Cost-effective Promtions


Promotions form an integral part of any marketing strategy and, if properly structured, cost very little to implement. Some expense is usually involved, since it’s hard to implement a sales promotion without advertising it. One drawback to many sales promotions is that managing them takes a fair amount of time, and in businesses with very few employees, that time just isn’t available.

 Before spending money to advertise a sales operation, try to visualize how the mechanics will work and that benefits can be expected. It is all too easy to begin a sales promotion without giving any thought to who will manage it. As with every business activity, someone must be in charge. Someone must have the responsibility for putting all the pieces together and making sure that the promotion gets implemented as planned. And someone must be accountable for the problems and miscalculations that always come up.

 In larger companies, sales managers can be assigned the task of managing promotions; however, the smaller the company, the greater the probability that the owner must take the responsibility for:

  • Being on the premises to greet customers, if that’s part of the promotion
  • Coordinating and following up to make sure deliveries are made on time, if that’s part of the program
  • Personally handling any barter arrangements or questions that arise from 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 visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Conducting an Interview


You may not have the time or inclination to create structured situational interviews. However, there are several things you can do to increase the standardization of the interview or otherwise assist the interviewer to ask more consistent and job relevant questions. They include:

  1. Base questions on actual job duties. This will minimize irrelevant questions based on beliefs about the job’s requirements. It may also reduce the likelihood of bias, because there’s less opportunity to ‘read’ things into the answer.
  2. Use job knowledge, situational, or behaviorally oriented questions and objective criteria to evaluate the interviewee’s responses. Questions that simply ask for opinions and attitudes, goals and aspirations, and self-descriptions and self-evaluations allow candidates to present themselves in an overly favorable manner or avoid revealing weaknesses. Structured interview questions can reduce subjectivity and therefore the chance for inacurate conclusions, and bias. Examples of structured questions include: (a) situational questions like, “Suppose you were giving a sales presentation and a difficult technical question arose that you could not answer. What would you do?”; (b) past behavior questions like, “Can you provide an example of a specific instance where you developed a sales presentation that was highly effective?”; (c) background questions like, “What work experiences, training, or other qualifications do you have for working in a teamwork environment?”; (d) job knowledge questions like, “What factors should you consider when developing a TV advertising campaign?”
  3. Train interviewers. For example, review laws with prospective interviewers and train them to avoid irrelevant or potentially discriminatory questions and to avoid stereotyping minority candidates. Also train them to base their questions on job-related information.
  4. Use the same questions with all candidates. When it comes to asking questions, the prescription seems to be “the more standardized, the better.” Using the same questions with all candidates can also reduce bias “because of the obvious fairness of giving all the candidates the exact same opportunity.”
  5. Use rating scales to rate answers. For each question, provide a range of possible ideal answers and quantative score for each. Then you can rate each candidate’s answers against this scale. This ensures that all interviewers are using the same standards.
  6. Use multiple interviewers or panel interviews. Doing so can reduce bias, by diminishing the importance of one interviewer’s idiosyncratic opinions, and by bringing in more points of view.
  7. If possible, use structured interview form. Interviews based on structured guides usually result in the best interviews. At the very least, list your questions before the interview.
  8. Control the interview. Limiting the interviewers’ follow-up questions (to ensure all interviewees get the same questions), using a larger number of querstions, and prohibiting questions from candidates until after the interview are other “structuring” techniques.

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

Is this Meeting Genuinely Necessary?


A “maybe” response indicates only limited need for the meeting and shows that further thought is required. Only a “yes” is a positive justification for calling a meeting.

 

The same question needs to be asked before attending a meeting. If the meeting is not necessary and you can avoid it, do so. If you have to attend, try to use the time to shorten your workload to compensate for the lost hours.

 

Many managers find it hard to judge if a meeting is needed or superfluous. There are some guidelines:

1.    Is the meeting being called to exchange information or viewpoints?

a.       If the meeting is to discuss viewpoints, it is probably a necessary conference. If the meeting is strictly to distribute information, the meeting is probably unnecessary. Meetings are most effective when used to find solutions or resolutions to conflicts. A meeting held for the sole purpose of imparting information had better have some pretty spectacular revelations. This in all likelihood should be classed as an inspirational conference, because important news is seldom passed along without editorializing or explanations. Inspirational meetings are difficult to conduct, because they are based on emotion, but there are times when the troops need boosting or, conversely, deflating.

b.      Training meetings appear to be an exception to the don’t-meet-to-exchange-information concept. They are not. Distributing information in advance allows the meeting to be used for developing concepts and testing individual understanding. This is a better use of everyone’s time. This is not to downplay the importance of instructional sessions. It is just to set this category of communications apart from other meetings.

c.       Information, facts, figures, sales data, market intelligence, production numbers, personnel reviews, and more, can be disseminated more effectively by memo than meeting. Chances are, the memo is going to be written anyway passed out at the meeting. Distributing a memo is okay if there is other business on hand, but calling a meeting solely as a means of handing paper to other managers is inappropriate.

d.      Meetings are at their best when used to generate expressions of viewpoints or concepts, or to develop a policy.

e.       Meetings are at their worst when used to check individual progress on various projects. There are few more mind-dulling experiences than to sit at a conference table and hear about the status of tasks that are not even remotely connected with yours. These sections often turn into excuse contests with rambling dissertations on the reasons behind delays or problems.

f.        Meetings are generally not an efficient way to dispense information. If this is the primary reason for the gathering, then rethink the need for convening.

2.    Can one-on-one conversations or even one-on-two conversations accomplish what needs to be done? Or is a larger group necessary?

a.       There’s a difference between a meeting and a conversation between two or three people. A conversation is relaxed, informal, and rarely has the time constraints posed by a meeting. Those present sense the difference.

b.      Decisions are rarely made in conversations. In fact, some managers and executives become agitated when two or three members of a committee converse and come to a consensus without the others present. This nervousness is not assuaged by a follow-up memo which details the conversation or even by the fact that the decision may be nothing more than a unified front, in no way binding upon the group.

c.       If conversation will suffice to avoid another meeting, then have the talk. Inform the other committee members or interested parties. Those smart enough to advance in management will welcome one less meeting on their schedule.

3.    Is this meeting being called because someone or some group doesn’t have enough to do? It happens all the time. Workloads in an organization can be unbalanced. This week, Production has more than it can handle, while Sales is costing. One way to fill the day for Sales is to call a meeting. This is more common than anyone dares admit.

4.    Is the agenda for the called-meeting vague? Or worse, is there no agenda at all?

a.       As a basic rule of meeting skill, do not go to a meeting where there is no agenda. If you have to attend, go prepared for the worst.

b.      If a manager cannot express on paper what the meeting is about, there probably shouldn’t be a meeting at all.

c.       If you are asked to a meeting and no agenda is given to you in advance, find the person who called the meeting and ask for one. If it is verbal, take notes.

d.      Many times, the person discovers he or she has vague ideas about why the meeting is needed. This experience can benefit both of you.

5.    Is there any reason to meet other than the fact that your group has a set, regular, once-a-week mandatory meeting? Top management often wants certain employees to get together each and every week, to discuss items of importance, or to match timing, balance workloads, and do ongoing, necessary house-keeping.

a.       After a few sessions, these meetings fall into a routine and small talk dominates.

b.      The day before, the manager should do a little checking. Is there actually a need to convene? Could a more limited gathering accomplish the same thing? Would a memo suffice? Could matters be handled by a phone call? If the answer is yes, skip the meeting.

 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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