Thursday, 5 May 2011

Do you lose sight of why you are doing this?

Just done a quick review of recent consultancy assignments with larger businesses selling into the small/medium sector.

While the’ necessary’ processes are usually in place it is the basics that so often seem to be missing.

It seems that programmes and initiatives designed in the ivory tower of head office have the capacity to lose focus and direction. Inevitably the initiative becomes an end in its own right rather than being a means to an end (more customers, more sales or more profits usually).

More specifically, head office rapidly loses contact with end players (customers, staff, partners, carriers) and build programmes built on false assumptions.

Maybe this goes some way to explain why the corporates are not so great at selling to the smaller business. (See Marketing to Independent Businesses)

Corporate myopia becomes entrenched as direct reports will tend to feedback the positives to their seniors. Any new initiatives will be designed by the very people who wrote/designed the initiative that you are replacing. How ironic? The Training Dept is pulled in to write a new training initiative to replace the last one they wrote. The new product development team is briefed to find a newer, better product… You get my point. We end up with more of the same old same old.

Smaller businesses have the capacity to do the same thing. Change for change’s sake or worse, a naive belief that you are right and they are wrong permeates so many businesses.

And where should we look for most of the answers? Talk to your customers, it is as easy as that. Take the execs into the shops and let them hear salesmen saying that the product is rubbish, let directors spend a day behind reception at your hotel to hear what customers really think, get managers to shadow customers as they try to navigate their twins and shopping around your supermarket.

When was the last time you spent a day in the customer’s shoes?
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