Death of a salesman: So you think you know what the next 5 years holds for your business!?


 
 

Take a look at the following clip to begin to grasp the nature, scale and pace of change that has taken place in a very short space of time and, inspite of economic conditions, IS GATHERING MOMENTUM RIGHT NOW.

You need to know and visualise how this can impact your business before you can even attempt to create a strategy.

Don’t think that your competitors aren’t already considering the most effective means to secure competitive advantage…even in tough economic times it isn’t always about being cheaper.

Of course you want to capitalise upon this but it is never that simple is it?   

 
    

Have you ever really considered the potential impact of web 2.0 (social media) upon your industry? If not I strongly suggest that you think about it now because “the future” has already had a major impact on some established industries…

Music: File sharing and loss of royalties have been instrumental in some high profile industry figures publicly debating alternative models

Journalism: Well you are reading this blog aren’t you!? I am no journalist and am small beer in blogging terms. Analysts believe that up to 600 papers may close over the next five years.

Television & Advertising: Online advertising spending in the UK has overtaken television expenditure for the first time, a report has said.

Marketing is changing too. Customer attitudes and buying patterns are changing.

For anyone who has become fixated with their own business model this should serve as a reminder that The Customer IS King

Customers have all the tools they need at their disposal to determine WHAT AND FROM WHOM THEY WILL BUY. OK so that doesn’t mean that outbound selling will disappear or that salesmen the world over will be redundant BUT it does mean that to derive the benefits of this huge market companies need to put their customers (not the business model) at the very heart of everything they do.

You need to engage with customers (and employees) to offer genuine value and service. If not, they can/will use the very tools that facilitate the opportunities to ensure that other customers, prospects and prospective employees know what they can expect from you. 

The message: Get your house in order!!!

Part 1: Succeed by listening to what customers want BEFORE they walk!


Develop a Social Strategy Now

As companies accelerate their social support efforts, responding to customers in public reinforces the behaviour of complaining to everyone they know

 

Three Opportunities For Companies To Evolve Customer Support
This isn’t just about rise of social tools, in fact, customers have had bad experiences before. The difference? Their voices were just limited to those they could tell in physical proximity. Rather than think of this as a threat, companies should see this as three distinct opportunities:

  1. Fix the root issues, beyond the customer vocalisations. Looking deeper, this isn’t about social technologies, it’s really an indicator that the support systems within these companies are deficient. In many cases, customers try the standard support effort, hit a wall, then seek other avenues for self-venting, help, or just sheer observations of their frustrations.
  2. Transform your support processes and go where customers are.Companies should continue to support customers on the mediums that they’re using (like social sites and soon mobile), as they are unlikely to change their existing behavior of being social and telling friends about their life and work experiences. Expect companies to grapple with outsourced crowdsupport in GetSatisfaction, UserVoice, Facebook Groups, Yahoo Answers, and community bulletin boards.
  3. Evolve your support systems to connect with the modern marketplace. Expect a rash of social CRM features, companies and solutions to appear that connect existing call systems, knowledge boards, and customer databases with the public web –closing the gap that was once the firewall.

In the end, there will be hundreds of companies that won’t care what customers think, or have their margins squeezed to tightly they can’t afford to innovate and may suffer the fate of any organism that doesn’t evolve in a changing environment. This is an easy fix: their competitors will listen in, and poach their unsatisfied customers.

Part 2: Succeed by listening to what customers want BEFORE they walk!


This study is more evidence that businesses are beginning to understand that the consumer concept of “value” is expanding to reflect an awareness of both environmental and even broader CSR goals. The data on both consumer expectations and competitive advantage is clear: consumers are seeking out companies that act responsibly. Successful businesses are capitalizing on this trend by re-working their traditional business models to include CSR goals. Consequently, these businesses are positioning themselves to succeed, even in these tough economic times.

The full report is available here.

Here are a few of the key findings:

  • 54% of senior executives polled believe corporate citizenship is even more important in a recession.
  • According to survey respondents, the most important areas of corporate citizenship are: operating with ethical business practices (91%), treating employees well (81%), and managing and reporting company finances accurately (76%).
  • Most of those polled said business should be more involved than it is today in addressing major public policy issues, such as health care, product safety, public education, and climate change.
  • 70% identified reputation as the number one driver of corporate citizenship.
  • More than half (52%) of companies in the poll are designing and offering sustainable products or services.
  • 72% are reducing costs through improved materials efficiency.

Companies Continue to Value Corporate Citizenship, Despite Recession

Post-crash, investing in a better world


I can understand someone saying "who the hell is David Wilson and what does he really know about all of this stuff that’s got him so steamed up!?"
 
But IF you don’t recognise some of the other names (McKinsey; Werbach; Saatchi & Saatchi) that have also identified, written and spoken about issues of SUSTAINABILITY & TRANSPARENCY here is another name to conjure with – Geoff Mulgan.
 
Who? Fair question and that is why I suggest you take a look at his profile before watching his presentation or writing him off as another tree-hugger who has never done an honest days work, blah, blah. 
 
 

Told you employment law was complicated…


Strip away all the politicing that comes with such stories and you are left with confirmation of how easy it is to be caught out. I dare say that the Attorney General is probably better placed than most UK SME’s to deal with a £5,000 fine so we shouldn’t shed any tears on her behlaf: Pressure on law chief after fine
 
Avoid DIY solutions
This should act as a warning to employers that HR can be a minefield and that related issues are best left to the professionals. Two of the best in Scotland: