Organization Structure


Any group possessing common goals is an organization. But business organizations can be classified according to the nature of their internal authority relationships. Although there are five forms of organization structure, four forms are common: line, line and staff, committee, and matrix. The line structure is the oldest form and is frequently used today in smaller organizations. The functional form uses specialist managers entirely responsible for their own fields within the operation. The line and staff form uses specialists to assist line officers. This is commonly used in medium and large size firm. The fourth and fifth types, committees and the matrix organizations exist in many firms but only ready as the sole types. They are typically used as a sub-organizational form within a line and staff structure.

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.

Travel Stress


We travel to get to work, we travel during our work, and we travel to get to distant meetings. Travel comes in all forms: short and long timeframes and short and long distances. For most people, the commonest hurdle is the daily grind to and from work. This is most acute in large cities. The problems are truly international, but some of the ugliest and best-studied traffic jams are now everywhere.

The levels of stress that this brings are extremely significant. For those who handle it poorly, it can be damaging  to their health, and may even endanger the lives of others. Medically, we know that stress mechanisms all fire at once when the body identifies a crisis. Adrenaline pours out, the stomach shuts down, the pulse races, and the hair stands up on end. The blood pressure soars, muscles clench in spasms around the shoulder tips and jaw,  and primal aggressions rise, ready for fight or flight.

With immediate flight brings out of the question, more and more frustrated drivers are turning to the fight option—either inside their cars as they tip at the heels of slower drivers, or outside their cars, where they may stomp up and beat a dent into the roof of an offending vehicle. Even the mild and polite become aggressive when they strap themselves into their bumper cars to drive to work. This means they usually arrive late, enraged and spent before they even start to face the day’s stresses on the job.

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.

Components of a Business Plan


Business plan tells a very special story. It is the story of a unique business enterprise, the one you, the entrepreneur, will create. Telling this story will reveal how knowledgeable and competent you are, how certain the outcome is, and how desirable it is to proceed with the project.

There are similarities among all good business plans, but no two are exactly alike, because no two businesses are exactly alike, even if they make and sell same thing to the same market, two businesses will have different personalities. The behavior and attitudes of the managers will be reflected in the businesses. Even the décor will be different, just as the homes of the managers will reflect their individual taste and style. Each business plan is unique.

Several topics that deserve consideration in the plan: what, how, where, and when. You would expect to see topic headings like the following:

  1. The Product. What product or service is being offered? How is it made ready for sale?
  2. Target market. Who will part with their money? How many of them are there? Where are they?
  3. Competition. Where do the customers obtain the product or service now? How does that product or service differ from yours? How strong is the competition?
  4. Marketing. How will the customers learn about your product? Where can they buy it? How does it get to where they buy it?
  5. Management. Who will coordinate the activities of production, administration, and marketing? Who will decide what is to be done and when?
  6. Financial Performance? How much profit will be made and when? How much capital is required? What will the business’s net worth be a year from now? Two years from now?

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 Concept of Service


If we open a new business, the key issue is how long we are planning. If all we want to do is make a quick buck and move on, there is absolutely no point spending a single penny we don’t absolutely need to. But that is not the route to creating an amazingly successful organization.

The only approach for an organization to take if it wants to become amazingly successful is to become highly effective and highly focused. And that doesn’t pay dividends overnight.

But no single working culture is right for every situation. Why should anyone spend money to create a future that they do not expect to be part of?

Why invest in intangible assets that are hard to value on the balance sheet such as staff, improving team moral, developing customer focus and lifting competence levels, if you expect to be moving on soon?

A working culture centered around the concept of service generally and customer service specifically is the most likely to deliver long-term amazing success.

An organization that wants to adopt a service-based working culture must however be ready for the long haul. It must have both the patience and the resources to get through the early stages in a market where market dominance and being the largest are critical whatever the future price?

Some organizations are better off starting with one working culture and then migrating to another when scale and success allow or demand it.

Planning to evolve or change our working culture is fine as an idea when those in charge are sufficiently switched on to the challenges of changing an organization’s culture: to act at the appropriate time and effectively instigate a culture shift in line with new market conditions.

Let’s not forget that the larger an organization is, the more careful it must be in choosing its working culture in the first instance. Larger organizations are always going to be harder to change; they are clumsy and less fleet of foot than their smaller counterparts. Larger organizations must change their working culture less often and less dramatically, so must put more time and effort into avoiding problems in the first place.

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 Adoption Process


The adoption process consists of the mental stages an individual goes through in accepting and becoming a repeat purchaser of an innovation. Marketing communicators play a role in accelerating the rate of new product adoption and thereby increasing the probability of product success. As firms have become more sophisticated marketers, the rate of adoption in consumer markets has increased.

Although consumers are accepting new products more readily than ever, there is still a high percentage of failure in the introduction of new products. Understanding the factors that facilitate or impede successful adoption is crucial to a full appreciation of the role of marketing communications and promotion management in modern marketing.

The adoption process consists of five stages: 1) knowledge, 2) persuasion, 3) decision, 4) implementation, and 5) confirmation. Each stage is necessary precondition to a subsequent stage. Various conditions and characteristics act to increase or retard the innovation-decision process. Among the broad groups of variables that influence the various stages are prior conditions (e.g., the consumer’s previous consumption practices), characteristics of the decision-making unit (e.g., socio-economic characteristics), and perceived characteristics of the innovation (e.g., relative advantages).

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.

 

Quality: A Prelude


Even the best marketing in the world won’t motivate a customer to purchase a poor product or service more than once. In fact, brilliant marketing can speed the demise of an inferior offering, since people will learn of the shoddiness that much quicker. So do everything in your power to ensure the quality of whatever it is you’ll be selling. And you’ve got that quality, you’ll be ready for marketing. It is also mandatory for success that you have adequate capitalization – that is, money. You will need enough cash or cash reserves to promote your business aggressively, for at least three months, and ideally for a full year.

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.

 

Translating Information into Action


Information must be actionable, if it is to be of value to you. That means it must include a customer profile (most often consisting of demographics and buying behavior—psycho-graphics—that enables you to assign all of your customers to one or another of your defined segments. Unless you’re both ready and able to use the results of all this effort to alter your marketing strategy, your money is probably better spent elsewhere. Segmentation only pays off if you use it to fine tune your marketing program.

If you have computed the lifetime value for each segment, you can now make a very scientific assignment of resources to customer groups. You can be selective in this process. If you choose, focusing on just a few segments—or even one. In fact, that may be a good way to validate your ideas before you institute any large-scale changes in your marketing strategy. The important thing is that you use the information to adapt marketing into a more customer-focused and less product-centered approach.

Often you can finance new marketing initiatives by re-deploying the budgets previously spent in pursuit of unprofitable business, because you can now recognize it for what it is. Screening out can be as important as targeting.

You can then assign an appropriate percentage of your marketing budget to each segment which merits pursuit, echoing the percentage of profits that segment has the potential to generate. Consider members with lower grades within a well-defined, profitable segment as areas of opportunity. You know that companies with a given cluster of needs and buying behaviors can be profitably attracted to your offerings and way of doing business. All that remains is to focus on expanding penetration there.

Put your marketing imagination to work. Because you now understand the priorities of each segment so well, you’ll also know how to determine the most potent messages for each, and the media mix that can best deliver it. In addition, because the economics of each segment are clear, you can develop a plan that matches communications alternatives to allotted budget on a cost-per-contract basis.

As a result, most of your money will be invested where the profit potential for developing loyal customers is the greatest. Whilst this strategy appears to be self-evident, it too seldom happens in real life decision-making, since quantification of potential profitability by market segment is sadly lacking.

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.

Manufacturing Inventories


Manufacturing inventories depend on how much value has been incorporated by the firm:

  1. Raw materials
  2. Components/Subassemblies/Unfinished items
  3. Work-in-process
  4. End items/Finished goods

Raw materials are any inventories by a company which the company has not yet processed in any way. This would include such obvious raw materials as iron ore, sand or glass. However, by definition, it could include computer chips or other expensive items which have not yet been processed.

Components/Subassemblies/Unfinished items have been processed to some extent by the company, but are not yet finished. They may leave production area and be stored off the line, but will still not revert to being called raw material. They already have value added.

Work in process is similar to components, et al. it is actually a mixture of raw materials and components that are currently a part of the production process. So some raw materials may be part of work-in-process, and some components may not be.

Finished goods are simply goods which are finished and ready for sale. They are almost never left in the work area, but are moved out into final storage or packaging.

There is often some ambiguity about classification, since a company may sell some unpainted furniture but paint some for final sale. Is a given unpainted piece to be considered finished goods or not? Perhaps we need a new term for such goods.

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.

Corporate Social Strategy


Doing business in international settings presents many challenges to managers. There is no magic solution to meeting these issues as they arise. Companies can prepare for the types of challenges by designing a corporate social strategy that matches and balances the company’s economic strategy. These questions are a good place to start the process:

  • Are we being socially responsible in what we do? Do we meet the expectations of our host country as well as our home country? Would stakeholders in either country question our behavior?
  • Are we responsible to the stakeholders in each country where we do business? Do we treat employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, and others in a fair and just way?
  • Do we recognize emerging issues, as well as, immediate social issues, in the countries and communities where we operate? Are we anticipating change rather than just reacting to it?
  • Do we abide by the host government’s regulations and policies? Do we have good systems for ensuring that our employees and the agents who represent us follow or corporate policies?
  • Do we conduct business in ways that respect the values, customs, and moral principles of each society? Do we recognize that there may be times when they conflict with principles of other societies? Are we ready to address these conflicts in thoughtful, positive ways?

Companies that address these questions before trouble strikes are better prepared to meet global challenges to corporate responsibility. They are better prepared to prevent crises, anticipate change, and avoid situations that compromise the values and principles for which the company stands. A corporate social strategy helps managers achieve both the economic and the social goals of the company.

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.

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