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Strategic Customer Experience – Two Case Studies

Customer experience defines your brand in an online world. In my last post, I suggested your messaging has both an external and an internal effect which can be valuable to many audiences.

Companies only survive and thrive when they meet the needs and solve the pain points of their customers.

The promise-makers in your organization, marketing and sales, and the promise-keepers in your organization, operations, must be in alignment. This is why the messaging you do, on your website and elsewhere, must radiate in all directions.

There was a time when customers knew your brand primarily from the marketing promises which were made. Today, there are too many ways potential customers can do diligence on the actual way you keep the promises you profess.

Yelp reviews, GlassDoor, Google, and a myriad of other sites allow people to review your performance. All of these matter because they represent your customer experience as reported by your customers.

What is customer experience? I see two ways to discuss the topic. There is operational customer experience and strategic customer experience.

Both aspects of customer experience are important. In your role as CEO, delegate the responsibility for operational customer experience improvement to a trusted subordinate so you can devote your time and resources to strategic customer experience improvement.

Strategic customer experience requires change and coordination across many functions in your business; a role for a CEO.

Operational Customer Experience

At one level, I’m sure you  recognize customer experience negatives; waiting in line, being put on hold, being misdirected to the wrong person, mistakes in billing, rude customer service, missing web page links, wrong phone numbers, not being able to talk to a real person, … almost too many ways to mention how bad experiences can occur.

One way to create good customer experience is to work on ways to eliminate bad customer experience.

I don’t wish to take anything away from these efforts to eliminate issues as they are important to your business. On the other hand, I view these as operational issues which should be addressed, but not as strategic customer experience initiatives.

Strategic Customer Experience

In this post, I will relate two cases studies which I believe were successful on a strategic level. I was personally involved in these and remember almost all the details as hundreds of hours were devoted to making these successful.

customer experience diagram - Strategic Customer Experience - Two Case Studies

Two Strategic Customer Experience Case Studies

 

Case Study #1: Competing with Short Lead-times

When I served as the President of the BPI Division for HNI Corporation, we had a business which marketed itself primarily to retail office furniture dealers. The company marketed and manufactured low-cost office furniture systems. Typically, retail dealers served small and medium size businesses in their local communities.

A retail dealer usually had a store with showroom and a few offices. Salespeople worked on the showroom floor and served customers as they came in the door. Some had warehou

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ses in a second location.

In contrast, a “contract dealer” had an outside sales team. Rather than wait for customers to come to the retail location, the contract salesperson would identify projects and pursue the architect, designer, or facility manager who most influenced the purchasing decision.

The value of the customer versus the cost of a sale meant most small businesses weren’t served by a contract salesperson.

Small businesses don’t always plan everything much in advance and might sign a lease for a new space and/or expansion of their business which involved hiring more people. Faced with a deadline for a move and perhaps already having a relationship with a dealer, the small business person would usually go to the nearest retail dealerships, explain their issue and ask what they could do and how soon could it be done.

This was our critical moment. We wanted the retail dealer to suggest our product line. This was the focal point of our strategy.

The first part of our solution was to offer our product line three different ways where the dealer could respond quickly without a long lead-time for the products.

Fast

The first way to buy products from us was to order “normally” where our lead-times from order to shipment were three weeks. Shipping typically took another week so a dealer could promise “four weeks” and be able to perform. About 40% of our business was ordered in this fashion. This was also the way to get the best price from us.

Faster

The second way a dealer could order was to request a “five-day” lead-time from order to shipment. Including delivery, a dealer could be ready to do an installation in two weeks. We charged more for this, at first about 5%. This was also about 40% of our business.

This gave us some operational heartburn. Orders didn’t necessarily flow in a constant manner and there were times where we took Monday off but worked Saturday in the same week.

We decided to raise the price for the five day lead-time to a 7% premium over the normal program to see if we could get business to align more with the three week delivery.

It didn’t work as we intended. There was no detectable shift in the way dealers ordered and no complaints. The extra charges simply went to the bottom line (unlucky, huh). To fully understand, consider that most businesses, ours included, strive to make about 10% profit. With the tweaking of one marketing program we increased our profits by 20%.

Fastest

The third way we established was to have most of our key products available through a wholesale channel of distribution. There were approximately 50 wholesale locations which carried our products in the USA. A dealer could buy from these wholesalers who would typically deliver in 48 hours or less. The downside was the wholesaler charged about 25-30% more than what a dealer would pay if they purchased directly from us.

This was fair. That was the value added by the wholesaler. This channel of distribution worked very well for us. There were many situations where products were needed in that time frame.

Things Which We Had to Do Well

We spent hundreds of hours changing our manufacturing processes to be “just-in-time”. We did factory process development projects to the point where we could manufacture any product in any color in any order with no set-ups and no cost for one-at-a-time production.

We didn’t accomplish this with work-in-process inventory. Instead we eliminated set-ups. Our work-in-process was so low the accountants counted it only once per year.

We also implemented daily factory scheduling. The previous method was to schedule everything once per week.

We Added More to Our Value Proposition.

We created a unique guarantee; “On-Time or On-Us”. What we meant by this was we would pay the freight for the customer if we didn’t ship on time.

We created “BPI University”. Dealers could send their operations people to a hands-on class where they could learn best practices in installation.

We became the first company in our industry in the US to create a library of products for CAD Space Planning, saving a dealer’s time in the specification process.

Creating a strategic customer experience is a complete team effort, not just something done by sales, marketing, and customer service departments.

Results

Our brand became associated with short-lead times. This was our reputation. I remember situations where we knew we were going to miss a shipment date because of a product quality issue. We reacted by air-freighting the shipment so as to not violate our promises.

The organization was well aware of the cost for doing this and it didn’t take long for internal business practices to evolve to the place where we never again had to do air freight.

For the dealers, our product line became their single highest-margin offering. In visits with dealers I would assert that fact, challenge them to dispute what I said. Not once did I get an argument.

Last, but not least … the division ultimately grew revenues five-fold.


Case Study #2: Competing on “Time to Market”

time to market 300x300 - Strategic Customer Experience - Two Case StudiesIn this case, I served as Division President for APW Enclosures, a division of APW Worldwide. My division made technical enclosures for OEMs such as IBM, HP, Cymer Laser, Applied Materials, Data General, Sun Microsystems, Qualcomm, Silicon Graphics, and several others. The technical OEMs made their widget; we made the cabinet which housed it. These were typically the size of a refrigerator or larger, high-value, low-volume, with many configurations.

In addition to the “box”, we installed power supplies, fan trays, cabling and harness, backplanes, and other items which were not the OEM widget. We also had an internal supply chain which could provide injection molded components, electronic assemblies, and machined parts. There was very little need for Tier 2 partners.

We coined a self-serving terminology. We referred to ourselves as a Level 5 Supplier as a way to communicate our value proposition. Level 1 competitors made metal parts, Level 2 competitors made assemblies, Level 3 competitors made cabinetry but just the box, and Level 4 competitors did some component integration.

As a Level 5 Supplier, we could do it all. There was no need for another Tier 1 supplier to serve the OEM.

I was quite pleased one day when an OEM used that terminology in a discussion with us. I knew the origins.

The industry we were in was fragmented. Before the formation of our company, to distribute around the world, OEMs had to find, qualify, and manage multiple suppliers for the same item. The business plan for us was to acquire suppliers in all key areas where the OEMs manufactured and become the first and only single source supplier.

The pain point we identified had to do with “time to market”. In the world of technical products, the first to market usually makes great profits, the second might do ok, but if you were slower to market, you almost never got sufficient traction to be a meaningful competitor.

To address this pain point, we needed to demonstrate that doing business with us was the most assured way of being first to market.

Our solution was to offer three ways we could serve an OEM. Or said another way, they could make choices about the “customer experience” they wished to have.

Shared Resources

For OEMs who did a small amount of business with us, typically less than $5M per year, we placed their business in a “shared resource” work cell. In this approach to serving them, their orders were manufactured using the same equipment and processes as other OEMs.

In this type of manufacturing, the first orders received are the first manufactured. In other words, an OEM’s order was placed in a queue.

Dedicated Facilities

For OEMs who could give us business from $5M to $15M, we would create a work cell dedicated solely to them. Dedicated work cells allowed us to create a “just-in-time” work flow.

When an OEM would place an order, we could ship it immediately. The work cell would be triggered by the shipment to create replacement products. This is also known as a “pull system”.

This was a much better customer experience. OEMs unfailingly made many shipments at the end of the quarter.

In the shared resource approach, the customer’s order triggered the creation of parts and pieces for their final assembly. This might take weeks to accomplish. With dedicated facilities, the pull system was able to continuously replace the final assembly.

Dedicated Facilities and Staff

The third customer experience was reserved for customers who would commit to more than $15M in annual purchases.

For these customers, we not only provided dedicated equipment, we added a dedicated staff. Our people became experts in our customers’ products.

This was clearly the choice most customers wanted to make.

Things We Had to Do Well

We had to be experts at designing and manufacturing cabinetry. The brightest engineers at a technical OEM wanted to be involved in the design, specification, and development of the OEM’s widget(s). Designing cabinets was not the best way to progress in your career at the OEM.

I recall one case where an OEM approached us to get “our drawings”, as chaos in their own engineering departments resulted in the loss of all the specifications. Our information became the restore point for re-creating their intellectual property.

Another way we facilitated the relationship was to have one “seat” of every major supplier of CAD software. We had our native system but did all the translation behind the scenes.

We also had to be good at implementing “revisions”. Technical OEM’s seldom freeze their designs.

To maintain our Level 5 status, we also did “bolt-on” acquisitions to the business for technical or geographic considerations. We acquired a facility in Austin, TX for example. By serving Applied Materials locally we were finally able to earn preferred supplier status.

To serve outdoor telecom customers, we acquired “thick” backplane capabilities. As customers included more sophisticated power supplies and other peripheral electronics, we acquired a company capable to produce the electronics.

We also had to become experts at “costing”. I recall a case where we produced a cabinet which sold for about $1,200. Our customer wanted us to purchase and install a $15,000 power supply. How to price this?

We developed a costing algorithm which took into account the inventory turns on a third-party item. If the third party could give us weekly deliveries, we could see 52 turns and be reasonable with our charges. If the lead-times were longer, our turns would be less and we would increase the amount of the handling charge for the item. It was a win-win approach.

Results

Our biggest facilities were in Southern California. Because of their location, cost structure and business practices, they became the highest profit factories in the corporation.

We also won the biggest contracts in the industry.

In Retrospect

Both of these case studies were the result of a strategic plan led from the top. They were not an accident. They didn’t just happen by themselves. Senior management gave direction to the efforts.align social media - Strategic Customer Experience - Two Case Studies

In both cases, I know there was also strong alignment amongst the senior management team. There was almost no second-guessing about the “big picture”.

In today’s world there would likely be other enhancements to the customer experiences. Collaborative project management tools in the cloud would be part of the program. Orders, receipts, billings, quality reports, and other paperwork would be done with Electronic Data Interchange applications.

If done today, our email marketing and social media content would center on the customer experience which was intended. We would discuss the value of competing on the basis of lead-times, the simplicity of doing business with us, and the practices our customers should do to take the best advantage of our services.

Perhaps the biggest difference in the current business environment would be a shift to some form of a subscription business model. Increasingly, customers are looking for suppliers who adapt to this.

All the products and affiliated services would be packaged into a single monthly fee. If you need an office, Fast-growing WeWork is probably the leading example of the way businesses acquire and use office space in a subscription-based model.

Similarly, people who use technical equipment are buying the services from a subscription supplier like a network operating center.

If you can conceive a way to sell your product or service in a subscription model, you should be actively executing on a plan to move in that direction. If you don’t, it may not be long before a startup in your industry will build their brand around the strategy.

When Do You Know You Have a Completed Plan?

No plan lasts forever. Don’t adopt the mindset you that you can reach a point where you have the ultimate “customer experience”.

There is no such thing as a “completed plan” in the sense you are finished with the design of your process. The better way to think about it is to see it as something which is ever-changing to be better. There will be changes in technology which enable you to do different things and adjustments by your competitors.

Make it clear to your organization you are promoting continuous improvement, not the “flavor of the month”.


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About the Author: Bob Kroon is a coach for high-performing Founders, CEO’s, and Owners. He founded Expeerious, LLC (expeerious.com) in 2015 to exclusively focus on coaching the success of Top Executives. For over 25 years, Bob served variously as CEO, COO, Division President, and Group Vice President.

The majority of his career was in manufacturing durable goods. Bob is an enthusiast and practitioner of Lean Thinking since 1986. He also has broad skills in M&A including financial modeling, deal structure, diligence, and post-close integration.

Bob’s current clients are diverse and include businesses in healthcare, agricultural products, robotics, luxury goods, and education.

To learn more about how Bob coaches and thinks, you can find over 200 questions he’s answered on Quora. Visit his website at: www.expeerious.com for additional blog posts.

Customer Acquisition when Revenue Growth is Stagnant

Blog 7 first graphic blue box - Customer Acquisition when Revenue Growth is Stagnant

Suppose you’ve been in business for a while but your revenues are not increasing. Or worse, your revenues are declining. In my last post, I discussed metrics for measuring the success of your process, assuming you were energized and creative enough to work towards a successful process.

In this post, I want to address a different type of situation; slow growth, stagnation, decline, inconsistency in your revenue streams. How should you examine your process?

Fix the Root Cause

If your business is mature and your revenues are stagnant or declining, what is the root cause if you see customer acquisition as a process?

My favorite way to get to root cause issues comes from Lean Thinking. In Lean Thinking, the approach is to ask the “Five Why’s” Below is an example of the five-why approach.

Bobs Blog 7 graphic two questions 448x280 - Customer Acquisition when Revenue Growth is StagnantShawn above is an example of a Five-Why approach to discover root cause issues. Typically, after the 5th “Why”, you can be very close to identifying a root cause.

Are there typical root causes?

If your revenue growth is stagnant, I would encourage you to question yourself and others in the business until you find your root cause(s).It is better to act than to accept your current state of affairs.

Are there patterns which repeat?

Here are some possibilities; I’ve witnessed all of these:

  1. Your customer acquisition process is valid, but you haven’t made the decision to spend more on customer acquisition. Have you budgeted enough? Is there an issue regarding resources, like hiring salespeople or spending on social media, for example.
  2. A corollary: maybe you aren’t confident your acquisition process is valid. Do you need to be prodded to act? When something is going wrong, it can be stressful. Some people react by doing nothing, unwilling to face the issue.
  3. Your acquisition process was previously valid, but something has changed. Is there a competitor doing something which changes the dynamics with your target customer segment?
  4. Organizational misalignment. If there are people in high places in your organization who are not buying in to the direction of the company, you may be sending mixed messages to your target companies. I can assure you target customers who are considering doing business with you are doing diligence. You do not want them to get the impression your company internally disagrees on strategy and tactics.
  5. Inarticulate Communication. Maybe there are good reasons target customers should do business with you, but the way you say it, the frequency with which you say it, and the emphasis you put on key points does not do justice to benefits of doing business with you.

A case study

I recently had the opportunity to review three years’ financials for a business which was being marketed for sale.

On the surface, the profitability of the business was steady. However, if you studied the details of the financial statements, you could see that the profits three years ago were generated by a business which was growing about 25% over the previous year. The payroll was larger and there were adequate and reasonable amounts spent on marketing.

In the following year, payroll was cut and marketing expenses reduced. The company made the same profits but there was no growth.

In the third year, payroll was further cut, and marketing essentially reduced to zero. Profits were still the same, but in my opinion, the business now looked more like a turnaround situation, even though the profits were still the same. I could not value the business in the third year as I would have in the first year.


pic 292x280 - Customer Acquisition when Revenue Growth is StagnantAbout the Author: Bob Kroon is a coach for high-performing Founders, CEO’s, and Owners. He founded Expeerious, LLC (expeerious.com) in 2015 to exclusively focus on coaching the success of Top Executives. For over 25 years, Bob served variously as CEO, COO, Division President, and Group Vice President.

The majority of his career was in manufacturing durable goods. Bob is an enthusiast and practitioner of Lean Thinking since 1986. He also has broad skills in M&A including financial modeling, deal structure, diligence, and post-close integration.

Bob’s current clients are diverse and include businesses in healthcare, agricultural products, robotics, luxury goods, and education.

To learn more about how Bob coaches and thinks, you can find over 200 questions he’s answered on Quora. Visit his website at: www.expeerious.com for additional blog posts.

Sales Tip: Know the Purchasing Decision Process of Your Potential Client

In my last post, I discussed possible ways for you to build trust with customers and encouraged you to be patient with the trust-building process.

You can control your behaviors, but your customer is responsible for their behaviors. Not you. Their behaviors may have as much to do with closing a sale as yours.

What is the Current Purchasing Decision Process?

If the cost for your product is relatively low, your target customer may be able to approve the purchase on their own authority. If the sale involves a high value purchase, the customer may need approvals from their superiors in the organization.

If you are selling a product or service, particularly to an enterprise company, this may be even more complex. In addition to approvals from higher levels of management, you may need approvals from multiple stakeholders from multiple departments who have different, sometimes conflicting pain points and buying determinants.

When the selling process is complex, you need a value proposition for every stakeholder. The other choice is to rely on one or a few stakeholders to champion the purchase despite any misgivings by other stakeholders. I believe this is a way to reduce your success rate.

In all likelihood, your selling process from customer to customer will not vary that much. Most organizations have similar authority levels and you will see a pattern to the way purchasing decisions are made.

This should also influence your marketing and trust-building processes. If you know beforehand the typical stakeholders in your sales process, your marketing processes and social media content should span everyone in the process.

Another Way to Rethink Complex Selling Processes

Many startups are finding success by creating business models based on recurring revenues rather than large transactions.

You’ve likely witnessed the practice. Almost all new software applications charge by the month with the software hosted on a server in the cloud. WeWork is selling office space and services by the month. Almost all manufacturing equipment companies now offer leasing options. Leasing is the fastest growing way to finance a car.

You can reduce the complexity of your selling process if you can reduce the authority level needed to make a purchasing decision.

This also influences who you consider to be a “lead”. If you are a B2B business and have a high transaction cost, you may need to target Vice Presidents or CxO’s. If the cost can be lower, maybe Managers and Directors can be decision makers. If you are a B2C business, the income levels you target can be lower.

In both cases, the universe of potential leads is expanded.

This can also be a higher margin way for you to market your products. Since the out-of-pocket costs are lower, you likely can ultimately create more revenue for yourself than you realized from a one-time transaction. Price resistance is lower for lower cost products and services.


pic 292x280 - Sales Tip: Know the Purchasing Decision Process of Your Potential Client

 

About the Author: Bob Kroon is a coach for high-performing Founders, CEO’s, and Owners. He founded Expeerious, LLC (expeerious.com) in 2015 to exclusively focus on coaching the success of Top Executives. For over 25 years, Bob served variously as CEO, COO, Division President, and Group Vice President.

 

The majority of his career was in manufacturing durable goods. Bob is an enthusiast and practitioner of Lean Thinking since 1986. He also has broad skills in M&A including financial modeling, deal structure, diligence, and post-close integration.

Bob’s current clients are diverse and include businesses in healthcare, agricultural products, robotics, luxury goods, and education.

To learn more about how Bob coaches and thinks, you can find over 200 questions he’s answered on Quora. Visit his website at: www.expeerious.com for additional blog posts.

A Lead That is Just Not Interested – Yet

You’ve identified a lead which appears to be a strong fit for what you do, but when you reach out to them they just don’t seem interested. In my last post, when I was explaining my take on example leads, I noted a lead which was a strong strategic fit and potentially a high value customer, but demonstrated a low amount of interest. I suggested you work to build interest.

If yours is a new or small company, you may have most of your leads fall into this category. The market segment you wish to serve may not know you or your company.

What do you do next?

To understand to fix, understand the problem. Likely you are dealing with people who at first see you as a stranger. We are all different but some people may be slower than others to trust you, your product or service, and your company. It may take you time to build familiarity, knowledge, and finally enough trust to make a purchase.

Stranger to Customer Chart - A Lead That is Just Not Interested - Yet

Figure 1: TIME is the element most necessary to build trust with leads.

It would be a mistake if you immediately give up your pursuit of leads which seem uninterested but a strong fit. View them as not interested … yet.

Here are some ways to build familiarity, interest, and trust in what you do:

  1. First of all, establish your own mindset. Your job is to build trust, not to see yourself as a victim of a “lack of trust”. If your trust-building efforts seem to be insufficient, it is your job to pivot on your tactics. Keep in mind you are managing a process.
  2. Be sure you’re personal online profiles align with what you do. Assume that your lead is going to assess your company and assess you.
  3. Solicit endorsements from other customers and put them on your website and personal profiles. These days, the first part of anyone’s diligence involves online searches. Control what they find.
  4. Be persistent with your digital media efforts such as blogs, postings, newsletters, and all social media campaigns. Many business people foolishly abandon their online marketing efforts before they give them a chance to succeed. BNI, an organization devoted to personal referrals coaches their members that it typically takes 9-12 months for others to give you referrals. I believe this is about the same amount of time you should see necessary for online content to be valuable to you.
  5. Promote content which adds value. Helpful hints about your business for example. Establish your industry knowledge.
  6. If you are pursuing high-value customers, consider doing events such as a “Lunch and Learn”. These serve two purposes as they enable customers to see you as a person as well as an opportunity to demonstrate your industry knowledge.

Enjoying this content? Click here to read the previous article in this series. 


pic 292x280 - A Lead That is Just Not Interested - Yet

 

About the Author: Bob Kroon is a coach for high-performing Founders, CEO’s, and Owners. He founded Expeerious, LLC (expeerious.com) in 2015 to exclusively focus on coaching the success of Top Executives. For over 25 years, Bob served variously as CEO, COO, Division President, and Group Vice President.

The majority of his career was in manufacturing durable goods. Bob is an enthusiast and practitioner of Lean Thinking since 1986. He also has broad skills in M&A including financial modeling, deal structure, diligence, and post-close integration.

Bob’s current clients are diverse and include businesses in healthcare, agricultural products, robotics, luxury goods, and education.

To learn more about how Bob coaches and thinks, you can find over 200 questions he’s answered on Quora. Visit his website at: www.expeerious.com for additional blog posts.

LEADS, LEADS, LEADS – TOO MANY LEADS

What do you do when you have too many leads? While this is a nice problem to have, it is still a problem. You may have limited resources for follow up and you wish to deploy them effectively.

In my last post, I discussed the importance of “keeping score”, measuring the effectiveness of your lead-generation activities. In this post, I’d like to expand my thoughts about the administration of your sales efforts.

Not all leads are equal.

Some may come from customers who are too small, others who are too distant. And some which are obviously not a fit for what you do. When you created your social media campaigns, you may have targeted some customers on the fringe of your desired profile.

There may also be differences in the need or enthusiasm a customer shows for what you do. If your product or service is relieving a pain point for a customer, the emotional aspect can sometimes become the most important determinant in the buying decision.

What is needed is a preliminary way to sort and filter your leads so you focus on the important ones.

In the table below, I illustrate 10 leads for a sample business. I presume some industry knowledge for myself and feel comfortable about assessing leads.

For each lead, I’ve made an assessment of the “Buying Power”, which is my way of estimating the long-term value of the potential customer. I also added a 1-10 rating on my instincts about the “Strategic Fit” for the lead. In the last column, I added a 1-10 rating for “Level of Interest” shown by the potential customer.CUSTOMER - LEADS, LEADS, LEADS - TOO MANY LEADSUnless you are specially skilled and patient about reading rows and columns of numbers, this tabulation doesn’t tell you much.

However, in the next step, I put the same information into a bubble chart which is shown below.

FIT - LEADS, LEADS, LEADS - TOO MANY LEADS

The upper right-hand quadrant contains the leads where both strategic fit and level of interest are above average.

The size of the bubble represents the buying power of the potential customer. In my example case, there are two leads which appear to be sizable and one which is relatively small.

Note in the lower right-hand quadrant there is a sizable lead where strategic fit is high but interest low.

If I was managing the leads for this company, my first efforts would be with the two sizable leads in the upper right-hand quadrant. I would also see what I could do to increase the interest level of the sizable lead in the lower right-hand quadrant.

The cost to acquire a customer might be a consideration with the others. If the cost is high, I probably would look for more leads as my next step. If the cost to acquire a customer is low relative to their value, I might consider pursuing the small opportunity in the upper right-hand quadrant.

Obviously, the leads in the lower left-hand quadrant are ones to be ignored or archived if there are limited resources.

The leads in the upper left-hand quadrant have a risk. These are interested customers where the strategic fit is poor. While you might be able to make the sale to these, they could turn out to be unhappy customers in the future. If you don’t think your product or service is a fit now, it is unlikely to be a fit later.

For the record, I did not use a special application to create these tables and bubble charts. What I show in this post was generated using Microsoft Excel.

Enjoying this content? Click here to read the previous article in this series. 


pic - LEADS, LEADS, LEADS - TOO MANY LEADSAbout the Author: Bob Kroon is a coach for high-performing Founders, CEO’s, and Owners. He founded Expeerious, LLC (expeerious.com) in 2015 to exclusively focus on coaching the success of Top Executives. For over 25 years, Bob served variously as CEO, COO, Division President, and Group Vice President.

The majority of his career was in manufacturing durable goods. Bob is an enthusiast and practitioner of Lean Thinking since 1986. He also has broad skills in M&A including financial modeling, deal structure, diligence, and post-close integration.

Bob’s current clients are diverse and include businesses in healthcare, agricultural products, robotics, luxury goods, and education.

To learn more about how Bob coaches and thinks, you can find over 200 questions he’s answered on Quora. Visit his website at: www.expeerious.com for additional blog posts.

You Aren’t Playing the Business Game if You Aren’t Keeping Score

You have a new website. Your social media efforts have expanded. Your personal profile is updated. You’ve done everything you need to do to increase leads to your business.

Or have you?

Do you measure your lead generation success? Is there a process in your business to record and track leads? Is your process managed?

In my last post, I emphasized the importance seeing your sales and marketing efforts as a process and not a person.

If you agree with my viewpoint, then it follows you need to carefully monitor your process. Simply executing is not enough. You want to be sure your process is actually working the way you intended.

A - You Aren't Playing the Business Game if You Aren't Keeping ScoreHere are some suggestions for managing the lead-generation part of your sales and marketing process:

  1. Know Your Goal. Are you trying to grow faster than your industry? Reach parity with your industry? Maybe you want to double or triple your business. Executives should establish a goal, even if it seems arbitrary and high. Simply said, if you want to double your business, you need to double your leads.
    You can’t get what you don’t ask for.
  2. Count Them. I see many businesses in my work and with most, I don’t see a system for counting and recording leads. If you don’t count them, you can’t know whether you’re getting more or less than last year or last month. Leads can serve as a leading indicator in your business. Knowing the trends might be useful for sales forecasts, budgets, resource planning, hiring, and cash flow planning.
    Maybe most importantly, this is the metric which is the best measure of the success of your marketing efforts. Do you let the momentum of what you’re doing keep you on the same path or do you decide to pivot on your approach?
  3. Filter Them. Be sure that leads are, well, “leads”. Many practitioners declare victory in their efforts by merely counting bodies. Getting more LinkedIn connections, Facebook-likes, or website page-views do not necessarily equate to getting more leads. The quality of the lead is important. If they are not decision-makers for what you do, or from a geography you don’t serve, or any reason they don’t fit your search profile, then they are not “leads”.
    Consider a system for sorting and ranking your leads.

Lead generation should not be viewed as the entirety of your sales and marketing efforts. There are other steps which should follow. However, lead generation is the beginning of your process and success further downstream is not likely if you don’t begin with success in increasing leads.

Enjoying this content? Click here to read the previous article in this series.


pic - You Aren't Playing the Business Game if You Aren't Keeping ScoreAbout the Author: Bob Kroon is a coach for high-performing Founders, CEO’s, and Owners. He founded Expeerious, LLC (expeerious.com) in 2015 to exclusively focus on coaching the success of Top Executives. For over 25 years, Bob served variously as CEO, COO, Division President, and Group Vice President.

The majority of his career was in manufacturing durable goods. Bob is an enthusiast and practitioner of Lean Thinking since 1986. He also has broad skills in M&A including financial modeling, deal structure, diligence, and post-close integration.

Bob’s current clients are diverse and include businesses in healthcare, agricultural products, robotics, luxury goods, and education.

To learn more about how Bob coaches and thinks, you can find over 200 questions he’s answered on Quora. Visit his website at: www.expeerious.com for additional blog posts.

 

Are Your Sales and Marketing Efforts a Person or a Process?

Many CEO’s, Founders, and Owners seem to lean towards the former rather than the latter. I think this a mistake, especially in today’s world of social media marketing.

Hiring a person as the way to grow your sales has its risks. Here are a few:

  1. It may take them several weeks or months to fully understand the value proposition for your business and the intended target audience.
  2. You might disagree with each other, particularly if you hire someone from your industry.
  3. You hire them expecting them to “know what to do” because “you don’t know what to do”. You shouldn’t take this as a criticism. We can’t know everything about everything.
  4. You end up with turnover and churn in the position. I’m reminded of an old baseball story. Leo Durocher, frustrated in spring training infield practice, asked for the glove of a young second baseman to demonstrate a technique. Leo promptly let the ball go through his legs. “See,” he said, “you’ve got this position so screwed up nobody can play it”.

When I coach business leaders about sales and marketing, I encourage them to see it at first as a process rather than as a person.

B - Are Your Sales and Marketing Efforts a Person or a Process?When you look at it as a process and start to map the steps, you end up with a very different outcome. To map the process, you need to identify, and therefore communicate, the target customer segment(s) you wish to serve. Next, the best practice is to align your website and your personal online profiles so they all say the same thing. Consistency is important.

Once this preliminary work is done, you can design the way you intend to get leads. You might use social media campaigns, online advertising, blog posts, or email campaigns. You might encourage referrals or do cold calling.

Whatever you do, at first consider it to be an assumption and prove to yourself it will work. If not, pivot on your plans and go a different direction until you are satisfied with the results you are getting.

Once you have established the process for getting leads, what is your process for following up? Do you make sales calls? Generate quotes? Do presentations? Do you track metrics for these activities?

After you have established a complete process for developing leads and closing sales, then you can plug people into the process and give them direction. And have a much better plan for growth.


pic - Are Your Sales and Marketing Efforts a Person or a Process?About the Author: Bob Kroon is a coach for high-performing Founders, CEO’s, and Owners. He founded Expeerious, LLC (expeerious.com) in 2015 to exclusively focus on coaching the success of Top Executives. For over 25 years, Bob served variously as CEO, COO, Division President, and Group Vice President. The majority of his career was in manufacturing durable goods. Bob is an enthusiast and practitioner of Lean Thinking since 1986.

He also has broad skills in M&A including financial modeling, deal structure, diligence, and post-close integration.

Bob’s current clients are diverse and include businesses in healthcare, agricultural products, robotics, luxury goods, and education.

To learn more about how Bob coaches and thinks, you can find over 200 questions he’s answered on Quora (quora.com). Visit his website at: www.expeerious.com for additional blog posts.

WordPress Website Makeover Customer Highlight: briananddan.com

Wordflirt Client

Brian Bernasconi and Dan Rubnitz

We’re really proud of one of our recent web design makeover projects, briananddan.com.

Since Brian and Dan had teamed up to help people buy and sell real estate in the San Jose and Silicon Valley areas, they needed a website that reflected their combined experience and to let people know who they are. Plus, Brian had a nice design he liked; unfortunately, it was on a platform different from WordPress, limiting their flexibility.

Like most successful businesses, they wanted a great website but not the hassle of designing and maintaining it themselves. They hired the Wordflirt team, and they loved the final product!

A few highlights of improvements we made are:

  • ported the design over to a WordPress site
  • added Dan to it
  • improved the look and feel to “pop” more
  • implemented a blinking scroll button to encourage visitors to explore the site
  • improved the performance

Don’t let your website get outdated – keep it modern and accurate so that potential customers turn into NEW customers!

WordPress Website Makeover Customer Highlight: carwashaces.com

Wordflirt Client

ACES – American Carwash Equipment Solutions

We like to highlight special web design projects so that you can see how we can makeover sites like our recent project. A couple of weeks ago, we relaunched the WordPress website for ACES: American Carwash Equipment Solutions. ACES utilizes their 7+ decades of experience to help their clients make money from their carwashes, from equipment to chemicals to having the largest exclusive territory with Sonny’s.

ACES had done their website themselves, and it served their purposes for awhile. Like many growing businesses, your initial website is a starting point. As you grow and your business matures, you too need to keep your website up-to-date. In ACES’ case, they were ready for a more professional, modern look. We set out to make the site crisp, clean and easy to navigate, without a lot of fluff.

Before Changes

After Changes

A few highlights of improvements we made are:

  • More modern look and feel
  • Faster site loading time
  • More prominent calls to action for conversion
  • Animations to make the pages pop

In addition to improving the design, we also helped them enhance their marketing engine with the following services:

  • Content writing
  • Email opt-in design and setup
  • On-page SEO tactics to help them rank higher on Google for their industry keywords

We will be making some additional changes as time goes!

Don’t let your website get outdated – keep it modern and accurate so that potential customers turn into NEW customers!