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Archive for May, 2013

Customer Loyalty is Not Just About Having Loyal Customers

May 31, 2013 3 comments

Whenever someone talks about customer loyalty, the first thing that comes to mind is “Loyal Customers”.

However, people forget that this is just one side of the coin.

The other side is “being loyal to your customers”.

It is so surprising to see that almost all organizations forget this and just focus all their energies on trying to increase the loyalty of their customers.

Just as trust is a two-way street, so is Loyalty. In fact, more so than trust.

How many times have we seen organizations give freebies & excellent offers to lure customers away from their competitors and not offer any of these to their existing customers. To add salt to injury, we stop listening to our existing customers (when I say listening, I mean acting on their feedback).

Slowly, organizations (mostly B2C) have started offering “Existing customers only” deals, retailers have starting offering “Sneak peak for Priority Club members only” days and some more.

However, this is also only one small part of the equation. We also need to listen and be loyal to our customers.

Here are a few ways that I think we can become more loyal to our customers, which in turn will prod them to continue to stay loyal with us:

  • Say “Thank You” at least once a year. Do it with style and surprise them with a gift. Be a little imaginative and creative in finding different ways to gift them. Make this a ritual. This needs to be separate from the regular gifting and thanking seasons like Christmas, Thanks Giving or New Year. Thereby, your appreciation will be noticed as it will get complete attention.  
  • Use your customers products/services as much as possible, and if it makes business sense, explore bartering.
  • Treat your customers with the same enthusiasm and flair that you treat your prospects. Do anything they ask for  and a bit more. Compete for their repeat business, new business intensely. You will ensure that your competition does not get any opportunity to get in.
  • Connect them to your other customers and promote their business whenever possible.

These are just a few things that you could do to show your loyalty to your customers. This will most likely solicit their loyalty to you as well.

This will go a long way in fostering mutual loyalty and long term success for your and your customers’ organizations.

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic. Do share your thoughts by commenting below or by tweeting your thoughts to me at @rmukeshgupta.

PS: Interesting take on Rethinking Customer Loyalty 

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Disruptive times call for positive, creative disruptors: Rebel Jam Update

I am glad that I am also a part of this experiment and am very keenly looking forward to the same!!!

Petervan

UPDATE: you can find the links to the recordings of all the Rebel Jam talks here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0At_G3sEqOh0YdFQ1T3ZUYWFUNW1aR1pLN3JNV0pIbUE&usp=sharing

It’s easy to be an innovator and entrepreneur in start-up. Not so inside large organizations — companies, government agencies, healthcare systems.  The competencies and mindset you need to create change and succeed are different for rebels inside the organization.

The good news is that in today’s hyper-connected world we have the possibility to join forces – across distances and time zones – and create a critical mass of change agents capable of accelerating innovation & transformation globally

That’s why we’re holding a free, online 24-hour Rebel Jam with fascinating speakers, inspiring entertainment and provocative discussions every hour, with hosts from Europe, North America and Asia.  Our aim: empower the rebel to be able to create positive change, understanding the considerable risks and challenges that will arise.

On May 30-31, 2013, Rebels at Work…

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Categories: Innovation Tags: ,

Crowd Funding Platforms and Banks

May 22, 2013 2 comments

There has been a consistent growth in the number of Crowd-funding platforms all around the world. This is quite understandable given that they address a niche segment of the market that no other financial system has been able to address well.

Some of these crowd funding platforms are now moving from crowd-funding (in lieu of kind & merchandise) to becoming crowd investing platform (in lieu of equity).

What surprises me is the fact that banking institutions have not led the way and adopted this model so far but look at these as competition or threat.

If I were leading a digital channel for a banking institution, I would have already launched my own version of the crowd-funding platform.

As a bank, I already have access to

  • Customers who have cash and could be potential investors (depositors)
  • Prospective customers who want money (Seeking loans)
  • I have access to a lot of cash which i could invest as well.

By launching the crowd-funding or crowd investing platform, some of the things that the bank could do are:

  • Use the platform for all lending below a specific thresh-hold.
  • Open up the non-secure lending market by routing all such requests via this platform.
    • The bank could either use the “Wisdom of crowds” to decide which projects get funded and which don’t.
    • We could even go to the extent that the bank commits to fund an amount equal to the amount that the project secures from the other investors.

This could potentially spread the risk on such investments and open up a new large market for the bank.

  • As a bank, it would be easier for us in terms of regulatory approvals in place, so that the entire model could scale much faster than it has so far.

I am sure that the first bank that is able to introduce this and scale fast would definitely enjoy the first mover advantage and open up a big market.

The precedence is already set by Volksbank Bühl, one of the 1,100 cooperative Raiffeisen banks, when it became the first German bank to offer their customers a regional crowd-funding platform.

Now the question is if any of the larger banks would take this up and launch their own crowd-funding platforms or acquire any of the existing platforms.

What do you think? Would you go ahead on this route if you were heading the digital channel of a large bank? I am very much interested to know your thoughts. Please share them by commenting below or by tweeting them to me @rmukeshgupta.

Three Things That I Look in a Person Before Hiring

May 14, 2013 2 comments

I read a wonderful post by Shane Parrish titled “Warren Buffet: The three things I look for in a person“.

Here he shares three qualities that Buffet looks in a person:

  • Integrity
  • Intelligence
  • Energy

He also thinks that without the first, the other two don’t matter much.

This reminded me of my mentor and his principle’s while deciding to work with someone. His list was as below, in the order of importance:

  • Integrity
  • Passion
  • Ambition

Again, he said that without the first, the other two are a sure recipe for disaster. However, when you add that in the mix, it plays the role of a “Philosopher’s Stone” and transforms the person.

Strangely, these are exactly the qualities that I look in a sales executive.

You can’t infer a person’s ability to sell by looking for these qualities. However, in my opinion, if you have these three qualities, one can succeed in any role that they get into. If you observe, none of these is a skill. They constitutes our character.

Skills can be learnt, but character needs to be built and it takes a long time to build one’s character.

Now, the question is how do you check for these qualities before you hire someone.

Its easy to check if someone is ambitious or passionate from their past works, social profiles and the initial discussions. The most critical and difficult thing to check for is the integrity of a person.

My mentor did a few things to check the integrity of the person:

  • He would leave a 100 rupee bill in an empty room and get the person to wait in the room. The currency is not on the table but in a place where it will  be definitely be seen and observe what the person does with the bill. This tells a lot about the person and his integrity. 
  • He would get one of his assistants to serve coffee/tea to the person and that person would deliberately spill some tea or coffee and observe the reaction. He always used to say that the true identity of a person comes through in their conduct with people weaker than themselves.
  • In the middle of the conversation he would plan to receive a call on his phone and get all worked up about a situation on the phone and react in a way that he would not want to react/behave. He would then start chatting about the situation with the person and gradually bring up how he reacted and ask this person what he thought about his action. The response will say a lot about the integrity and character of this person.

Some other interesting ways to try and understand the person that i have found helpful for me are:

  • Get someone from the team to talk to the person informally before the actual interview over a cup of coffee. This conversation will provide a lot more insight into the person than a formal conversation. 
  • Make the person wait for a few hours with no one to talk to or meet. And then put them in pressure by cancelling the interview by giving some flimsy reason. The reaction to this situation tells a lot about the person than any formal interview could. (Though, post that prank, you do let your hair down and continue the interview with him or her, for sure).

What do you do to screen your hires? Do share what has worked for you in the past by commenting below or tweeting to me at @rmukeshgupta.

PS: Video of Warren Buffet talking about the importance of Integrity:

Categories: leadership, sales Tags: , ,

Building High Performing Sales Teams

May 9, 2013 4 comments

Are you under constant pressure to deliver an ever increasing sales targets?

Do you want to explore if there is a way that you can build a culture that enables high performing sales teams and guide them to consistently push the limits and deliver quarter after quarter?

Then join me in my quest to find out what it takes to build such a culture.

In my opinion, there are three components that contribute to building a culture that enables a high performing sales teams:

  1. Sales Process – Do you have a clearly defined sales process and do your sales execs follow the process
  2. Manager’s role – What role do managers play and how they are measured
  3. Sales exec’s incentives – How are your sales execs incentivize and measured?

Now lets check each one of these components in detail.

Sales Process:

Having  a clearly defined sales process is key in enabling your sales team to perform at extremely high efficiency. Some questions that will help you realize the strength of your sales process are:

  • Do you have a clearly defined sales process, with clear accountability on who is responsible for what? 
  • Who brings in the new leads? Who qualifies these leads?  How do you qualify these leads?
  • What is your go-to-market strategy? Does it include coverage of the entire market?
  • Is there a sales methodology that you follow
    • SPIN Selling
    • Challenger sales
    • Solution Revolution
  • Does your sales team know the process that they are supposed to follow? Are they expected to follow the process? Do they follow the process? What happens if they do not follow the process?
  • Do you have a win/lose analysis for every opportunity at the end of each opportunity’s closure?
  • Do you have a system to capture leads, opportunities (CRM system)? How simple is this system to use? Does it always have up-to-date information?
  • How often do you appraise your sales team – Annual, Half-yearly or quarterly?

Manager’s role:

The role of the sales manager is the most critical in sustaining high performance in any organization. Their actions, interactions and influence on the sales executives will determine if you are able to build a high performance culture in the sales organization. Some questions that you need to reflect upon to understand if you have solved this puzzle are:

  • Are the sales managers just measured on sales quotas? Are they measured on the success of their direct reports? 
  • How do they deal with a sales executive who has not met his sales quota? Do they apply more pressure on him/her? Do they sit down and try to understand the reason for the miss & then coach him/her?
  • How do they deal with someone who achieves his/her sales quotas but does not follow the process or could be potentially a bad influence on the culture?
  • How do they run their team meetings & forecast calls? Do they use these opportunities to coach, recognize and explain good performance? Or do they focus on the transactional details about the deals in the pipeline?

Incentives: 

Arriving at the best sales incentives is a tough job. Hence, most companies end-up having simple incentive structures, primarily incentivizing with money. We now know enough that money, by itself, is not a great incentives. Though sales executives expect to  be incentivized based on the revenue that they bring in, high performing sales teams realize that money along is not a great incentive. Some questions that you need to think about incentives are:

  • Is your sales incentives aligned to your long term strategy? For example, if your strategy is to increase market share & profitability, are the incentives aligned to the strategy? In this case, do you incentivise a sales executive who brings in a large deal but with low profits and a sales executive who brings in a relatively smaller deal but with higher profits, equally? 
  • Do you consider other alternatives of incentives like a paid vacation, or paid education or an interaction with a celebrity or the opportunity to fulfill any of their dreams? For example, if I have a dream to publish a book, can my organization help me publish the book if I achieve my sales quota? I would value this much more than getting some additional cash. This would also enable me to be much more engaged with my organization and result in a lower turn-over.

In order to build a consistently high performing sales team, you need to have a good mix of all the three elements.

These are my thoughts. What do you think? Do share your thoughts by commenting below or by tweeting to me at @rmukeshgupta.

Categories: sales Tags: ,