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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my thought that business can learn a lot from sport. That particular train of thought continues as I sit at Gleneagles waiting for the opening ceremony of The Ryder Cup after following both teams through their final practice round.
Practice. We all know we should do it but rarely do. The Ryder Cup teams have had four days of on and off the course practice ahead of just three days of competition. The first thing that strikes me is that the hours of practice completed outweigh the hours that any one player is likely to spend competing. Secondly, the repetitive nature of the off course practice range sessions means they have confidence and trust in their capability to consistently hit good shots. Thirdly they practice for every eventuality so that any errors can be turned in to positives – bunkers are just not a problem. Finally, they practiced as a team with different playing partners to build a great camaraderie.
When did you last see so much rigour in practicing before a significant customer meeting? My guess is not for a long time. The scramble to get the powerpoint finished, the printing done, the product samples together and so the list goes on. It’s likely that many people have had input to the content but who’s written the script, thought of the customer’s possible objections, decided who’s going to deliver which lines and organised a relevant, meaningful amount of practice? Only practicing the practice will give an idea of what’s needed for example; maybe a £100,000 meeting equates to five hours of practice, maybe more or less but I’m sure a pattern will emerge. Maybe it’s time to re-name one of your meeting rooms “The Practice Room”, something I’ve never seen in corporate life but something you’ll see at every golf course.
Challenge yourself and your teams to be at the peak match fitness by putting in the hours of practice. Remember those famous words from Gary Player “the more you practice, the luckier you get”.
The ongoing success of Aldi in the UK is not just based on the way it has taken on the major multiples in terms of price. Their financial performance is impressive enough, with their latest results showing a 30% increase in like for like sales, but this is complemented by recent research studies, such as being voted the most popular brand in the recent YouGov brand index poll or the MMR research study which highlighted shoppers as having a very positive emotional association with Aldi.
Shoppers in the major multiples are being turned off by being overwhelmed with choice, which often leaves them lost and confused. The Aldi proposition, which may not provide the most inspirational in-store environments, is one of simplicity and honesty. This is something that the major multiples need to understand and react to if they want to protect their market shares. In terms of inspiration, although the store layout may not offer much, the store still manages to provide inspiration and excitement by the ever changing WIGIG (when it’s gone it’s gone) offerings. Judging by the items I see in the trolleys and baskets at the checkouts, the amount of unplanned purchases created from this section of the store must be a significant contribution to both the stores financial success and the positive association shoppers have with the brand.
The message is clear and shoppers are reacting with both their feet and wallets.For more information on shopper marketing and what The Quantic Group can do for you contact Jon Norbury at email@example.com or call +44 (0) 1252 616100.
We live in Ilkley, a couple of empty nesters. Within a short drive we have access to most of the UK’s retailers. We do a lot of online shopping but never for groceries, we lost faith when one retailer substituted private label cola for Coke and another sage for rosemary.
I thought you might be Interested in our reasons for shopping where we do, like most people we shop a range of grocery retailers.
- For quality meat we go to one of two of our local butchers who supply from local farms. For everyday meat we’ll buy from any of the chains, similarly when we shop for fish.
- For general grocery we go to Booths, we love the fact they are a regional chain and they wear their Yorkshire/Lancashire roots on their sleeve.
- For quality ingredients we go to Waitrose. We even think Essentials are high quality.
- Morrisons Local is our emergency shop, we liked the idea of them supplying anything their local large store has but we’ve never used the facility. We’d buy more there if their meal solutions were more inspiring.
- We are regulars at M&S Food, a meal for two for £10 and we’ve never been disappointed.
- Then there’s Aldi, we lived in Germany for four years and shopped with them regularly but never do here. We probably chose Aldi because other German multiples were shockingly bad.
- We do shop at Tesco but only when convenience wins over the other criteria. On the topic of Tesco are we only ones who scan our card every visit but rarely redeem the coupons?
- I should mention JS, but we hardly ever find a reason to drive past the Waitrose, which is close by.
So what does it mean for retailers? Dare to be different and be famous for something.
Discussions with clients throughout the year, as recently as today, have highlighted a clear trend in the lack of great onboarding. Sales people in particular seem to lack the quality of immersion that we know is a significant influencer of building selling success. Great onboarding programmes for sales people are by far an exception. Instead the commercial pressures to deliver the numbers today combined with the belief that a new salesperson must surely know how to sell get in the way, after all they were selling in their previous business weren’t they?
But it’s not just about the new guys, there also seems to be resistance to upboarding the current sales teams. When were your sales team last exposed to selling capability development? My guess is some time ago. Experience shows that they’re more likely to have been exposed to developing their negotiation capability than selling, but the title of Chief Negotiator is more likely to be found in the FBI or CIA than in an FMCG environment!
So, what to do? If you want a stellar selling team it’s key to define onboarding as an ongoing capability journey for the first 100 days and not just a hiring event under the title of “induction” that happens in the first week and then the box is ticked. Similarly upboarding is critical to keeping selling skills sharp and relevant to the increasingly changing buying environment. Bad selling habits are easy to slip into and complacency about thinking we know the customer stops us doing the basics brilliantly, which in selling is understanding the customers’ needs.
To successfully surf the ups and downs of the selling waves you need your sales people to get on the board, stand up and stay up!
For many companies the management of their business with their biggest customers is as important as having strong brands. This is particularly true of FMCG companies and their large retail customers. Increasingly, the key account manager will be director level and be expected to manage the business with a general management mindset. This is a step change for most businesses and demands leadership skills not necessarily acquired through development within traditional customer development roles.
A useful tool in helping to establish this general manager mindset is to use a balanced scorecard when assessing the business with key customers. In our view, a key account balanced scorecard covers four key areas.
- Financial performance: this starts with top line sales and operating income of course. Other useful measures can include cost to serve, capex, ROI on discretionary investment.
- Sales fundamentals: everything that the retailer can do to impact sales and mix, e.g. assortment, share and quality of fixture space, promotion intensity and effectiveness etc.
- Business driving initiatives: the key initiatives that will deliver sales and profit growth over and above what can be achieved through business as usual.
- Team development and resources: ensuring the team, both direct and indirect, have the skills and capacity to meet current and emerging business needs.
Based on the businesses strategy appropriate, KPIs are established in each quadrant and tracked for monthly review. The key review questions are:
- Are the numbers being delivered?
- Are the sales fundamentals in place?
- Are we progressing against the business drivers?
- Is the team capability and capacity in place and developing?
In future blogs we will look at each of the four tracking areas in more detail.
As a keen golfer I’m eagerly anticipating this year’s Ryder Cup and looking forward to spectating at Gleneagles for a couple of days. Listening to Paul McGinley’s captain’s picks today and his rationale I was prompted to think about a number of things. These ranged from standing in school playing fields having to choose or be chosen to be on teams, to what we can learn in business from the principles of soft and hard sports analytics.
McGinley rationalised his choices with a combination of “feel” and “form”. The “feel” related to unquantifiable benefits that the players would bring to the team. For example, Lee Westwood’s experience from nine previous Ryder Cups, the infectious energy of Ian Poulter so evident at Medinah two years ago and the passion for the event shown by Steven Gallacher who gave 110% as he fought for an automatic place at the weekend.
To bring more science to the picks McGinley also looked at “form” over a number of time periods – previous Ryder Cups, the 2014 season and the last few events in the race for places. Behind the scenes golfers analyse every dimension of their game probably more than any other sport. They correlate them to results and compare their own stats vs. those of the players with high rankings. Putting averages, greens in regulation, sand saves, fairways hit, birdies made on Par everythings, driving distances and so the list goes on right down to breakfasts on a winning day!
Rarely do we undertake such forensic dissection in the business world but we probably should. What makes a sales person achieve consistently successful “form”? For example, is there a correlation to the quality and/or quantity of open questions asked (to understand customer needs), the amount of time spent in the customer’s head office or stores, the number of contact points, time spent to prepare for a customer meeting, the speed of response to customer queries?
Golfers analyse their “form” not to prove where their game is strong but to improve their game’s weak areas so they can compete with the best and increase the likelihood of success. It seems to me that we could learn a lot from applying the principles of sports’ analytics to business activities that are repeated. This would help identify the step-up performance areas and form the basis of an improvement training, coaching and practice plan.
The outcome of today’s leadership decision by Paul McGinley will be evident in a few weeks. In the meantime as a functional leader, what’s the “form” like in your team and can you pin point with supporting evidence the step up areas or are you going on “feel” alone?