Opportunity Analysis


Opportunity analysis consists of three interrelated activities:

  • Opportunity identification
  • Opportunity-organization matching
  • Opportunity evaluation

Opportunity arise from identifying new types or classes of buyers, uncovering unsatisfied needs of buyers, or creating new ways or means for satisfying buyer needs. Opportunity analysis focus on finding markets that an organization can profitably serve.

Opportunity-organization matching determines whether an identified market opportunity is consistent with the definition of the organization’s business, mission statement, and distinctive competencies. This determination usually involves an assessment of organization’s strengths and weaknesses and an identification of the success requirements for operating profitably in a market. A SWOT analysis is often employed to assess the match between identified market opportunities and the organization.

For some companies, market opportunities that promise sizable sales and profit gains are not pursued because they do not conform to an organization’s character.

Opportunity evaluation typically has two distinct phases—qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative phase focuses on matching the attractiveness of an opportunity with the potential for uncovering a market niche. Attractiveness is dependent on 1) competitive activity; 2) buyer requirements; 3) market demand and supplier sources; 4) social, political, economic, and technological forces; and 5) organizational capabilities. Each of these factors in turn must be tied to its impact on the types of buyers sought, the needs of buyers, and the means for satisfying these needs.

Opportunity identification, matching, and evaluation are challenging assignment because subjective factors play a larger role and managerial insight and foresight are necessary. These activities are even more difficult in the global arena, where social and political forces and uncertainties related to organizational capabilities in unfamiliar economic environments assume a significant role.

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.

Implementing the Sales Program


As with any kind of management, implementing a sales program involves motivating and directing the behavior of other people—the members of the sales force. To be effective, the sales manager must understand why the people in his or her sales force behave the way they do. Then policies and procedures can be designed to direct their behavior toward the desired objectives.

The model of the activities involved in implementing a sales program suggests that five factors influence a sales rep’s job behavior and performance:

  1. Environmental variables: Regardless of how highly motivated or competent salespeople are, their ability to achieve a particular level of job performance is influenced—and sometimes constrained—by environmental factors. The ability to reach a given sales volume, for instance, can be affected by such things as the market demand for the product being sold, the number and aggressiveness of competitors, and the health of the economy. Similarly other elements of a firm’s marketing mix, such as the quality of its products and the effectiveness of its advertising, can affect a salesperson’s ability to reach a high level of sales performance.
  2. Role perceptions: To perform adequately, a salesperson must understand what the job entails and how it is supposed to be performed. The activities and behaviors associated with a particular job are defined largely by the expectations and demands of other people, both inside and outside the organization. Thus, a salesperson’s job (or role) is defined by the expectations and desires of the customers, sales manager, other company executives, and family members. The salesperson’s ability to do the job well is partly determined by how clearly the sales rep understands those role expectations. Also, the salesperson may sometimes face conflicting demands, as when customer wants a lower price but company management refuses to negotiate. The salesperson’s ability to resolve such conflicts helps determine success or failure on the job.
  3. Aptitude: A salesperson’s ability to perform the activities of the job is also influenced by the individual’s personal characteristics, such as personality traits, intelligence, and analytical ability. No matter how hard they try, some people are never successful at selling because they do not have the aptitude for the job. Of course, different kinds of sales jobs involve different tasks and activities, so a person with certain characteristics may be unsuited for one selling job but tremendously successful at another one.
  4. Skill levels: Evan when salespeople have the aptitude to do their jobs and an understanding of what they are expected to do, they must have the skills necessary to carry out the required tasks.
  5. Motivation level: A salesperson cannot achieve a high level of job performance unless motivated to expend the necessary effort. A person’s motivation is determined by the kind of rewards expected for achieving a given level of performance and by the perceived attractiveness of those anticipated rewards.

A sales manager can use several policies and procedures to influence the aptitude, skill levels, role perceptions, and motivation of the sales force. Implementing a sales program involves designing those policies and procedures so that the job behavior and performance of each salesperson are shaped and directed toward the specified objectives and performance levels.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Profit Decay


Management can always shortchange sales, R&D, or market development, or forgo manufacturing improvements for the short term to make the business and profits look better. Doing so can lead the company into a cycle of profit decay that is very difficult to break out of without incurring major costs or write-offs.

A vicious and deteriorating cycle ensues until some combination of price increase or reductions in manufacturing costs and/or an expense occurs that allows the business to adhere more closely to the profit and loss framework. It is extremely important to understand that a company has, quite literally, no chance of generating attractive profits until it somehow breaks out of this cycle.

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

Hypergrowth in Companies


Hypergrowth is not just a feature of private companies with a profit motive. The public sector can also undergo hypergrowth, often providing growth opportunities for private companies. In the main, however, the days of big government appear to be over. Current trends for the state to be less of an actual provider of services and more a facilitator and purchaser of them from the private sector.

Companies and corporations welcome hypergrowth because of the perception that they will make more profit and thus be more attractive to investors. This is a reasonable perception provided that the hypergrowth is managed efficiently. If, however, it is poorly managed the company may well end up in trouble despite rapid growth.

It is also true that the larger an organization is the more power it can wield and the more it can dictate to its suppliers in order to obtain the discounts the economies of scale can offer. If a company buys 9 percent of one supplier’s product, the company is highly dependent on that supplier to deliver on time. If it buys 90 percent, it can dictate the terms because of it withdraws its business then the supplier will have a major problem. Many suppliers often express delight at gaining a huge contract with a large corporation only to be dismayed later on as that corporation begins to drive down the price. No organization should ever be completely dependent on another.

Just occasionally there are companies that do not want to grow – their owners are happy with them as they are. The danger is not growing, however, is being a target for acquisition by those who are. Hypergrowth is normally presented as a positive thing. For the individual who has not considered its implications it can be threatening. In a hypergrowth situation, change can occur rapidly and change is often uncomfortable. Senior managers should be aware that hypergrowth may produce fear in employees as well as pleasure and pride.

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

Carrying out Sales Contests


Sales contests are short-term incentive programs designed to motivate sales personnel to accomplish specific sales objectives. Although contests should not be considered part of the firm’s ongoing compensation plan, they offer sales people the opportunity to gain financial, as well as nonfinancial, rewards. Contest winners often receive prizes in cash or merchandise or travel. Winners also receive nonfinancial rewards in the form of recognition and a sense of accomplishment.

Successful contests require the following:

  • Clearly defined, specific objectives.
  • An exciting theme.
  • Reasonable probability of rewards for all salespeople.
  • Attractive rewards.
  • Promotion and follow-through.

Because contests supplement the firm’s compensation program and are designed to motivate extra effort toward some short-term goal, their objectives should be very specific and clearly defined.

The time in which the contest’s objectives are to be achieved should be relatively short. This ensures the salespeople will maintain their enthusiasm and effort throughout the contest. But the contest should be long enough to allow all members of the sales force to cover their territories at least once and to have a reasonable chance of generating the performance necessary to win. Therefore, the median duration of sales contests is three months.

A sales contest should have an exciting theme to help build enthusiasm among the participants and promote the event. The theme should also be designed to stress the contest’s objectives and appeal to all participants.

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

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

Why Salespeople Sell?


The complexity and competitiveness of most industrial sales jobs makes successful performance a daunting challenge for even the most well-managed sales force. This challenges sales managers to recruit and select the best qualified salespeople, train and supervise them well, keep them highly motivated, and focus their efforts with appropriate sales strategies and account management policies. Unfortunately, the challenge of recruiting talented new salespeople is made an even thornier problem for many firms.

 For most industrial salespeople, it is precisely the complexity and challenge of their jobs that motivates them and makes them satisfied with their choice of careers. A number of satisfaction surveys over the years have found high levels of job satisfaction among industrial salespeople across a broad cross section of firms and industries.  While these surveys did find some areas of dissatisfaction, that unhappiness tended to focus on the policies and actions of the sales person’s firm or sales manager, not on the nature of the job itself.

 Why are so many industrial salespeople so satisfied with their jobs? Different analysts have offered a variety of answers to this question. Some attractive aspects of selling careers most commonly mention by these authors—as well as by sales people themselves—include 1) freedom of action and opportunities for personal initiative, 2) a variety of challenging activities, 3) financial rewards, 4) favorable working conditions, and 5) good opportunities for career development and achievement.

 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

Antiquated Strategic Planning


At one time, the view from the top of most corporations was strongly influenced by their leaders planning doctrine. Executives were taught that the best way to plan for a complex company into discrete components, called strategic business units. For a time this practice provided a helpful way to unbundle the corporation and to select strategies most appropriate to each unit’s individual situation.

Companies were best thought of as a portfolio of individual businesses: some brand-new and unproven, some growing rapidly and consuming great amounts of cash, some growing rapidly and generating the cash needed by the up-and-comers, and some out and out losers.

Strategic planners eventually carried the idea one step further. They developed formulas that appeared to identify the contribution each business unit was making to the company’s overall stock price. Called value-based planning (as in shareholder value), its application, along with techniques such as junk-bond-driven leveraged buyouts, helped de-conglomerate many corporate dinosaurs in the financial go-go years.

These planning techniques are logical and quantifiable, descriptive as well as perspective. They provide a seemingly attractive way for the head of an enterprise to put arms around what might have become an increasingly diverse array of businesses. But thinking of a corporation as if it were similar to a portfolio of stocks or other investments can also be very limiting and one dimensional.

This kind of thinking tends to overemphasize the uniqueness of each business and often assumes that all the competition in which the corporation is engaged occurs when its business units do battle with their counterparts in other companies. It suggests that the role of top corporate management is either secondary or passive with regard to competition. It also implies that top management’s role is primarily that of a banker to the individual strategic business unit, concerned chiefly with financial resource allocation, and that it adds value mainly through “balancing the portfolio” by buying or selling the strategic business units that make up the company.

This approach encourages a “trader’s mentality” on the part of top management. Traders like to buy and sell, conglomerate and de-conglomerate. But they do not know how very much about how to grow the company from within.

Decentralization, sometimes extreme decentralization, is also encouraged, because each business is expected to stand on its own, containing most of the resources it needs for its operations. This simplifies the job of top management. It has only to focus on each strategic business unit’s bottom line and consider the details of its operations on an exception-only basis.

But this simplification comes to a great cost. Stressing stand-alone uniqueness and managing through the blinders of short-term earnings results in living, growing business entities treated almost as if they were fragments of the company’s stock certificate. The disease of the stock markets—perspective that seldom extends beyond next quarter’s financials—is passed along to the company.

There is another danger when strategic business unit framework dominates corporate decision-making. This is the tendency to grow redundant resources in the company as each strategic business unit, over time, builds up all the functions and staffing it feels it needs to operate as autonomously as possible. At times headquarters management tries to check the emergence of this costly duplication by mandating resource sharing across strategic business units, by using central service groups, or both. But these well-meaning attempts at cost containment send mixed signals to the strategic business units and they also can impose heavy coordination costs in terms of time and loss of flexibility.

Many intelligently managed companies led down the paths and took a seemingly attractive shortcut in their thinking. They confused a framework for planning with a basis for organizing power and resources. They used a perspective that directs to management’s attention to the financial scorekeeping aspects of the business at the cost of neglecting the underlying mechanisms that create value for their customers.

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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