Personal Selling: Two Approaches


Personal Selling: Two Approaches

Many American companies do not put nearly enough effort into direct, personal communication. Japanese success in displacing the US as Saudi Arabia’s leading supplier is instructive. Japanese exporters and small teams to meet with Saudi importers: Japanese exporters; they go to Saudi workshops, travel to secondary towns, and meet with sub-agents. The Americans, on the other hand, invite all their Saudi agents together for a luncheon, do not have private meetings, do not get their hands dirty, and never travel to secondary towns—they tend to stick to the three market centers. Saudis complain that US effort is misdirected: American personnel devote infinitesimal detail to making advance arrangements for visiting executives, going so far as to specify rooms overlooking a certain view from the hotel.

Japanese firms supplement their direct, personal efforts with heavy local advertising. They use gifts generously in product introductions, and warrantees on Japanese consumer electronics range up to three years. To carry out this business, Japanese trading companies have large staffs of professional international marketers who have been cultivated since graduation from a Japanese international trading university, schooled in English and Arabic, and rotated worldwide as international trading specialists.

Compared to most other cultures, particularly non-Western. Americans are extraordinarily preoccupied with the tangible aspects of a product. They round up all their sales agents and give a product presentation instead of putting their energies into the more important component of international marketing—people. In American and only a few other countries it is normal to do business from a distance, between strangers, by mail or telephone.

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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Planning a Research Strategy


If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

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.

Competitive Success


An industry’s key success factors (KSFs) are those things that most affect the ability of industry members to prosper in the marketplace—the particular strategy elements, product attributes, resources, competencies, competitive capabilities, and business outcomes that spell the difference between profit and loss. Key success factors concern what every industry member must be competent at doing or concentrate on achieving in order to be competitively and financially successful. KSFs are so important that all firms in the industry must pay them close attention—they are the prerequisite for industry success. The aswers to three questions help indentify an industry’s key success factors:

  • On what basis do customers choose between the competing brands of sellers?
  • What must a seller do to be competitively successful—what resources and competitive capabilities does it need?
  • What does it take for sellers to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage?

Determining the industry’s key success factors is a top priority. At the very least, managers need to understand the industry situation well enough to know what is more important to competitive success and what is less important. They need to know what kinds of resources are valuable. Misdiagnosing the industry factors critical to long-term competitive success greatly raises the risk of a misdirected strategy—one that over-emphasizes less important competitive targets and under-emphasizes more important competitive capabilities. On the other hand, a company with perceptive understanding industry KSFs can gain substantial competitive advantage by training its strategy on industry KSFs and devoting its energies to being better than rivals on one or more of these factors. Indeed, KSFs represent golden opportunities for competitive advantage—companies that stand out on a particular KSF enjoy a stronger market position for their efforts. Hence using one or more of the industry’s KSFs as cornerstones for the company’s strategy and trying to gain sustainable competitive advantage by excelling at one particular KSF is a fruitful approach.

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

Canvassing: Most Inexpensive Marketing


Canvassing can be the most inexpensive marketing method of all. In fact, it can be free, except for the time you devote to it. And if you’re just starting out, time is something you have a great deal of in your inventory. After all, canvassing is merely asking prospective customers for business. During a canvass, which the dictionary defines as “a soliciting of sales,” you should engage in three separate steps.

The first step, called the contact, is when you first meet your prospect. That first impression counts like crazy. So make your contact friendly, upbeat, customer-oriented, honest, and warm. Try to establish a relationship. You need not talk about business if you don’t want to. You can talk about matters personal, about the weather, about a current event—probably about your prospective customer

The second step of canvass is called the presentation. It usually takes longer than the other steps, yet it need take no longer than one minute. During the presentation, you outline the features of your offering and the benefits to be gained from buying from you. Some pro-canvassers say, “The more you tell, the more you sell.” If it is a home security system, your presentation might take fifteen minutes. If it is an offer to wash your prospect’s car, the presentation might take one minute or less.

The third step of a canvass is the most important part. It’s called the close, and it is that magical moment when you complete the sale. That happens when your prospect says, “Yes” or signs on the dotted line or reaches for his or her wallet or merely nods affirmatively. If you are a poor closer, it doesn’t really matter how good you are at the contact and the presentation. You’ve got to be a good closer to make canvassing work at all.

Before there were any other methods of marketing, canvassing existed. In fact, the very first sale in history probably occurred when one caveman asked another, “When to trade me an animal skin for this fruit I picked?” no advertising was necessary. No marketing plan, either. Life has become far better since then. But far more complicated, too.

If you think that canvassing is like door-to-door selling, you’re right only if you want to do it that way. You can canvass by going from door to door. You can do it in residential neighborhoods, and you can do it in commercial neighborhoods. Or, you can presell your canvass by first calling or writing the people you intend to canvass. You have a choice of telling them you’ll be coming around so that they’ll expect you sometime, or actually setting up an appointment. When that happens, it’s more like making a sales presentation than canvassing. For most, canvassing is something done with little or no advance warning. Sure, it helps if you advertise so that the prospective customers have heard of you when you come calling. But you don’t have to advertise. If you make a good contact, a crisp presentation, and a dynastic close, and if you are offering a good value, canvassing may be the only marketing tool you ever need.

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

The Blue-sky Laws


Government regulation and intervention is very pervasive in our daily lives, especially in business activities. That intervention is both supportive and restrictive. Also, it is constantly changing. The intent of government is generally to provide justice, orderliness, and fairness. A realistic observer may also perceive a governmental desire to play Robin Hood. Some entrepreneurs will find themselves the objects of Robin’s beneficence. Most owner-managers see too much of his ever-present Merry Men.

Entrepreneurs usually don’t concern themselves much with the creation and enforcement of government regulations. Being realistic, they just want to know the rules. They ask how it works and then go on about the business of building their enterprise. Because entrepreneurs need all the help they can get, they will use the rules and regulations that can in any way help the business. If the rules are not helpful they will avoid getting into a position where the rules interfere with the progress of the business. The problem for entrepreneurs is that the regulatory bureaucracy is so massive and complex that they have trouble understanding the rules.

The specialists who devote their professional lives to understanding rules and providing guidance to the rest of us must concentrate on a small segment of the rules to be able to keep up with the changes and the latest nuances in interpretation. This results in the need for many specialists. Despite the burden on time and financial resources, however, it is most prudent to obtain sufficient advice and guidance at least to avoid the wrath and interference of the regulators.

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

The Transformation Jigsaw Puzzle


The efforts of many companies to achieve transformational change have been counter-productive. Some of those who ‘believed’ or who ‘tried,’ now feel betrayed. There is insecurity, widespread disbelief and cynicism in many companies.

 One of the reasons why so many people question either the commitment of senior management to change, or the feasibility of transformation, is that they perceive that all the change elements that the necessary for successful transformation are not in place.

As well as critical success factors, some obvious areas are being over-looked. The document, whether physical or electronic, is the currency of a business, the signals that pass through the nerves of the organic network and trigger intelligent reactions. It is the means by which most activities happen. Yet many organizations are unaware of how much time and resource are devoted to this unrecognized area of business, the production and distribution of documents.

 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