Our Competitive Excellence programme will help you and your business to:
- understand and reinforce your ability to compete successfully
- ensure continued success
- identify any critical areas for improvement
But success depends to a great extent on leadership and how you identify, recruit and develop your leadership team. This short article by Richard Jefferies focuses on a few vital issues for Marketing and Sales.
While developing our workshop onLeadership in Marketing and Sales and Personal Development, I found some interesting, stimulating and highly relevant discussions on Linked-In Groups. As I write I have been following two in the Institute of Directors Group. One is concerned with whether the cost cutting and control of costs many companies have undertaken in response to the recent economic climate has hampered their ability to respond to opportunities now. The other considers the bad name that “sales” has often got with both consumers and B2B buyers.
What is clear to me from the first debate is that those companies that consciously protected their Marketing and Sales capabilities and sought to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the related business processes are the ones most likely to succeed in the recovery.
For the second topic, consumer and B2B customers are becoming more cautious and sceptical, rendering some approaches to marketing and sales impotent. Consultative selling and genuine engagement with the customer’s long term interests is required. The challenges to any business from SMEs to multinational corporate must therefore include good leadership in the Marketing and Sales function.
Leadership is critical in every function of an enterprise but there are special considerations in the Marketing and Sales areas. More than anything these aspects of your business are where you engage in the external environment with your competitors, your customers and your potential customers.
Marketing and Sales are primarily about driving the top lines, revenues and gross margin. There are principally four ways to grow your business:
- Increase the number of customers of the type you want to have
- Increase the lengths of time customers stay with you or their frequency
- Increase the average value of sales to each customer
- Increase the effectiveness of each process in the business so that you can achieve the first three ways
If you want to increase profitability rather than simply grow turnover then all of the above apply, plus:
- improve your process efficiency so that you improve your cost to revenue ratio
- reduce other business operational processes
- buy in better.
Everything else is cost and efficiency management to increase and retain more of the margin – but that is all driven by the revenues generated through Marketing (I’ll use Marketing for Marketing & Sales to keep things simple).
“Marketing isn’t somebody’s responsibility, it is everyone’s responsibility” Jack Welch, former CEO of the General Electric Company
What we mean by Marketing can be seen in different ways:
- Marketing as a set of tasks and activities
- As a function or department
- As a business process
- As an attitude and culture
Though all those interpretations are valid, I am convinced that it’s when attitude and culture pervade the whole business that you achieve real success. For that, it needs good leadership and concerted development of skills, capabilities and values not just in Marketing and Sales but in every aspect of the business.
There are many excellent models of leadership but I like to look at things in terms of the value they deliver. Businesses large or small have to balance three separate types of value.
- Customer Value
- Business Value
- Strategic Value
The leader and the team must understand the sources of those values and maintain the balance to ensure the business’s continued survival and success. Fail to get the balance right and the business risks going down a cul-de-sac even if, in the short term, everything looks rosy and profitable.
The best businesses will monitor and measure value continually. If you don’t deliver greater perceived value than your competitors then your business will stall, even with a low value low price strategy. You may get business in the short term, but as soon as conditions improve many of your customers will desert you unless you have clearly set out your position in the lowest cost, lowest price sector. It may be tempting to hard sell in tough times but unless you show to the customer that you understand their concerns then they will desert you at the first opportunity. Business Value comes to you in profitability, cash flow and asset value. Some argue that Strategic Value is part of business value, which it is, but Strategic Value comes from positioning yourself well for the future and may require some sacrifice in short term value to get the long term. As the future is always uncertain, Strategic Value is harder to measure and is itself uncertain but you soon learn if you get it wrong.
Leadership therefore depends, to my mind, on
- Having a clear strategy: an understanding of the future and a vision for it; acceptance of uncertainty yet a clear road map to meet that future
- Engaging with all stakeholders so they understand your future and are inspired and motivated to bring it about
- Identifying and building the skills and capabilities to deliver that future in terms of people and the business processes and systems to support them
At Achieving the Difference we have looked closely at this and refined our understanding to help businesses meet the key challenges; identify, develop and support the leaders required at all levels in the business; build the skills, capabilities and competences into the people; and review and develop the best business processes to achieve their goals.
We have developed a workshop to help you improve your approach to leadership in marketing and sales and the development of your team around it. Why not give me a call or email to find out more?