De-Stress Without Distress


Stress is a significant problem in the workplace and many people are searching for effective antidotes. Unfortunately, most look in the wrong places. The answer is not to follow the crowds who take sedatives or tranquilizers, but to take control. It is for this reason that options to control your symptoms are critical to learn. They include:

  1. Relaxation Response
  2. Biofeedback
  3. Music
  4. Art
  5. Fashion
  6. Acupuncture
  7. Positive Imagery
  8. Placebos (Latin word = I shall please)
  9. Hobbies
  10. Humor

All these options are easy to master and free from side effects. They will improve your health today, and may even save your life tomorrow.

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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Post-sale Customer Loyalty


Maintaining the loyalty of major current customers can be crucial for improving a business’s profitability as its markets mature. Loyal customers become more profitable over time. The firm not only avoids the high costs associated with acquiring a new customer, but it typically  benefits because loyal customers a) tend to concentrate their purchases, thus leading to larger volumes and lower selling  and distribution costs, b) provide positive word-of-mouth and customer referrals, and c) may be willing to pay premium prices for the value they receive.

Periodic measurement of customer satisfaction is important, then, because a dissatisfied customer is unlikely to remain loyal to a company over time. Unfortunately, however, the corollary is not always true. Customers who describe themselves as satisfied are not necessarily loyal. Indeed, 60 to 80 percent of customer defectors in most businesses are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” before their defection. In the interim, perhaps, competitors improved their offerings, the customers requirements changed, or other environmental factors shifted. Businesses that measure customer satisfaction should be commended, but urged not to stop there. Satisfaction measures need to be supplemented with examinations of customer behavior, such as measures of the annual retention rate, frequency for purchases, and the percentage of a customer’s total purchases captured by the firm.

Defecting customers should be studied in detail to discover why the firm failed to provide sufficient value to retain their loyalty. Such failures often provide more valuable information than satisfaction measures because they stand out as a clear, understandable message  telling the organization exactly where improvements are needed..

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

Everything is Tentative


It’s easy to imagine that building a new product is like building a house—first the foundation, then the frame, then the first floor, and so on. Unfortunately, product aspects are rarely locked in that way. Occasionally they are, as when a technical process dominates development, or when a semifinished product is acquired from someone else, or when legal or industry requirements exist.

We usually assume everything is tentative, even up through marketing. Form can usually be changed, and so can costs, packaging, positioning, and service contracts. So can the marketing date and the reactions of government regulators. So can customer attitudes, as companies with long development times have discovered.

This means two long-held beliefs in new product work are actually untrue. One is that everything should be keyed to a single Go/No Go decision. Granted, one decision can be

Decisive—at times, for example, when a firm must invest millions of dollars in one large facility or when a firm acquires a license that commits it to major financial outlays. But many firms are finding ways to avoid such commitments, for example, by having another supplier produce the product for a while before making a facilities commitment, or by negotiating a tentative license, or by asking probable customers to join a consortium to ensure the volume needed to build the facility.

The other untrue truism is that financial analysis should be done as early as possible to avoid wasting money on poor projects. This philosophy leads firms to make complex financial analyses shortly after early concept testing, although the numbers are inadequate.

Still another tentative matter is the marketing date. Marketing actually begins very early in the development process—for example, when purchasing agents are asked in a concept test whether they think their firm would be interested in a new item. Rollouts are now so common it is hard to tell when all-out marketing begins.

Often no one pulls a switch and marketing instantly begins. We more often sneak up on it, which clearly affects the evaluation system.

What results in some cases is a sort of a rolling evaluation. The project is being assessed continuously, figures are penciled in, premature closure is avoided, and participants avoid mind-sets of good and bad.

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

Observe Fringe Times


Formal business situations, highly structured meetings, negotiating sessions, and other forms of business interaction are likely to be the least revealing because they are the times when people are most likely to have their “game faces” on.

 So consciously time in to the fringe times, the beginnings and endings, the periods of transition, which are when people are most likely to let their guards down. During a two-hour business meeting, the first several minutes—before you actually get down to the business at hand—and the last several minutes—as everyone is saying goodbye—can tell you more about the people you are dealng with than almost anything else that goes on in between. These are, unfortunately, the times when you are likely to be least observant. Try to sharpen your awareness.

 Also, be aware of people during interruptions, unusual exchanges, or anything that intrudes upon the more formal flow of a business situation. There is a certain amount of role playing in most business encounters, and when someone “breaks ranks” the facades are going to crack a little. Simply noticing who does the breaking and how others respond with words and eyes can tell you a lot.

 There is a scene in The Godfather that perfectly illustrates this: The Godfather has just flatly rejected an offer from the Mafia boss to get involved in the drug business, when Sonny, his hotheaded eldest son, blurts out that the terms that have been proposed are insulting to the family.

 This, of course, leads to the attempt to eliminate the Godfather. The other dons have correctly perceived a break in ranks, for simply by the act of objecting to the terms, Sonny has revealed a greater willingness than his father to consider the deal.

 Though The Godfather is fictional, its psychology is very real.

 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

Employing Too Many People


This seems obvious; employing too many people to do the work is clearly a waste on money. Unfortunately, there is a natural tendency for organiations to expand – largely because it is easy to employ an extra person, but difficult to sack one.  This growth is particularly obvious at the top.

Most organizations are overstaffed. When someone is overworked they can resign, share the work with a colleague, or demand another two assistants.

When there is not enough work to keep everyone occupied, there is plenty of time to worry, gossip and play politics. This by itself can be disruptive, but there are more problems when you try to trim the costs. Your best people will read the signs and start looking around for another job; the less good will keep their heads down and avoid any controversy, risks or mistakes. No one performs at their best when they spend their time applying for other jobs or trying to look invisible.

Remember that those who are in danger of losing their jobs deserve the longest warning that you can give. It isn’t their fault that the organization is having problems, and they have to plan for a difficult and uncertain future. Many managers delay these decisions, giving different reasons why they shouldn’t say anything until the last possible moment. This leaves everyone worried. It is far better to sort things out early, so that those remaining can concentrate on their work, and those leaving can help for the future.

Overstaffing has more widespread effects than simply wasting money, and you should avoid it by controlling recruitment and promotions.

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