Lead profiling – here’s a thought…

Continuing from my last blog..

I was at a lecture on content management and how to drive traffic and I got a concrete tip how to make content into context. You need to create profiles of all the types of people you are trying to communicate to and test the content on them. So the speaker presented Bill (45 year old male who is conservative and believes things when he sees it), Susan (30 year old female who is a straight arrow and calls things on the spot), and so on. Extensive personalities where presented, a total of 10 I think. Every new content was then run against each profile and scored. Based on the scores the company could decide if the where to publish, or change the content. It was very efficient.

This exists in companies that work with internet based sales. Here I find a lot of models, and it is quite clear that this is common here because these clients have made it easy by surrendering their information by beeing on the web and logging on to the company sites sharing age, gender, geographic intel, and so on. So much has happened in internet based sales in such a short time and “traditional” sales need to learn a thing or two…

Sales should have a good idea of what the ideal prospect looks like, what is the best case? By putting together a profile of these prospects, sales can break down what characterizes of the different prospects. What are their pains? How far are they from taking a decision? What level of awareness do they have? What industry segment do they belong to? Did they contact your company? Have they purchased the product/service before? Do they have a contract with a competitor? How price sensitive are they? And the list goes on…the trick is to collect intel.

I found a site with a great example of a way of profiling that makes the profiles feel real and how to present relavent information at the zuyderblog

Then there needs to be a discussion with Marketing around the profiles on how these different profiles will be reached thru different Marketing activities. There might be a profile that your market analysts can see that Sales have never worked with, then Sales need to bring this into their strategy and find a way to sell towards this profile.

Matrix view

The red figures are the profiles created by Sales/marketing and they are placed to show the areas they cover on the market.

Segments with lead profile spread

Each market activity  (A1-A4 in the example below) needs to be matched against the profiles, the score converted into how many % of the profile match the campaign goals and content, and if there is gap the group (Sales and Marketing) can decide that this activity does not have to reach this profile, or the plan might need to be changed to include this profile. I have talked about Demand Shaping before and this will definitely give you means to attempt to shape your demand.

Campaigns mapped against segments and Lead Profiles, pies

Profile diagrams

Another way to do this is to focus on the profiles, set the market asside, breaking them down to 10 key factors:

  1. Buyer maturity, how close are they from taking a descision
  2. Buyer knowledge, from expert to inexperienced
  3. Buyer influence, does the person you are in contact with have the authority to take the descision, from top executive to agents
  4. Company size, is this a big or small company
  5. Product complexity, are the requesting a simple or complicated product/soloution
  6. Level of interest, is the buyers communication frequent, do they respond prompltly
  7. Availability, is the buer easy to reach
  8. Price sencitivty, two what degree is this client pricesensitive
  9. Level of Competition, likelyhood we can land the deal over our competitors
  10. Purchase history, times we got won vs lost opportunities for this company.

The optimal score is 1 on all of these. To describe the perfect prospect: A buyer who is ready to make a purchase and who can take this descision. The buyer has a high level of knowledge and works for a large company, price is not the main issue. This buyer is interested, has reached out and is available to discuss buisness. This deal is not subject to competition, the specifications are standard and the buyer is already a client.

Probably not that common…

By creating profiles with specific target scores you can set  a score on a campaign on what areas it is supposed to target and get a comparison between the profile and the campaign. In this example I have two profiles compared to a campaign:

Campaign Webgraph

In this example I would draw the conclusion that the campaign will be good for Profile 1 in improving knowledge, bringing the descision makers into the purchase process and raise the importance  of our item to ensure good responce rates, For Profile 2 it will bring the small companies  and raise the level of importance of the item. The element in the campaign that intends to raise the interest in the companies is waisten on these profiles as the already have this quality, but there may be some effect.

Collaborate with Operations

This collaboration can easily stretch to include Operations. If there is chaos here, there is a high cost in both Sales and Operations.

Getting companies to see the entire picture is my calling, I hope this can lead to a productive discussion. Looking forward to your opinion.

Leadcycle, improved

Starting in the right end – marketing and sales collaboration

As usual I have been reading up on what is going on and I came across this blog post: Marketing Bingo – You Might Be Playing And Not Even Know It. I have never been part of working within Marketing, so there might be something I’m missing, but for me Kyle makes a good point. Work from the outside in…

I started to think about how I percieve marketing, wich is more inside out: Who are we selling to? Is this changing? Can we see any trends? What precision can we expect in the conversion from Lead to Opportunity? How do we segment the market? How do we process the leads when they come in (different approaches based on segmentation)?

From a B2B sales perspective, the marketing actions need to create leads or make the lead creation possible. In order to give the sales organization a fair chance to sell, the leads need to be half decent or the customers need to be interested. There needs to be a common approach on the pipeline effeciency, in my view this is Gross Margin, taking all costs in account.

I made a model (probably exists but I could not find it anywhere) I would like to get some feedback on:

Sales, Marketing, Market mix

If Sales and Marketing create a plan that does not reach the intended market they have an “Ineffective Strategy”. If Marketing reaches the market, but these recipients never come in contact with sales, then we get “Uncaptured Lead”. If Sales work the Market in order to reach the quota and land prospects without the support of the Marketing we have a “Lead Deficit”. When Sales and market work the market in the same area we hit the “Sweet spot”.

Companies need to find a way increase the collaboration between sales and marketing to get better at targeting the sweet spot. First of all you need to have a common picture of what market looks like, what you want to achieve and how this transforms into customers.

An example

If we look at how this can be done, let’s start with a segmentation of our customer:

Segments

Let’s say that S1 is Low price/Low complexity, S2 is Low Price/High Complexity, S3 is High price/Low complexity and S4 is High price/ High complexity.

If we study our customers purchase behavior the last 12 months we find that we have a strong tendency to land in the S4 segment:

Segments with customer spread

Looking the Marketing we are targeting the following area:

Segments with customer and marketing spread

Looking at this picture it is easy to see that there is untapped potential. What needs to be cleared out is if Marketing I over reaching / targeting the wrong market, or if Sales are missing out on Prospects because they have the wrong approach to the market. Wouldn’t you like to know why and correct the situation?

My thought is to try and move the circles by increasing the collaboration and  achieving a higher efficiency in the sweet spot = more results with less work:

Changing the Sales, Marketing strategy

Stay tuned…a blog comming up on the topic of “Lead Profiling”, how to increase the “sweet spot”…

The final destination isn’t Integration, its Collaboration!!

I read articles every week about smarter ways of collecting information, how a company achieved success through attaining control of the Social Media flow of information, how new information has shaped the product development process in FMCG companies, and so on. Focus is mainly around integration of systems and oodles and oodles of data.

At the heart of it, the integration in itself was not the key to success, it was the interaction it caused between the people on different ends of the integration that caused the change. The collaboration!

After reading David’s blog on “Who Cares About Big Data, Where Are The Big Questions?” I realized that this clear cut wisdom often gets put aside in the heat of the moment when you are fighting the challenges of getting the budget you need to get the information you need, fighting the technical challenges, fighting the analysis challenge and finally fighting your entire organization in order to land the change. The big question is really “How do we achieve better collaboration?” Better collaboration with our customers (call it social networking or whatever), better collaboration in planning (sales and operation planning or integrated business planning) and better collaboration between co-workers and top management.

The problem is that there is a fear of collaboration. People in companies don’t want to share information and discuss this with others. First of all you risk getting criticized; second of all there are plenty of functions that don’t create value and people in these positions don’t want the fraud to be revealed. It also puts a lot of demand on the organization to have a dialogue that is on the right level and a common goal to achieve something greater than whatever is the scope of the individuals work. This is Managements task to put into place. This I have written about in earlier blogs.

It leads me to think about the success stories I read about Apple and Google, they achieved collaboration through an open culture with little hierarchy and very strong culture. Everyone in these companies know what they are trying to achieve as a whole, at all times, they know what they are working on and who is involved and their own role. Sharing is crucial for the projects and collaborating around each other’s parts of the project is natural.

Read Stefan’s blog “Sales Tactics for Dummies – Part Two” to find out more about Collaborative Decision Making (CDM). This is the goal, the other stuff is help along the way. But don’t get stuck on the way… lift your vision to achieve something beyond the traditional structure and heirarkies!

I will be back with more on this topic…

What is a market-driven value chain?

There is a lot of noise on blogs and in magazines about sales. That you need to become social. “Selling through social networks”, “Social marketing”, “The end of traditional sales”. If didn’t know better I would believe that the world is changing completely and that I could just throw all I know out the window. The thing is, the change isn’t that big.

The key question is not if you are social or not. It’s if you can take in the customers true needs and efficiently turn them into products and services that live up to those needs (and can make Money from this). Spending money on connecting to customers and then not being able to meet their needs is a waste of your resources and your customer’s time. You need to think about your gaps are.  Focus on what really matters.

I found a slide share about the 2012 future value chain trends These are the things you need to keep in mind when planning for the future:

  • Growing concern about sustainability
  • Shifting of economic power
  • Scarcity of natural resources
  • Increasing spread of wealth
  • Increase in regulatory pressure
  • Increased urbanization
  • Increase in customer service demands
  • Increased importance of health and wellbeing
  • Increased impact of consumer technology adoption
  • Aging population
  • Impact of next generation technologies
  • Rapid adoption of supply chain capabilities

Instead of simply looking at your social capability you need to look at how this picture affects your company and how you incorporate this future in your strategies. If social selling is a part of this or not will pan when setting the strategy.  There is more written about strategy on my earlier blogs.

If you are selling products that are environmental friendly using a minimum amount of resources to produce and distribute, directed at elderly middle class people in big cities like Calcutta or Shanghai, inspire wellbeing and are available at the simple push of a button on whatever platform the customer has in their hand at the moment you have nothing to worry about…

Now that I have written about the market we are facing, back to the topic, what market-driven value chain is about? It’s about connecting the potentials found in sales with the potentials in production and distribution. This has been called Agile, Quick Response and Mass Customization. It’s S&OP but with a focus on what value you are creating in each part of the company, it is all about what I wrote in my earlier blog “Is your company customer driven?” One question that pops up in my head is “How do you measure customer value throughout the chain?” First of all it is unique per customer, second of all it is quite difficult to connect customer value to e.g. mounting a component to the product, or is it? All customers want to land the deal where they experience the best product at a price they relate to the expected life of the product, the durability, the amount of work it was to acquire, and the satisfaction of owning the product (to mention a few).  Is there no way of measuring this? Yes you can.

  1. You can of course ask the customers, but most customers do not want to be bothered with surveys. In B2B sales you should on the other hand never close an opportunity as lost without asking the prospect why you didn’t land the deal, keep score, learn from your failures.
  2. You can measure their purchase frequency and look at their purchase behavior.
  3. You can monitor all their claims. What values are not meeting up to my customers’ standard to a degree that they have contacted your company? This is where you can add means of staying connected with your customers, but be wary that you will have to deliver quality in answers and actions to make Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and so on work in your benefit.
  4. You can monitor how frequently they are in touch with you or in your shop and how frequently this leads to a purchase.
  5. Fill rate, are the goods or services available at the time the customer wants it? Remember to keep inventory real. To have 20 in stock in your computer system is not the same as it being available to your customers unless you have routines that make this true. For services you need to track the wished appointments to see if you can make more time available in the popular time slots.
  6. You need to monitor your competition. What are they offering, at what price? How does your product and price compare if you look at customer expectation? Do you need to add products in your line to meet higher demand and quality or add low price products with lower standards

There is more, but we need to round this off. In a market-driven value chain you must measure and you must communicate these values to all parts in the chain. You must make it clear to each part of the chain what their part in the measurement is and you must find ways to connect drops and peaks to why they happen and where they originated from. Not so that there can be finger pointing, it’s to find ways of improving the process.

To successfully move to a value chain I found Lora Cecere’s slides really good. As a base you need to secure the processes – How do I do the right things right? Look at your Business Strategy – What are the right things to do to increase company value? Look at the Value-network Supply Chain Strategy – What are the right ways to support the business strategy? What are the right trade-offs between value drivers for each value network?

Areas of focus:

From Lora Cecers' slides in the presentation "Leveraging Analytics forMarket-Driven Success" Thursday, January 24, 2013, published by CGT, Consumer Goods Technology
From Lora Cecers’ slides in the presentation “Leveraging Analytics for
Market-Driven Success”  Thursday, January 24, 2013, published by CGT, Consumer Goods Technology

Check out the site http://supplychaininsights.com/ if you haven’t already discovered it, or go to http://www.slideshare.net/loracecere to find Lora’s presentations.

Do not to overcomplicate the simple or oversimplify the complicated.

I was going to write about what the vision of a market-driven value chain is, but I have had another line of thought related to my last post. I gave some really basic examples of how to measure process performance and urged companies to start measuring. I wonder if I set a too low level on what I wrote or if I hit the right low level to help companies from being discouraged from making measurements.

My thought is: “In a complicated world and in complicated companies, how do we make the numbers simple”. In IKEA simplicity is a virtue and it has definitely rubbed off on me in the years I spent in the company. Simplicity cannot be a goal in itself; simplicity is something you need to put in your company culture as a natural way to see things. The advantage of simplicity is that it forces you to strip a question down to its core in order to provide a straight simple answer. There is a drawback though. If you try and see everything in a simple way you lose out on some beautifully complicated possibilities. The trick is not to overcomplicate simple possibilities or oversimplify complicated possibilities.

So I gave you some simple ways to look at numbers and measurements. With this you will get far in steering your internal processes.

Now, what about the beautiful complex issues when it comes to data and measuring?

Big Data is emerging and I brought this up in an earlier article, my message was, prepare before you implement. Looking at complex measurements, Big Data will present some fantastic opportunities. Only your imagination is setting the limits to what you can try and find relationships/trends/correlation. The trick is to know what it is you are looking for and what the data you collect actually is telling you….

Example: In retail you could start measuring your customers purchase patterns, not only the basic measurement that customer X bought article Y in store Z at date and time Q. You can measure the time when customer X reads the offer you sent out electronically for articles ABC, you can track the geographic movement of the customer to see if they entered one of your stores, how they moved around in the store, what did they buy, if they didn’t buy anything and finally you can see if the visited your competion before/after they came to your store. If you can analyze this and improve the offer and move more customers from just browsing to actually buying something you will have a better ROI on your campaigns. Is this science fiction? Hardly! The big data issue here is the geographic positioning, the rest you should either have or secure that you can start measuring.

Companies will need special departments that make these complicated analyses. Avoid putting this complexity on the process that secures the basic flow. Make clear briefs to the analyst department what you want and unleash them on the net and get either a report or an interactive tool that is continuously updated, depending on the assignment. Handle it like a complicated issue…

Another possibility that is popping up is finding data to make a valuable benchmark against other companies. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you have an average hit rate on turning offers into deals in the same business segment, or that you have a low hit rate but by comparison, but you only have half the amount of sales people? If you have not found the possibility on your own, sign up on our website and make it possible: http://salesscenario.com/register/

Is your company customer driven?

Working with logistics there has always been a logical approach to find what brings you most money. I remember a matrix from Martin Christopher’s book on the supply chain where a matrix explains how to get the most competitive cost advantage. The formula is really simple: Maximize the value advantage and the cost advantage and you will have superior customer value at less cost. No rocket science here. Looking at the picture I almost thought it naïve, but thinking a little longer I realize that this is key from a total business perspective. You won’t succeed with all articles, but there needs to be a plan for all articles what direction you want them to take and that the weight of your total offer should land in the top right hand box.

From Martinf Christophers book: Logistics & Supply Chain Management: creating value-adding networks
From Martin Christophers book: Logistics & Supply Chain Management: creating value-adding networks

The pitfall in supply chain driven companies is that the value advantage is set aside for the cost advantage. There can only be ONE priority. In most cases this is a simple way to manage companies because this is how you secure your margin without increasing the price of your product/service:

If the price remains the same and the cost is decreased the margin increases.
If the price remains the same and the cost is decreased the margin increases.

Again, not rocket science. The problem is that this impacts the customers’ perception or experience of the product and will have an impact on price and volume. This graph then looks a bit different due to needs to invest:

If the Price is changed, increasing volume, investments are required driving peeks in costs giving an uneaven margin.
If the Price is changed, increasing volume, investments are required driving peeks in costs giving an uneaven margin.

The risk is that the customers true need and behavior is missed out and that volume is driven up to meet the efficiency gains in the supply chain and at one point in time the stock start building up at a high rate, sales have no way to handle the volume because of declining interest from the customers and you end up discontinuing the article outside the plan with big write off and scrapping costs:

Peaks in costs due to write-off costs can ruin the margin for the entire life time of the Product.
Peaks in costs due to write-off costs can ruin the margin for the entire life time of the Product.

What you get is a projected margin of possibly 20% and land at 5% in reality over the product life cycle.

I would claim that most companies are cost driven, not customer driven. Sure you are aware that there is a customer and you need to attract them in order to sell, but are you meeting their true needs? Are you solving their problems or your own?

This is a complicated problem and the complexity increases with the size of the company. I would claim that small companies take care of this naturally because they live and breathe their customers’ wellbeing, at some point this is lost as the company grows, more people take part in decisions, the distance between the management group and the customer increases, communication becomes…complicated.

By making your company process driven, by implementing S&OP and driving a customer oriented Demand Plan you can get back to balancing the matrix. This will also enable your organization to work better with the mix of articles and services that your customers require.

Demand Strategy Decision Making in an Agile World

In an agile world, things are happening fast, sometimes very fast. In 2007, we all were looking somewhat curiously at the upcoming new smartphone called iPhone. Even if some of us saw the potential of the new appliance, I’m sure none of us could ever believe Apple’s market domination a couple of years later.

Not all of us have a paradigm shift to take care of. But still major questions about our businesses that in the end of the day may be the difference between success and disaster. In an agile world it’s not an alternative to make a long-term plan and stick with that whatsoever happens. Things are moving so fast that you would have to re-write your business plan every other month.

So how do you act in demand strategy decision making in an agile world?

Best practice is usually not to make decisions before you need to. In some extent, this may look too defensive, but it isn’t. It’s not that you wait until you have been surpassed by your competitors; it’s about being aware of situations that will require decisions at some point in the future. It’s a proactive approach that is not very easy to implement, but will provide an agile perspective to be able to catch good opportunities and minimize risk.

First;

Create the demand plan. This will be The Plan for the entire demand process management to lean on, that tells what to do. To be able to create such plan, you first need to formalize routines to aggregate credible historical information from all business areas and project it to the future to form a forecast, incorporating trends and buying patterns. But the forecast is not enough. You need to get the forecast on longer term focus, defining and describing the assumptions behind the forecast, as well. Assumptions may be regarding customers, opportunities, competitors, economy, market shares, etc.

Second;

Define and communicate Key Performance Indicators (KPI:s) that drives towards the strategic goals defined in your business plan. See a recent blog post for examples https://salesprocessblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/how-to-know-you-are-on-track-in-sales/

Third;

Get commitment from all other business functions to engage in one plan. Include Sales, Supply Chain, Marketing, New Product and Financial in the plan by having them to provide their view. For example, it’s not only about selling more, you have to sell right, too. To sell lots of products, which the company has not planned for and secured in stock is devastating for customer relations and can even harm the brand.

Fourth;

Plan and perform review meetings with the leaders from above functions once a month. In the meeting you would review the performance from last month; the KPI:s, but also discuss upcoming issues that may impact the business objectives. This would help you to create strong and fruitful bridges between sales staff and supply chain. To get profitability it is crucial that sales staff understands the signals coming from supply chain and vice versa.

Fifth;

Make decisions, but even more important in my agile perspective: decide upon decisions points – that’s when you have to decide. Use the review meeting to benchmark against the business plan and judge whether the gaps and issues are one-time, short-term or long-term trends that needs to be included in the updated demand plan; sooner or later. Decide directly upon the short-termers, set a fixed date for the one-timers and long-termers, regarding when you have to decide upon them.

Summary;

Demand strategy decision making in an agile world requires you to separate the decisions you need to take immediately and those you can wait to take. Risk is increased if you take decisions too early, while new opportunities may occur. Risk is also increased if you take decisions too late, since you gamble with your market leader position.

To manage the gaps against your business plan in an agile world you need to integrate all business functions in your company to agree on one plan, which will minimize the risk because the 360 degree view on issues and gaps.

The output is a demand plan you can trust and an action plan to act upon, as well as a time-line of decision points so you are aware of situations that, sooner or later, will have an impact on your strategic business objectives.

Best Regards,

Stefan

Sources:

The Demand Review (John E. Schorr, Oliver Wight America, 2007) http://www.oliverwight-americas.com/business-management-articles/pdf/the-demand-review-john-schorr.pdf

The Sales Scenario Tool (http://www.salesscenario.com/tool/) and app http://itun.es/se/-x4oH.i