We ran a survey last month with the above title asking people to rate the importance of a range of business development techniques from irrelevant to critical. Below we post the aggregated results, from most to least significant.
- Getting customer service right (most significant)
- Launching new products
- Reducing costs
- New ways of working
- Web based activities
- Field sales optimisation
- Changing the culture
- Tele-sales optimisation
- Recruiting new people
- Off-line marketing
- Reducing prices (least significant)
- Getting customer service right was way out in front, over 80% of respondents rating this as critical. This still seems an obvious win, yet so many organisations still struggle with delivering any kind of memorable (for the right reasons), consistent customer focused service experience yet don’t really understand why. Working with our sister company we would suggest it’s to do with two factors. Firstly not aligning with and designing service as part of the strategy. And secondly, not engaging with the frontline effectively. The combinatory failure creates mediocre service.
- Next, look at answers 2-5. What is the one organisational capability required to make an impact is these areas? Innovation. So few organisations are consciously competent when it comes to creativity and innovation, many have it as a key value (mostly more in hope than reality). Competitive advantage comes from either doing things clearly differently from everybody else, or from doing things materially better. To innovate, either incrementally through continuous improvement or radically through implementing step-change ideas will enable you to launch new products, reduce costs, and implement new ways of working and web based activities.
- There seems to be a recognition that online is now more significant than offline marketing activities.
- The field saleforce is still seen as a major influence on business performance, from our experience one of the quickest wins in boosting the numbers it to improve the activities of the sales team.
- Changing the culture is not a quick win but this seems to be a (relative) recognition that many organisations don’t have the cultural norms to come through the recession. This will be a real challenge.
- Recruiting new people is not bottom. Something to gladden any recruitment company.
- It’s interesting that reducing prices is bottom. There is a look of evidence that prices are under pressure so this is interesting. It might be about the fact many organisations are reducing prices but only as a condition of play rather than with any sense that it will make much of a difference. The other factors in the list being more significant.