A story of change management: We just killed your product

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

futuramaI’ve recently gone through an interesting, yet challenging moment when the basic message I got was “we’ve got a great product and you’re doing good, but, umm…. yeah, we just killed your the product”.  Fear, uncertainty, and mixed with frustration dawned upon me…. yet I’m sure its not the first time nor the last.

 A changing competitive landscape

Its been years the solution has been successful.  Then slowly the industry goes through spurts of integration – horizontal and or vertical – and then Boom! you have new competitors coming out of nowhere.  Sound familiar?

Next thing you know, your once king-of-the-hill solution is at the laughingstock of the courtyard. But its too late!  You’re too far in the product development to change anything massive, but you can’t financially continue.  Literally, a catch 22 moment (or stuck between a rock a hard place for others).

And then you wake up one morning getting ready for your monthly review and you’re slapped with: Great job so far, but ummm ….how to say… we just killed your product.

Change management when decommissioning an IT product, is a real challenge for any sales in the complex solution industry.  Not only is it a challenge for sales working in the acquisition cycle (new customer), its even more a headache for sales dealing in account management.  Those have to deal with breaking the news to the customer and deal with the wrath & backlash.

For someone dealing with the story of change management, the first questions that need to be addressed:

  • What is the timeline for maintenance mode (how long do we keep it alive?)?
  • What is the deadline for when its officially ‘game-over’?
  • Are there alternatives to to the solution?
  • If no 1-to-1 alternatives, what do you?

Answers to these are critical to answer your next most important following mission statement:

 

How are we going to manage: Customer Expectation’s, their Frustrations, while ensuring a smooth transition from point A to Point B?

managing customer expectations

A story of change management

Managing customer expectations is critical!  And effective communications is the starting point.  Complex solutions have profound impacts on a customer’s internal and external processes – any change to the solution has to be communicated and managed with care.  If not, you seriously risk alienating your customer and worse, with today’s open platform for voicing your thoughts and opinions (i.e social media) – the word spreads like fire.

customer opinions spread like wildfire

Having alternative solutions is manageable – you just have to make sure that you handle the delta between the old and the new, that you have an adequate pricing strategy that will compensate the “pain-in-a$$-factor” of having to change, and that the missing functionality (if) gap is handled.

In case you don have an alternative – well that leaves right back at the catch 22 phase.  Nothing to fix and you don’t want to loose the customer.  You can only hope that:

A) you have other complimentary solutions in your portfolio to fill a partial gap

or

B) that you have local partners that are not too threatening to your business model

Conclusion: Don’t go too far down the rabbit hole

Arrogance has a price to pay.  Typically corporations that get to such a corner have waited too long and sat too long on their laurels.  Dealing with these situations leaves the front line staff and customers in very awkward and unpleasant situations.  This can lead to unhappiness in the workforce, gossip, and worse – turnover.

Keep a humble view, be tough on your product, and always have a “get out of jail free card” for these situations.  It can happen that you go too far down the rabbit hole.  Just make sure you’ve already thought of the escape path ….. or you will end in a very unexpected and unpleasant situation vis-a-vis your customers and the market.

Easy said than done…. admittingly.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Life in the day of Channel Sales

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

channel sales

 

Ever wondered what channel or indirect sales was all about?  Not always the easiest thing to explain to folks.  So here is a quick life in the day of channel sales, recapping a typical day.  This is not exhaustive but its a starting point.

First of all, a definition of channel sales:

A method of distribution used by a business to sell its products, usually by dividing its sales force into groups that focus on different selling conduits. For example, a company might implement a channel sales strategy to sell its product via an in house sales force, dealers, retailers or by direct marketing.

This diary log is one from a channel sales position in a large IT solutions corporation with a global reach.  Working in IT solutions involves complex or consultative sales techniques.

Read more

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Do you want to be Awesome? Engage and create your social media footprint

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

being awesome pictureTrying to being awesome and creating your social media footprint is now a must-do for today’s actors in a sales and marketing elusive industry.  Its no longer a trend or just the cool thing – it’s a necessity for surviving the tangled social web of sales.  What used to be attainable only for the elite or early adopters, in a matter of years has become an established standard.  To put in perspective, radio took 38 years to get achieve 50 million users. Facebook attained 200 million in less than one year!

We are a dime a dozen out there. Sprawling and kicking-about, each of us trying to grab the market’s attention (how many are even reading this post?? If I get 20 readers I’m delighted).  How do we distinguish one another?  One tactic is by engaging in social media Engagement Tactics and creating, what is refereed to as meaningful and “awesome content”.  It’s a must-do if you wish to support your sales teams by creating a recognizable brand and drive your sales objectives.  Mind you, all this can apply to both corporations and individuals – a personal brand being also considered a commodity that has its own unique value.

In front of an informed buyer with the power of information at his or her fingertips, today sales people are no longer truly in control of the sales cycle. They are at the whim of any web search….

Check out the article on LinkedIn Pulse

Read more

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Enhancing your business skills!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

enhancing your skills continue studying

Today, continuously enhancing your business skills is a necessity. Thinking that simply having a Bachelors, maybe an MBA and just maybe a specialisation, is enough – might just lure into a false sense of security!  What used to be a feat in itself – compared to our parents time – recently is just one of the many steps you should be considering in your educational goals.

Specialising yourself can be costly and not necessarily within your financial reach. Consider a PMP certification can costs a minimum of $500 upto $3000!

 But this is not the only way today!

I am keenly aware that if I want to keep a competitive edge in the job market place, I need to keep enhancing my business skills and keep pushing my boundaries….but I didn’t feel like forking out an arm and a leg to do so.  Especially when a lot of information you need is so easily accessible out there.  ….And a little over a year ago, I’ve stumbled onto MOOCs!  Well  I knew about them before – I just didnt find any relevant courses for my field of interest.

MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses – is a growing trend of self-education, exploding since about 2012.   Courses are offered from expansive selection from universities worldwide, including Stanford, MIT, ESSEC.  They offer anyone of any age, background or heritage access to a wide range of course of all fields of study.


In 2014, a review MOOC courses highlights the following:

  • 16-18 million students are currently subscribed online, following:
  • 2400+ courses are available, provided by:
  • 400+ universities

The initial purpose is to freely audit the courses, so that you could, at your own pace or if the course required it, to follow a specific time frame to engage with other students.

Recent improvements to their offerings has been the ability to get ‘Certifications’ online to prove your attendance, for a fee of course.  Fees through this medium through range more towards $50-80 mark per course, with 4-6 course per certification.  Something a bit more attainable – that is if you feel the need to get a certification. Free attendance is still a possibility.

This education channel is a clear opportunity (for the moment) in enhancing your business skills, by either up-skilling or cross-skilling.  Your goal can either be to make yourself more marketable or simply the desire to learn something new – now is the time to enjoy the benefits they can offer your career.

At the time of writing this I am auditing 3 specialisations from MOOC platform Coursera.Org

So far I have completed 1 course from each (1 month per course) and have already engaged myself onto their second modules.  Each specialisation has about 4 courses – so in total of 4 months of study requiring about 2 hours for each course per week.  Something relatively do-able in evenings and weekends.

The tough part is keeping up as each the lectures and quizzes that need to be completed on a weekly basis – something that is challenging when my working week can sometimes be really hectic – and studying when I get home is LAST thing I want to do.

But the reward is what I’m keeping my mind on! Increased marketability! So keeping focused and engaged is a priority I am working.  I will keep you posted if I make to the end of each completed specialisation.


Some other MOOC that you can consider

A full list is available from wikipedia

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Scuba diving & teaching – how it can enable your sales career

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

picture teaching scuba divingWhat does scuba diving, teaching and your sales career have in common?

At first, they’re not really linked, a priori.  That’s what I used to think until I experienced the journey myself.  Becoming a teacher, and a scuba diving one at that, had a profound impact on my sales career that I hadn’t realised until many years later.

Lets start, Scuba Diving:

Scuba diving is a very safe sport.  Chances of mortality are 1 death in 34,000 divers.  To put this in perspective, driving has a 1 in 6700 chance and canoeing a 1 in 10,000.  There is a caveat, its safe as long as you practice common sense and follow the rules.  The rules are simple: never hold your breathstay within the limits you are comfortable withtake your time, and never shoot to the surface.  Sounds simple right?

Scuba diving brings you into a whole new world. No longer the top of the food chain, humans are out of their element in the water.  Using articifical means to remain alive, in neutral buoyancy, lacking the ability to speak, walk…. all this makes for a challenging environment that you have to learn to adapt to survive.  But this strange and silent new world also has all the thrills of discovery and adventure one could hope for!

Secondly, Teaching:

Being an avid diver myself, I have enjoyed Jacque Cousteau’s “world of silence” since the young age 10, with my first dives in beautiful turquoise waters of Cancun, Mexico.  About 6 years ago I decided to challenge myself and do the final step: become an awe inspiring instructor. The pinnacle of diving leadership!

Read more

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Evolution of the Travel Arranger Role in Efficient Travel Management Strategies

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Travel arranger roles and responsibilities

The Impetus for Efficient Travel Management

Since 2008 and the global financial crisis, corporations have been on more-than-normal regimes of cost-cutting on every aspect of business than normal. Cost-cutting programs that have always existed of course, but clearly one could agree these ‘leaning’ programs are more prevalent today and this of course set the scene for efficient travel management strategies!

Business travel is classified as the 2nd or 3rd highest controllable costs for many corporations (after wages) but clearly also a necessity for business growth – thus clearly in juxtaposition!  So how does one reconcile the $ cost of business travel with the critical need for growing or even protecting one’s business?

One of the answers was or still is, having well defined travel management strategies.  However, efficient travel management strategies do not happen overnight, they occur through a slow and painful process of trial-and-error. Starting with some loosely defined controls, on budgets, rules on fare (economy vs business), or how many days one must need to book before travel, etc…  this was all without much vision or global-financial cohesion, but at least a first attempt at controlling the easily definable direct costs, based mostly on common travel-industry best practices.

Industry research on over 600 corporations show that a well designed Travel Policy (a simple one – based on 5 points) and more importantly one that is systematically enforced, can help corporations save up-to 22% on total Travel & Expense (T&E) costs.  Some might say “well we already have some travel policy criteria”!  Thats great! Really! But the question is do you all 5 and ALL the time, no exceptions?  Mmmm good but tricky question.

Rise of Travel Arranger

Continuing on the evolution of good travel management strategies, we now typically see the placement of a ‘travel manager‘.   Someone responsible and in-charge of making critical decisions on how travel should be managed. But where does he/she come from? Travel managers dont just appear out of thin air?!

And voila!! the rise from the travel arranger. These typically blossomed from positions of secretarial nature helping employees (and mostly managers) book their travel needs and this was usually done via email or phone. Market research indicates that we can see an average of 8 calls/emails to finalise one single booking! Very manual intensive and time-consuming one could agree.  And that is pretty much where the buck stops in relation to travel responsibilities. Nothing more. Simply processing those requests.

Read more

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail