Building Relationships


If you want to build a successful network marketing business, the one skill you should seek before all others is the ability to build relationships. The hierarchy of power that structures organizations in the traditional business paradigms does not exist here. No one works for anyone else. In a sense, Network marketing is ‘cooperative’ marketing – we work together from self-interest. For a system like this to be  effective, it must be founded on solid win-win relationships.

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.

Price Differentiation


A common response during slow demand is to discount the price of the service. This strategy relies on basic economics of supply and demand. To be effective, however, a price differentiation strategy depends on solid understanding of customer price sensitivity and demand curves.

Heave use of price differentiation to smooth demand can be a risky strategy. Over –reliance on price can result in price wars in any industry where eventually all competitors suffer. Price wars are well known in the airline industry, where total industry profits suffered as a result of airlines simultaneously trying to attract customers through price discounting.

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.

Bid Decision-Making


Following tools and techniques are used:

  1. Risk Assessment: Sellers must identify, analyze, and prioritize the risks associated with a potential project. Many world-class companies have developed practical risk assessment tools—surveys, checklists, models, and reports-containing both qualitative and quantitative information. Software programs are increasingly being developed to help managers assess risks.
  2. Opportunity Assessment: Sellers must identify and analyze the opportunities that are potentially viable. Many successful companies have developed standard forms, surveys, checklists, or models to help managers assess opportunity.
  3. Risk Management Team Process: Sound business management requires a solid understanding of risks and the methods to identify, analyze, and mitigate them. Successful companies follow a designated risk management team process, not just a best guess individual assessment.

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.

Company Demographics


For all customers or prospect records the following basic attributes will lay a solid foundation for numerous segmentations:

  1. Category code: A four-digit code is usually a sufficiently descriptive definition your market is concentrated in several Standard Industry Codes, then going to the six or eight digit level may be appropriate. Remember the SIC is currently undergoing revision, so be flexible with this field.
  2. Company size: There are two choices – sales volume or employee size. It is probably best to use employee size, as it is more easily obtained and more accurate than company revenue. Record employee numbers by site so that they can be rolled up to the corporate level.
  3. Site Type and Linkage: There are some standard definitions here such as branch, division and corporate headquarters. It is important that you take time to develop a site definition that fits your business as this might include plant, research center, etc. secondly, link the sites to a corporate structure, so that a roll-up to the enterprise level can be carried out to look at the customer picture.
  4. Financial year: For those selling situations that involve the customer needing to budget for your product or service, the knowledge of the fiscal year becomes critical, as this will drive the buying process and therefore your selling cycle. Most companies are on a calendar/fiscal year, but about 20 percent are on a different fiscal year basis. In the consumer market this might also be relevant – for example in acquiring expensive items.

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 Selling Process


It is difficult to manage something without a solid understanding of what it is you’re trying to manage. Unfortunately many people have a number of misconceptions about the selling process, the activities carried out by salespeople, and the personal characteristics necessary for a successful performance. To complicate matters even more, various selling roles can involve very different tasks and require different skills and abilities from the people who do them. The role of sales force should evolve from simple order taking to building long term customer relationships with retailers, for instance, the firm’s salespeople need to develop superior interpersonal skills, the ability to work effectively as members of cross-functional teams, greater knowledge of each market and competitive situation, and the technical and marketing skills necessary to collect and interpret large amounts of sales and cost data related to the product categories in each store they call upon.

Selling process begins with an examination of how organizational buyers make purchase decisions and how salespeople can facilitate and influence those decisions. It covers a variety of activities, tasks, and decisions involved in different types of selling situations.

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.

 

Expanding into New Functions


A common difficulty for entrepreneurs during the growth of their business is expanding into another distinctive business function. When we read or hear about outstanding entrepreneurs we see the exponential portion of their record. The long, slow foundation building is not interesting to the investment community or the media. But the truth is there was a long period of solid building within one distinctive business function.

A new business or a young business can barely support the management, administration, and marketing it has to have to operate in one distinctive function. Different business functions require different handling in each of these areas. This imposes an additional nonproductive burden on an already overburdened revenue-generating segment of the business.

Successful entrepreneurs start the smallest possible viable business concept and concentrate on it until it works very well. They get to know more and more about their little business until they know more about it than anyone else. They become the expert about their business.

When discussing the entrepreneur’s career path they perceive growth opportunities. At this point it is very easy for them to conclude that having made this business work they can make any business work. They frequently see green pastures on the other side of the fence. The successful entrepreneurs develop and refine a business concept for the growth they will undertake. They then expand their little business. They don’t leap after someone else’s headaches. They build on their own experience and expertise.

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

Adopt Open Communication


To build trust and solid working relationships with employees and others in the organization, it’s important to be seen as someone who is committed to sharing information with others and who goes beyond communicating only what is necessary. Developing a climate in which you and your team are open with information—information exchanges between you and your people, between departments or divisions, and between team members—is critical in order to function effectively.

  • Find out what your employees want to know.
  • Encourage your staff to keep one another informed and share information.
  • Establish a departmental bulletin board to keep people up-to-date on both personal and professional items of interest.
  • Hold periodic staff meetyings to share information about recent developments in the organization.
  • In staff meetings, encourage two-way communication, solicit agenda items from employees, and allow employees time to raise issues.
  • For the purpose of informal communication, hold monthly breakfast meetings that have no agenda.
  • Keep your manager and employees up-to-date by submitting a monthly activity report for your area.
  • Alert your manager to possible implications of events occurring either inside or outside of the organization. Don’t assume that your manager is aware of these implications.
  • Don’t “shoot the messenger” of bad news.
  • Ask your manager which key people you should keep informed.
  • List the key organizational people upon whom your success depends, and make a special effort to keep them informed.
  • Copy your manager on all correspondence to managers in the organization at his or her level or higher level.
  • Ask your manager about any perceived “surprises” in your area and then look for ways to avoid recurrences.
  • Don’t gloss over anything that goes wrong in your area. Report the situation as accurately as possible.
  • Talk with peers or people in other departments about “communication breakdowns.” Devise ways to avoid them.
  • Always double check all written communications before mailing; also ask yourself, “Who else should know about this?”
  • Use the “informal organization” as a way of keeping others informed. Wander around, have coffee with people, ask them questions, and so on.
  • At the end of every day, ask yourself of what occurred that should be reported to other people.
  • Return phone calls promptly.
  • Make a point of updating the appropriate people even when nothing new has developed.
  • Ask your secretary to suggest who should be copied on documents you produce.
  • Appoint a “recorder” for the meetings you conduct and have the minutes distributed to the appropriate people.
  • Promptly respond to notes, letters, and other requests so people know what you are doing about their communications.
  • If they are available, use electronic aide (voice mail, email) to pass along information that doesn’t require face-to-face exchange when you cannot do so in person or in writing.

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 Dynamics of Social Responsibility


The various stakeholders of a firm can be divided into inside stakeholders and outside stakeholders. The insiders are the individuals or groups that are stakeholders or employees of the firm. The outsiders are all the other individuals or groups that the firm’s actions affect. The extremely large and often amorphous set of outsiders makes the general claim that the firm be socially responsible.

Perhaps the thorniest issues faced in defining a company mission are those that pertain to responsibility. The stakeholder approach offers the clearest perspective on such issues. Broadly stated, outsiders often demand that insider’s claims be subordinated to the greater good of the society; that is, to the greater good of the outrsiders. They believe that such issues as pollution, the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, and the conservation of natural resources should be principal consideration in strategic decision making. Also broadly stated, insiders tend to believe that the competing claims of outsiders should be balanced against one another in a way that protects the company mission. For example, they tend to believe that the need of consumers for a product should be balanced against the water pollution resulting from its production if the firm cannot eliminate that pollution entirely and still remain profitable. Some insiders also argue that the claims of society, as expressed in government regulation, provide tax money that can be used to eliminate water pollution and the like if the general public wants this to be done.

The issues are numerous, complex, and contingent on specific situations. Thus, rigid rules of business conduct cannot deal with them. Each firm regardless of size must decide how to meet its perceived social responsibility. While large, well-capitalized companies may have easy access to environmental consultants, this is not an affordable strategy for smaller companies. However, the experience of many small businesses demonstrates that it is feasible to accomplish significant pollution prevention and waste reduction without big expenditures and without hiring consultants. Once a problem area has been identified, a company’s line employees frequently can develop a solution. Other important pollution prevention strategies include changing the materials used or redesigning how operations are bid out. Making pollution prevention a social responsibility can be beneficial to smaller companies. Publicly traded firms also can benefit directly from socially responsible strategies.

Different approaches adopted by different firms reflect differences in competitive position, industry, country, environmental and ecological pressures, and a host of other factors. In other words, they will reflect both situational factors and differing priorities in the acknowledgement of claims. Obviously, winning the loyalty of the growing legions of consumers will require new marketing strategies and new alliances in the 21st Century. Many marketers already have discovered these new marketing realities by adopting strategies called the “4 Es.” 1) make it easy for the consumer to be green, 2) empower consumers with solutions, 3) enlist the support of the consumer, and 4) establish credibility with all publics and help to avoid a backlash.

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

Facing up to Deficiencies


Many companies fail to objectively evaluate their products against competitive offerings in a rigorous manner. If they do go through some kind of an evaluation process, it is often superficial or biased, leading to a continuation of “business as usual” rather than dramatic cost or performance improvements. In some cases, management is not presented with the real facts because it is easier not to “rock the boat.” In other cases, management may see the facts but not accept or face them squarely, since it is not easy to admit that a product is no longer competitive. As a result, a surprising number of companies continue to try to get by with products that are not competitive and they fail to make the fundamental, essential changes in design or cost.

There are two important points that successful companies always follow. First, it is essential to ensure that products are designed for efficient manufacturing and assembly. Second, “me too” parity is never a solid basis for gaining or regaining position. Technical programs should always be designed to leapfrog the competition rather than play “catch up” against moving competitive targets.

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

Customer Retention Program


To develop an effective customer retention (CR) program, organization can follow this five-step process:

  1. Determine your current CR rate. It is surprising how few companies know the percentage of customers that leave (the defection rate) or the percentage of customers that they are able to retain annually (the retention rate). There are many ways to measure customer retention. Choosing an appropriate measure provides a starting point for assessing a firm’s success in keeping customers.
  2. Analyze the defection problem. This is a three-pronged attack. First, we must identify disloyal customers. Second we need to understand why they left. There are six types of defectors. Customers go elsewhere because of lower price, superior products, better service, alternative technologies, market changes (they move or go bankrupt), and “political” considerations; (switching motives) can also provide insight here. Third, strategies must be developed to overcome the non-loyal purchasing behavior.
  3. Establish a new CR objective. Let’s assume that your company is currently retaining 75% of its customers. A realistic goal may be to improve client retention annually by at least 5%, to 80%, and to keep 90% of your clients within 5 years. Customer-retention objectives should be based on organizational cabalities (strengths, weaknesses, resources, etc.), customer and competitive analyses, and benchmarking with the industry or sector, comparable firms, and high performing units in your company.
  4. Invest in targeted CR plan to enhance customer loyalty. The cost (potential lifetime value) of a single lost customer can be substantial. This is magnified exponentially when we realize the overall annual cost of lost business.
  5. Evaluate the success of the CR program. As an iterative process, the final phase in designing a solid customer retention plan is to ensure that it is working. Careful scrutiny is required to assess the program’s impact on keeping existing customers. Upgrading current customer relationships may be a secondary business objective. At this point, we gather new information to learn to what extent our CR rate improved. We may need to revisit our benchmarks and further probe isolated causes of defection. CR strategies and tactics will be closely analyzed to determine which methods worked best and those that had little or no impact on keeping 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