Capturing the Win

Capturing the Win

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Capture management comprises a thorough understanding of the customer, the problem statement, the solution, the competition, and then using these into making a winning plan.

Information is King

While gathering intelligence about the customer and competition, the importance of being thorough cannot be stressed enough. Pursuing an opportunity mandates collecting as much information accurately. A complacent approach has no place while collecting information for a proposal. However, it is easy to focus on the wrong things. As much as a proposal is not won because of what you know, it can easily be lost because of what you don’t.

Customer Focus

Understanding, analysing and collecting information about the customer is key. You need to understand the customer, their issues and priorities. If your customer knowledge has significant gaps, it will shake the confidence that your customer will have on your solution and service. It will cast a shadow on your abilities, skills and past performance.

Building your Capture Plan

When evaluating your progress towards the completion of a capture plan or a proposal, follow this approach:
  1. Start with what you don’t know. Knowing what you don’t know is the sensible step towards a complete proposal.
  2. Ask yourself questions that seem impossible to find answers to –  Does the customer like the current provider? If they do (or if they don’t), what is the reason? Who are the competitors? What are their strategies and pricing?
  3. Run through your networks, both internal and external and see if you can find answers. You will be surprised how much information is actually publicly and freely available.
  4. Make unanswered questions a priority. Seek those answers. Learn from past proposals. Which unanswered questions costed you the bid? Which answers sealed the deal for you?
  5. Use feedback to ensure effective capture plan processes are in place.
With a zest for continuous improvement, the enigmatic recipe for creating winning proposals will be closer.
Planning for Success

Planning for Success

It is hard to plan for something that you have no idea about. And, that is exactly what the future is, the unknown. Most companies are also unclear about how you can grow your career or what they would even expect of you to advance further. Another additional layer of stress is that at the same time you are also at competition with everyone else in your field who also want the same things as you. So really, you need to know how to develop your skills, but also, how to develop them faster than everyone else.

A viable growth model 

The 70-20-10 model was made to help people grow themselves the fastest. Basically, it breaks down to 70% of your professional growth will come from the direct work experience that you have from jobs that you have done, 20% is from the networking and interactions that you with other people and professionals in your field, and lastly 10% is from the educational training you undertook. Also, take every opportunity and presentation as an avenue for growth. Once you’ve completed the action, ask for feedback, and then perform the next time at an even higher level. Here is a 3 step strategy to plan your success:

1. Build a realistic vision

The first step is to gauge where you are currently and where you would like to be. Once a clear goal has been outlined you know what you are working towards instead of aimlessly striving towards an unclear vision.  When you are doing this the most important factor is to be realistic and honest with ourselves. Although objectivity can be hard, it is essential in mapping out your success. For starters, your ego has to be left behind and asking for input from a respected superior who you know will not sugar-coat the truth is a good place to work from.

2. Learn from experience

Two types of experiences will help you grow. The first type are functional experiences. These are things that help you hone in on a particular skill. The second type are management experiences. Management experiences help you develop skills under pressure and lead a team as well.

3. Seek advice

Another tip is to speak to people who are successful in your field. They can offer insight into what steps they took to reach where you would like to be and guide you in the right direction. Leave your ego behind and ask for input from respected superiors who you know will not sugar-coat the truth and guide you in the right direction. By mapping out your plan, seeking experiences that will help you grow, and speaking to successful professionals in your filed you can easily plan for success.
Ways to Conquer the Changing Sales Environment

Ways to Conquer the Changing Sales Environment

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Adapting to change is necessary for surviving in a business environment. The advent of technology has shifted the very dynamics of a typical sales process. Sales executives are forced to step up their sales strategies due to changing consumer behaviour.  

Here are few methods you can adapt to conquer the current sales environment. 

Right Sales Representative 

Hiring the right sales representative is a game changer. A well informed and able salesperson can dramatically change the buying process. But successful companies hire sales representatives who are not only willing to be process oriented but also open to the notion of continuous improvement. Also make sure that the sales representative acts as a facilitator between the company and the buyers.  

Retaining Employees 

Companies are forming policies that help in retaining the best talent. Retaining the best sales representatives by providing aid for their self-development and growth will benefit the firm in the long run. A survey conducted by Harvard in the year 2006 showed that firms that retained the best sales representatives had greater than average tenure of sales staff, higher percentage of reps meeting the quota, higher average deal size and shorter than average sale cycle.  

Following Sales process 

Every company has a standardized and defined sales procedure. But very few sales executive follow the prescribed procedure. Successful firms monitor and provide feedback on salesperson’s use of the standard process. These organizations amend the process when they identify even minor changes in market conditions. These companies also have higher performance rating and are a formidable competition.   

Understanding Buyers 

Though some companies formalize the selling process, very few try to understand the buying process. Keep a track on buyer’s process by understanding the opportunity, the budget allocation and by identifying key buying influences. A proper sales representative should be able to forecast the buyer’s actions and adapt this strategy accordingly.  

Marketing 

Nowadays consumers are well informed about the product even before the meeting with the salesperson. A customer’s first impression of the product is gathered from the internet and other online reviews.  Hence, a firm should focus on the marketing aspect of the product. Sales department needs to focus more on how the product reaches the consumer to increase the possibility of a sale.  

Technology 

The gadgets and gizmos available today are focused on making sales transaction both efficient and effective. Firms use data analysis to monitor the sales process and collect data which benefit in understanding the market change. Having data-mining tools built into the CRM application and categorizing and storing the collected data in an accessible manner will benefit all businesses.  

Transparency 

Salesmen who are transparent to the buyers from the beginning are often more successful at closing a deal. Such representatives have constantly explained what they wanted and tried to reach the top decision maker. These clear and on-going efforts to get to the decision maker can produce a positive pressure on the outcome of the deals. Being open to the buyers and explaining your reasons to them can have a progressive effect on the sales process. 

It’s important to remember that the process of selling is both an art and science. It can be highly automated and process oriented but has scope for improvement and development.



Customer service, ideal response times

Customer service, ideal response times

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The average company responds to an email in about 12 hours and 10 minutes according to a study conducted. But is this quick enough is the question! 

Research Findings 

With numerous avenues to contact a company including Twitter, email, and Facebook how fast does the average customer expect a response and does their age affect their expectations? A study conducted in 2017 showed that under 45% of customers were very satisfied with their email correspondence. Customers that were satisfied noted down speed being the top factor affecting their interaction. A typical business takes about 12 hours to respond to an email. This is definitely an upgrade from the previous one-business-day standard response time but it may still not be up to par. A previous study done showed that the ideal response time expected even then was just one hour. A follow-up study was done in 2018 to see if this expectation has changed. According to the results the ideal standard for response times through email was still one hour with a response within fifteen minutes remarkable service. This was based on what would satisfy at least 80% of the individuals surveyed.  

Email Response Time Expectations 

If an email was responded to within a couple of hours a company could capitalize on 70% of customers. A one hour response time is the expectation that would satisfy 89% of customers. When categorized by age the findings showed that Baby Boomers within the ages of 55-73 actually expected the fastest response. Expectations were similar among coworkers expecting responses within the hour. At work, this may be very hard to fulfill and may lead to emails being glanced over quickly and not getting detailed responses back. The average email thread amongst coworkers was reported to be 4.5 emails. The age group that expected the fastest response was GenX, who are 39-54 years old.  

Managing Twitter & Facebook Response Times 

On Twitter the stakes are even higher with the standard expectation being just fifteen minutes. This can be especially challenging to fulfill as Twitter is decreasing in popularity and is usually not the preferred method of contact. Phone calls, and email are still used more, thus allotting staff members to focus on Twitter may not be the best allocation of company staff. Again, Baby Boomers expected the fastest response.  Expectations on Facebook were similar to email with one hour being ideal and fifteen minutes being remarkable. Millennials, ages 23-38 expected the fastest responses on Facebook. Although more people use Facebook to contact companies than Twitter, a rise from 40% to 50%, only 55% of Millennials reported using Facebook to contact a company.  

In conclusion, the ideal response time for a company to  reach a majority of their customers would be to respond within the hour. 

7 steps to create an Action Plan for your Business Strategy

7 steps to create an Action Plan for your Business Strategy

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Behind every success story is an even more successful plan. In a business when formulating an action plan to attain a goal for the coming year it is necessary to delegate tasks and have a clear idea of who will be doing that job, and what the timeline for said-task is. The action plan is typically created at the end of the strategic planning process, after you’ve set out your vision, done a SWOT analysis and established objectives.  

Here are the steps for creating your action plan. 

1. TeamWork

The more you involve the people on your team in the planning of the task, the more invested they will be in its ultimate success. The more time people spend working on something the more emotionally invested they become in seeing their projects success. Also, by involving people from the ground-up you can get a variety of opinions from people from all different levels of the company who may encounter and see things management may not be directly aware of and new places for improvement.  

2. Clearly define & delegate tasks

Different tasks should be kept separate and worked on by divided groups. This will help to avoid confusion and also facilitate focus. Also, appoint a person to be in charge and take responsibility for their team and let them know what resources are available to them and what they can work with.  

3. Set deadlines

Once the different tasks have been established a timeframe should be set to prevent procrastination. If there is no clear end time a task can be daunting like it may never be completed. By breaking it down into timed intervals a task can be completed on schedule without stressing out one person. 

4. Follow-up

Make sure that tasks aren’t just delegated and forgotten about that people are constantly being followed up with. This can be regular check-ins, or meetings to make sure milestones are being met. 

5. Be Transparent in your Communication

Another key to a successful action plan is good communication. Make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them to prevent any friction within the team. By facilitating open communication from the very beginning of the planning process people will always have a clear idea of exactly what they need to do.  

6. Be Consistent

Lastly the most important step is to maintain momentum. It’s hard to stay disciplined and motivated once the initial hype of starting something new has worm off. Staying motivated during the lowest points is where the difficulty really lies. Making a plan and working out the logistics is only half the work; actually implementing it is the other half. After the assigned deadline is up analyzing the action plan and improving it for the next time is a sure-fire way to have a successful business

Identify your business strengths and weaknesses

Identify your business strengths and weaknesses

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Once you start a business it’s easy to fall into a stagnant area where you are satisfied with where you are but the business is not growing. This is detrimental because it obstructs growth

Developing a Strategic Plan 

A successful business owner is always looking at what works and what doesn’t. We must look at what extrinsic and intrinsic factors are effecting the business and scope out what new opportunities and threats are present. A very effective tool for this analysis would be a ‘SWOT’ (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) Analysis. This analysis helps you see how you stand out in the marketplace; how you can grow as a business; and where you are vulnerable. 

Strengths Analysis 

When looking at the strengths of your business these are some factors to consider. Do you feel you have a competitive advantage over other people in your market? Think about what makes your company superior and capitalize on this. Other strengths include any specific skills that you have, or experiences that you have been through that have broadened you horizons and gives you company a step up over other companies. Something that makes you exclusive and cannot be easily copied. Strengths do not have to solely be skill-based. They can also include high-demand real-estate, good financial stability and organization, a happy well-trained staff, good leadership, and a loyal customer base.  

Analysing your Weaknesses 

Any good business is only as strong as its weakest link therefore knowing our businesses weaknesses is key to success. These are the factors that stop your business from reaching its highest level of efficiency. Some weaknesses include unreliable business partners/ suppliers, old equipment, poor marketing and exposure, insufficient leadership, and missing skillsets.  

Opportunities Analysis 

There are always new developments being made that can help your business. New innovations and markets developments can offer beneficial alliances and opportunities to make new sales. Technological advances can also increase the overall output of your business, knowing your target demographic allows you to specialize your product, support from various government organizations is also available. A good tip to find new opportunities is to look at what is missing in the market, or what weaknesses your competitors have and fulfill that deficiency in the market. 

Identifying Threats 

Now that we know the good, the bad, and the new opportunities for the optimal business, we need to look at what potential threats there are to endanger our growth. This can be factors that are out of your control like a declining economy, a decrease in the popularity of your product, a community protest, or conflicting laws.  By anticipating what the potential threats to your business are you can prepare to combat against them but, this system will only work if you are honest and critical when self-evaluating yourself.  

A SWOT analysis doesn’t have to be a long, complex document. Two or three pages of point-form notes are usually sufficient. Free templates for a SWOT analysis are easy to find on the Internet.