Success is a proportion of Failure(experience)

experiences, Sales

In April my team had planned an event in which we were to get about 20 odd people, into a conference room, showcase some of our products/services and have dinner and cocktails. Suddenly about an hour before the start of the event we started having rain. Typically when it starts raining in Delhi, the traffic almost comes to a standstill. Soon we realised, where we were expecting 20 odd people only 3 came. The event was a big flop show.

Now we could look at this as a failure of my team and the marketing agency we had engaged, for doing the event, because they were supposed to ensure the attendance of people in the event. We were dejected but that is the way life is – you never know when it will “rain on your parade”.

Similarly one of my sales team members had all his sales numbers structured with one customer primarily. Now unfortunately, last year, this customer did not have a very good year for closing of deals for themselves and hence they were not able to outsource business to us. But this year, after all the losses this person had last year, he seems to be on “boom time”

Life is a long game and you have to play it in such a manner. In most cases, in this long game, you will lose more often that you will win. That’s what makes winning pleasurable. The key is to play enough games. Lose them, learn from them – gain experience and move on to the Next game. If you keep brooding on your failures, you will never be able to succeed. Once you learn from the failure, you will keep eliminating all those points which could cause something to fail. That is what experience is all about. Being prepared to ensure that the same points don’t cause a failure again.

Success in my view is a proportion of the total games played and the number of failures (experiences) had. I do feel bad on losing a deal , but I also immediately get ready to look at the next deal to close. If you are leading a sales team, the biggest worry you need to have is the number of deals that you are fighting for – not the deals you have lost.

If the number is large, then there is absolutely no way that you can’t win in the long term. However if you don’t have enough (enough is a subjective term but you should at least have 4 proposals to crack one deal on average) proposals going out on a regular basis (especially if you are in B2B) then you can rest assured there is no magic that will take place to get you to achieve your numbers.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to learn and get better, the more you learn from your experiences and the more you take coaching the better you can get so that you can raise the amount (revenue realisation by being able to sale either more quantity or higher value items) of business you get for the same number of proposals given.

So go out, meet prospects, give enough proposals, if things don’t work out, learn from them and. then move on to the Next.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Entering new into a technology based B2B business

B2B, Marketing, new launch, single target market

Even if you have an old business but you are entering into a new market or entering with a completely new product/service it makes sense to identify the Single Target Market that you would like to focus. Most of us in business don’t have the luxury of creating a product from ground up based on market research about a need in the market. More often than not, we are given a product or service and as marketing heads, we are supposed to identify the right market, right audience etc.

I typically follow a checklist of about 12 items which primarily focus on the customer side of the issues that we should be looking for when we decide to take a product or service to the market.

Before anything else that we do, I would like to understand, what is the problem that the customer thinks that we are solving……not what we think, we are solving for the customer. So as an example – using automation, I might help the customer reduce his time for making a data entry of items that are coming into his factory by reading the incoming invoices quickly.

However for the customer, it might mean, that there are less trucks waiting in line on the road, because the entry is happening faster due to the use of automatic invoice readers. In the present situation, without the automatic readers, the line of trucks could be blocking the road and because of which the cops might be paying a visit to them often to get the road cleared. Maybe even levying a fine.

So while you may think you are solving the problem of inputing invoices and saving time, the actual problem you are solving is eliminating the hassle for the factory manager to ensure the roads don’t get blocked by the trucks coming into their factory.

Why is knowing “what is the problem” important – for two reasons – first is the perception issue – the customer may actually not think of a putting up automatic readers because they already have experienced people doing the job today and putting up an investment in a new technology may not be a priority, so your proposal gets pushed back.

However talking about the line of trucks, which are causing a traffic jam, could be a different ball game.

Its the same solution from your perspective – automating the incoming invoices with the trucks – but to the customer it may be a different aspect.

So it’s important to quickly test your ideas with customers with actual interactions to identify the right message that may resonate with customers. If you follow my blogs, you will notice, I lay a lot of emphasis on testing of different messages, strategies etc. Its absolutely critical , if you want to succeed, to quickly test what is working and what is not.

Generally if a message resonates with an audience, the response can be very quick. However if a message is not resonating, then you have to keep tweaking before giving up. A lot of times dropping the product is a much better idea then to be stuck with the “sunk cost bias”

This post focussed on one of the key starting points to help you identify the market you need to focus on and identify the issues from the customer’s perspectives.

In future posts, I will cover other points in my check list.

Till next time then.

Capre Diem!!!

P.S: If any of you , is however interested in receiving my 12 point checklist to help you plan your marketing strategy for a new launch, just message me with your email id and I will send it out to you.

Attention – the biggest enemy for marketers

Marketing, messaging

I have written multiple posts on how the mind plays games with us. But the same mind, is also a problem when we are trying to sell/market our product to customers.

We are living in such a hyper connected world and our smart phones, smart watches, smart “xxx” make it more difficult for US to sell, because even before our message can flow through and register with the person, she gets another alert/call/email which makes her move away from our message onto that alert and so on.

A lot of these things, were supposed to be tools to help improve our productivity, but in my opinion, they have only helped make our life more complex. With so many alerts coming from so many directions, our brain is always “ON” waiting for the next alert. Today I find myself looking at my iPhone every 30 minutes or so, in case I don’t get a “ping” of some sort. I get anxious and end-up looking at the phone to just ensure that I did not miss anything.

So why is this a problem for the marketer. It makes our life a lot more harder. Since our message may be seen and may be lost in a jiffy or may just be plain ignored. Customers ignore messages of things they don’t need. Now even if they think they need something that you offer, but before they can comprehend your full message and the phone rings or they get an email from their boss, or someone walks into their cabin or a million other things and your message is lost forever.

With a lot of people still working from home, this is an even bigger challenge because there are even more issues to distract a person, other than the regular office issues.

So not only has your message to be hyper targeted, it also needs to be so simple and short that the person who is seeing it gets it immediately before the person’s attention is diverted into another item.

Depending on the medium that you choose, the simple and quick can be relative. For a medium which reaches out to multiple senses, like a television advertisement, you could pack a lot of punch into one small 10s time frame. On the other hand if it’s a medium like email, which can only be read, then you need to think of how much you can pack before someone can lose attention. If its a medium like Twitter then your challenges are determined by the 140 characters.

But not thinking about the psychology of your users, can impact the response to your messaging. My guess is that the attention spans will actually be the currency that you are soon going to be exchanging, by giving something, to ensure that they give you the attention.

What’s your view? Do you also think this issue is impacting the response rates for your messaging? Do let me know in the comments below.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

The Pain of a Loss is much higher than the Pleasure of a Gain

Fear, messaging, pricing

In March last year I had written a post on “Pain & Gain” . At that point in time I had written it more from an experiential perspective of what I had experienced in the market and how the messaging should revolve. It was more about people giving attention to fear/loss based messaging compared to positive/gain messaging.

I was recently reading a book on pricing – “Confessions of the pricing man” by Hermann Simon. Herman Simon is considered to be the “guru” on how companies should do the pricing of their products/services. Its a fascinating book on the kind of mistakes that people do when they do the pricing and how a small change in pricing – negative or positive – can have a major impact on the volumes that the company has to sell and the profitability the company. He has shown various examples of low cost leaders who make a lot of money (Ikea as an example) and how luxury brands can mess up their brand if they try to go mass market. Its a book worth reading especially if you are involved with doing pricing for your products or services.

Now coming back to the pain & gain story with which I started this post. In the book Hermann show cases the prospect theory work done by M/s Kahneman & Tversky. This is the first time I have come across the utility curve for both positive and negative utility.

In our economics class I did study the concept of marginal utility and how it decreases as the amount of the product or service that you use goes up. So the first time you travel economy class in an aircraft, you will feel “awed” by the sheer experience. If you travel regularly, you will slowly start losing the “awe” feeling and after sometime you will find the experience just “okay”. Then its human nature that people will start ten wanting to move to the next higher level. That’s how people move to the business class and some even to the First Class. This how also premium and luxury product companies keep selling even more expensive things.

Human beings are always craving for the next bigger/more luxurious/more exciting thing. Not all may be able to afford it and move higher up the ladder, but there are enough people who do. That’s why companies who want to grow their profit, keep trying to come out with more and more premium brands.

As per Herman if you use the prospect theory, the “Marginal Harm” gets smaller as the overall size of the loss increases. However the bigger issue as per this theory is that compared to the pleasure we feel from the same quantum of “gain” the amount of pain we feel is much much higher. So in absolute terms if there is a $100 gain then the Pleasure is (1.5), but for the same $100 loss the Pain is (-3). This is the theoretical explanation of what we notice in the market on a regular basis. Until I read this book, I did not have a clue behind the phenomenon.

It gives immense pleasure when you find that what you see/experience in the market, also has a theoretical background. It then proves that the experience you have not seen is not limited to only your environment/geography or industry. It is a phenomenon which is observed globally and people have gone through the process multiple times to check its validity, before it is written out in books and presented in conferences.

While Herman has explained the how pricing can get impacted because of this prospect theory, would think it has a role to play even when you are trying to get the attention of the prospect. They will respond more to the possibility of avoiding the loss than to the possibility of gain that you can show them.

If you have also experienced this phenomenon, pls put it in the comments below. Would love to hear from you.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!