support you." This is good for the town or city where you live because everyone benefits.
Case in point: I was about to get something printed using a service online—this service is probably over a thousand miles away—when I remembered a business here in town that has been asking me to try them. So I called them up, got a quotation and you know what? The price was within a few dollars. Why would I send the job out of town—out of the country to save a few bucks? Now someone who lives and does business in the same town as I do benefits and the results trickle down to the other businesses he buys from.
I'm not saying that all internet commerce is wrong, just consider, when making a transaction: is there really an advantage to sending my trade to a place far away? Is the price significantly lower? Is the quality better? Can I not get it locally? Would I rather peruse Amazon than my charming and helpful local bookstore?
What do you think?
Monday, March 9, 2009
Here we reproduce a complaint letter sent to Sir Richard Branson, which is currently being emailed globally and is considered by many to be the world's funniest passenger complaint letter.
Dear Mr Branson
REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008
I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.
Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at thehands of your corporation.
Look at this Richard. Just look at it: [see image 1, above].
I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?
You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in: [see image 2, above].
I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn't custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.
Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.
I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.
Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this: [see image 3, above].
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.
Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.
By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation: [see image 4, above].
It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.
I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.
Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on: [see image 5, above].
I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel: [see image 6, above].
Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.
My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations: [see image 7, above].
Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.
Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.
So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.
As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.
* Paul Charles, Virgin’s Director of Corporate Communications, confirmed that Sir Richard Branson had telephoned the author of the letter and had thanked him for his “constructive if tongue-in-cheek” email. Mr Charles said that Virgin was sorry the passenger had not liked the in-flight meals which he said was “award-winning food which is very popular on our Indian routes.”
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Maybe the siren call of Twitter (everybody’s doing it) has become too much and you’ve jumped in. Or, maybe you have no clue what it is or why you would care. We get asked enough about this microblogging tool that we thought we would share a practical guide for business folks wrestling with yet another social media outpost.
What is it?
In simplest terms, Twitter is a free service that allows anyone to say almost anything to anybody in 140 characters or less – it’s the “what are you doing right now” kind of micro-blogging that permeates online social communication.
So, now the question is – is that all? Well, no, not exactly.
Here is the "Duct Tape University of Twitter" - everything you need to understand this new phenomenon.
Download the e-book by John Jantsch by clicking HERE
Twitter for Business with John Jantsch and Chris Brogan Audio Discussion
Twitter for Business
See even more resources by clicking HERE