CEO lens on the revenue performance problem – Psst…it’s about the system

 

Three years ago, we asked our CEO, George Colony, to interview other CEO’s about their opinions of their sales force.   One of those questions he asked was “are you satisfied that your sales force is getting your company to its strategic objectives?”

What do you think the answer was?

Out of 40 CEO’s he interviewed, 39 said “No.”

We spent a lot of time asking our clients – who are Sales and Marketing leaders – what they thought that meant, and the bulk of them believed it was about the sales force not delivering quarterly results. 

This highlighted a big gap in perspective. 

You see, in many ways what the CEO is selling is different than what the rest of the organization is – he’s selling the stock, which is a reflection of the future, whereas the rest of the organization is focused on selling the various products and services in the company’s portfolio with a quarterly event horizon.  Thus, if the people carrying out the strategy are more focused on the here and now and the CEO has a more forward lean in his head – you can see how this can create the recipe for major friction in the execution of the business strategy.

At the beginning 2011 we framed this problem like this:  The selling system is not adapting quickly enough to accommodate the changing business strategy.

Throughout 2011 and 2012, we spent a tremendous amount of time investigating what a “selling system” really means and the implications of the rate of adaptation.  Here are some highlights:

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Adopt The Digital Disruptor's Mindset

When companies adopt digital, they do old things in new ways. When companies internalize digital — make it part of their mindset — they find entirely new things to do and new ways to do them. They become digital disruptors, and they swiftly go on to take over the markets they set their sights on.

 

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The best proof I have of the power of mindset to put a company ahead during an era of transition has nothing to do with digital or even business. The evidence comes from the Comanche Indians, who dominated the American Southwest through the 1700s and most of the 1800s because of a spectacular new technology they not only adopted, but internalized: the horse. As perfectly described by S.C. Gwynne in his bestselling book, Empire of the Summer Moon, dozens of tribes across the Great Plains had horses. But most of these tribes saw the horse as a new way to do an old thing: to get from point A to point B. Just faster and with more things in tow.

Comanches, on the other hand, internalized the possibilities of the horse, aligning their entire “business” around them. That mindset opened them to new possibilities that others missed. They became skilled breeders, they rethought their cultural practices and values, and they tested the limits of horses to see just how far this enabling technology could take them. For most of the 1800s, Texas Rangers and US Army majors struggled in vain to subdue the Comanches.

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Finovate Europe 2013: Bank To The Future

 

Image source: Universal Pictures

At Finovate Europe in London, the leading event on innovation in financial services, I met a strange banker. He claimed to be from the year 1993 and had been sent in a time machine to London to check out  Finovate's 2013 latest innovations; he would then return to 1993 to implement them at his firm. Curious, I asked him about his key findings:

1.       Inefficiencies in the value chain will be punished. A good example: Money-wiring services are faster and cheaper via peer-to-peer platforms, like those shown by TransferWise and Azimo, than via Western Union or MoneyGram.

2.       The user experience on banking platforms is becoming more engaging. This starts with smooth and speedy onboarding solutions like the one from Five Degrees and moves on to the personalized and engaging dashboards with widgets from Backbase and the award winning Banktron solution form Etronika.

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CMOs, Be Agents Of Change With Customer Insights

I love the Oscars with all of its glitz and glamour, celebrating the year’s best films. And while this year’s crop of Lincoln, Argo, and The Silver Linings Playbook are all great films, one of my all-time favorites is still Moneyball. Although the discussion about the Moneyball story isn’t new, it’s still a great lesson of what we can learn about using data and insights in new ways to change the game. Billy Beane harnessed the power of data based insights to assemble a winning team. He ignored the conventional measures of success — batting averages and stolen bases — and hired a number cruncher to rewrite the rules of the game. By applying data-based insights to day-to-day decisions, Beane stacked up win after win, ultimately challenging the American League record for consecutive wins.

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The Data Digest: Consumer Ratings And Reviews

Earlier this week, I attended a briefing with a vendor around analyzing and structuring consumer ratings and reviews; the vendor aims to give companies more guidance during the product development stage or help them understand where a current product is in its life cycle depending on the number of reviews that product is getting compared with its competitors.

The concept is interesting, but it got me thinking about the process of ratings and reviews a bit more. How many people are actually giving ratings and reviews, who are they, and why are they giving feedback?

Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® global online benchmark surveys in Q2 2012 revealed a wide variation between countries in terms of the share of the online population that actually gives feedback. In metropolitan India and China, about three-quarters of online consumers post ratings/reviews of products or services at least monthly; in Brazil, it’s about a third; while in the US and Europe, it’s less than 20%.

However, far more people rely on ratings and reviews than give them — particularly in the US and Europe. More than 50% of US online consumers check ratings and reviews regularly, for example. And consumer reviews and ratings are the second most trusted source of online shoppers when buying a product, after family and friends.

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Sometimes, The Elephant In The Room Is Meant To Be There!

After we packed up the kids and drove three hours to Disney World in Orlando, I sat up until almost 2 o'clock this morning reading the media coverage about Disney's soon-to-be-launched Next Generation Experience. While the blogosphere has been muttering about this reported billion-dollar initiative for a few years, the story took off early this year when the NY Times announced its impending launch. Unfortunately, most of the media coverage centered on the proverbial elephant in the room -- privacy. Congressman Ed Markey exemplified the kneejerk reaction, demanding Disney CEO Bob Iger answer questions that were already addressed in the company's FAQs. If we were in Ireland or England, I'd say that Congressman Markey was taking the mickey!
 
 
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Get ready for the ultra-connected customer to upturn marketing in 2013

Are you thinking hard about what you should be on the lookout for as a marketer in 2013? We think it will be a transformative year. Here’s why.

The biggest change we see underway is the amazingly rapid increase in the number of people who access the Internet multiple times a day, from multiple locations, with at least three devices. They’re ultra-connected and always addressable, and by the end of 2012, these perpetually connected customers already made up 42% of online adults in the US and 37% in Europe, up from much less than that just a year before. By the end of 2013, we predict that almost half of online adults globally will join this revolution.

As a marketer facing this surge of perpetually connected customers, you need to seize the opportunity and:

  • Master multichannel marketing now more than ever.
  • Make ads more personal, but stop short of creepy.
  • Get smart about what happens before the last click.
  • Learn about new, exotic breeds of marketing tech vendors.
  • Rethink how you work with other functions and outside agencies.

For more specifics about what we mean by these recommendations and what we believe this year has in store for marketers, read our February 11th "2013 Interactive Marketing Predictions" report. And let us know what you think, will you?

The ROI Of "Owner" Communities

Two of the most common questions we receive from marketers are “How do I know if it’s worth having a community?” and “How can I prove to my executives that my community is worth their investment?” To get the initial funding and keep support coming for an owner community — one which you operate and fully brand on your own website — you must be able to clearly measure and communicate the value up to your CMO and CFO. That means capturing the effect it will have on your company’s profitability as a part of your overall marketing investments.

As a part of a new research report I just published today with Shaheen Parks, we built upon Forrester’s Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) methodology to provide you with a reference framework to estimate the ROI of your community. 

We suggest that you focus on these three qualitative benefits, which form the core of our framework:

  • New lead generation: How many new leads or prospects come to your company each year because of your community, multiplied by your average deal size and overall lead close rate.
  • Increase in lead close or conversion rate: The effect your community has on your overall lead close rate, multiplied by your average deal size.
  • Deflection of support calls: How many potential support calls get answered by the community, multiplied by your average cost per call.
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How To Co-Create Your Customer Experience: Sweat The Details

It’s Valentine’s Day, so shout it as loud as you can: “I love my customers!” Now, prove it by designing products, services, and experiences that actually meet their needs. How are you going to do that? By involving actual customers (as well as employees and partners) in the design process.

This collaborative activity, called co-creation, might ring a bell — two of my recent blog posts addressed what co-creation means and what the benefits are. Co-creation is a versatile and valuable methodology. And while it might seem effortless, it usually doesn’t happen on the fly — which is why Amelia Sizemore and I wrote our latest report, tackling the logistics behind planning a stress-free and productive co-creation workshop.

Newbies often assume that the workshop itself will be the most challenging part of a co-creation initiative, but most of the heavy lifting actually occurs before participants ever show up. Advanced preparation — and lots of it — ensures a smooth and productive workshop that feels like it runs itself. For example, you need to:

  • Hook participants with the right incentives. T. Rowe Price asked a lot of its participants — in addition to a full-day co-creation workshop, participants completed a 30-day diary study and a phone interview. In exchange, the company rewarded each person with an iPad.
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2013 Mobile Trends For Marketers

In advance of Mobile World Congress, I revisited our 2012 mobile trends predictions with my colleague Julie Ask and we found that all of them are still evolving and relevant in 2013.

The trends we’ve identified for 2013 center on multiyear plans and scaled-up investments. Mobile’s dynamics of immediacy and ubiquity will challenge the notion that mobile is immature. Innovators will overcome any concerns about maturity to make big, strategic investments in mobile to pull ahead of their competitors. Differentiating with mobile will require marketers to develop the multiyear visions required to drive real change in their business and their approach to implementing mobile services.

When we categorized the key 2013 mobile trends and their implications for marketers, they fell into two major groups:

To summarize the key takeaways into three main points, here’s what we think will happen in 2013:

  • Advanced Marketers Will Integrate Mobile Into A Multiyear Strategic Vision

Mobile platforms will act as a catalyst for the next generation of connected experiences. In particular, smart apps connected to products and CRM systems will emerge. In 2013, leading marketers will anticipate the longer-term mobile disruption and shift from tactical efforts to more transformative mobile strategies.

  • Implementing This Strategy Requires Significant Investment And Marketing Control
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