Tag Archives: People

How Do You Introduce a Product into a New Market? Five Ideas

Situation: A technology-based company has a very successful product in a niche market. The team has been brainstorming about additional markets into which the product could be introduced. The only experience that the CEO and team members have is with the existing market. While other markets are appealing, they lack the experience and contacts to penetrate new market opportunities. How do you introduce a product into a new market?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Hire someone, either an employee or a consultant, who intimately knows and can introduce you to the new market. If you have more than one good candidate consider hiring them both.
  • Start with clients that you already serve in your current market but who also serve the new market. This can provide quick wins and proof of concept. Overlap is important because you will have a shorter sales cycle with these clients.
  • Another company moved from on-site consulting to turn-key services. They found the purchase process to be completely different. Originally, they were unprepared for this, so the transition took longer than it might have.
    • Talk to existing customers and learn about their companies’ purchasing processes to organize your fact gathering and strategy.
  • Read case studies of other companies’ experience moving a single platform between markets.
  • Another company moved from niche photography – holiday photos – to photos for Fortune 500 companies. This was the same expertise, but the market and decision processes were different.
    • Key to the successful move was understanding the people in Fortune 500s who were making the buy decision and the structure of their decision process. The CEO of this company registered for conventions attended by client prospects. This provided a quick way to meet and learn about key people and their decision processes.

How Do You Shift from Craft to Lean? Four Steps

Situation: A company has an engineering structure which emphasizes function over cost. As a result, there is little collaboration between design and manufacturing, and little design for manufacturability or cost control. This contributes to a last-minute mindset and expensive solutions. How do you shift design engineering and manufacturing from a craft to a lean mindset?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Changing how people think and act may also mean changing people. Are you prepared for this? If not, then it may be difficult to achieve the change that you desire.
  • Let’s use a mindset change in another area – sales compensation – as an example. In this case, the sales team had previously focused primarily on revenue, with no incentive to drive margin. This impact was continuously eroding margins, though the company realized revenue goals. The mindset was changed by introducing a new system with dual incentives: to retain their position, a sales person had to hit at least 85% of their revenue target, however commission was based completely on the gross margin from their sales, with a bump in commissions when they hit 100% of their revenue target. This system drove both revenue and margin targets and was very successful; however, the company lost a few sales reps who couldn’t make the adjustment.
  • Transferring this lesson to the engineering situation, design an incentive structure that drives both function and low cost manufacturability to achieve both targets simultaneously.
    • Task your VPs of Operations and Manufacturing – and the key managers of your design and manufacturing teams – to create a dual incentive system that meets both function and manufacturability objectives. Measurements may include:
      • Actual vs. initial estimated manufacturing costs.
      • Margin on final product.
    • Once the parameters are developed, clearly communicate these to all affected employees up front to set clear expectations for the future.
    • Incentivize your VPs and key managers jointly on collaborative efforts and their ability to develop joint solutions.
  • Another solution which will speed the process – put design and manufacturing engineering in the same work space instead of separating them. This encourages the teams to work together.

How Does Social Media Aid Sales Efforts? Three Factors

Interview with John Lima, CEO, Coffee Bean Technology

Situation: As with anything new, there are varying adoption rates for social media. Many top executives aren’t sure  how social media can improve their sales. How can social media effectively enhance sale efforts?

Advice from John Lima:

  • Business is about people, and people are increasingly using social media to connect with others and to express themselves. Social media platforms encourage us to be ourselves – to take off the business mask that we normally present to the world. This enables the savvy company to better know their customers.
  • First, social media enable you to find customers more quickly. Almost everyone is somehow connected to social media. The problem is the inefficiency of searching for them through LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter, etc. Software-assisted search makes this more efficient. Develop a customer Social ID: a profile of what you believe your customers interests and buying behavior to be to serve as your social media connector.
  • Second, find people who fit this profile and engage with them in social media. Let them bring their conversations and interest to you, and refine your Social ID as you gain additional information. This gives you insight into the person – who they interact with and what interests them – and enables you to approach them as a human being. Envision an open marketplace where people connect first and then tell their stories. This allows salespeople to quickly build empathy and smooths the sales process.
  • Third, your evolving customer Social ID can help generate new leads. As the Social ID becomes more sophisticated you can develop key words to find similar customers. Software robots use these key words to find relevant conversations in Twitter or Facebook and flag then for a sales person who can then dig deeper to determine whether the individual identified is a competitor or a prospect.
  • To make this work efficiently, you want to have an integrated system with a set of tools that allows you to cost-effectively sift through the millions of daily entries logged through social media.

You can contact John Lima at john.lima@coffeebeantech.com

Key Words:  Sales, Marketing, Technology, Social Media, People, Mask, Customer, Connect, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Software, Social ID, Follow, Profile, Empathy, Relationship, Trust, Leads, System

How Does an Entrepreneur Evolve from Doer to Leader? Four Suggestions

Situation: A company has grown largely through the determination and energy of the founding CEO who is still the principal business development resource. The CEO wants to move from day-to-day focus to a leadership role, planning for the future. How have you evolved from principal doer to leader?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Start by developing and managing an organizational chart for the business.
    • Create the organizational chart initially by role and responsibility.
    • Match existing people to the roles. Individuals may fill more than one role, but be sure that the individuals are suited to the roles to which they are assigned.
  • Give ownership of areas of responsibility to others.
    • Make it clear for each area of responsibility that the individual assigned is now in charge.
    • Match projects or assignments with individuals’ abilities and available time.
    • Establish quarterly or annual performance objectives WITH as opposed to FOR each individual – objectives that support company objectives.
    • See that people are rewarded for their results – both soft and monetary rewards – as appropriate to the responsibility held by each.
  • While you continue as the lead of business development, hand off new clients to others as soon as you get them on-board. Let others take on the customer nurturing and maintenance roles. Establish a plan to replace yourself in this role.
  • The EMyth Revisited by Michael Gerber provides a soup to nuts recipe for moving from doer to leader of a company. Everything starts with your organizational chart.

Key Words: Leader, Doer, Role, Focus, Organizational Chart, Org Chart, People, Match, Ownership, Responsibility, Performance, Objectives, Reward, Results, EMyth, Gerber

What is an Agile Leadership Paradigm? Three Perspectives

Interview with Jorge Titinger, CEO, Verigy, Inc.

Situation: The environment has become more complex for leaders. Not only must leaders perform classic roles, they must also deal with increased uncertainty and change. How do you build a new leadership paradigm to address ongoing change?

Jorge Titinger’s Advice:

There are three challenges facing leaders today.

  • First, given that change is constant, what does the next likely settling point look like in your environment look like and how is this different from past settling points?
    • Everything starts with the people.
    • Once you determine the likely next settling point, do a capability inventory within your leadership team to determine whether you have the right people to handle the new reality.
    • Can current members be trained?
    • Do you need to bring in new talent?
  • Second, are your processes limiting or enhancing your flexibility?
    • Do current processes encourage adaptability and cross-functional connection and communication?
    • If not how will you change them?
    • Deconstruct/reconstruct all critical processes to make them more agile.
  • Third, how are you linking desired outcomes with rewards and incentives within the company?
    • Growth in the past focused on building up infrastructure – adding more people and capacity.
    • Knowledge management focused on tools and processes to make people more effective. Individualized assessment and reward structures became an obstacle and had to be shifted to emphasize the importance of collaborative versus individualized performance.
    • Agile leadership and management focuses on reaching outside the boundaries of your own company. To deliver differentiated value suppliers and customers must be included in the exercise. We must reinvent how we engage with suppliers and customers so that they are part of the collaboration.
    • The agile paradigm focuses on the unspoken needs of suppliers and customers. This takes the conversation beyond the transaction and includes quality, on-time delivery, and other differentiators that are mutually important. It can include competing for your competitors’ suppliers by being a better customer!

You can contact Jorge Titinger at jorge.titinger@verigy.com

Key Words: Agile, Uncertainty, Change, Paradigm, People, Training, Talent, Process, Communication, Reward, Incentive, Supplier, Customer