Business Growth – Looking At Darwin And The Demon

As commercial processes commoditize in a developed economy, they are outsourced or transferred offshore or both, leaving onshore companies with unrelenting pressure to come up with the next wave of innovation. Failure to innovate equals failure to differentiate equals failure to garner the profits and revenues needed to attract capital investment. It behooves us all to use our brains to get out in front of this Darwinian process.

For starters, we need to appreciate how broad the domain of innovation really is. Sure, it includes the type everyone knows about: disruptive innovation, the stuff of technology legend and Silicon Valley lore. But we should not be blind to the existence of more mundane forms that are equally effective, as the following taxonomy illustrates:

Disruptive Innovation. Gets a great deal of attention, particularly in the press, because markets appear as if from nowhere, creating massive new sources of wealth. It tends to have its roots in technological discontinuities, such as the one that enabled Motorola’s rise to prominence with the first generation of cell phones, or in fast-spreading fads like the collector card game Pokemon.

Application Innovation. Takes existing technologies into new markets to serve new purposes, as when Tandem applied its fault-tolerant computers to the banking market to create ATMs and when OnStar took Global Positioning Systems into the automobile market for roadside assistance.

Product Innovation. Takes established offers in established markets to the next level, as when Intel releases a new processor or Toyota a new car. The focus can be on performance increase (Titleist Pro V1 golf balls), cost reduction (HP inkjet printers), usability improvement (Palm handhelds), or any other product enhancement.

Process Innovation. Makes processes for established offers in established markets more effective or efficient. Examples include Dell’s streamlining of its PC supply chain and order fulfillment systems, Charles Schwab’s migration to online trading, and Wal-Mart’s refinement of vendor-managed inventory processes.

Experiential Innovation. Makes surface modifications that improve customers’ experience of established products or processes. These can take the form of delighters (You’ve got mail!”), satisfiers (superior line management at Disneyland), or reassurers (package tracking from FedEx).

Marketing Innovation. Improves customer-touching processes, be they marketing communications (use of the Web and trailers for viral marketing of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy) or consumer transactions (Amazon’s e-commerce mechanisms and eBay’s online auctions).

Business Model Innovation. Reframes an established value proposition to the customer or a company’s established role in the value chain or both. Examples include chestnuts like Gillette’s move from razors to razor blades, IBM’s shift to on-demand computing, and Apple’s expansion into consumer retailing.

Structural Innovation. Capitalizes on disruption to restructure industry relationships. Innovators like Fidelity and Citigroup, for example, have used the deregulation of financial services to offer broader arrays of products and services to consumers under one umbrella. Nearly overnight, those companies became sophisticated competitors to old-guard banks and insurance companies.

Your Professional Growth and Type of Blocks in Career Path – Which Block Are You?

Introduction

Though I belong to northern part of India but in my professional life, for maximum number of years I have worked in southern and western parts of the country. It is only now, since 2005 that I shifted my base to northern India . Sometimes, people ask me the difference that I noticed in terms of work-culture, workplace environment and practices in northern and other parts of the country, during my professional journey. Usually my reply to those queries is: “People in western and southern parts of India compete for success and growth. They have constructive and positive approach. They value their and other’s time. Where as, in northern parts of India , people love to grow at the cost of others…by harming others. They have political mindset. They have destructive mindsets.

In western and southern India , the attitude is, “Lets grow together. You don’t harm me and I will not harm you; you have your own strengths and I have mine, we will grow together”. But in other part of the country, people want to be in lime-light. The philosophy is, “Only, I will grow. You, either perish or live in my shadow”.” This is the general attitude, perception and behavior of people. However, exceptions are always there.

Growing together – The Importance of Team Work

How good are you, when it comes to team-work? Do you understand the importance and synergy of team-work? To my knowledge, “We Indians” are very bad players of team-work. Each member of the team wants to hog the lime-light, wants to take the credit for the “Success” of the team and “Love to Blame” his team-member for the failure of his team. Be it any team; as small as a team of two members or as big as a team of fifteen members, we have always failed as a team. Hard to digest but this is a fact. Some of the factors our failures as a team are:

1) Personal Ego (Larger than life ego)

2) Its only “me” and no one else

3) Lack of knowledge (Subject Matter Expertise), Confidence and Self-Belief gives rise to self-doubt and “insecurity”.

4) They love to “Demand Respect” rather than earning respect.

When you have ego, arrogance and insecurity, you tend to block others’ success. You tend to harm them. You tend to play “Political Games” with your own team-members.

Team-work in Corporate World

Now, let me narrow my write-up to “Team-work in Corporate World” and “Team-work within a department”. You cannot do all the work that is expected from you and hence, there is a need of a team. “Delegating your Work”; Outsourcing; Vendor Management is nothing but steps towards “Team Work”. We talk about man-hours and man-hands. For example, I as an individual is capable of doing X work in seven days but along with my team of three people, I should be able to complete the task in three days.

But it’s not me who has done that work in three days; it’s my TEAM. Many times, knowingly or unknowingly we harm our own team. In the process of showing others “my control over my team”, people hurt the team, insult the team and thereby affect the morale and sprit of the team. There is a saying, “Don’t kill the hen laying golden eggs”; but some people divide the team because they feel insecure. They divide the team. They back-stab their own team members; they gossip about one member to another and they insult their team-members in front of others. They do all this because, they don’t have subject matter expertise, and they are not sure about their position. They don’t have self-confidence and self-belief. They feel that the only way that they can survive is by using the old tactic of British India , “Divide and Rule”. Just like the British rulers of that time, these team-leaders and team-managers are aware that “if I let these people unite, I will not be able to survive. A very bad tactic, isn’t it??

Role of Team-Leader / Team Manager

There is a saying in Hindi, “Yatha Raja, Tatha Praja” (As the king, so the people). Hence, the Team-Leader or a Team Manager have very important role to play in “Team Development and Management”. As is understood that to be a Team-Leader or a Team Manager one should have at least one person to supervise and manage. Team Leader should have confidence in his own abilities, knowledge and skills. If he does not have enough confidence in himself, I will doubt his abilities and skills to boost the confidence and morale of his team. To be honest and fair and based on my personal experiences, I do feel that 90% of managers have sense of insecurity from their subordinate. They feel that their subordinates will grow faster. They feel that their position is not secured. They have very low Emotional Quotient. Hence they try “to block” block the pace of growth of their juniors / subordinates. Here are some blocks that Managers / Team Leaders put on the way of their subordinates growth:

Dam – When you construct a dam on a river, it does not stop the growth of the river; rather it generates electricity, helps farmers in irrigation and control floods. Similar is the role of this block in your profession. He guides you. He mentors you. He grooms you. He sharpens your skill. He helps you to grow. He is a catalyst. He knows that he is big enough for you to harm him in any manner. It’s like an executive reporting to a President. This is a positive hurdle.

Hurdle on the road (Rock, big & heavy stone) – Imagine a situation when you are traveling to some place and happen to face this hurdle on the road. What will you do? Either you will remove the hurdle or you will just pass by its side. Another example that I have is roundabouts in Chandigarh . You can not drive over them but need to drive around them to move on other side of the road. In a similar manner, there are blocks in your professional life and you can grow only by ignoring and avoiding them. They feel that they have put, big enough hurdle on the path of your career to slow-down you and/or stop you. It might take some time to over come this hurdle but this is not permanent. This is arrogant / egoistic but temporary hurdle.

Wall under-construction – This is a positive hurdle that you can face in your life. As you grow, the other also grows. He is intelligent and knowledgeable. He is willing to learn all the time. He is a person with high-self esteem. He has high expectations from himself and also from people around him. He is not afraid by the growth of his subordinates. He does not harm the growth of his subordinates. He does not sabotage their growth. The more his subordinate grows, the higher he increases his own level and his competencies.

Closed Door – This is a negative block. Whatever you do, you will face rejection. Things will just bounce on you. This person is afraid of your success and pace of your growth. When in open and competitive market, he feels insecure. He feels comfortable and secured when he is in closed room and that is why he keep the doors closed. If you want to grow in the presence of such superior / boss, you should either be pleading him or buttering him (making him comfortable) or requesting him or you should wait for the right opportunity. (You should look for the ventilator to enter in).

Conclusion

If you want to draw a line, longer than the one which is already drawn, the best way and constructive way to do that is to draw a new line, parallel to existing line and longer than that. Same way, the best way to grow in professional life is to always keep yourself updated with the latest in your domain; to sharpen your skills; to have dreams and to have confidence in yourself. You cannot grow by suppressing someone lower to you. Even if you manage to grow in this fashion, you will not be able to sustain that growth. Be honest to yourself and to your team-members. Don’t lie to them. Share the credit. Most importantly, “Learn to Work in a Team”. Talent Acquisition is Important but Talent Management is Equally Important.

Gone are the days when people use to “butter” their bosses and use to say, “YES Sir” for every order / instruction of their bosses. This is the era of competition. You want to grow then come compete with people.

That’s an end of the write-up. Do share your views and comments.

With Love

Sanjeev Himachali

(BLOG: http://sanjeevhimachali.multiply.com/ or http://sanjeevhimachali.blogspot.com/)

Take Your Customer Service Dept From ‘Cost Saving & Cost Reduction’ To High Profit & Business Growth

The more communication I have with people involved in telephone service and sales, such as Contact/Call Centers and Customer Service Departments, the more amazed I become at the reluctance to create more sales and profit opportunities through better interaction with current customers, reactivation of lost accounts and new business acquisition.

Companies are forever seeking ways to cut costs and reduce staff – particularly so in Call/Contact Centers (turning so many into ‘Call ‘n’ Wait’ disaster zones) – they often fail to see what rewards they can achieve by using the following formula:

1 humble telephone + 1 skilled operator + 1 established sales system = HUGE PROFITS!

Here are twelve ideas that can dramatically improve your bottom line RESULTS build greater customer RELATIONSHIPS and earn you (a company of any size and industry) more REVENUE.

1. Build the loyalty of your current customers

A ‘no brainer’ right? Why is that so many customers cannot get through to you, when it suits them?

Why are you constantly offering free incentives and reduced prices to gain new business?

CRM is meant to be the new service elixir. Well it is worth nothing if you don’t listen to your customers.

Here’s an example – in the last six months or so, a metropolitan daily newspaper has offered ten-week subscriptions for $39.90 (I pay more and have subscribed for 20 years), contests (win wine if you subscribe, see a rock group in concert!) and give-aways to induce new subscribers. Me, I get some sort of special club membership with the odd discount or special offer. But hey, so do the new subscribers! Who’s ahead?

2. Gain referrals from current customers

The cost of losing customers is almost incalculable. Add to that the people they tell about their bad experiences and the people they never refer to you.

Instead, offer your current customers a total strategy of satisfaction and benefits. Then, encourage them to tell others.

Don’t reward these referred customers (but do give them total satisfaction and benefits). Do reward your current customer for their referral. Develop a system that will encourage customers to tell friends, family, their customers and associates about you and then say ‘thank you’ or offer them something of value for their efforts.

3. Add VALUE to every sale

Here is a really simple equation: If you give value – you get more sales.

That’s it. If your people are trained to offer advice and information, educate customers, offer them creativity and innovation then your customers will buy more products and services, more often.

Even if your prices are slightly higher. This was the IBM way, back in the 60’s and 70’s with some great lessons to be learned. IBM charged the steepest prices in the industry but their service and support was legendary. The phrase ‘no one ever got fired for buying IBM’ originated way back then.

4. Turn an enquiry into a prospect

Then, turn that prospect into a customer. Then turn that customer into an advocate, one of your company’s ‘raving fans’.

All you need are trained people, a system and a monitoring and measuring plan. Simple? Yes it is, and like all things mentioned in this article, I will bet that some of your people excel at this and a number of them perform basic courtesies with callers – and that’s it.

5. Create an upsell program

One becomes two. Two becomes four. Four becomes … greater than the GDP of Argentina.

It is so simple, easy and effective and so few organisations employ this strategy. Many of your people don’t do this because they think the additional cost will put the customer off. It doesn’t. Not if the customer actually sees the benefit of greater quantity or improved quality.

6. Cross-sell at every opportunity

What can your people add on the original purchase? Extended warranty, on-site service, insurance, a savings if they purchase an additional item(s), a special offer or other options?

If everyone in your organisation upsold and cross-sold at every given opportunity, your sales would soar. I have witnessed increases of between 15-45% in companies where a simple upsell/cross-sell strategy was installed.

7. Negotiate on price

Don’t just offer a discount or ‘best price to you’. Let me reiterate, if you give value – you get more sales. Negotiate price. Train your people that by dropping price, they are giving away margin. So, if you offer a discount negotiate an upsell and/or cross sell. Package or bundle your offer to make it attractive and a genuine customer benefit.

8. Follow up

Every time your people give a quote, send a proposal or brochure out via fax, mail or e.mail, they should record a follow up timeframe.

Between one hour and three days. Everyone who requests information should be followed up by telephone. This leads to a higher close or conversion rate (I have witnessed 20-50%) or, if they have purchased elsewhere – your follow up call may be the commencement of a relationship … or not. But you won’t know if you don’t follow up.

This rule should also be applied to complaint management. Most companies have no follow through with people who have complained.

9. Adopt a ‘keep in touch’ program

What can you do for your customers that will allow you to contact them on a planned, regular basis?

Special offers, new product or service introductions or …? The best forms of ‘keep in touch’ are e.mail combined with a regular phone call.

But be warned – you should have a purpose for every call you make or email you send. Don’t just bombard your customers (and prospects) with garbage.

10. Develop a systematic approach to lost customer reactivation

The longer you fail to make or maintain contact, the likelier you are to lose customers forever.

If you check the most recent contact vs previous contact frequency, you can detect a lost or about to be lost customer. Do something to regain their business.

This is the most costly part of your operation – the lost customer, the lost referral.

Do you have a lost customer reactivation plan?

11. Gain new customers

Why are there so few high quality telemarketing divisions in companies? Certainly, the ‘T’ word is considered dirty and grubby in some quarters and indeed it can be. However, where you have trained professionals, comprehensively developed objectives and strategies why wouldn’t a well run telemarketing campaigns gain new business and new relationships for your organisation?

Quality telemarketing will generate leads, open up new business channels/market segments, build business with small, marginal and distance customers, give you real value (as a follow up) from exhibitions and seminars.

This is one of the most under utilised resources for business acquisition (and reactivation).

12. Develop and work your system

Success will come in all of the previously mentioned guidelines, tips and hints if you adopt a systematic approach. That is:

a) A sales and service oriented contact management system, based on a quality CRM package.

b) Well trained people who consistently add value to and gain value from every call they take or make.

c) Monitoring, Measuring and Reviewing each of the above and seeking continuous improvement both in contact management and people skills.

It is simple and what’s more, it works. Use the power of the humble telephone (and quality people) wisely, and you will gain great RESULTS: Relationships and Revenue.

Why Android App Development Is Beneficial for Businesses Seeking Growth and Visibility

Recent stats about the behavior of customers online have revealed that the use of mobile apps to purchase things and to gather data has increased in leaps and bounds. Today, brands are getting purchase orders through mobile apps and are also able to keep the customers engaged through various ads and activities. Android mobile app development has gained much popularity these days and enterprises are also creating customized mobile apps that solve the customer issues and add value to their business. So, if you are planning to capitalize on the popularity of mobile devices through apps, then Android should be on top of your list.

Developing an Android app can be beneficial for your business if you are willing to reach out to the mass. The smart device and touch screen enabled Google platform is used by more than 80% smartphones and 60% tablets all over the world. So, it can be said that Android is dominating the market with its strong presence. Since the devices running on Android are available at remarkable prices, they are the first choice for the users. It is in fact reasonable to build an android business app for the leading digital market.

Ideal to interact with customers:

Any channel that is adopted to reach the products or services should be open and easy. If users have to purchase devices that are very costly, then your business goals will not be attained. With regular features and upgrades, today’s smartphones offer advanced computing features and are able to match any laptop or desktop in terms of their utility. Since Android mobile users are in large numbers, business owners can often target huge market by creating business apps.

No investment in development tools:

Android comparatively has a low entry cost as it offers Software Development Kits for free to the developer’s community and this reduces the development and licensing costs. Same is with the varied tools and technologies, which are open source and are available for free. Developers are not supposed to charge any fees for the tools that are offered by Google as they are available for free.

BYOD preference:

Android holds over 83% of the market share and this is quite evident. For organizations that are adopting the BYOD policy, it is feasible for them to opt for Android as their enterprise app development platform as it is available for a wide range of devices and business can target users of all economic groups. And overall BYOD environments also require heightened security and Android platform offers high security features, so that users can easily share information and make transactions without any issues.

Smart working:

With Android app development, you can put flexibility and power of the platform to work anytime and anywhere to create best in class productivity apps. Android offers more options for customization that are based on the specific needs of the business and also the changing trends of the market. It is easy for the developers to tweak the existing apps and add more features and functionalities to make them more contemporary. Android is the best mobile platform between process architecture and applications.

Free options to choose distribution channels:

Google offers the freedom to distribute your apps from any medium that you prefer. There are no hard and fast rules that you have to put your app on Google Play for its distribution. You can either distribute it on your own or use any other ad platforms for distribution. In case you want to create an internal enterprise operation and are not willing to launch the app on the store, then you have complete freedom to do so and Android gives you this opportunity. According to your choice of promotional strategy, you can now easily reach your end users through various channels.

Easy adoption:

Mobile application design trends are evolving and this requires that your app is continuously updated. This can only be done by experienced Android app developers. Android apps are scripted in Java language together with the help of rich libraries. So, anyone having knowledge of Java can work on them. Usually Java programmers find it quite easy to adopt as well as develop script code for mobile apps. In case of any crashes or bugs, any developer having Java programming proficiency can easily resolve the errors effectively from the android app.

Thus to conclude, if you are willing to maximize your customer reach through mobile applications, then targeting the Android platform will help you to transform your business into a profitable venture.

New Small Business Ideas – 5 Methods For Guaranteed Explosive Growth

Today, we are going to discuss a few new business concepts that will grow your business massively. We will uncover why marketing, especially internet marketing, is the marketing method of choice for home based businesses. We will also unearth why off-line marketing alone takes too much effort, time and money. No doubt about it, off line marketing is expensive, E.g. leads, printed brochures, and telemarketing to name a few. All of that, only to have your customers end up down the street at Jo’s or even worst Wally-World.

However, There IS a better way. There is a new business system designed for the small business owner. The new system consist of incorporating an Email Marketing campaign to your advertising arsenal.

Did you know that email-marketing is one of the most cost effective and powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to profiting and promoting your new business? Its easier to start than you think, and will allow you to place the majority of your sales efforts on autopilot.

Success in any business, and especially a home business depends on a reliable marketing system. The old school way of running a business, using high- end advertising mediums, is a broken, incomplete system.

Just remember, everything you do off-line can be done on-line with email marketing. Not only that, but everything you do off-line over and over again can be automated .

Here is why we call email-marketing the most revolutionary small business marketing system of the 21st century: Email-marketing allows a business owner to:

  1. Automatically educate potential customers about upgrades, commission structure and sales promotions
  2. Easily educate potential customers about their order deliveries Build trust and credibility, with improved conversions over time.
  3. Eliminates the sales pitch.
  4. Effortlessly expands your business world wide.
  5. Introduce new products and services to your existing list.

Bonus: Place your business on automatic via… an auto responder. What is an Auto Responder? It’s a service that automatically sends messages out to your email list. It is a software made for busy people, you can pre- schedule written messages to send to your data base years in advance. An auto responder is a critical component for those looking for new small business ideas to help advance their businesses.

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