Sales, Marketing and Client Management – Influence of the Art and Science of it


Sales, Marketing and Client Management are key functions that, when done right, help with continued sustenance and healthy growth of an organization.

What makes someone a great sales person or passionate client management professional?

While having the aptitude to truly enjoy the responsibility of these functions is a given, the blend of having an upbeat attitude, charisma and innate traits that go with being convincing and having superior negotiation skills go a long way. Certain traits are a part of the personality and other skills can be attained or rather, fine-tuned through training.

Generally, future performance in sales and client management roles are judged based on past performance. Considered a predictable indicator, there is only so much reliability you can attribute to this.

Coming back to the art of sales, marketing and client management, prowess in these areas is based on aptitude, attitude, personality-based traits and learned skills.

When you consider using the art side of sales, marketing and client management, decisions are made and acted upon based on gut reactions, and end results rely much on personality traits and learned skills to help drive closure.

However, when we come to the science of it; that is where you see an impact of the industry and solution/ product knowledge, technical prowess, understanding of competitive landscape, market dynamics and more.

In today’s world, data plays such an important role in not just decision making, but facts based decision-making. Efforts are made to understand and simulate client needs, in many a case even before, the clients themselves know of their needs! That’s where the science of marketing comes into play to educate clients about their unforeseen needs and then, propose solutions to fulfill such needs.

The science of it all helps differentiate impactful marketing, trusty and inspired relationships with prospects and clients and helps further build on pure transparency of relationships as true partners engaging in solving the same problems, and not as two counter intuitive entities playing the roles of a buyer and seller, where the relationship is based on individual organizational interests and revenue plans than working together as partners to solve problems to the benefit of both.

In the latter scenario, there is true cross pollination of ideas and experimentation of new solutions as true partners.

In summary, an understanding of market dynamics, competitive landscape, true customer needs, product and solution specifics in relation to solving customer needs go a long way in closing deals and maintaining long term reference able clients as true partners that mutually thrive. This knowledge differentiates true sales, marketing and client management professionals as trusted partners from those that rely purely on the art of it. It also has a very profound impact on industry and organizational acceleration in their respective realms of pursuit and immensely influences their success.

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It takes a village to raise a child!


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It takes a village to raise a child, they say.

Whether on a job, running a business, when in school or even when raising a family, any pursuit demands constant self-analysis in comparison to the environment around to assess where and how you fit in, to make the most effective impact on what you have set out to do. I have come across many that pay more attention to what they do not know or aren’t the best at than what they do and rock at.

For instance, those with strong technical skills question the business acumen they possess while those with a strong business background, question their technical knowledge. Financial whiz’s’ are uneasy with specific business domain knowledge they work in. Operations stalwarts tone down when it comes to business development.

This is something that I have seen to be very dominant in our times. Being aware of your shortcomings is wise and essential. But, to fret over it is not. Not everyone can be a star at everything they do. What is important is that they make an effort to know about things the best they possibly can so they are, in the least informed, when it comes to understanding how that fits in the big picture and this gives them the ability to make good decisions, many a time in their own work realm.

When you know your preferences, likes and strengths, focus on being the best at them. Do not worry about the rest. In fact, find the best possible help you can get on things that you are not very good at. It’s smart to surround yourself with people who are better than you so that you have that part of what you want to do covered. Now, you can focus on what you are excel at and trust others to focus on what they are good at so, all around, you come out successful. Remember, everything in life is a team effort; no one person did it all!

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Spontaneity in innovation – Does unbridled exuberance lead to success?


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Spontaneity, that eureka! moment, when it seems that the whole universe is prodding you to succeed, is a key factor in innovation. However, it’s not that it comes to you right out of the blue. Behind it is years of research, struggle, experience, application, trial and error, call it whatever you want. Whether active or passive, much has gone into bringing on that one idea with which you shall change the world.

However, the debate has been whether innovation thrives in an unstructured environment where you let it come to you unannounced or in a more structured environment where you create the ambience for innovative work focused on revealing what the next big thing is. Perhaps in a step-by-step fashion and eventually, it will unfold and show returns.

Studies have shown that with more formal innovation structures and processes, there is higher satisfaction and better outcomes. However, there needs to be some chaos, the ability to imagine and dream, even within formal structures in order for the unconventional to reveal itself, break the mold and set a trend. It’s important to have a product management and development structure within organizations but, its more important to separate the people focused on current products and releases that follow schedules to meet current client needs from those whose role is to imagine, dream, try to test out new things without the pressure of supporting ongoing business needs. Ensuring there is an open line to receive client feedback on current products can help influence the direction of research to keep it close to the markets being served. However, there is a balance that needs to be drawn here to ensure that the influence is not so much that the team ends up serving client custom needs but is actually focused on creating better products with better outcomes, sometimes in a sense that may even create a new pivot.

High cross functional collaboration, greater risk tolerance appetite, research driven organizations with supportive eco systems tend to do better than those that are narrowly focused on bottom lines. The truth is that true innovation results in improved employee morale, spontaneity and better bottom lines naturally.

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The astonishing power of “Will”


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Human brain is an absolutely amazing and fascinating creation, a gift that each of us is bestowed with. Yet, there is so little we know about it and such marginal use we get out of it.

Not to say that each of us needs to get into the depths of its potential and know what it can help accomplish. That would actually be, a not so good use of it and furthermore, I believe that its abysmal and infinite to even grasp its potential.

For us, common folk, let’s suffice to say that knowing, it has this infinite depth, boundaries of learning and application, that we can do wonders in our daily lives is enough. Now, knowing that, what can you do to help your brain deliver on its promise to elevate your life to where you thought, it’s impossible, or perhaps very difficult to get to.

As the old adage goes, “its all in the head!” Do you believe that you can think yourself to achieve what you want to? If not, start believing in it now for that’s a fact!

All you have to do is to believe. Have a strong will and constantly think about how to realize it. Your brain will lay down various channels of getting there. It will allow for connections, pursuits and paths for you to follow. What you need to do is to pursue them with blind faith and never give up. Does this mean that your amazing thought power will lead you straight to your goal, without hitting any roadblocks in between? Not in the wildest of your dreams! That is exactly what makes this journey so much more interesting, entertaining and adventurous. You will face roadblocks and experience hills and troughs. All you need to know is not to ever give up on your faith of where your head can lead you. As long as you do that, hidden paths will reveal to you, solutions and shortcuts will show and prod you to take on that wild road which is rarely taken. Your head will lead you to do things that you thought you were hardly capable of, tasks you deemed hard and insurmountable. Now, you will get through them with élan and each task you accomplish will fit like a puzzle piece to reveal the next, getting you closer to your goals.

All you should ask of your self is faith in your faculties and perseverance until you can look back and be amazed at what you have accomplished. And while you are at it, never forget to enjoy the ride for at the end of it, it’s the ride you will have cherished the most than getting to that peak.

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Can you Think Yourself into Your Desired Level of Success?


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During the days when I taught management courses, many a student has asked me, “How do I become as successful in life as I possibly can?” In some cases, the question was, “How do I become as successful as I want to?” The de facto answer was, “Work hard.” And there were several others such as establish goals, pursue them diligently, dream big, focus, plan your work, work your plan, etc.”

Now, in hindsight, I would have given a more introspective answer for them to reflect upon. Not that all said above is untrue; it surely is a requirement for success. But, there are several intrinsic behaviors and patterns that determine the level of success you achieve in life.

It’s often said that in order to be successful at what you do, know your strengths and weaknesses and surround yourself with people who are strong in your weak areas. As a result, you develop a circle of strength from which to operate and find positive results in your endeavors.

However, how do you determine your level of success? I mean, how do you ensure you make a positive impact in the lives of thousands of people versus a few hundred or even tens? How do you build a business that is multi-national than locally or regionally focused? How do you build a billion dollar corporation than one that plays in the hundreds of thousands? How do you land the job you desire in the field of your choice in the organization you aspire to work for? How do you grow your career prospects as you gather experience? How do you move into your desired lifestyle? The answer to this lies in the daily life you cultivate and nurture. In other words, your daily interactions, the people you interact with, the books you read, the inspiration and thoughts you cultivate and the rapport you share with those that have done it before.

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Dreaming big and executing on a roadmap to realize your dream is just not enough. You need to build and interact with the right network, develop a nourishing atmosphere so that you can constantly draw inspiration; all your interactions, thoughts and actions need to be a sum total of this. Draw inspiration to chart your own path, the way you see it. Talk, read, and contemplate on what you aspire to do every second, every minute of your existence. Build on the intensity so that your thoughts are shaped by it which shows in your decisions, your actions and finally in your results.

It’s also often said, “When in Rome, act like the Romans.” Well, this is not about acting like Romans, but about getting to be the King of Rome. Not when in Rome, but on the way to Rome, so you arrive King!

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Who do you work for?


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When asked the question, some of the common answers are – myself, my family & my company. There are those that refuse to acknowledge they are working for anyone, be it a person or an organization and use the word “with”, I work “with” xyz. Semantics, I guess. And then, there are those that state they work for their boss.

We all work to provide for our dependents and ourselves. The question is not what do you work for, but who.

If you are an entrepreneur and pride yourself in working for yourself, there is some truth to that, but ultimately, the superior power that determines your actions lies with your customers, suppliers & investors. They can dictate the terms of your work. If you work for an organization, ideally your work and its attributes should be focused at fulfilling your organization’s obligations toward its customers and shareholders. Each of us that works in the corporate world falls somewhere on an organizational ladder with a “boss” that we report into. The boss has the power to determine your paycheck, your upward mobility within the organization and responsibilities you’ll handle. Some bosses are company focused which means your expectations fall in line as well. In such situations, there is more transparency built-in between levels i.e. employee reach extends beyond the immediate boss and through a couple of levels above. This is healthy as hierarchical stress is not as much and opportunities open up for those truly talented and doing the right thing. Others are self-serving and that’s when conflict may arise. That’s when one may end up working for a boss. Corporate politics can dictate where ones’ loyalties lie. Much depends on the employee-boss relationship & the personalities involved therein. Many employees are in the process of pleasing their bosses than in the actual performance of their job to meet the objectives they signed up for. And, these employees cannot be blamed altogether for it since they are acting in defense of their position and in many a case, they themselves are the only defense they may have.

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There have been arguments that state flat organizational structures may be the answer to curb such influences, where employees work in teams and natural leaders emerge as a part of the execution strategy. The emphasis is on actually getting things done to meet common objectives sans a hierarchy within the organization. Well, it may work to an extent in smaller organizations but flat structures are not scalable for growth. As organizations grow, flexibility & controls need to be established using the hierarchy model. And, in every mid to large organization, there are numerous rungs on the corporate ladders. Then, what is the optimal strategy for ensuring that the focus of every employee is truly on corporate goals and not hijacked by personal corporate politics? A strong HR policy propagated by a strong HR team with the support of top management can achieve this to an extent but in a complex business environment, it is difficult to altogether do away with it. Again, having an HR team that functions independently is a difficult thing to achieve in an organization. The HR team too falls on the corporate ladder. There will always be employees serving bosses for various reasons. Although, not completely healthy, this is a true fact in the corporate world and should be managed to optimize it.

When faced with such a predicament, employees who find it detrimental to their principles & career might look for other opportunities so as not to sacrifice their potential & aspirations catering to the whims of an overbearing, self-serving boss. There are also employees who do the boss’s bidding and focus on keeping the boss happy in order to safeguard their jobs. In both cases, it’s detrimental to the corporation, whether through the loss of productive employees for the wrong reasons or by having unproductive employees stay just managing their supervisors. But, at the same time, such bosses are a more serious predicament since their influence and its effect tends to be on a larger scale. It’s the prerogative of every organization to take this issue seriously and work through its channels to monitor and minimize such situations, if not totally eradicate them to ensure optimal productivity of the employee base. Much of it comes from encouraging true transparency throughout the organization irrespective of reporting relationships. And such transparency can be propagated through frequent top-down-top communication, more objective 360 degree performance appraisals, employee reviews as well as supervisor reviews, career pathing, ensuring employees with the right skills are not in wrong jobs etc.

That’s a starter list of ways to nurture healthy employee-work dynamics within organizations. I look forward to see you add to it.

Do “nice” people make poor leaders?


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Definitely not! Well, let me start with that so you know where my sensibilities lie right at the beginning.

Niceness is a very valuable trait in any person, something that is becoming rare in today’s competitive environment.

“Nice” character traits most generally include agreeableness, trust, being a straight shooter, modesty and kindness. A person with niceness as a part of their personality generally tends to stay the same through life. Character traits are the blue print of a person and very rarely change unless the person experiences certain very hard life situations. As a result, the person develops a shield that they try to use to cover up their original personality fearing a recurrence of the bitterness that affected them.

It’s also a fact that more often that not, nice people are taken advantage of. But, that is where the use of personal charm comes into play so as to ensure that one is not abused. People in general are subtly biased towards niceness and feel that a nice person wouldn’t mind being pushed a little. Again, being nice is one thing, but you should also hold your stand and be firm. Niceness is not a weakness; it’s a virtue that is bolstered by being firm.

So, being nice is not always about putting others before you but is about putting yourself before others where it would benefit you as well as the others.

Leadership is about setting example, being a role model and leading the way towards mutual success. What better example to set than being nice yet being firm for a leader’s traits tend to permeate through the organization.

Any organization has

  • a responsibility towards its shareholders, employees and customers; its corporate responsibility;
  • a responsibility towards the community it thrives in and where its people resources live, its social responsibility and;
  • a responsibility towards the business it is in, towards the intellectual capital used; which in today’s time translates into intellectual responsibility.

It’s a leader’s duty, no matter at what level within the organization to safeguard and work towards the fulfillment of these responsibilities on an ongoing basis.

There are leaders that consider that corporate responsibility trumps it all. Again, there is bias towards the shareholders or the customers over employees and vice versa.

If employees feel neglected, their morale goes down and as a result, customers and shareholders suffer. If customers are neglected; no matter how much you may focus on the employees, the business as a whole suffers paving way for not being able to support those employees at all. If shareholders suffer, it has a ripple effect on the well being of the employees and customers.

Not one of them is exclusive. Hence, sound decisions have to be taken in consideration of the business as a whole. That is where the trait of niceness kicks in. A “nice” leader tends to see the big picture and contemplates about the morale and well being of the employees, the health of the business, the focus on shareholders as well as the top notch service that the customers deserve. The key is business health, not purely the financials or what the shareholders seek in terms of financial gain; which can at times happen at the expense of employees or customers. In such unharmonious situations, the rewards are short-lived.

Investing in the community where the organization lives and safeguarding and investing in the growth of intellectual capital are equally important to the long healthy life of a corporation.

As a business leader, it is important to have a sound mind and make sound decisions. There are 2 schools of thought; one that suggests the importance of empathy in business and the other, which states that business decisions are to be devoid of emotions.

I am of the opinion that a balanced approach to decision making is important. Too much or too less of anything can hurt. After all, a business is not just about money. It’s about the knowledge capital invested, the people and their skills that come into play to serve the customers that pay and expect the best possible service for their dollar. Each of these is vital and more important than that, the harmoniousness of their coming together to form the corporation and all that results from it is unique and truly admirable.

Someone who truly understands this and keeps it top of mind while imparting their duty makes the most ideal employee, the most ideal leader.