Always set up a creative session using focus – with what do we want to end up at the completion of our thinking
There are two approaches to focus:
- Purpose Focus – has a specific end purpose
g. how can we improve something, how can we speed something up etc.
- Area Focus – we explore the topic before we judge it
g. we might look at communication, meetings, safety – with no specific purpose
Once we have defined a focus we can redefine the focus in order to give us a new angle on our problem solving:
e.g. here are several alternate definitions of a parking problem:
- the car park is too small
- too many people want to use the car park
- too many people drive to work
- people complain about the small car park
Take a focus and brainstorm to pull out all current ideas – no bad ideas, give encouragement
Technique 1 – Random Word:
Use random word to generate further ideas:
Getting the random word – glance at the position of the second hand of a watch. Take the number, e.g. 32, and select the word the third line down and second noun in from a book or newspaper
Using the random word – take the word and extract an association, function, activity from the word and generate new ideas about the focus
e.g. Focus Random Word Association New Idea
Camera Gun Westerns
= sand sand proof camera
NB work individually first and then share output
Things to avoid:
- Don’t wait for the perfect random word
- Don’t list all the attributes first
- Don’t make too many jumps
- Don’t link your ideas to random output
Technique 2 – Challenge:
Technique 1 will generate a host of ideas
In order to generate broader thinking the challenge technique can be used
Challenge can be introduced at any stage; i.e. this could be the first technique used during a session.
Establish current thinking on the focus – this is achieved using the following five categories:
Dominant ideas Make money flying planes with people/cargo on board
Boundaries Airports/technology/national agreements etc
Assumptions Increasing airline congestion/growth of holidays etc
Essential Factors Safety
Avoidance Factors Overcapacity/security worries/unused planes etc
Use challenge technique on current thinking:
Why Cut: Does this need to be done at all; remove the item and run the thinking forward and see if this cut can be implemented
Why Because: If you can’t cut the item then challenge the validity of the reasons why it is done that way. Can you satisfy the focus in another way, or escape the process; i.e. revise the way things are done
Why Alternatives: Both Why C and Why B will often to lead to the generation of alternative ideas and approaches
Along with Focus this is the weakest part of all creativity sessions
Take all of the ideas generated and put them onto Post It notes
Group the ideas by category (e.g. themes/events/structures etc.) and number each idea according to its category
Position all the ideas onto a capability/impact matrix.
Select the ideas with greatest potential for further screening.
Why Focus Is Important
Creativity gets a bad name because creative thinkers tend to provide good ideas on all
problems except the ones they have actually been asked to think about. This happens for two reasons:
- The idea that simply messing about will hopefully produce a new idea
- Focus is insufficiently emphasised
Focus Is One Of Three Creative Disciplines
- Discipline of focus: being very clear as to what you are thinking about
- Discipline of technique: knowing exactly what you are trying to do at any one moment
- Discipline of time: setting time guidelines
Types Of Focus
There are two types of focus to think about in creative terms:
- Area focus – “where”
- Task focus – “why”
Given the market pressures and demands exerted on customers by:
- Their direct and indirect competitors
- Potential or new market entrants
- Their channel partners or distributors
- The ultimate customer or consumer
the Key Account Manager is, potentially at least, in a unique position to seize the opportunity to add value to the relationship with these key customers. This is predicated on the ability of the Key Account Manager to understand the pressures specific to each customer and to qualify and quantify what each major customer means by “added value”.
The potential relationship levels can be characterised as:
Achieving the position of at least preferred supplier status and then building a reputation which allows the customer to perceive suppliers as partners in the total business process is the ultimate purpose of Key Account Management.
Where Is Real Value-Added?
You could argue that any benefit to your customer is added-value. This does not help as a basis for competitive differentiation or long-term partnership – even the commodity sale offers benefits. What differentiates adding-value is that it is a benefit that relates directly to helping an organisation meet its strategic business goals and it is recognised by your customer as being of real value and unique to your solution.
What Is Value?
The improvement of business performance and competitive advantage through maximum leverage of purchased products and services
Why Should We Take A Value-Add approach?
Value-Add approach = higher customer satisfaction, increased revenues, lower vulnerability to competition.
If opening doors and building sustainable partnerships is dependent on how your customer perceives your added-value, it is vital that you can articulate this and rehearse your customer key contacts in it. Your proposition should contain:
- Your capability
- Track record
- What you can improve (process/function)
- The business improvement i.e. benefit
Facing an increasingly competitive and dynamic marketplace, companies face mounting pressures and challenges:
- Total quality (product and service)
- Managing Cost
- Increased emphasis on market-defined quality and adding value for the customer or consumer as the source of sustainable competitive advantage.
- Global markets v. local offering
- Mass customisation
- Joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions
The Increasing Complexity Of Purchasing Processes
The role and underlying objectives of the Purchasing Function has consequently changed greatly over the last few years. Some of the main changes impacting purchase processes are:
- rapid fluctuations in supply and demand due to changes in manufacturing processes or supply-side capacity
- increases in the use of non-personal purchasing methods, such as electronic bid lists and EDI (electronic data interchange links)
- price volatility due to economic swings and competitive intensity
- continuous shifts in currency values affecting International operations
- Increased emphasis on total supply chain management between suppliers, their channels and customers.
Supply Chain Management
Account Managers are familiar with the sales and buying process. However, a third process is becoming increasingly important – the process of doing business i.e. the speed of responding to customer requirements which includes the functions of sales, design, production or manufacture, order fulfilment, support and ongoing logistics and customer assistance.
This process of integrating business systems/activities is Supply Chain Management.
The Implications Of SCM (Supply Chain Management)
Where there is strong competitive pressure amongst existing or potential suppliers to win high value orders, the business is more likely to go to that supplier who, through demonstrable competence, can offer such benefits as:
- better co-ordination of key activities
- reduced lead times
- increased reliability of delivery
- greater flexibility
- improved information facilities , etc.
The Growing Importance Of Supply Chain Management
- Organisations are focusing more on their core capabilities and therefore outsourcing non-core activities
- Increased use of “just-in-time” supply processes for both products and services
- The consequential increased reliance on the expertise and value-added of their suppliers in relation to service and support
- The requirement for suppliers to effectively “project manage” the implications of their customer’s decisions and purchasing cycles
- The need for enhanced communication processes and systems.
Whilst all of these are potentially “friction points” between suppliers and customers, they can be more positively viewed as opportunities for the Account Manager to add value and expertise in managing the total relationship with organisations.
Prince Ea has a point, how about unplugging for the weekend, just to see how it goes?
A quick guide to getting the most from your upcoming training course …
For many people it’s the ads that make the SuperBowl special, well, the ads and the snacks. So if you want to save time to build and demolish your Snack Stadium, then watch a few ads ahead of time. Here’s some of our favourites:
The inspiring story of Amy Purdy played under an inspirational soundtrack of Muhammed Ali is a real treat, though completely disconnected from the Toyota in the ad. Never mind, you can’t buy it in Europe anyway.
Pierce Brosnan manages to be British, without being evil on American TV. It’s OK though, he’s self deprecating and immaculately dressed:
For those of you old enough to remember having to get your head around what the internet and email were, you’ll enjoy Katie Couric having fun with the now infamous clip of her trying to understand both, and what that funny little @ sign was for, as she rides in a new-fangled BMW – how do you get a wind powered car anyway?
Keep those Kleenex handy, you may need them for Dove’s “Daddy” advert, or the next installment in the Budweiser Clydesdales and puppy commercial.
Snickers carry on their “Not you when you’re hungry” idea, but if you didn’t grow up with the Brady Bunch, it won’t hit the spot. If puppies and cuteness really aren’t your thing then watch the ad GoDaddy won’t be showing for a more dystopic world view.
It’s not all shameless commerce. Given NFL players reputations off the field, the public service announcement that viewers will see is challenging, but well worth a watch:
We’ll leave you to discover the Kim Kardashian one on your own.
Even if you are good at selling in a face-to-face situation, using the telephone for a introductory call needs additional, different skills. Known techniques must be applied in a new way. If you normally work in an office in a sales function, you may not see yourself as a salesperson. For you to make an introductory sales call you also need additional different skills.
Concentrate on doing the job professionally by:
- Doing an amount of simple research. Have an idea of what they do. That will give you an insight into their likely problems.
- Getting the name of the buyer. During the call use it.
- Holding fire until you speak to the buyer. You will get nowhere trying to sell to those with no need or buying power.
- Giving brief details of your company – and showing that you know about theirs.
- Collecting and recording information about their present situation. To do so avoid asking closed questions which result in yes/no answers. Use open questions. Those are questions which contain the words why, what, where, when, which, or how. That way you will be given more information.
- Exploring past problems and future worries.
- Underlining Benefits – what’s in it for them if they buy from you?
- Finishing with an order or a commitment to the next step – for example an appointment for a salesperson to call.
- If possible get an order number.
Do these things and your cold calls can be more effective. Don’t – and you’ll be wasting your time and everyone else’s.
To make effective introductory sales calls on the telephone avoid:
- Rushing into the call without preparation
- Trying to sell to the wrong person – assistants, interns, etc.
- Wasting time with irrelevant chit-chat
- Making no notes of the call and its contents
- Asking questions which call only for a yes/no answer
- Running down their existing supplier
- Failing to convert interest into an order or other form of commitment
- Not tailoring the information you give to the person to whom you are talking
- Inviting rejection
- Rushing into your sales pitch
There is a standard procedure for handling a complaint:
- Show sympathy but only for the fact the customer is upset. Do not apologise for the complaint itself until you know it is your fault
- “I’m sorry you are upset, tell me what the problem is”
- Listen – do not interrupt let the person get it off their chest
- Ask questions – open (what, when, where, how, who, why) not closed (Yes or No)
- Establish the facts. Do not make excuses or justify why
- Agree a course of action that is acceptable to you and the customer
- Make sure the action is carried out
- Keep the customer informed
- Complete the complaint paperwork and return it to the correct department
When dealing with complaints be solution minded, do not say what you cannot do, tell the customer what you are going to do.
Own the problem – do not pass it on.
A dissatisfied customer tells 11-13 people about the way they feel; whilst every happy customer only tells 3.
In the UK people complain with their feet. Having no complaining customers does not mean all your customers are happy. It means things are not quite bad enough, yet.
Research conducted by McGraw-Hill revealed that the reason why 68% of customers changed suppliers was nothing to do with the quality of product or service. It was because the customers felt: “The company did not seem to care and did not communicate with me”
The way you handle unhappy customers should not be seen as a separate ‘problem’ area. The complaint handling procedure should be laid down and worked out with clear reporting and feedback systems.
A Complaint Handling System
The system should reveal:
- How many complaints
- Nature of complaint
- Justified or not
- Was the complaint product centred (material service) or person centred (personal service)
- proposed action
- customer attitude post-complaint handling
Many customers see the way you handle a complaint as the test of your commitment to the things you practice and preach about customer care.
Terminology is very important in the way you (a) handle complaints and (b) the way complaints are treated inside your organisation. See complaint handling form as an example of turning a complaint (problem) into action (opportunity).
Business can be easily won on the telephone – or more easily lost through bad telephone manner or technique. Remember that people form a PICTURE of us simply from how we sound on the telephone so make that picture a positive one!
Try telephoning a few of your competitors with an enquiry. Most of them will sound and behave about the same as you do.
Think of how much more business you could get by being better on the telephone than all your competitors:
|Pitch Of Voice: excitement or annoyance can make your voice higher and often louder. This can cause distortion and grate on the nerves of your listener. The deeper sounds of most people’s voices are generally more suited to the telephone – so try to pitch your voice in the lower range.|
|Inflection: Your voice should ‘rise’ on a question and ‘fall’ at the end of a sentence. This helps understanding and gives texture to your voice, also try stressing different words of sentence “I never said he stole that money”|
|Clarity: Whatever you say – it must be said clearly. Good diction and proper articulation are essential. However loudly you speak, a word will be difficult to understand unless you pronounce it properly. It helps, too, if you hold the receiver in the right place!|
|Tone: aim to mirror (not mimic!) the tone of the customer – If it is at all appropriate to do so, smile. This will help to give your manner the warmth needed to be effective in telephone selling. At the very least, you should always ‘think a smile’.|
|Understand: or appreciate their point of view/circumstances, also check for your understanding, repeat back, summarise, confirm Spelling of names or difficult words can often be of vital importance.|
|The following identifying of letters is used by police etc:|
|Rate Of Speaking: Unless your speech is naturally on the slow side, it is best to consciously slow down the pace at which you talk. This will enable you to articulate more clearly; it helps the person who is not familiar with your voice; it calms down the person who is upset or irritated or domineering; it gives you more time to think and you don’t sound so excitable!|
|Enthusiasm: If you speak in a colourless way – nothing stands out and the impact of what you say is lost. Your voice should have ‘light and shade’ in it. Make your conversation sound more interesting by giving extra emphasis to the more important words and phrases. Allow for lack of visual impact|