Posts Tagged ‘retention’

This is not a good sign

March 23, 2014
The importance of alignment

The importance of alignment

Is this an accurate image of how your marketing and sales groups operate? Each headed in their own direction? If so, you as the CEO have a fundamental problem and it is not just an internal issue.

Alignment is required. I use this term “alignment” consistently when working with my clients. For all of my clients a marketing plan is in place. As we make measurable progress building awareness and generating leads, the client conversation naturally leads to the importance of alignment with sales. What specifically do I mean by alignment? Visually it would mean moving the sales sign in the above image so it is right under marketing and headed in the same direction. The direction is defined by the company strategy and priorities.

1. Why under marketing? Simply, marketing builds the top of the funnel through its efforts focused on building the brand awareness, generating leads for sales to then nurture and close. Sales leverages the marketing message to retain clients, expand business and handle leads from marketing to convert to clients.
2. Why in the same direction? Honestly, this seems like it should be obvious. Do you want marketing focused on acquiring new clients through lead generation efforts yet sales is only focused on expanding existing clients so there is no appetite or bandwidth to work the leads that marketing is bringing in? The two groups need to be aligned to the priorities of your company. I have clients that struggle with the ‘alignment’ word. Some clients prefer ‘partnership’, but to have a partnership you first need to be aligned.

Alignment is key. Alignment between marketing and sales MUST include the following:
Strategy. Make sure you have alignment at the strategic level. In other words, if your growth strategy for 2014 is based on acquiring new clients while retaining existing and expanding within existing, there is a direct implication to the role that marketing will play to reach BOTH existing clients and new and that naturally affects the sales organization and how it develops its sales plan for the year.
Goals. The goals for both marketing and sales need to support the strategy. These should be measurable and tracked consistently for both groups.
Incentives. Many companies only have a sales incentive plan. Why don’t you have an upside for marketing that is ‘aligned’ with the behavior you need that is also then aligned with sales? Make sure you are not equating aligned with the incentives being the same! Marketing should have incentives tied to the top of the funnel while sales should have incentives tied to the middle and bottom of the funnel.
Priorities. As CEO are you confident that the quarterly and monthly priorities within marketing and sales are in alignment? Are they pulling in the same direction or working against themselves?

The reality is that all your functions need to be aligned, working like a well-oiled machine. I am focused on marketing and sales because there is SO MUCH opportunity for companies to grow by getting these signs aligned and headed in the same direction. The upside is HUGE.

How will you as a CEO or President get the signs headed in the same direction starting in Q2?</strong>

At the risk of thinking about this as an organizational exercise, keep in mind the real negative impact of having these two groups not in sync is felt by your clients and prospects. They are the ones getting mixed messages. That should be enough reason to work on this intersection and make it a priority.

Do you have stuffed olives?

January 16, 2014

Image

As you kick off the year and focus on having a great 2014, take a step back and ask yourself – What can I do to better serve my customers? 

The best way to answer this question is really quite basic. Put a feedback loop in place.  Make sure you have a communications process in place to ask your sales people, your waiters and waitresses, your customer service people, your delivery people – anyone who has interactions with prospects or customers:  What do they ask for that we are not providing?

So what do stuffed olives have to do with this blog? 

I can’t take the marketer out of me. I can’t put my customer-centric mindset aside – whether it’s watching TV and analyzing the commercials, driving by a commercial vehicle on the highway and noting the poor branding or unreadable graphics, or going out to dinner with my family. I see opportunities. I see simple ways to improve customer service, simple ways to improve one’s message, be consistent with imagery and ways to “wow” the customer. The example to highlight my point is stuffed olives.

When we go out to dinner, I know what the request will be of the bartender or waiter/waitress before we leave our home. My husband will ask – “do you have stuffed olives?”  as he orders his martini. The best and hoped-for answer is – “of course” and then indicate they stuff them with fresh bleu cheese. Nice! The evening is off to a good start. The most common answer, however, is an immediate, no hesitation “No”. The missed opportunity is that 90% of the places have olives and they have bleu cheese. The sad part is no consideration, no offer to take the pimento out and put some bleu cheese in for voila, a stuffed olive!  They simply and quickly say ‘no’ and move on to taking the drink order. Lesson #1 – clue your employees into the simple missed opportunity; the opportunity to say yes and make it happen without a lot of effort or negative impact on margins. Pretty simple stuff.

Lesson #2 – As the owner, President or CEO, are you even aware of what your customers or prospects are asking for and getting the answer of ‘no’?  This is the part of the dinner where I get on my soap box – I comment to my kids and husband that I bet them that no one ever shares with the manager or the owner that people are even asking for stuffed olives. The feedback loop is likely nonexistent. Do you have an easy way to gather more info so you are in the know and can make an informed business decision about whether you will choose to offer your business equivalent of the ‘stuffed olive’ example? Suggestion: put a feedback loop in place for 2014! In this example, a waiter or bartender could simply leave a note or post an email every day of requests they receive that aren’t met. For other organizations, a sales person could share in a weekly call or put in their call report. Customer service could have a simple email that they capture the patterns of one or many. The point of lesson #2 is this feedback loop does not have to be complex or process-heavy. Make it happen – I bet you you’ll identify something that you can do in Q1 of 2014 to improve how you are serving your target audience.

This overused acronym does apply here (sorry)  K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple stupid. Put in some consistent process that enables you to have a better handle on what your customers are looking for and then deliver it. Don’t treat this as a New Rear’s Resolution as if you do, like most resolutions, it will not last until Valentine’s Day. Just do it consistently and let your team know it is not a fad, but a smart way of doing business. Listen. Don’t say no – work on saying yes more.

Go find out what the equivalent of having stuffed olives is for your business. It may surprise you and help 2014 results. Cheers!

When coffee is not enough.

November 22, 2013

cup of coffee

Hey restaurant owners and managers.  Pay attention.  Two things not to do when anyone on your team screws up someone’s order at a restaurant:

1. Offer them a free dessert.

2. Bring the check and say, “I did not charge you for your coffee”.

Lesson to all business owners: when you screw up, and we all have and will, do the right thing.  Do more than the customer or guest expected.  Wow them – this is your chance!  This is the BIG moment to shine.

I met two dear friends this week for our GNO dinner.  We waited 45 minutes for a table, ordered quickly and got right down to business – talking and catching up.  Dinners were served and my meal was no where in sight.  The waitress neglected to order it.  She apologized.  I understood.  It happens.  She offered us free dessert – we explained we did not want dessert.  We ordered coffees.  I purposefully did not ask for a discount on my meal.  I wanted to see what she would do.  She opted for the weak path, the cheap path, the ‘she-won’t-care’ path.  She didn’t charge us for two coffees.  How pathetic.

My guess is she did not tell the manager.  She did not want to draw attention to herself by making a mistake to discount my meal.  She and the restaurant – Not Your Average Joe’s was very average.

How do we all avoid being weak, being average and disappointing the customer?

1. Training – get your team trained using examples and scenarios clearly defining your expectations

2. Believe in Wow’ing and create that mentality in your business

3. Empower your employees to WOW

4. Share ‘wow’ moments with your team; share the feedback that you get from customers

5. Think like a consumer, client, customer.

Don’t be an Average Joe.  Be above average.  Be excellent. Let’s get to wowing and make your peace-offering more than a cup of average Joe.