Basic Thinking Patterns


Teamwork can be managed into existence by teaching people to use consciously and cooperatively four basic  patterns of thinking they already use unconsciously and individually. These four basic patterns of thinking are reflected in the four kinds of questions managers ask every day:

  1. What’s going on? It begs for clarification. It asks for a sorting out, a breaking down, a key to the map of current events, a means of achieving and maintaining control. It reflects the pattern of thinking that enables us to impose order where all had been disorder, uncertainty, or confusion. It enables us to establish priorities and decide when and how to take actions that make good sense and produce good results.
  2. Why did this happen? This indicates the need for cause and effect thinking. It is the pattern that enables us to move from observing the effect of a problem to understanding the cause so that we can take appropriate actions to correct the problem or lessen its effects.
  3. Which course of action should we take? This implies that some choice must be made. This basic pattern of thinking enables us to decide on the course of action most likely to accomplish a particular goal.
  4. What lies ahead? This pattern looks into the future. This is used for thinking when we attempt to assess the problem that might happen, the decision that might be necessary next month, next year, or in five years.

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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Flow of Communication Messages


  • Despite computer manufacturers’ promises of the paperless office,  shipments of office paper have risen 51 percent.
  • In less than 10 years, people in the US added almost 135 million information receivers—email addresses, cellular phones, fax machines, voice mailboxes, answering machines—up 265 percent.
  • In one year, 11.9 billion messages were left on voice mailboxes.
  • Even though people are clamoring  to get on the Internet, they are sending even more messages through the postal services, and they are talking on their telephones more than ever.

All companies can hold down costs and maximize the benefits of their communication activities if they just follow three simple guidelines:

  1. Reduce the number of messages;
  2. Speed up the preparation of messages;
  3. Train the writers and speakers.

Even though you may ultimately receive training on the job, you can start mastering business communication skills right now. Begin with an honest assessment of where you stand. In the next few days, watch how you handle the communication situations that arise. Then in the months ahead, try to focus on building your competence in areas where you need the most work.

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.

Scientific Method and Marketing Research


Scientific method is a decision-making approach that focuses on being objective and orderly in testing ideas before accepting them. With the scientific method, managers don’t just assume that their intuition is correct. Instead, they use their intuition and observations to develop hypotheses—educated guesses about the relationships between things or about what will happen in the future. Then they test their hypotheses before making final decisions.

A manager who relies only on intuition might introduce a new product without testing consumer response. But a manager who uses the scientific method might say, “I think (hypotheses) that consumers currently using the most popular brand will prefer our new product. Let’s run some consumer tests. If at least 60 percent of the consumers prefer our product, we can introduce it in a regional test market. If it doesn’t pass the consumer test there, we can make some changes and try again.”

The scientific method focuses an orderly research process. Some managers don’t carefully specify what information they need. They blindly move ahead—hoping that research will provide “the answer.” Other managers may have a clearly defined problem or question but lose their way after that. These hit-or-miss approaches waste both time and money.

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.

Principles of Crisis Management


What does one do when a crisis comes? There are some principles, not rules that can be useful to managers facing a crisis:

Define the real problem: Crises tend to face managers to think short term and focus on the narrow problem at hand. The crisis management team should ask several reflective questions: What would constitute a good job in managing this crisis? What can we accomplish? What is impossible?

Set Goals and Define the Crisis Strategy in Light of Those Goals: The urge to act first, think later is hand to resist when facing a crisis. The better the course is to have some managers actively thinking about the goals—What do we want to accomplish? How do we want to be perceived by the media? By our shareholders? By our employees and customers?

Manage the flow of Information: Experts advise managers to tell the story their way, consistently, and frequently. Because electronic media repeat crisis stories quite frequently in a typical news day, managers have an opportunity to correct errors and should not permit an erroneous statement to stand unchallenged.

Adopt a Team Approach: It is important to have one spokesperson designated at the outset and available to act on the company’s behalf immediately. Successful companies have thought in advance about the skills each crisis team should possess. Legal, media, and government relations skills are essential in many crisis situations.

Plan for the worst case: A crisis always has the potential to worsen, and managers need to anticipate the worst case possibility. It is tempting to assume a crisis will pass and the world will return to normal. It is wise to prepare for the worst.

Plan on the Situation Getting Worse: By doing so, an organization can begin to see ahead and create contingency plans for communicating with key stakeholders, deploying resources, and organizing other companies and people for action.

Follow up after the Crisis is Over: Many contacts with stakeholders occur during a crisis. A company can restore its image and reputation by dedicated follow-up to stakeholders.

Use Technology: Information technology can be a powerful aid to a company facing a crisis and needing to communicate with stakeholders. A company should measure the effectiveness of communication message through polling, surveys, and focus-group interviews.

Don’t Give up: As bad as it can be for an organization, a crisis rarely destroys a well-managed business. Leadership is vital if an organization’s internal and external stakeholders are to believe that there is a bright future beyond the crisis.

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 Manager


The manager describes what a person does rather than what a person knows. A manager makes sure an organization operates smoothly and efficiently. Upper-level managers, known as executives, address longer-range concerns. They foresee problems years ahead by considering questions such as the following:

  1. Is current technology at the company becoming obsolete?
  2. How expensive are the newest technologies?
  3. How much would they disrupt operations if they were adopted?
  4. What other plans would have to be postponed or dropped altogether?
  5. When would the new technologies start to pay for themselves?
  6. What has been the experience of other companies that have adopted these new technologies?

Executives are concerned with these and dozens of other broad questions that go beyond day-to-day managerial concerns.

Managers want to know the bottom line. They have to get a job done on schedule they don’t have time to consider theory in the way an expert does. Rather, managers must judge constraints—financial, personnel, time, and informational—and make logical and reasonable decisions quickly. And they have to communicate with their own supervisors.

In writing to a manager, try to determine his or her technical background and then choose an appropriate vocabulary and sentence length. Focus on practical information. If you think that your reader will take your information and use it in a document addressed to executives, make your reader’s job easier. Include an executive summary and use frequent headings to highlight your major points. Ask your reader if there is an organizational pattern or format, or a strategy for writing the document that will help him or her use your document as source material.

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.

Facing the Harsh Facts


Many companies that have lost profits or market share have managers who are still waiting patiently for their business to “get back to normal.” Others are looking for government help for their declining market and profit positions. Neither of these approaches is a viable situation. What is needed is less wishful thinking and rhetoric and greater willingness to squarely face the true facts about their markets and competitive positions. The demand changes that have occurred in many markets are structural, not cyclical, and it is unrealistic to expect any kind of a dramatic recovery or turnaround that will restore demand to former levels.

It is extremely difficult for managers who have built their entire careers around specific products and technology to accept the fact that their former business base has now leveled out from prior peaks, or worse yet, become obsolete or irretrievably lost to new competitors or technology. Obviously, many old-line steel managers could not imagine today’s world of aluminum cans, plastic auto parts and bodies, or Japanese, Korean, and small regional producers who constantly “beat their pants off.” Nor could managers in the high flying semiconductor business foresee the situation where their markets have not only ceased to gallop ahead, but decline dramatically, and where foreign sources, including Brazil, Korea, and Taiwan, have captured the bulk of the remaining business. Unfortunately, these are the facts, and an equally discouraging set of forces applies in many other markets.

It is understandable that managers who have grown up and lived through the growth years in any of these industries find today’s conditions difficult to accept. But they must change their myopic or unrealistic views of their business so they can tackle the hard work required to regain a profitable competitive footing. Otherwise, their situations will not improve and will most likely deteriorate further.

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

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