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August 2010

Do Your Customers Sabotage or Promote Your Success? Part II

The Six-Step Action Plan for Moving Forward

There is no magic in creating one great customer experience. The difficulty is in providing great customer experiences at every transaction. Here are the six key ingredients for success:

Map your customer touch points and appraise the quality of your customer conversations. 

Shift from a companycentric to a customercentric model.

Invest in the best software solution and create the right metrics.

Collaborate with the best thought leaders.

Appoint a chief customer officer who reports to the CEO.

Reward your team for creating relationships that turn customers into promoters of your business.

1.    Map the customer’s journey across all touch points.

It is easy to take inventory of the company initiatives that are directed at the customer (see below)…


…but that’s only part of the job.  To capture what customers experience when they deal with your company, you need to appraise the quality of the interactions, communications, and conversations with the customer. The map below shows some of the touch points and conversations that take place during the customer’s journey. 


Uncomfortable questions: How do you know what your customers experience at each touch point? The map below illustrates how companies can capture the customer’s emotional reaction when dealing with your organization. Each touch point can become a source for measurement, learning, and improvement.

It might be helpful to think of your customers as private journalists who use social media to report on their experiences to their peers, co-workers, and suppliers. That’s why successful companies begin to capture these stories, respond to them, and use them as learning opportunities for improving their people, processes, and technologies. 

More Uncomfortable Questions

How does your company define and measure a great customer experience at each touch point?  How do your top executives define a customercentric organization? How often do your top executives meet with customers? Does your company map your customer’s journey? Have you created a metric to measure your customer’s experience at each touch point? Do you reward your team based on delivering a great customer experience?

2.    Redesign your organization to be customercentric.

While many companies claim to be customercentric, a closer look shows that this claim is often wishful thinking.

Ranjay Reorganize-book Ranjay Gulati, Harvard Business School professor and author of  Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business (Amazon), writes, “The vast bulk of enterprises talk the customer talk while failing to walk the customer walk. This failure results from not only how companies understand (or don’t understand) customers externally, but also – far more importantly – how they structure their internal organization.” 

In his book, Gulati shares the stories of a number of organizations that were transformed into customercentric businesses by eliminating silos, sharing customer data across the organization, creating a collaborative mind-set, and empowering employees to decide on behalf of the customer. 

In this 10-minute video, Gulati explains how companies can become far more resilient by adapting their organization to the customer’s needs.




3.    Implement technology that drives a customercentric culture. 

While most CRM programs promise a 360-degree view of the customer, the reality is that most customer-facing employees don’t have a clue of what customers experience when dealing with your company. Below are technology solutions with a strong focus on the customer experience: 



Watch this four-minute video about how Oracle CRM delivers a “WOW” customer experience: 



4.    Find the right consultants to map your customer’s journey. 

For those executives who are way too busy to design a comprehensive customer-experience strategy or a customercentric organization, here are a few consulting organizations that can be of help: 

Note that Strativity is offering a Customer Experience Management certification program, which takes place October 5-7 in Scottsdale, AZ



Mcorp Consulting
Customer Bliss - Become a Beloved and Prosperous Company

5.    Appoint a chief customer officer –who reports to the CEO. 

According to the Chief Customer Officer Council, the chief customer officer is a powerful asset who can help resolve chronic customer issues, create sustainable competitive advantage, help retain profitable customers, and drive profitable customer behavior through effective customer strategy. The CCO is also best suited to create a customercentric culture. Creating the role is a serious undertaking, and executives must be firmly committed to supporting the role vocally and visibly to ensure the CCO has the authority and credibility that is necessary for success.

The CCO position isn’t easily installed in Fortune 500 companies. In fact, only 5 percent of the Fortune 500 employ a CCO. The CCO Council says that it is far easier to install a CCO in a smaller company of perhaps less than $100M in revenue, often because the CCO can directly influence all the employees. The CCO can more easily establish and enforce policy.

Chief Customer Officer

6.    A little incentive will go a long way.

Car Lior Arussy describes how he helped motivate an entire company to achieve customercentric goals. He writes, “We leased a Porsche and parked it in front of the office right next to the CEO’s parking space for all to see.  We announced that the employee who met both productivity and quality numbers during the week would get to drive the Porsche for a week and park in the premium parking spot – where we dispatched a cleaning crew to wash and detail the Porsche daily. Our message was, ‘You’re going to inspire our customers, so we’re going to inspire you. You’re going to give them an experience, so we’re going to give you an experience.’” 


Note: If you offer customer-experience management solutions, or if you can help companies become more customercentric, feel free to share your solutions.


Do Your Customers Sabotage or Promote Your Success? Part I


Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart said, “There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Ben Cohen, cofounder of Ben & Jerry’s, said, “There is a spiritual aspect to our lives. When we give, we receive. When a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about [the business]!”

These three business founders had no problem putting the customer first, yet many organizations get so busy with themselves that they appear to the average customer to be egocentric, productcentric, and companycentric, but not customercentric. The sad truth is that as companies become more successful, they sabotage their own success by ignoring their customers.

The big idea: Creating better customer experiences leads to far better business results.

Customer_experience_strategy Lior
Lior Arussy, the author of Customer Experience Strategy: The Complete Guide from Innovation to Execution (Amazon), explains in his book that companies that are able to deliver an emotionally satisfying experience across all customer touch points will enjoy distinct benefits:  

  • Premium price
  • Longer relationships with existing customers
  • Higher customer loyalty
  • More customer referrals
  • Increase in lifetime customer value
He describes how organizationcentric companies focus on the divisions within themselves – the silos and touch points isolated from each other. He writes, “When the customer calls in with a problem, the rep answering the phone at the organizationcentric company says, “That, Sir, is a right-nostril question. You’ve reached the left-nostril department, where we’re committed to excellence in the service of left nostrils. You’ll have to take your right nostril down the hall. I’ll give you the phone number that you can call after I hang up.”

The Positive Customer-Experience Circle

Zig Ziglar once said that logic makes people think, and emotions make people act.  A positive customer experience creates positive memories, which cause people to share positive stories, which spread through their social connections, therefore enhancing the company’s brand value and leading to new purchases. Chart

Fred-reichheld Ultimate_question Fred Reichheld, partner at Bain & Company, is the author of The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth. (Amazon)

Reichheld explains that customer satisfaction is best measured by one simple yet powerful question:"Would you recommend this business to a friend?" This question led Reichheld to the discovery of the Net Promoter Score, which is explained in detail on this Website


Harvard Business Press writes about Reichheld’s book: "In industry after industry, this Net Promoter Score is the single most reliable indicator of a company’s ability to grow. Based on extensive research, The Ultimate Question shows how companies can rigorously measure Net Promoter statistics, help managers improve them, and create communities of passionate advocates that stimulate innovation. "

In this four-minute interview for the online show "Meet the Boss" (see below), Fred Reichheld explains the ultimate question. The second part of this video features Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit, who explains how his company has integrated social media to enhance the customer experience.

What’s the value of improving the customer experience?

Study after study conducted within the last two years show that shifting from a companycentric model to a customercentric organization pays handsome dividends. The best part: This is a move that your competition cannot easily duplicate.

A recent study by Accenture of more than 4,100 companies around the world found that 67 percent were moving their business as a result of having received poor service.

An Accenture study of 16 retail banks conducted in October of 2007 found that converting customers from a low to medium level of loyalty and from a medium to high loyalty can yield a 20 percent increase in profitability per customer. For some banks in the survey, this translated to $6 billion in incremental profit.

According to Bain & Company, an increase of customer loyalty by 1 percent represents a cost reduction of 10 percent.

The Strativity Group found that 70 percent of consumers indicated that if businesses exceeded their expectations, they’d be willing to increase their spending by 10 percent or more.

Research conducted by the Strativity Group in 2009 found that high Net Promoter scores translated to significantly longer customer relationships.


Tune in tomorrow for part two: Six action steps for moving forward.

Do You Think Selling Is Tough? Try Selling Lemonade in Oregon!


Times are tough all over for salespeople. No matter what line of business they are in, there are always unexpected obstacles confronting them. Consider the case of 7-year old Julie Murphy who persuaded her mother to help her set up a lemonade stand at an art fair in Portland.

According to The Oregonian, Julie and her mom set up a table, taped a sign to the front that read “Lemonade 50 cents,” carefully mixed the ingredients (Kool-aid, water and ice) in the cooler, and before she was done, a man walked up and bought the first cup. Julie thanked the customer with a smile and proudly pocketed the two quarters. After selling a few more cups Julie had an unexpected visitor. A stern-looking lady with a clipboard walked up to the stand and asked Julie and her mom if she could see their license. What license? Well, if you are selling to the public, you need to have a temporary restaurant license, which the county sells for $120. Julie had no idea what the adults were talking about. The woman with the clipboard worked for the health department, and she took her job of protecting the public and her authority to enforce the rules very seriously. Julie’s mom tried to explain that Julie was cleaning her hands with a hand sanitizer; she didn’t touch the ice with her hands and used a scoop. The clipboard lady didn’t relent. She decided that they had to stop selling lemonade, and if they continued, they could get a $500 fine.


Julie and her mom decided to pack up and leave, but the word spread quickly from booth to booth, and people gathered around Julie’s lemonade stand offering their support. One idea was to bypass the rules by giving away the lemonade and accepting donations. There was an instant groundswell of support from other vendors. Some people wanted to stage a protest. Others were more pragmatic, and one of them went on the PA system to rally the crowd to support Julie’s lemonade stand. It didn’t take long for the generous Oregonians to make a beeline to Julie’s business, gulping down lemonade and dropping quarters and dollar bills on the table. Julie was the sales champion of the fair. But soon the tide turned when two health inspectors showed up ordering Julie and her mom to pack up and leave. According to the eyewitness reports, there was “a very big scene.” The crowd around Julie’s table got angry, and the clipboard busybodies felt threatened. Julie and her mom started crying, and they decided to pack up and leave.

The following Sunday, a radio show called BURN radio (Bottom Up Radio Network – an online site that calls itself “a voice for radical anarchist thought and action), reported the story under the headline “When the State gives you lemons…GIVE THE STATE HELL!!” The site is organizing a “Lemonade Revolt,” to take place in August at the Last Thursday event. The talk show host invited citizens to sell lemonade at the fair and stare down the clipboard army.

Julie’s story tugged at the hearts of the media outlets, and the story was reported nationwide, including in the New York Times. After a few days, the lemonade authorities softened up a bit. According to news reports, the county chairman apologized to Julie’s mom for the shutdown.  He said that the inspectors followed the rule book, but “a lemonade stand is a classic, iconic, kid thing to do and I don’t want to be in the business of shutting that down.” 

After the media boost and the chatter on social-networking sites, Julie got a second chance to sell lemonade and raked in more than $1,800, enough for a trip to Disneyland. Julie’s mother said, “We just really appreciate everything that everyone did. [Julie] got her lemonade stand, she had a good experience and that’s all she wanted in the first place. And she met some really cool people.”

To Win We Must Harness the Power of Concentration

Aug5_1 Bob Marx, an experienced skin diver, felt his heartbeat accelerating when a 12-foot mako shark attacked him. "The first time it hit me, it didn't bite," Marx said, according to an Associated Press story. "It knocked me out of the water. It hit so hard that it knocked off my mask, fins, and snorkel!"

Bob, who had 25 years of diving experience, started to fight for his life. In a sudden burst of anger and fear, he grabbed the shark's snout with his right hand and started pounding on its head with his left. The giant shark pushed Bob backward with increasing speed and took into its mouth his right arm between the armpit and elbow.

Not ready to give up, Bob concentrated his remaining energy and pulled his arm away so hard that two of the shark's teeth were left in the wound. At the same time, he pushed both his knees up violently into the shark's belly, spun away, and curled into a ball. His mind raced: "Is this the end?" As he opened his eyes, and floated toward the surface, he noticed that the shark was taking off; it had lost interest.

Bob was then aided by his friends and taken to the hospital. His wounds required 150 stitches.

Bob's story astonished many. It is an extraordinary example of a human being acting under stress and accomplishing baffling feats of strength. Bob was able to concentrate all the force of his muscular system just then when it was needed to save his life. Because he had the power of concentration, that man's strength became more effective than the mako shark's teeth and its powerful 12-foot body! The clarity of aim led to concentration, and this concentration made the lesser volume of force the more effective.

From the world of daily experience, we might draw many more such incredible examples of the power of concentration. Concentration is that which makes force speedily and directly effective.

Bob's story is indeed unusual, since people like you or me may quickly exclaim, "If I had been in his position, the shark would have devoured me..." But before we come to this conclusion, we may ask ourselves, "What powers could I use, - if I'd only concentrate a bit more? Isn't everyone endowed with the ability to concentrate?"

Concentration is one of the most important keys to success. If we tirelessly apply our physical and mental energies to one problem, we will meet with great success. So how can we improve our powers of concentration? Golf champion Arnold Palmer believes that concentration demands self-knowledge. He once told a reporter, "The secret of concentration is the secret of self-discovery. You reach inside yourself to discover your personal resources and what it takes to match them to the challenge."

People who have difficulty concentrating on their jobs often blame interruption from other people. Brendan Francis argues, "Other people's interruptions of your work are relatively insignificant compared with the countless times you interrupt yourself."

Research shows that with improved concentration comes an increased flow of productive ideas. TV producer Norman Lear once told Selling Power that there is an infinite flow of creativity we can all tap into, providing we concentrate without forcing the flow. If we are too preoccupied or self-centered, the flow will stop. If we forget ourselves in the task, the creative flow will increase.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Chick-SENT-me-hi), professor of human development at the University of Chicago, described how superachievers concentrate to reach "the zone" of total absorption. He said that anxiety kills the flow, as does boredom. In the same way that an archer pulls the string against the bow to create tension, a superachiever fills the mind with a challenge that causes new ideas to flow with high velocity toward a mental bull’s-eye.

Olympic athletes often create a series of ritualistic steps that help them concentrate on the present. Their objective is to forget the preoccupation with success and failure and focus all mental energy on the challenge at hand.

The success-oriented mind is like a magnifying glass that concentrates the rays of the sun in one spot. The magnified intensity of the rays dissipates the moment the glass is moved. When our mind wanders from subject to subject, our productivity drops, our energies are sapped, and our motivation dissipates.

Inventor Thomas Edison once told a reporter how to use the power of concentration to achieve something of significanc: "You do something all day long, don't you? Everyone does. If you get up at 7 o'clock and go to bed at 11 o’clock, you have put in 16 good hours, and it is certain with most people that they have been doing something all the time. They have been either walking, or reading, or writing or thinking. The only trouble is that they do it about a great many things, and I do it about one. If they took the time in question and applied it in one direction, and to one object, they would succeed. Success is sure to follow such application. The trouble lies in the fact that people do not have an object – one thing – to which they stick, letting all else go."

It is easy to get lost in thought and action in life. There are many among us who have seen the bright young sales recruit, with a capacity to learn all things, sound principles, refinement of taste, and equipped to set new sales records - fall short of achievements because of a wasteful or wavering dispersion of his or her gifts. These intelligent, but unfortunate salespeople lack the concentration on one clear purpose. They were never brought to focus.

We can all build a great mental framework in which concentration will flourish. If we apply razor-sharp concentration, there is nothing that can hold us back from winning.

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What Most Memorable Sales Can Teach Us

As the publisher of Selling Power magazine, I get the opportunity to listen to many great sales stories. Here are two that stand out in my mind, because both stories contain a valuable lesson. Weldon Crawford sent us this nugget:

The Surprisingly Large and Fast Sale

Jan15_1 “My experience as a specialty chemical company salesman taught me that one never knows how far away – or how close – the next big sale is.

Several years ago, I sold approximately $125,000 worth of chemicals to an oil refinery that needed to remove waste sludge from a large oil storage vessel. About a year later, a maintenance manager from the same refinery called asking me to come in and discuss the same chemical cleaning program with his team. Cleaning the tank in question would require about $300,000 in chemicals, so I anticipated another large commission check. Still, I faced months of hard work before I could even think about receiving that commission – or so I thought.

I scheduled an informal meeting for the following week, including only the maintenance manager and his assistant. When I arrived, the receptionist informed me that my informal meeting had been moved to the large conference room. Upon entering the room, I was somewhat astonished to see 15 people sitting around the table, obviously awaiting my arrival. Although I knew everyone from the previous tank-cleaning job, I was quickly reintroduced and invited to begin my presentation.

I started to describe the nature of the tank sludge, its properties, and how the chemical would remove it. After about three minutes, the manager interrupted with, ‘We know all of that. How much chemical is required, and how much will it cost?’

To my response he asked, ‘Can you get it here in 24 hours?’ After a quick phone call to my home office, I assured him that I could but that much site work was required for a job of this size. He informed me that workers were two hours away from completing all of the required site preparation, and he would be ready for the chemical at that time. He then picked up the phone, called purchasing, and had a $320,000 purchase order issued to me for the chemicals. The sale I had originally thought would take months was closed in less than 10 minutes.” What I learned from Weldon’s story: We never know enough about the future to be a pessimist.

Alfredo Osuna shared this interesting story:

Recommend the Competition

“I started to work for the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company as an account representative in its industrial sales department in Caracas, Venezuela. It was my first job in sales.

The sales supervisor sent me out on my first call alone to see the manager of a soft drink company, Mr. G. When I arrived, Mr. G. took me to the bottling plant, which had stopped production because paint chips had been found in some of the bottled soda. I took a bottle as a sample, went back to the manager's office, and made a call to my supervisor. About five minutes later, the plant engineer, who wanted to come out to the bottling plant, called me back. Since his car was not working, he asked that I pick him up. I told the plant manager I would return with the engineer the next morning.

During the plant engineer's visit the next day, he determined that the plant stoppage was entirely due to the faulty paint that my company had supplied. Our company was also liable for damages. We agreed to sandblast the tanks to remove the bad paint and repaint the tanks at no cost to the customer. We further agreed to begin the job within hours. The plant manager agreed. I drove the engineer back to the main office, then returned to the bottling plant to see the manager once more.

I explained to him that I was new in sales and that if he repeated what I was going to tell him that I would most certainly be fired. I told him that we had been having trouble with this type of paint and that the best thing for him to do would be to repaint the tanks with our competitor's product. Our company would still pay for the paint. He looked at me for several minutes without saying anything, then shook my hand and thanked me. I returned to my office and explained that the customer had specifically requested our competitor's paint but would not sue our company for other costs incurred by this unfortunate problem.

Two days later the paint job was completed. A week later our company got a call from the plant manager requesting that I visit him. He wanted to see me to tell me that he was going to paint the entire factory, and he wanted me to take the order then and there. He became a personal friend and one of the leading customers for the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company.”

What I learned from Alfredo’s story: Great salespeople are true customer advocates. Alfredo risked his job and earned his customer’s loyalty. My hat’s off to you!

What’s your most memorable sale?

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Are You at Risk of Being Replaced by Technology?

Are You at Risk of Being Replaced by Technology? We have entered the “displacement economy” where new technology drives out the old ways of doing business. Do you remember how old phone booths were replaced by cell phones? Newspapers are steadily shrinking, while online content is continually expanding. recently reported that eBook sales are now exceeding print book sales. The music business has been displaced by online music sales tools like iTunes.

Innovative technology can also displace jobs. Over the years, ATM machines have replaced bank tellers and telephone operators have been replaced by automated answering technology. Travel agents ere replaced by travel websites. Video store clerks were replaced by Netflix. In NYC, doormen risk getting replaced by sophisticated security technology.

Will Salespeople be replaced by technology?

As we all know, the Web has become the computational platform for all business processes. Here is an example: The Sales Cloud Sales Cloud. The promise: Salespeople will become more productive, more effective and more collaborative.

Many technology vendors use a similar sales pitch: “We help your salespeople cut down the time they spend researching prospects, generating leads, preparing presentations, developing proposals and generating reports. As a result, they will be able to spend more time with customers and increase customer satisfaction and sales. Example:Microsoft Dynamics, CRM 4.0

The reality is that some companies are already leveraging technology, not to save time, but to save the high expense of keeping salespeople on the payroll. Case in point: At the latest Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston, Brian Dawson, CEO of Tel-Tron Technologies told the audience of 250 sales leaders that better technology allowed him to let the bottom three performers go.

What do the Experts say:

I asked a few experts for their opinions by asking this question: Do you see sales jobs being eliminated by technology? Here are their answers:

Aug3_Dickie Jim Dickie, Partner of CSO Insights says, “I agree, auto dialers can replace sales jobs. However, I see a larger issue. If all a sales person can do is talk about the product, then for sure their job is at risk to technology. Customers can access a wealth of product information via the Internet: Websites full of not just data sheets but podcasts from developers talking about the design of the product, video clips of customers talking about the product, automated demos showing the product in action, etc. With the ability to get answers to their product questions that way, why do they need a sales rep? The role of sales is going to have to evolve to them providing a value-add, or otherwise they may well not be needed in the process.”

Aug3_Damphousse Mike Damphousse, CEO of Green Leads says, “We are using Connect and Sell and our productivity has gone through the roof. As a result, we have hired more people and we’ve grown our business. However, I do see companies making cuts in the sales staff after investing in technology. In some cases however, the job gets shifted and companies create new positions such as the manager of sales operations.”

Aug3_Seely Anneke Seley, CEO of Phone Works and author of the book Sales 2.0 says, “We may be eliminating low-level sales jobs with these technologies, but at the same time we are elevating the role of more skilled sales people, making them more productive, and generating more profit for their companies which can create more jobs - for additional geographies or more specialized territories. Or, the company generates more money to invest in educating the lower level people whose jobs were replaced by technology! More territories (lower rep to customer ratio) typically translate to better customer experience / service while growing revenue even though (or because) the "patch" is smaller.”

Aug3_Elkington Dave Elkington, CEO of InsideSales says, “What we have found is that about 65% of our clients will use the benefits of the new technology to grow their business and 35% leverage the technology to reduce head count. We also see that many of our clients use the technology to help the less experienced inside sales reps become more professional. As a result, they are able to do the job of an outside sales rep and these outside sales reps are being let go. Our fastest growing product is our sales lead response management solution. Salespeople will get a web lead within seconds after a prospect visits their website. Within seconds of the online visit, the salesperson automatically dials the prospect, and automatically leaves a voice mail, followed by an email five minutes later. One salesperson can follow up with over 250 prospects a day and the callback rate is about 12 per day. Without automation, a salesperson may be able to follow up with only 30 leads per day. The demand for this is so huge that we’re growing at over 100% this year. While our clients let some of their people go, our biggest challenge is hiring good inside salespeople. But what’s most interesting is that some of our clients are leveraging technology to drive their competition out of business. In that case, it’s not only salespeople who lose their job; it’s the entire staff that loses their jobs.”

Aug3_Vass Brian Vass, VP Marketing at Sant says, “In our business, I haven’t seen any sales jobs eliminated due to technology. Companies are using our applications to make their sales people more productive, and they hope this extra capacity is used on revenue-generating activities and not the golf course. Our technology also makes sales people more effective by improving their win rate. Our customers typically have B2B sales forces with large quotas. They would rather invest in technology to improve the sales person’s effectiveness than save money on salaries.”

Aug3_Blackburn Simon Blackburn, VP Sales of ConnectAndSell says, “Introducing technology into a sales organization is no different than introducing any new IT system. We typically run a production pilot with a select group of sales reps so we can fine-tune to the specific customer needs (there are several ways to use ConnectAndSell). Once the pilot concludes, we make the necessary adjustments and roll-out to the rest of the sales team. The pilot approach has some big benefits to customers; we address issues early, collect great feedback from the
sales team, and, customers get to see the real potential of the system in the hands of their top performing sales reps."

Aug3_Garth Garth Moulton, Co-founder of Jigsaw says, "What I’m seeing from an anecdotal level is that technology is fueling the move by companies to transfer jobs from the traditional, outside, geographically dispersed suit- and- tie, in person sales guys to inside teams that are either 100% online and phone based or a hybrid. These Sales 2.0 teams make better use of the new technologies and methods, but I don’t think they are necessarily being replaced by technology. However, in the transfer of resources from higher paid, more expensive employees to much more efficient Sales 2.0 teams, there is considerable cost savings, if not actual headcount."

Action step: Read this new book by Seth Godin: Linchpin.

Aug3_Godin1       Aug3_Godin2

It will show you how to become indispensable to your employer. (The book is also available on Kindle). It’s a brilliant book that can change your life. After reading Linchpin, I was so impressed that I asked Seth to speak at our next Sales Leadership Conference in Philadelphia on Sept. 21st. We are lucky that he said yes since he accepts only very few speaking engagements. If you have never heard Seth Godin speak, don’t miss this opportunity. Get your invitation now.

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Could Your Company Achieve Double Digit Growth?

Could Your Company Achieve Double Digit Growth? To some business leaders business growing sales is a mystery. After conducting six Sales 2.0 Conferences and listening to close to 100 case studies of companies that have moved up to Sales 2.0, I am a firm believer that double digit growth is not a mystery, it is a reality that can be achieved. Granted, It is true many of the growth companies that give presentations at our Sales 2.0 Conferences are in the technology field, but the lessons learned apply across all industries. Over the next few weeks, I am planning to share some of these lessons and if I receive enough positive feedback, I may write a book on the subject.

The People Performance Pyramid

Many sales leaders divide salespeople according to their results into three groups. First, the top 20%. These are your seasoned reps who possess professional skills, use technology effectively , follow a proven process and rely on their high drive to succeed. The result: these reps always exceed their quota.

Second, the mid 60%. These are your average reps whose skills are average, they use technology adequately, they follow an inconsistent process and have an average drive to success. The result: these reps achieve their quota inconsistently.

Third, the bottom 20%. These are the salespeople who predictably underperform for a variety of reasons.


The best sales management strategy: Give the top performers the best tools and let them learn from their successes. Bring the best practices of the top performers to the mid 60% to give them a higher chance of being successful. Replace the bottom 20% through ongoing recruiting methods.

The Corporate Performance Pyramid

Take 100 companies from different industries and rank their performance according to their results in their markets. You will arrive at a similar performance pyramid.

First, you will find the top 20%, these are the companies that enjoy double digit growth. Companies like Oracle,, Apple, Merck, Neogen, Quality Systems, Ebix, and Best Buy are double digit growth companies.

Second, you will find the mid 60%, the single digit growth companies like ADP, Dell, RIM, IBM, Microsoft, RightNow, Kohl's and many more.

Third, you will find the bottom 20% companies that show single digit or double digit declines in sales such as Eastman Kodak, Blockbuster, Garmin, Xerox, Eaton, GE, Callidus, and Caterpillar. These are the companies that are struggling in the market and they are at risk of becoming a victim of change.


What can we learn from Double Digit Growth Companies?

Aug2_3 These companies have optimized people, process and technology and they have embraced Sales & Marketing 2.0. For example, Hewitt Associates researched the best practices of companies that have enjoyed double digit growth and found that these companies are far more likely to use a data-driven process throughout their sales organization. These companies have established a culture of measurement where decisions are not made based on hunches, but based on metrics.

Action step: Learn from the playbook of double digit growth companies Aug2_4

What can we learn from Single Digit Growth Companies?

These are the many companies that rely on sales organizations that are run based on haphazard processes, where managers are in their 50’s and 60’s who are still conducting old methodologies of doing business. They have not fully embraced technology and they want to lead their sales teams based on the old model of command and control. These borderline obsolete managers don’t look for outside help, they wonder why the world has changed around them and why many of them are looking forward to their retirement. According to the study conducted by Hewitt, “In some cases businesses don't really care what happens inside a capability as long as acceptable service levels are achieved at a reasonable cost and unless it directly affects their brand value.” In other words, these companies face one or several challenges such as
  1. The existing sales talent is not capable of competing effectively
  2. Their sales processes are too slow, too complex and not optimized
  3. The available technology is not sufficient to deliver optimal results
Action step: Move up to Sales and Marketing 2.0 that can lead to double digit growth. For example, at the recent Boston Sales 2.0 Conference, Dave Fitzgerald, EVP of Brainshark shared how his company has achieved double-digit growth by creating a set of Sales & Marketing 2.0 tools that run seamlessly on top of Brainshark’s sales team has enjoyed the benefits of double digit growth for the past three years. Below is a slide from Dave’s presentation that maps the technology tools and sales processes.


Action step: Send your Sales and Marketing VP to the next Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on November 8th and 9th to get exposure to sales and marketing leaders who know how to optimize people, process and technology. The best way to achieve double digit growth is to network with leaders who have done it year after year. (Note: this conference is growing by 50% year over year)

What can we learn from declining companies? For example, in 1999 Kodak employed over 78,000 people, sales were $14 Billion, and profits were $1.3 Billion. Fast forward ten years. In 2009 Kodak posted a loss of $246 million on sales of $8 Billion. The workforce declined to 20,250. Over 58,000 jobs were lost in ten years. There are many reasons for this uncontrolled decline. The company missed the rapid shift from film to digital and failed to cash in on the emerging new technologies. In just ten short years, the company turned from a market leader into a victim of change.

Action step: If you are in a similar situation, hire a transformational leader who can help your shrinking company transform by creating a successful business model that leads to sustainable growth. There are many examples where companies get sidelined by massive shifts in technology – and some recover by adopting the mindset of startups.

Check out this newly released book Business Model Generations.

Bottom line: Sales & Marketing 2.0 companies build smarter business models; they enjoy greater customer success and greater sales success.

Self diagnosis: Is your sales organization suffering from these 10 Productivity leaks?

Take a moment to review the map of most common productivity leaks in sales organizations that are currently not growing at double digit levels. The data below reflects the average performance standards of double digit growth companies.


Next: A roadmap to Sales and Marketing 2.0 Success

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