I was recently asked how a particular business could develop its sales and at the same time change the aggressive management of its commercial people who must meet their targets or be asked to leave. As you would expect this environment may be successful in the short-term but it comes at a cost from the high turnover of people and lots of wasted time and money spent on recruitment, training, stress-related sickness and redundancy etc. The opposite situation of no targets with little measurement or management may be a more relaxed organisation to work in but is likely to meander it’s way to a dead-end. Having worked as a consultant with a lot of market-leading companies the most effective in the long run are those which recognise that a clear vision combined with a customer focused culture, pursuing business development strategies with customers which are implemented by commercial teams who are motivated and supported to deliver their goals. My passion is to help companies to achieve the simple formula of developing People+Business both internally and externally.
What is the best way to prepare for and meet with an important customer, is it best to have the meeting all mapped out or to keep it open? My colleague Jane Fletcher has worked in retailing for over 25 years and before becoming a consultant was a buyer for Waitrose, responsible for major categories such as dairy and bakery products. Jane said that for regular meetings she expected suppliers to be well prepared with ‘all the answers’ but for meetings about innovation the most productive approach she found involved a blank sheet of paper, a flexible agenda and a supplier who was keen to listen to Jane’s views about her specific customers and market to help identify tailored opportunities for business development. These meetings typically generated new ideas that both parties had created together and specific actions which would help produce new products, promotions, packaging or merchandising to build the business. So for meetings to create new ideas remember to take a blank sheet of paper and an open mind!