Odd or Even


It may sound peculiar, but time management experts say we’re more apt to be on time if we schedule our meetings for, say 2:10 rather than 2:00 P.M., because 2:10 is more memorable. The more specific the time, the more likely people are to arrive promptly. When meetings are scheduled at rounded-off hours, people tend to allow an extra ten minutes before they think of themselves as being late.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Entrepreneur


Most businesses start as a dream in somebody’s mind. An entrepreneur is a person with an idea. He or she also is someone with the energy and drive to turn that idea into a business. An entrepreneur needs these characteristics because in a young firm he or she must often do everything at once—manufacture the product, sell it, find enough money to keep going, and manage few employees.

The entrepreneur must be willing to take great risks, too, for most new businesses fail within a year. The odds against success are stiff, partly because many business ideas simply are not very good. After all, whoever wanted to buy paper dresses or quadraphonic sound. Factors that create special risks for new businesses are those over which entrepreneurs have little control. Also, technology has become highly complex and many new products—a filter to remove the salt from sea water, for example, require many years and teams of scientists and engineers to develop. Then, too, a vast array of government regulations creates additional burdens of time, energy, and expenses for owners of new businesses.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Ethical Problems in Product Strategy


Product quality, planned obsolescence, brand similarity, and packaging questions are significant concerns of consumers, managers, and governments. Competitive pressures have forced some marketers into packaging practices that may be considered misleading, deceptive, and/or unethical. Some firms make package larger than necessary to gain shelf space and consumer exposure in the supermarket. Odd-sized packages make price comparisons difficult. The real question seems to be whether these practices can be justified in the name of competition. Growing regulatory mandates appear to be narrowing the range of discretion in this area.

Product testing is another area that raises ethical concerns. To help assure consumers of product quality, many companies use seals of approval for their goods and services. Recently however consumers have begun to question whether the use of these seals is ethical, since they have to be purchased at fees ranging from $10,000 to $1 million. The seals also do not promise that the product is the best one on the market. Many of the organizations that offer seals of approval do not conduct product testing themselves or even compare brands.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Creative Selling Process


Although it may look easy, creative selling is not a simple task. Of course, some sales are made in a matter of minutes. But others, particularly for large organizational purchase, can take years to complete. Salespeople should follow a carefully planned process from start to finish.

Step 1: Prospecting: Prospecting is the process of finding and qualifying potential customers. This involves three activities:

  • Generating sales leads. Sales leads are names of individuals and organizations that might be likely prospects for the company’s products.
  • Identifying prospects. A prospect is a potential customer who indicates a need or a desire for the seller’s product.
  • Qualifying prospects. Not all prospects are worth investing sales time in. some may not have the authority to buy, and others won’t have enough money. The ones who do have both the authority and the available money are called qualified prospects.

Step 2: Preparing: With a list of hot prospects in hand, the salesperson’s next step is to prepare for the sales call. Without this preparation, the chances of success are greatly reduced. Preparation starts with creating a prospect profile, which includes the names of key people, their role in the decision-making process, and other relevant information such as the prospect’s buying needs, motive for buying, current suppliers, income/revenue level, and so on.

Next, the salesperson decides how to approach the prospect. Possible options for a first contact include sending a letter or cold calling in person or by telephone. For an existing customer, the salesperson can either drop by unannounced or call ahead for an appointment, which is generally preferred.

Before meeting with the prospect, the salesperson establishes specific objectives to achieve during the sales call. Depending on the situation, objectives can range anywhere from “getting the order today” to simply “convincing prospects top accept the company as a potential supplier.” Following that, the salesperson prepares the actual presentation, which can be as basic as a list of points to discuss or as elaborate as a product demonstration or multimedia presentation.

Step 3: Approaching the Prospect: Positive first impressions result from three elements. The first is an appropriate appearance—you wouldn’t wear blue jeans to call on a banker, and you probably wouldn’t wear a business suit to call on a farmer. Appearance also covers the things that represent you, including business cards, letters, and automobiles. Second, a salesperson’s attitude and behavior can make or break a sale. A salesperson should come across as professional, courteous, and considerate. Third, a salesperson’s opening lines should include a brief greeting and introduction, followed by a few carefully chosen words that get the prospect’s attention and generate interest. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on a benefit to the customer rather than on the product itself.

Step 4: Making the Presentation: the most critical step in the selling process is the presentation. It can take many forms, but its purpose never varies: to personally communicate a product message that will convince a prospect to buy. Most sellers use of two methods: The canned approach is a memorized presentation (easier for inexperienced sellers, but inefficient for complex products or for sellers who don’t know customer’s needs). The need satisfaction approach (now used by most professionals) identifies the customer’s needs and creates a presentation to specifically address them.

Step 5: Handling Objections: No matter how well a presentation is delivered, it doesn’t always conclude with an immediate offer that might move the prospect to buy. Often, the prospect will express various types of objections and concerns throughout the presentation. In fact, the absence of objections is often an indication that the prospect is not very interested in what the salesperson is selling. Many successful salespeople look at objections as a sign of the prospect’s interest and as an opportunity to develop new ideas that will strengthen future presentations.

Three basic approaches to overcoming objections include asking the prospect a question, giving a response to the objection, or telling the prospect that you will need to look into the matter and address it later.

Step 6: Closing: So far, you haven’t made a dime. You may have spent weeks or months—years in some cases—to bring the customer to this point, but you don’t make any money until the prospect decides to buy. This stage of the selling process, when you persuade the customer to place an order, is referred to as closing.

How should you ask for the order? Closing techniques are numerous; here are some of the more popular. The alternative proposal close asks the prospect to assumptive close, you simply proceed with processing the order, assuming that the prospect has already decided to buy. Another alternative is the silent close, in which you finish your presentation and sit quietly, waiting for the customer to respond with his or her buying decision. Finally, many salespeople prefer the direct close, where you just come right out and ask for the order.

These closing techniques might strike you as tricks, and in the hands of unethical salespeople, some closing approaches certainly can be. But the professional salesperson uses these techniques to make the selling process effective and efficient—not to trick people into buying when they aren’t ready.

Step 7: Following Up: Most salespeople depend on repeat sales, so it is important that they follow up on all sales and not ignore the customer once the first sale is made. During this follow-up stage of the selling process, you need to make sure that the product has been delivered properly and that the customer is satisfied. Inexperienced salespeople may avoid the follow-up stage because they fear facing an unhappy customer. However, an important part of a salesperson’s job is to ensure customer satisfaction and to build goodwill.

In order to improve the odds of keeping a satisfied customer after the sale, salespeople should remember to:

  • Handle complaints promptly and pleasantly
  • Maintain contact with customers
  • Keep serving the customers
  • Show appreciation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Ideal-Candidate Profile


You don’t have the time or the resources to evaluate every applicant who strolls in. to guide your work, you should develop a profile of your “ideal” candidate. You may never find your ideal, but you will establish a basic framework that outlines the person you are looking for.

Developing an ideal candidate profile is similar to viewing a lineup of suspects after you’ve witnessed a bank robbery. The individual you pick out may not be the actual bank robber, but chances are the real criminal is strongly similar. Often, a lineup helps police establish the silhouette or basic framework of the person being sought. The police is clear even if the details are not. Likewise, your ideal candidate profile will give you a sharper idea of what you are really looking for, so that you can increase your odds of finding him or her.

Use the following outline to develop of profile of your ideal candidate:

  1. Must have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Skills or talents
    • Education
  1. Should have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Education
  1. Would be nice to have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Skills or talents
    • Education

Be specific when you draft your outline. If you want someone with strong follow-up skills, say so. If you want an assertive person who can handle high stress, say so. To create a good match between job and candidate, you need to define the person as closely as you define the job.

Keep your company culture in mind, too. If your company is team-oriented and flexible, you want a candidate who is comfortable with teamwork—and not everyone is. If your department is highly structured, you want someone who works well in a structured situation. Describe the qualities that your company values so that you can find compatible candidates.

Just remember that defining the candidate is a lot like shopping for groceries: the more you toss into your shopping cart, the more you’ll pay. The cost of filling a job is influenced by two factors: how long it takes to find the candidate, and the supply of qualified candidates. The greater the number of must have items on your list, the longer it’s going to take to find that person. The greater the experience, skills, or education requirements, the smaller the supply of candidates and the larger the compensation package required to hire the person.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Improving the Odds


Though very few companies are completely satisfied with their new product efforts, it is clear that some companies do a much better job than others. Why are some companies able to achieve better results with new products than their competitors? How do they work around, or at least minimize, the risks and pitfalls in new product development that plague most companies? Each of these companies has its own development priorities and needs, but they all follow the same fundamental principles:

  1. They identify customer problems that offer attractive commercial opportunities.
  2. They think through their product/market focus to provide maximum commercial opportunity.
  3. They face up to fundamental cost and performance deficiencies.
  4. They ensure that all development efforts are directly linked to corporate and product/market strategies.
  5. They strike the right balance between investing in future products and generating current profits.
  6. They protect their proprietary positions and respond quickly to encroachments.
  7. They utilize cross-functional teams to guide new product and market planning.
  8. They are willing to go outside for new technology.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Characteristics of Managerial Creativity


The creative manager must be a creative human and an effective manager. He/she tends to be characterized by following group of traits:

1) Hunger for knowing curiosity, constant questioning; strong interest in stimulating ideas, theories, and philosophies, always wanting to know the ‘how’ and ‘why of things; strong interest in trying to understand people’s motives and behavior.

2) Sensitivity responsiveness to literature, arts and other fine and delicate things; interest in meeting interesting and sensitive persons; empathy for the suffering; responsiveness to beauty and elegance.

3) Complexity intuitively finding correct solutions; being a visionary; having odd, even conflicting ideas; moodiness.

4) Venturing calculated risk-taking; preference for starting own ventures; aiming big; striking out in one’s own.

5) Independence and courage questions the status quo or established order; sticking to core convictions; listens to experts but makes up own mind; clear and forceful assertion of feelings and viewpoints.

6) Reality contact initiative taking in finding out operating constraints; confidence in managing crisis; quick adjustment to new challenges and information; grip on reality despite fantasying.

7) Self-sufficiency absorbed in challenging tasks; confident in operating in alien situations; tendency to take on tough tasks; persistence in getting ventures accomplished.

The creative manager operates in a fairly tightly regulated system in which creativity failures may be penalized; creativity needs to be directed towards organizational requirements; almost all creative initiatives require approval from superiors and acceptance by colleagues and subordinates to succeed; the cynical need to be won over; opposition of vested interests to these initiatives needs to be neutralized; dedicated teams need to be developed to execute creative initiatives; creative initiatives need to confirm to evaluate and control mechanisms of the organization; changes and creative initiatives need to be synergized for maximum impact—so on and on.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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