Priceless Contribution of our Political class- Home grown Cultural Terrorism…

Hi readers,

What have we as a nation come to after 65 years of our independence because of the rule of our political class.

You will note that I say “RULE” and not ” GOVERNANCE”, because that is the sad truth…we as a people, have NOT BEEN GOVERNED by leaders and nation builders, BUT ruled by a political class that has matured into the proverbial man eating Tiger that is feeding itself on its people!!

We have achieved such depths in our development as a nation, that the so called “Freedom of expression” , supposedly enshrined in our “DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTION”  has been relegated to a misnomer and a mere joke.

The first case of purging of freedom of expression came about a week back, when Kamal Hasan’s magnum opus, Vishwaroopam was taken off Cinema halls because a handful of Muslim minority fundamentalist, illiterates protested against the “anti Islam” content of the Film, and the state Government quickly banned the film as a reaction!! Kamal Hassan has been reduced to a shambles in less than a week, harried from pillar to post, to seek revocation of the ban and to release his film in the country!! All the while the political class is on national media , justifying their actions ( justifying also that the freedom of expression in our constitution comes with a caveat!!) in the name of preserving rule of law, preserving peace AND mollifying the anger of the minority ( muslim) community!!

 

The second case unraveled today- Salman Rushdie, the celebrated author who was in India till a few hours back, was warned by the West Bengal Government not to enter the state!! Please note- I said, he was warned  and NOT ADVISED…he was warned that if he traveled to the state, he would be arrested on the spot in order to maintain  law and order in the state ( because fringe , fundamentalist, illiterate, muslim groups were protesting on the streets of Kolkata, and their illogical voice has drowned the tenets of our DEMOCRACY!!). So Salman Rushdie just made a very relevant point as he prepared to board a flight back to the US- he said ” There is a cultural terrorism prevalent in the country…this is a sad reflection of India today”.

He could not have nailed it better!!!

Thanks to our spineless, loathsome political class, we have indeed been transformed into a GLORIFIED BANANA REPUBLIC in 65 years after independence!!

Why you need to Create Marketing Materials With Your Salespeople in Mind

Hi readers,

My marketing professor, Stephen Hurley, a solutions marketing expert and a great teacher shocked me by sharing that the average life of a CMO in the US is just a tad better than 2 years!

That stressed me out and set me thinking on the WHY part of this revelation!

I have had a big skew in my career towards sales management, as opposed to marketing. In my 18 years career, sales figures in ALL 18 years, whereas marketing figures for ONLY 7!

So when I started to analyse the reasons why CMOs have a short shelf life, I figured that disconnect between the marketing and sales functions in an organization is the biggest culprit for this looming disaster.

You can attribute numerous reasons for this disconnect, BUT the biggest reason for this disconnect is when marketing produces marketing and sales collateral materials WITHOUT taking sales into confidence or working with them as partners!!

As the CMO of your organization you need to ask yourself these key questions- 

Why do you need you sales reps to succeed? Because when they succeed, get their bonus, get their incentives, achieve their quotas, NOT only do your sales reps shine, more important, YOU DO TOO!!

What do your salespeople need to succeed?  Give them a toolkit that helps them out during every step of the sale. SIMPLE!

Whether you have one salesperson or 10, outfitting your front line with the right tools is critical to your company’s success. Production of collateral materials often falls to marketing staffs that design in a vacuum, without true insight into the day-to-day operational requirements–and just plain hands-on, grab-and-run nature–of salespeople. The result? Some recent studies suggest that as much as 80 percent of materials created by marketing staffs for the use of salespeople go unused, while salespeople often create their own less-than-stellar tools on the fly. Meanwhile, important branding and selling messages can fall by the wayside, and sales may decline or stagnate.

So how can you create tools your salespeople will love–and actually want to use? It all comes down to these three essential steps.

1. Get frontline input. Eliminate the disconnect between your marketing and sales teams by getting them talking. Salespeople can offer tremendous insight into customers’ needs and objections as well as your company’s competitive challenges. Ask your salespeople to brief the marketing staff on the product or service elements that are most critical to the customers or clients they meet. Listen to them recount the objections they face most often during the selling process so you can create marketing tools and materials that support their efforts to overcome them. Salespeople should also tell your marketing team about any changes in customer demographics or hot buttons so that old tools can be revised to coincide with the current needs of your customer base.

Salespeople are continually butting heads with competing products and services. Ask them for insight into new, emerging competition to help you create marketing materials that are a step ahead.

2. Add up all the touch points. Your sales force requires a full family of tools that carries a consistent look and message. Each time salespeople make contact with customers or clients, these tools must work to reinforce your company image and support the sales process. Many business owners fail to take into account the true number of touch points throughout the sales cycle–intersections between the sales staff and customers or clients–where collateral materials are needed.

For example, your salespeople may use sales letters, business cards and notecards, company brochures, presentation tools, proposals, contracts, sell sheets, e-mails, printed and online forms, catalogs and other materials. It’s essential that all of them have a consistent company message and use your logo or company identity properly. Take the time to investigate and make a comprehensive list of the day-to-day touch points between your salespeople and customers, then supply your people with every item they need to be successful.

3. Enroll salespeople in your mission. Once you’ve gained all the input you need from your frontline sales force and have created new collateral tools and materials, make a presentation to your sales staff that highlights how all the tools will work to help them win more sales. Rather than merely handing over boxes of tools, share the strategies behind the key marketing messages to get everyone onboard with your campaigns and materials. If they reflect the input the sales force shared with you and your marketing team, your salespeople will be enthusiastic about using the tools you’ve created.

Schedule ongoing joint meetings with your sales and marketing staffs to obtain evolving customer information and preview upcoming promotions and specials. Let your salespeople know where and when your advertising will run so they can be ready to respond. And include them in any changes in future creative materials and strategies. This will guarantee that the tools you create are positively embraced by your sales staff and successfully support the sales effort.

The Essential Sales Proposal Checklist- key to sales super stardom!

Hi readers,

I did not mention this key, actually critical ingredient which should be in the armory of every sales rep who aspires for sales super stardom!

I have been writing proposals for the last 18 years; proposals to my CEO, to my boss, to the investors, to my clients when I worked in B2B assignments.

Apart from developing the essential skills to help you CLOSE your sale, you need to possess above average proposal writing skills that hook your customer and get you to the final deal!

From my experience the following check list always works, till it became assimilated within me and I did not have to refer to it to send across proposals…but it takes effort and lots of focus to get this right , so please do not take short cuts. Believe me when I say this- that will be a short cut to a serious berating from your boss or worse!!

First things first- 

Examine the current draft of your sales proposal carefully. Then answer the following questions as honestly as you can:

  • Does the customer know who we are? ( Brief about the company, short, to the point always works)
  • Is the customer expecting us to bid on this? (Dont use the proposal as a shot in the dark, you must have generated traction to be able to send a proposal!!)
  • Does the executive summary address customer needs? ( Analyse customer’s need and then write the executive summary , customized to THAT SPECIFIC NEED…be strategic in your thinking big guy!!)
  • Is the executive summary one page or less? (It better be targeted at 1 page pal)
  • Have we replaced all the jargon that’s meaningful only to us? (Please dont assume that the client speaks your jargon and lingo!! assumption is professional sales hara kiri!!)
  • Are we sure that another vendor doesn’t have the inside track? ( Get inside the grapevine to get a hook around this one)
  • Does the proposal follow the customer’s specified format and outline? (Ask the client his preferred format- it not only gets you an opportunity to engage with the client, and develop a working relationship with him, but also puts you in a favorable light with your client, who will probably have higher regard for your professionalism than you competitor!! strategic eh…)
  • Have we removed all the meaningless marketing fluff (e.g. “state-of-the-art”)? (Again…please NO JARGON)
  • Has someone edited out other customer names from boilerplate material? ( There is no tearing hurry folks…dont assume and do a poor cut and paste job….it will be the end of you)
  • Is the writing clear and forceful rather than flat and technical? (Dispense with the tech jargon, and use lucid, clear prose and descriptions..always works)
  • Has the proposal been edited so that it contains no glaring grammatical errors? (Brush up your Grammar guys!!)
    Can the proposal convince the customer that we can actually deliver? (Use factual information, discussion points already mentioned in minuted of meeting and simple to understand graphs and charts…always works !!)
  • Does the proposal define how we’ll measure customer satisfaction? (Sales metrics, sales analytics, tools and dashboards HAVE to be a part of ANY proposal !! thats the real winner )
  • Is the proposal being submitted on time and to the right people? (Keep to the deadlines!!)

If the answer to ANY of these question is “NO” then you’ll lose the sale. It’s as simple as that.