“10 Powerful Ways to Inject Discipline” Into the “Revenue-Generation Process”| by: Dave Stannard| Chief-Executive


Many CEOs of middle market companies view sales and marketing functions as autonomous. When problems or inefficiencies arise in operations, finance, manufacturing or other areas of a company, CEOs zero in on well-established metrics and processes to pinpoint trouble spots and address them. However, that same kind of rigor and discipline is often absent in sales and marketing…!!

As a result, the CEO may be unsure of the underlying causes of disappointing revenue performance and often miss the real source of the problem. Is it the market, pricing, sales team, go-to-market strategy, or something else??

To improve performance, where should CEOs get involved ??… By analyzing multiple clients across several industries, we identified 10 common trouble spots that yield the greatest revenue improvement potential. By beginning with the three or four that resonate most strongly for their company, CEOs will see revenue expansion and establish a systematic approach for driving continued growth..

1. Segment the market and target High-priority customers – All customers are not created equal. Therefore, the time a company spends parsing new customers should not be evenly allocated among its prospects. Nor should it be left to individual reps to determine how to spend their time. They tend to gravitate to accounts that are most comfortable, the loyalists, and not necessarily those that will bring the most growth, such as customers where the company has a lower share of wallet. Nudge them to step out of their comfort zone..

2. Develop meaningful Account plans – Requiring clear action plans for each customer account with tasks, owners, and timing allows for a shared vision of what needs to happen. The account becomes a company asset, not just an individual salesperson’s asset. Many sales reps view account planning as unnecessary additional paperwork—a “homework assignment” more about checking boxes than creating something of value. But a good account plan is indispensable in proactively determining how to grow a customer..

Sales organizations lacking detailed and effective customer account plans will struggle to focus on the right actions to grow their business. They simply wind up reacting to requests. Good account plans allow for tracking of progress and building organizational learning on what works and doesn’t. Plans facilitate coaching conversations, giving sales managers a tool to measure progress and coach strategy. In short, meaningful account plans drive revenue growth..

3. Monitor progress via a simple set of metrics – There are two important elements in monitoring: metrics and simplicity. CEOs aiming to inject discipline into the revenue-generation process must establish and track a defined set of metrics that aligns with their growth initiatives. Metrics provide a fact base about a company’s revenue performance, reveal growth opportunities, help CEOs gauge progress and guide sound decision-making. They are fundamental and must measure activity as well as outcome. Without the right metrics, companies can only base decisions on assumptions, anecdotes and outdated information, perpetuating poor revenue performance..

Good metrics-tracking plans encompass only those data points most relevant to growth. To be effective, track only those metrics that relate directly to your growth aspirations and levers. Don’t track metrics simply because others track them or because it’s the way things have always been done..

4. Provide effective Coaching & Sales supervision – Putting effective sales management at the helm of sales teams has far greater impact on performance than upgrading the talent of individual reps. Great sales managers lift the performance of the entire team while a mediocre manager degrades team performance and often prompts top performers to leave..

“Great sales managers know the importance of good coaching and do it consistently”…In its 2014 Sales Management Optimization Study, CSO Insights found that of companies with a formal coaching process, 62.3% of reps meet or exceed quota and the organization hits 91.2% of revenue plan attainment—sharply higher than companies with informal coaching. Yet only 21% of companies have a formal coaching process identifying appropriate coaching activities (group meetings, individual meetings, ride-alongs, celebrating successes, etc.), appropriate activity cadence, and tracking across managers. About eight in 10 firms are missing out on a potent opportunity to drive revenue growth..

5. Document the “company way” of selling – Over time, every company builds knowledge about the most effective method of selling. A key to revenue growth is spreading this knowledge throughout the company so it becomes truly institutional, not just resident in the heads of a few senior people. The best way to codify and document the company way of selling is to create a manual of best practices that provides step-by-step instructions for accomplishing the key responsibilities of different sales roles..

6. Analyze pipeline data for a better understanding of flow rate and revenue forecasts – Tracking the pipeline of growth opportunities for both new and existing accounts is critical for the CEO and his team. It provides a leading indicator of sales performance, enables resource/ production planning and reveals the drivers of customer win rates. But many organizations lack a real-time window into the sales pipeline and a method of analyzing pipeline data that isn’t cumbersome and time-consuming. As a result, many mid-market companies are overly optimistic in estimating probabilities and forecasts.

7. Maximize selling time – How does a CEO know whether his company’s sales force is spending enough time on customer-facing activities? In almost every organization, sales teams complain of being overburdened with administrative activities, not having enough time to spend with customers. Most companies don’t have a factual basis for addressing this issue. By requiring a short study to identify how much time the sales force spends on different activities, the CEO can help the company better understand how sales people spend their days and discover opportunities to increase selling time..

8. Track sales activity with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system – CEOs and sales leaders of companies without CRM systems suffer from a lack of visibility into customers and sales activities needed to systematically drive growth. Many middle-market companies may see these systems as too costly and complex to use and may not understand the value they provide. For instance, CRM systems enables increased sales productivity through contact management, tasks, calendars, etc.; better customer profile information; greater visibility into buying behavior; and, a more complete understanding of market penetration. For marketing, an automated CRM system provides a more complete contact database for marketing activities as well as a source for measuring the relative value of content, channels, cost per lead, etc. And for sales managers, the systems provide visibility into sales time allocation and more accurate measurement of activity and performance in sales and marketing..

9. Optimize pricing effectiveness – Pricing is one of the most effective profit-generating levers available to the CEO. On average, a 1% increase in price yields a double-digit increase in operating profit. However, effective pricing isn’t about simply raising prices—it is a complex area that encompasses many elements including base pricing, discounts, recouping cost-to-serve elements, charging for ancillary services and more. For most middle-market companies, the initial goals for pricing effectiveness should be to reign in unwarranted discounts and to get paid for customer practices that increase the cost-to-serve. Such costs include inventory carrying costs, rush orders, freight costs, customer delivery rules, technical support services and other special efforts..

10. Align incentives with specific growth aspirations – As CEOs evolve their growth and go-to-market strategies, they need to ensure the compensation plans for the sales force remain aligned with those changes. If not reviewed and aligned, companies risk failing to incent new growth behaviors, or worse—incenting the wrong behaviors. This puts their revenue goals at risk…!!

The most effective incentive plans disproportionately reward the top performers; pay explicitly for growth year on year; balance the amount of base pay vs. variable pay based on the control, responsibilities and risk inherent in different roles; are simple enough for employees to directly connect their actions to their pay; and are made up of both financial and non-financial components. Like pricing, compensation is a complex area…However, by ensuring these basic elements are followed, mid-market organizations will drive the sales behaviors necessary for increasing revenues..

“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala betting Highly on Retail”: “BCG expects sector to grow” to $200 bn in 5-7 years | Business-standard

India’s Billionaire-investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s, optimistic outlook on India’s Consumption-sector sent Retail Sector stocks soaring on Tuesday(25th June, 2014)…

Addressing Chief Executives from Retail and Consumer companies at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Retail & FMCG summit on Tuesday, Jhunjhunwala said retail stocks hadn’t done well over the past-decade but he expected this year to be different, as Higher Income-Levels (Discretionary spending power would increase) would ensure better growth for these companies…

Looking ahead, he said he remained optimistic of the government’s effort to put the economy back on track….Once there is a semblance of growth, Funds should be pouring money into the Retail sector, he said…!!

Jhunjhunwala said companies in the Sector (domestic discretionary consumption)were perfectly positioned to ride a wave of growth in the Indian consumer-industry…..” The opportunity (in retail) is going to be there for a good period of time. The competitive incentive is going to go up,” he said at the opening session of the summit…

Jhunjhunwala also believes implementation of the long-debated Goods and Services Tax (GST) will provide a much needed boost to the consumer goods sector, currently witnessing a slowdown, given the slacking pace of the economy….“GST is one advantage that will come to the (consumer) business in two years….I think, in general, it is going to make India more tax-compliant,” he said….!!

Successful Retailing models, from the Food & Grocery sectors to Footwear and Lifestyle products, have done exceedingly well on the stock markets and given very high returns to investors, he said..

On the future of retailing in India, Jhunjhunwala said he was in awe of the D-Mart (chain of hypermarket and supermarkets in India, started by R K Damani). business model, where the company owned a majority of the outlets and had pledged to sell all products five per cent below the maximum retail price. “D-Mart today has 75 shops, the turnover is about Rs 4,000 crore and is growing at about 25 per cent a year. He has set up a model. I think if you want to learn, you must study D-Mart,” he added.

The Boston Consulting Group’s report on retailing, issued at the summit, expects the sector in India to grow from the present $40 billion to $200 bn in the next Five to Seven years, as India’s consumption story remains robust….Retail models, especially in the food and lifestyle segments, have done exceedingly well and given high returns to investors…

The report has covered 45 Retail and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies. ..2014 will be a good year for retailing in India, as income levels have increased for much of the population…. Availability of a wide range of brands, from luxury goods to basic private label products, gave consumers more options to choose from and also boosted awareness of particular brands and products…

The FMCG sector has been annually growing at a consistent 11 per cent. This has been largely driven by steady growth in demand from consumers, who now have an array of brands to choose from. In the past five years, the growth had accelerated to 17 per cent. Though this had slowed in the past few quarters, India’s long-term consumer story remains intact. “FMCG is typically the last sector to slow down,” said ITC’s executive director for FMCG businesses, Kurush Grant. Over the past year, FMCG has also come under pressure and, hence, what is needed by the industry is to think about reviving itself, Grant said, adding recovery here will be faster than other sectors. Growing demand and rising incomes will continue to drive demand for lifestyle and FMCG products…

The BCG report highlights the need for and approach to how an integrated top-down effort to drive successful transformation can be undertaken in the FMCG and retail sectors..

There is a need to understand the consumer better and the last-mile connectivity distribution infrastructure and capabilities are critical to achieving success for FMCG businesses, it said…

“TWO-Pathways to Success”: takes both “Hindsight & Foresight to operate a Good, Profitable Club-chain / Business” | Club Solutions

” It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day issues of  operating a club-chain / business”… Many Club-Owners and Managers that I speak with tell me the ” majority of their time” is “spent dealing with daily club / business issues and putting out fires “…

For example : the “Sauna” keeps breaking down, the “Paper-Towel Dispenser” is out of paper-towels, the club’s “staff opener” quit without notice, the “air-conditioning” is not working, members are “stealing” other members’ “spots” in their Group X class — the list goes on….!!

There are ” TWO Ways” you can Re-Focus to help get yourself out of this rut and start growing your business again, ” Hindsight & Foresight”…

Merriam-Webster.com defines hindsight as “the knowledge and understanding that you have about an event only after it has happened.” Foresight is “the ability to see what will or might happen in the future.” Hindsight is more reactive, while foresight is more proactive, and both are important.

An example, of hindsight might be when you look at your sales numbers at the end of the month and determine you didn’t hit your goal. There is no way you can influence what has already happened, but there is great value in determining what did happen and figuring out why it happened…??

Your Management – software (CMS) is your most important tool in looking at hindsight and foresight information. A few hindsight reports you should be able to get from your software are: cancelled members, usage statistics, product profit margins, sales analysis and top spenders. All of these reports give you great information on what’s happened in your club, what the trends are, if your revenue is up or down compared to last month or last year, and if there is a reason for the change. A good business operator learns from their mistakes and from their successes.

A good example, of Foresight would be staying proactive with your sales goals. You have a sales goal for the month and you worked backwards from the goal to find out how many tours, appointments, calls and leads you need to reach it. Halfway through the month you find that you’re behind pace with your number of leads. Foresight tells you that if things don’t change, you may not hit your goal. By using the contact manager in your software you can predict what may happen and make adjustments so it does not become reality..

Another example of Foresight could be running renewal and credit card expiration reports one to two months early, pulling a low usage report to identify members at risk of quitting, or a low series report to boost personal training sales proactively. Even most of the hindsight reports can be used proactively if used at different intervals during the month, and not just after the month has ended…

Being accessible to staff and members is important, but you also need to block off time when you can focus, be more productive and not experience interruptions…Studies show that when you are interrupted, it takes a few minutes to focus on the new issue, and it takes another few minutes to switch back to what you were originally working on. It takes foresight to see that wasting all this time becomes a problem.

It may detract from your productivity, so don’t let it happen…In order to make yourself available to the most members and staff possible, use your hourly usage report to gauge when the best time would be for you to schedule your uninterrupted block of time.

It takes both Hindsight & Foresight to operate a good, profitable business…Analyze past information for trends and insights. Learn from what has worked and what hasn’t…??

 Look to the ” future, be proactive and make the necessary adjustments” as your month unfolds to enjoy more success.

IHRSA launches, “Why Get Active Campaign” to “Promote Benefits of Physical Activity” Globally | IHRSA – Media Center

“WhyGetActive”, an inspirational movement spotlighting the benefits that regular exercise brings to our physical and mental health, productivity, economic stability, and quality-of-life, was officially launched this month by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA)….The campaign—which revolves around everyday people sharing their answers on social media to the question, “Why do you get active ? ”—began with a soft launch in March at IHRSA’s annual convention (IHRSA 2014) in San Diego, where hundreds of attendees shared why they pursue an active, healthy lifestyle using “WhyGetActive”…!! 

Now IHRSA is ramping up its outreach to involve everyone. What begins with the global reach of over 10,000 IHRSA members has the power to expand to kids and their families, legislative and health-promotion organizations, and the business and medical communities all over the world.

Allison Flatley, COO of L&T Health and Fitness and Corporate Fitness Works and member of the IHRSA board of directors learned of ” WhyGetActive” during the March Convention and is thrilled to launch the campaign this month with their staff and members. “Our members have such compelling reasons why being physically active is important to them. This campaign provides them with a great platform to share not only their inspirations, but their successes with the whole world,” said Flatley.

The ‘because’ in response to ” WhyGetActive” is simple for those of us already engaged,” said IHRSA’s President and CEO. “We know the high toll that inactivity brings. It creates obesity, and it enables heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.”

“Yet, we also know that it isn’t easy for many people to make the choice to exercise,” Moore continued. “We hope the ” WhyGetActive” movement will help create a global culture of support for physically active lifestyles so choosing to exercise becomes an easier choice for everyone.”

IHRSA is eager for individuals and organizations to adopt and adapt ” WhyGetActive” with the common goal in mind : To affect a culture of wellness, where physically active lifestyles are the norm and easy for everyone to sustain.

The May launch of the ” WhyGetActive” campaign is meant to coincide with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in the United States.

“Let the world know why you get active,” Moore encouraged. “Post it to social media using the ” WhyGetActive”. Become part of the movement that moves the world to become a healthier, more prosperous place.”

Join the ” WhyGetActive” Campaign :

Visit whygetactive.org for more information, what others are doing with their ” WhyGetActive” posts, and to learn how you, your staff, your members and your communities can be involved in this campaign for a healthier, more active world.

About IHRSA :

IHRSA is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs and suppliers worldwide.  IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and activity promotion…

“Think Differently” about “Protecting your Brand” : “difference between what’s Real & Fake” | by: Denise Lee Yohn | HBR

Licensing can generate big business for brands…The top 150 global licensors accounted in total for almost $230 billion, according to License !! Global.

Disney alone reported $39.3 billion in retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide in 2012, fueled by the popularity of its Marvel Comics properties.

Brands in categories from apparel to automotive to sporting goods to spirits are licensed.  Even celebrities license their brands – Usher Cologne, anyone?

Licensing’s popularity makes sense. It can boost brand exposure and expansion without significant investment, helping companies enter international markets or play in new product categories without having to incur the usual product development costs and risks. Licensing can also be used to expand a brand’s footprint into adjacencies, as demonstrated by iPad cases, keyboards, and other accessories…

But the benefits of brand exposure and growth through licensing don’t come without risks. Counterfeiting and brand piracy have kept pace with the uptick in licensing. Legitimate companies aren’t the only ones who have benefitted from increasingly border-less commerce and improvements in the quality of manufacturing and materials in emerging markets.

The prevalence of licensed products combined with the sophistication of knock-offs make it more difficult to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake.  It’s also easier for branded goods to get into the wrong hands. Anyone can set up shop online and pose as an authorized dealer.  And even offline, the once-underground black market has become quite visible. In-authentic goods are now sold through unauthorized channels unabashedly, as the discovery of over 20 copycat Apple stores in Kunming, China, a couple of years ago revealed..

Another risk is old-fashioned over-exposure…When products with Nike logos or trademark Burberry plaid can be found everywhere, the exclusive appeal of those brands takes a hit. Market saturation of branded goods, genuine or fake, can lead to brand burnout – or even brand backlash. When Angela Ahrendts took over at Burberry, the brand had become so ubiquitous and watered down, with 23 licensees around the world each making their own versions of everything from dog leashes to polo shirts, that the company faced problems besides declining profits.  Far from being a luxury brand, its famous plaid had become associated with football hooligans and was even banned from some pubs.

However, when managed appropriately, even these downsides can actually benefit brand owners – Authorized or not, brand awareness in a new market is usually a good thing. And increased brand exposure can lead to a migration from counterfeit to original goods when the economic climate of that market improves or discretionary spending increases. Brand piracy can also be considered an indication of a brand’s health; only compelling brands are victims of counterfeiting.

On a recent trip to Shanghai, Italian designer Giorgio Armani purchased a fake Armani watch and explained, “It was an identical copy of an Emporio Armani watch…it’s flattering to be copied. If you are copied, you are doing the right thing.”

So companies must balance brand exposure with brand protection…Your attorneys may advise vigilant trademark monitoring and enforcement — but chasing down unauthorized products and dealers can be time-consuming and expensive — and ultimately, counterproductive. Starbucks seemed to understand this when it refrained from lambasting the comedian who recently set up a “Dumb Starbucks” store in Los Angeles. The city’s Health Department ended up shutting down the store after just a few days, sparing Starbucks the expense and negative press it might have incurred…

Instead, take a different approach to protecting your brand — one that optimizes factors that are directly under your control vs. trying to manage those that aren’t.  Ensure that you set, communicate, and deliver on your brand standards clearly and consistently in everything you do. Even, and especially, licensed products should appropriately reflect your brand promise and shine brightly in the constellation of your brand offerings..

Consistently excellent brand execution will ensure that purchasers of counterfeit products know they are fakes and therefore won’t expect the same performance from it.  If the quality of your brand is so well-known, knock-offs may be compelling but they will never be mistaken for the real thing. Those who know real Rolex watches, for example, can point to at least 10 telltale signs of fake ones, including a magnifying bubble that doesn’t magnify all that well. Fans of the Tiffany & Co. brand know that a Tiffany product for sale anywhere other than in a Tiffany-branded outlet is not real, thanks to the brand’s tightly controlled distribution.

And since your authorized product may not be the only representation of your brand out there, monitor the totality of your brand presence. You may need to temporarily scale back your own licensing or promotional efforts if a market is being flooded by unauthorized product. That’s what Ahrendts did at Burberry by centralizing their product line – even though in this case, the licensees weren’t doing anything illegal. To reassert Burberry as a luxury brand, she decreed that all clothing would be made in Britain; all designs would go through one “Brand Czar”, and that the company would pull back from offering so many types of products to focus on outerwear. It worked.

The best way to enhance and protect your brand at the same time is to extend your brand value beyond the product. When your brand is comprised of a complete customer experience — including service, environment, communications, shopping experience, personality, and values — it is inimitable and far more valuable. A pirated product may mimic your brand but it doesn’t replace it.  It simply whets consumer’s appetites for more of your brand.

Trademarks are some of companies’ most valuable assets and legal actions are sometimes necessary to defend them. But when it comes to brand protection, the adage “the best defense is a good offense” applies — and the best offense is a clear, well-cultivated brand identity….!! 

“Recruiting High-School & Non-degreed Top-Talent” : “a Missed Corporate Opportunity” |by: Dr. John Sullivan | ERE Media

Most Corporate Recruiting Leaders wear blinders “that prevent them from even considering recruiting Top High School & Non-degreed talent into their professional positions”..

Not every recruiting leader has a fear of recruiting teenagers, however. It’s well-known that NBA basketball has prospered as a result of hiring right-out-of-high school talent like LeBron, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant who quickly proved themselves. In the corporate world, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft are leaders in teenage recruiting (Microsoft attempted to recruit Mark Zuckerberg after he created his Synapse program in high school).

Many corporate recruiters and managers will immediately reject the concept of recruiting high-school/non-degreed talent, but such an old-fashioned snap judgment could be costing their firms millions of dollars..

Not just athletes but talent in many different technical disciplines are developing much earlier than they used to. Perhaps the best recent example is when Yahoo acquired the mobile website Summly from a 17-year-old tech whiz for $30 million. The firm’s owner, Nick D’Aloisio, who barely had a high school diploma, was asked to stay on and work for Yahoo.

Recruiting Non-degreed & High school Talent Is Not Unusual in the Corporate World :

In the corporate world Google, which used to be fanatical about degrees, top schools, and grades, is the leader in the “who-needs-a-degree movement,” as illustrated by Laszlo Bock saying, “… the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time … we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college.”

He also stated that “ when you look at people who don’t go to school and “make their way in the world”,”those are exceptional human beings”. And “we should do everything we can to find those people ”..

Because Facebook’s CEO is a college dropout, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear what the company had to say on the subject : “It would be weird for us to require a college degree. If you can build awesome stuff and have big impact, that’s all we’re really looking for.”

EA has recruited young gamers. Apple has also recruited high schoolers (Chris Espinosa, employee No. 8, was hired at 14). Obviously fast-food and retail establishments have been successfully hiring for years.

More Arguments & Illustrations Supporting the Expansion of the Hiring Pool :

The “don’t disturb their studies” mentality is an antiquated one. Below you will find a list of examples that illustrate the tremendous value of Degree-less Talent.

  1. Talent now develops early & outside of coursework – with the growth of the Internet and its numerous self-directed learning sites, it is possible for students to learn at a professional level. In addition, they can post and test their ideas and quickly get feedback, which allows them to develop extremely fast. If you only look at an individual’s coursework or degrees, you’ll simply miss a great deal of younger talent.
  2. Not every Technical field OR Position requires a Degree – many technology areas like writing code, designing websites, or creating social media site features simply don’t require any college courses. Numerous teenagers have shown that visiting and using these types of sites for more than a decade as children is sufficient preparation. Their age may give them more insight into the next generation of users. Mobile apps are another main technical area that doesn’t require an education because the media is full of examples of teenagers who have successfully developed iPhone and Android apps. Technology advances have also made it easy for almost anyone to create one of these apps.
  3. Thiel under-20 fellowships illustrate their potential – PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel has gone through three rounds of paying students as young as 14 $100,000 over two years to forgo college and instead to start their own businesses. The Wall Street Journal reports an impressive result of his “keep them out of school” effort including the fact that “64 Thiel Fellows have started 67 for-profit ventures, raised $55.4 million in angel and venture funding, published two books, created 30 apps, and 135 full-time jobs.”
  4. Science fair winners produce professional results – Jack Andraka, the grand prize winner at the Intel International Science Fair, demonstrated that even a teenager could develop an accurate test for pancreatic cancer. The many sophisticated accomplishments of recent science fair winners further demonstrate the capability and the potential value of self-motivated teenagers.
  5. Getting a job out of high school no longer prevents a college degree – when the antiquated prohibition against hiring high school students began decades ago, the only college option was full-time attendance. However, now that there is an array of Internet, remote, night, and part-time college options, a full-time job is no longer a barrier to starting or finishing a college degree, even at prestigious schools. And most firms are more than willing to pay for a part-time degree program.
  6. ” You can be an effective CEO without a degree” — the recent success of Mark Zuckerberg as CEO shows that even the highest corporate positions don’t require a college degree. Other college dropouts like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Larry Ellison show that the success of non-college grad executives is not a recent phenomenon.

Action Recruiting Steps :

If you are one of the few corporate leaders who realize that recruiting top talent that may not have much formal education is an incredible opportunity, here are some action steps to consider.

  • Make a strong business case — convince executives of the economic damage that your firm will suffer if it maintains a “degree-required” approach to recruiting. Start by working with the CFO’s office to find a credible way to demonstrate the economic impact that the under-20 crowd has already had at your firm. The most obvious value added usually comes from your high school or college interns who also will look to quantify the contribution made by non-degreed employees. Also look to demonstrate the value of the innovations created by these individuals at other firms within your industry. You should also attempt to measure the positive economic impact that the presence of these younger, less-experienced workers (including acting as reverse mentors) may have on stimulating and challenging your employees with formal degrees.
  • Start off with a small effort — the best way to prove the value of hiring teenagers or those without degrees is to run a pilot and hire a handful of them. Design the program so that it includes the best features of quality internship programs. Then over time track their output and innovations to gauge their performance and their value added. Also look at their failure and turnover rates to see if they are significantly higher than normal.
  • Use the best recruiting approaches – just as with traditional recruiting, referrals are the best way to identify this up-and-coming teenage talent because they are likely to be well-known among their peers and teachers. Holding an Internet technical contest is another excellent way to identify them. You should also encourage your employees to find examples of their work when they are exploring the Internet. You will have to develop some convincing arguments in order to land them. This is because many parents, teachers, and high school counselors will probably advise your targets against taking full-time work before they start or finish college. As mentioned earlier, offering a benefit that allows them to complete a college degree while working full-time for your firm must be an essential component of your recruiting argument.
  • Provide them with a Mentor – although they may have technical talent, these teenage hires may be less productive because they don’t understand corporate processes. Providing them with a “not much older” mentor and adding a social media site where they can communicate may help them to be productive faster.

Final Thoughts :

Most corporate recruiting leaders are extremely risk-averse, so it’s not surprising that only a handful of firms have realized the value of hiring from this normally bypassed talent pool.

Many leaders and managers hold the antiquated notion (usually supported by high school counselors, university personnel, and some parents) that a corporation should not interfere in a student’s path to completing a college degree.

Your job is to “identify the top talent in this pool and get them signed up in some capacity”, so that you can begin using their ideas and skills. If you don’t act quickly and begin to build your “talent employer brand” and recruiting processes soon, you may never be able to catch up to the Googles, Facebooks ,Yahoos & many Global fast-food and retail establishments…which has succeeded in spotting & nurturing such pool of talent…

“Real-Time Marketing” : The “New Standard” | by : Steve Hall | Popditto

Real-time marketing — OR the notion of brands capitalizing on newsworthy OR special events — has been around since the mid-nineties, but has only recently become a bit more mainstream with the advent of social media.

When Oreo acted quickly following the blackout during this year’s Super Bowl, it brought brands engaging in real-time marketing to the forefront. Oreo’s witty bit of real-time marketing spawned a host of copy cat activity one month later during the Academy Awards.

Prior to the advent of the Internet and, more importantly, social media, there was no effective way for consumers to spread brands’ messages. Now, though, it takes but seconds for newsworthy information to spread across the entire globe. Marketers realize this but still struggle with a mentality that requires long development times, layers of approval and a healthy dose of second guessing which, many times, sucks the life out of a great idea.

For brands to fully embrace real-time marketing, they have to leave the campaign mentality behind

For decades, marketing has been based on the clear identification of a specific target audience, the development of marketing materials that effectively communicate with that target audience and the planning and placement of that material in media consumed by the target audience. This process involved months of planning and once “the buy” was “placed,” no one gave it a further thought until it was time to launch another campaign.

Real-time marketing still involves the definition of a target audience, the development of marketing materials and the placement of those materials. What’s different is the speed at which brands must move to implement this new form of marketing and the tools they use to do so.

Many brands have now set up “newsrooms” or social media command centers which are solely designed to monitor up-to-the-second brand-related activity occurring online and within social media channels. For these newsrooms to be effective, they are staffed by people who have been given the responsibility to make quick decisions without need for layers of approval. This is exactly what Oreo and its agency, 360i, did during the Super Bowl and other events.

For brands and agencies to fully embrace real-time marketing — something they must do in order to relate to the speed at which consumers now communicate — there are seven steps they need to take.

Discover Appropriate Content Streams :

Just like old school advertising where you have to determine your target audience, with real-time marketing you have to determine where conversations relevant to your brand are taking place. Are relevant conversations occurring within a Facebook Group ? Is there a Twitter List your brand’s customers and fans follow ? Is your target audience visual and heavy users of Pinterest ? Are they information junkies who frequent specialized LinkedIn forums or Quora topics ?

Organize Relevant Content :

To grasp a clear picture of conversations relevant to your brand, marketers must consume relevant content and organize it in a useful way. Tools like HubSpot’s  Social Inbox can help unify the waterfall of content surrounding your brand. Setting up “as-it-happens” Google alerts on topics relevant to your brand can increase your consumption of content from different channels.

Interpret the Stream : 

It’s one thing to identify where conversation related to your brand occurs; it’s another thing entirely to achieve a clear understanding of the tenor and tone of the conversation. It’s a bit like entering a conversation during a cocktail party. Normally, you don’t just walk over to the group and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind without politely listening to the conversation first. You politely listen. You learn. And you gain context.

Determine Influence :

Now that you’ve determined the when, where and with whom elements of the conversation, you have to determine the importance of the conversation. How big is it? How integral to your brand is it? Is the conversation taking place on a scale large enough to warrant brand participation that will be seen by a large number of people? This is the step where a brand has to determine whether or not the content of the conversation allows for brand entry into the conversation. Just like the cocktail party scenario, when you have something of value to add, jump right in. If you don’t, continue to listen and learn.

Paint a Clear Picture of the Conversation :

This is, perhaps, the most difficult step in the process but is especially important in large organizations. At any given moment, relevant and important conversations must be summarized and framed in a manner that can be understood by others on the team in a way that allows them to determine how and whether to act. Framing the conversation brings clarity and helps identify whether or not the conversation is one that lends itself to brand engagement.

Set Up Notifications :

After you have identified appropriate streams of conversation, after you have determined the tenor and tone of the conversation and after you have concluded the conversation is relevant, essential decision-makers must be notified. There are some companies who choose to automate this process, but you can just as easily pass information on to the team via email, text, or chat. Most importantly, this must be done swiftly and all involved must act equally as swiftly.

Act :

After you have properly aligned all of the above, after all team members have been notified and properly briefed and once a plan of action has been determined, it’s time to act. It’s time to pull the trigger. It’s time to make use of all of the information you have acquired and for you to implement informative, insightful, or perhaps even witty real-time marketing.

Why should brands care about and engage in real-time marketing ?? Because that’s how consumers are now interacting. They are in “as-it-happens” mode and all signs point to that remaining the norm. The campaign is dead. All that remains is the continuous commitment marketers must make to “being there” when their customers are there.

“Consumer Neuroscience-Based Advertising”| Making :15 sec spot, the New :30 sec | by:Randall Beard | Nielsen

Often treated as an after-thought by Marketers & Agencies alike, the 15-second TV spot is usually just a cut down version of the 30-second spot, rarely copy-tested, but assumed to be at least 50 percent as good as the : 30 from which it’s derived.

But the truth is that most marketers have no idea how good, or bad, their :15s really are. It’s as if everyone just blindly assumes the best, without thinking about the worst. Fifteen-second ads adhere to the same basic principles of success as :30s, but just get much less attention.


Things have improved somewhat over the past few years. With the advent of real-time TV ad effectiveness measurement, marketers can now monitor the performance of their : 30s and : 15s on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, enabling them to understand relative differences in performance.

This allows you to see when your 15s perform well enough to warrant moving out of your : 30s and into 100 percent focus on your :15s. But all of this is after the fact. What’s really needed is better : 15 design beforehand. But how ?


Consumer neuroscience has had any number of fits and starts over the past few years when applied to marketing. But one area where there has been substantial and undeniable progress is in the area of copy testing. The most advanced technique uses EEG measures of brain activity to understand how viewers are responding to advertising. This approach uses EEG to identify and capture responses to brain stimuli in fractions of a second.

In particular, EEG based copy testing can measure THREE things extremely well :

  1. Attention – When and how much viewer attention is paid to an ad. This is key to knowing if someone even notices or pays attention to your ad in the first place.
  2. Memory – Whether a viewer’s memory is activated in response to viewing an ad. Without memory, it’s unlikely that an ad will influence much future behavior.
  3. Emotion – To what degree a viewer is drawn to or pulls away from the ad stimulus. Attention and memory are important, but so is positive emotional attraction.

Taken together, these three measures are key to effective ads. They relate directly to whether someone pays attention to the ad, whether the ad is stored in long term memory, and whether the ad elicits a positive emotional response.

Importantly, EEG based copy testing measures viewer’s brain waves in milliseconds throughout the commercial. Typically, a viewer’s brain waves looks like a series of peaks and valleys as the viewer responds to different parts of the commercial. These peaks and valleys correspond to the parts of the commercial that are most and least effective as measured by attention, memory and emotion.


Back to the :30 vs. :15 conundrum: how do you design a better :15 TV spot? Well, it’s not as difficult as rocket science, but it’s essentially an exercise in brain wave assessment. Simply put, you cut out the ad’s “valleys” and keep the “peaks.”


Consumer neuroscience-based copy testing has advanced to the point where it can algorithmically eliminate the weakest portions of the :30 TV commercial while keeping the strongest ones for the new :15. This re-cut commercial is then edited by the agency creatives for story flow, continuity and visual seamlessness into a final spot.


At this point, you might be asking: “but how good, really, are these cut down neuroscience based ads? It all sounds like a big black box.”

Based on Nielsen NeuroFocus testing of both original :30 TV spots and the EEG-optimized :15s, here’s what we see :

  • ~ 90 % of Neuro-science optimized : 15sec ads test just as well as their : 30sec counterparts 
  • A significant number of optimized : 15sec ads actually test better than their : 30sec counterparts 

So, the next time you see your Ad-agency, tell them that you have a “present”  for them — Consumer Neuroscience-based : 15sec. 

“7 Traits of a High-Performance Sales Culture” |by: Zorian Rotenberg | SalesForce


It’s simple : If your sales team is not motivated and empowered to produce superior results, they won’t. But how can you, as a Sales VP or manager, create a culture that encourages and rewards the best performance? Many sales executives struggle to find a balance between healthy competition and a cutthroat, negative atmosphere. That’s why we took at look at companies with high performance sales cultures (including our own) and came up with the seven most common characteristics demonstrated by these companies. Read on to learn which traits to emphasize, implement, and monitor as part of your sales management strategy.

1. A data-driven mindset :

The best sales teams rely on hard data, not theories or gut feelings, to optimize their performance and grow revenue. Don’t stop at simply monitoring sales metrics – it is critical that you derive actionable insights from this data. For example, an analysis of your sales funnel historical conversion rates by stage might reveal a team-wide weakness in qualifying opportunities at the top of the funnel. With that knowledge, you can then direct more of your sales coaching efforts toward addressing this issue of top-of-the-funnel qualification. By finding specific areas of improvement as revealed by data analysis, you can coach your team much more compellingly. If you rely on lagging results to make adjustments, it will be too late.

2. Transparency across all levels : 

High performance sales teams are big believers in corporate transparency. They are proud of their accomplishments at all levels across all departments and are willing to display their performance metrics to the entire company. Even during times when their performance isn’t stellar, neither the sales reps nor anyone else in the company should have unrealistic “happy ears.” Start improving your team’s transparency by installing a sales leader-board that displays each rep’s monthly bookings. Consider sending a nightly email that details each rep’s activities the previous day. These measures foster friendly, healthy competition and prevent your under-performing reps from sliding under the radar.

3. Constant improvement through sales coaching : 

Companies with the best sales cultures tend to not rest on their laurels – one good quarter is not a reason to celebrate, but rather, should be a motivator to make the next quarter even better. A key asset to inspiring this mindset is regular sales coaching. Coaching your sales team to success requires consistent communication with your reps through regularly scheduled team meetings in addition to one-on-one discussions. In these meetings, you should present sales performance metrics to identify specific areas of weakness in the sales process of either their entire team or an individual rep. Then, use that information to shore up these weak areas and consistently increase your bookings number.

4. Low rep turnover : 

It typically takes about four months for sales reps to be fully trained and on-boarded. Companies that experience constant rep turnover aren’t able to gain a good rhythm because they are constantly training new reps for that four-month process. This interrupts the flow of a smooth-operating sales team, in which each rep knows what to do on a daily basis and can do so without disruption.

5. Agility and flexibility : 

You’ll never catch an agile sales manager working within a high performance sales culture say, “But that’s the way we’ve always done it!” That’s because the most effective sales managers respond to and embrace change rapidly and flexibly. You must understand the value of measuring everything – and if the data suggests that the sales process needs to change, and change quickly, do not hesitate to do so.

6. Healthy competition : 

Encouraging healthy competition deserves its own section. You don’t want your sales reps to ever be satisfied with their performance to the point of complacency; they should always push each other to be better the next month or next quarter. As the month progresses, sales reps will constantly compete for the top five spots, ranked by bookings. Those that finish out on top will be both proud of their work and motivated to retain their spots on the leader-board. Great sales reps are naturally competitive and will thrive in this atmosphere.

7. A common vision : 

The most critical characteristic of high performance sales team is a shared vision of the company, where it’s going, and what you are trying to achieve as a team. It’s important to get full employee buy-in so that each rep is working hard not just to hit the numbers or marginally improve performance, but to accomplish the collective goal that every employee is working toward.

Does your company possess the traits of a high performance sales-culture ? What other characteristics do you think are critical ? Share your thoughts.. 

Sir.Alex Ferguson’s “7 Leadership Secrets” for success |by: Steve Tappin | LinkedIn

His Autobiography is released today, so what lessons can we draw from this sporting icon ? 

When Manchester United boss Sir Alex – the most successful manager of a British soccer team in decades – announced his retirement back in May, it generated more than 1.4 million Twitter mentions within the first hour. This ranked as more significant than the death of Margaret Thatcher, if slightly less so than the announcement of the new Pope.

So here are Sir Alex’s 7 Leadership lessons : 

1) Face Tough Reality And Sort Problems Out Head-On :

The son of a Glasgow shipbuilder, Ferguson’s grit was forged during 17 relatively unspectacular years as a player in Scottish football. He reflected: “The adversity gave me a sense of determination that has shaped my life. I made up my mind that I would never give in.”

When he became manager of Manchester United in 1986, the tough reality was that the side hadn’t won the football league for 26 years – Ferguson was depressed by the players’ level of fitness and worried that they were drinking too much. However, as he would do many times in later years, Ferguson drew strength from adversity, managing to increase their discipline and improve results.

A key lesson for CEOs is not to let problems fester but to tackle them head-on. As Ferguson says :

“No one likes to get criticized. But in the dressing room, it’s necessary that you point out your players’ mistakes. I do it right after the game. I don’t wait until Monday, I do it, and it’s finished. I’m on to the next match.”

2) Only Accept Winning : 

“I’ve never played for a draw in my life,” boasts Ferguson, and with 49 trophies, 13 Premier League titles and two European Cups to his name, it shows. He has inspired by his passion, convincing players that they can push their performance on through a brick wall.

Ferguson is also passionate about his politics, leading his friend and Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell to comment :

“If there is one lesson politics can take from sport, and someone as successful as Fergie, it is that if winning is what matters, make sure you do everything you need to do to win. That sounds obvious. But it is a mindset that combines the big vision with microscopic attention to detail.”

The temptation for Western CEOs is to get stuck in the mindset of incremental improvements, where 5% sales growth will get them through. However, as they come up against the big dreamers of increasingly professional Chinese companies, they would do well to adopt the mindset of the binary world of sport, where there are only winners and losers.

3) No-One Is Bigger Than The Team :

While he made solid transfer decisions, a big part of Ferguson’s success was the ability to spot talent and nurture from within. He turned exuberant “show ponies” – such as the 17-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo – into team players, while providing a home for talented misfits like Eric Cantona.

If you think there are big egos and strong characters in your organization, just look inside a Premier League dressing room. Ferguson’s genius has been to make everyone understand that the glory and the riches that they enjoy flow from being part of a winning team. It doesn’t matter how big a star you are. The team is always bigger. Either he was in control or the players were – as Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and David Beckham found out to their cost.

“Many CEOs should apply this to their top teams and deal more firmly with the big individuals who end up casting a dysfunctional shadow on team spirit and the company culture”.

4) Command Loyalty as A True Father Figure :

One of the great characters of football, Ferguson is often associated with his volatile temper. His “hairdryer” – whereby he dressed down a team member with such force and directness that it was said to dry his hair – is the stuff of legend. However, his role as a mentor and a father figure should be not be overlooked.

Ultimately, Ferguson has been more about building players up than knocking them down :

“ There is no room for criticism on the training field. For a player – and for any human being – there is nothing better than hearing ‘Well done’. Those are the two best words ever invented in sports.” Whatever the private exchanges, he always defends his team externally :

“There is no point in criticizing a player forever. And I never discuss an individual player in public. The players know that. It stays indoors.”

CEOs can learn much about loyalty and the importance of seeking external perspectives from Ferguson, who also told Alistair Campbell :

“ You know my definition of friendship – the real friend is the one who walks through the door when the others are putting on their coats to leave… I know from my position here that sometimes there can be so much noise and fury going on around you that you need people outside your own bubble who can take a slightly different perspective for you. We all need that.”

5) Work Hard & Stay Fresh :

Renowned for his work ethic and 7am training sessions, Ferguson says : “I tell players that hard work is a talent, too. They need to work harder than anyone else.”

However, Ferguson – whose outside interests span racing and military history – is an unlikely advocate of work-life balance, commenting :

” Mental and physical fitness are two sides of the same coin. You have to build rest into any program. That’s another thing that applies in all worlds, not just sport. I don’t think you can do high-pressure jobs now without being physically fit… there were times I could see [the leader] was getting tired, and I was thinking he’s probably doing too much himself, not delegating, not spreading the load.”

Only when they apply this insight can CEOs consistently perform at their best…

“Being able to analyze a situation and then decide what to do – that is such an important part of these top jobs. Reaching the right decisions under pressure.”

6) Build An Enduring Institution Of Which People Want To Be A Part :

Ferguson told the Harvard Business School that core to his success at Manchester United was building a “club” and not just building a “team” to survive :

“The first thought for 99% of new managers is to make sure they win – to survive. They bring experienced players in, often from their previous clubs. But I think it is important to build a structure for a football club, not just a football team. You need a foundation. And there is nothing better than seeing a young player make it to the first team. The idea is that the younger players are developing and meeting the standards that the older ones have set before.”

With a 27-year reign that’s eclipsed that of most CEOs and political leaders, Ferguson has excelled in managing multi-generation succession at his club. The baton has passed from the likes of Lee Sharpe and Nicky Butt, to Phil Jones on the inside and Robin van Persie from the outside. This would-be dinosaur has actually moved with the times, embracing new technology and medical advances to build a state-of-the-art training facility at Carrington. Ferguson has kept on developing his style and systems – and, professing that the modern player is somewhat more fragile – even claims to have mellowed a bit over the years.

7) Leave On A High :

Back on top of the English Premier League, Ferguson was wise enough to step away from the touchline of the beautiful game at a time of his choosing; without being given the red card. While it’s tempting to stay on and have another go and the ‘treble’ and the UEFA Champions League, the smart move is to leave space for someone else to take it on. That way his legacy has room to grow.

Many great leaders are true ‘one-offs’ and it is too simplistic to suggest that they should seek to bottle their essence to be preserved in aspic. Rather, the big challenge for them is to groom the next generation and ‘blend the essence’ so that it’s fit for their current and future organisation. Ferguson’s anointed successor, David Moyes, is said to be another Scot in the same mold but he is still going through a difficult transition.

His 27 years in the job have even inspired academic research at Ivy League institutions into Sir Alex’s leadership DNA , such as HBS’s Anita Elberse.

Note to soccer fans : As a passionate lifelong fan of Leeds United, a competing soccer team, it’s hard for me to write this post in praise of Sir Alex (easier though after Leeds’ 1-0 FA Cup Victory over Manchester United in 2010!). However, I have to respect what Sir Alex has achieved and the lessons we can draw from his leadership.

*** And Don’t Forget To Add Some “Fergie Time” ***

One of the most revealing passages in Sir Alex’s new autobiography is when he deals with the matter of “Fergie Time”. He admits that theatrically tapping on his watch as matches reached their conclusion was a psychological ploy.

The long-held popular belief was that this tactic would intimidate referees into granting Manchester United a little extra “stoppage time” (added with injuries, player changeovers etc.) at the end of either leg of a match. It was often in these vital extra seconds that his team would successfully score the goal that needed to level up the match or clinch victory. As BBC TV soccer presenter Gabby Logan would often say during her commentaries : “ They’re playing Fergie Time !! ”

I think the lesson here is that leaders and sports players – when in really matters – are able to get fully “in the zone” and into a state of peak performance. In this moment, we seem to lose track of conventional “clock time”, and the usual physical obstacles melt away. American football player John Brodie brings this concept to life :

“Time seems to slow way down… It seems as if I had all the time in the world.. and yet I know the defensive line is coming at me just as fast as ever.”

A truly great leader can shift other people’s perceptions of reality – inspire people to do the impossible. “Fergie Time” reminds me of Steve Jobs’ famous “reality distortion field” – which famously inspired his team to create ever-smaller, faster “insanely great” products – and convince us to buy products that we didn’t even know we needed.

With Sir Alex’s retirement, have we really seen the end of “Fergie Time” ?