On Site Retail Marketing

Let’s talk about retail marketing. Perhaps we should begin by addressing what is a retail sale and who is considered a “retailer.”

A retail sale happens when a finished product or “good” is purchased by the end user. You buy your groceries, shoes and most items from a retail seller. When, for instance, your grocer buys cases of soup for resale that is called a wholesale transaction. Your grocer is a “retailer” as he sales his goods to you, the end user. Your hairdresser is also a retailer but they sell services to you, again the end user.

Specifically let’s discuss on-site (within the walls of your store) marketing. We can, and should, look closely at reaching out and attracting potential customers via print ads, radio, TV and especially online advertising as it is second in cost only to your on-site marketing.

Top 5 Steps to Building your Customer Base

Greet Every Customer

If you don’t greet your customers as they enter your shop, don’t worry about it – you’ll probably never see them again!

This is so basic and yet far too many store managers don’t do it. We have all experienced this; you enter a store, the manager or employee is right there and yet they are “too busy” to smile and say hello? What could be more important than making your visitor feel welcomed and that you are happy to see them?

If you greet each person upon entering and thank them as they leave – even if they do not make a purchase – you will have made a great impression and secured a second visit.

Trickle-Down Ownership

You can tell the people that work for you what you want them to do….and some of them will, but more often they will do as you do. You must lead the way; greet every customer you see with warmth and a smile.

This trickle-down style of ownership, where the people that work for you see YOU doing what you ask of them, leads to teamwork and a “buying in” of all you as the owner/leader say and do.

As a store manager, I was over-the-top concerned about cleanliness and organisation. I constantly swept the floors, cleaned the rest rooms, organised the shelves and made sure the entry way was clear and presentable. In a short period of time even new employees were mirroring my efforts. Trickle-down-ownership is a great investment in your people and your business.

Make Sales Obvious

If your featured item is as hot as you think it is, make it accessible. When your new customer steps into your store your key item should be obvious. Whether it’s lighting, traffic flow or signage there should be no doubt that your offering – today’s sale item – is a great value.

Auto dealers always have the shiniest, sportiest and quite often most expensive cars in their showroom.

Along with this wonderful item you have for them it is essential to your business to expand your total sales dollars by having close at hand all the items that go along, or accessorise, your key item.

If it’s a man’s suit that is front and centre then a display of shirts, ties, belts and shoes should be nearby. A simple sale such as buying a coffee is quite often accompanied by a pastry and a suggestion that perhaps the customer would like to take advantage of a large coffee for only a few pennies more!

Solve a Problem

When a person enters your place of business it is your job to help them, to satisfy a need or solve a problem. They have come to you hoping that you will fill a need for them.

Maybe they need a new phone or a ring, perhaps a scarf to match their winter jacket. Now whether-or-not you have what they seek if you can help them in any way you will have made a new friend and began setting the foundation necessary for this customer to return to your shop.

So, it may be that you did not have the exact ring they were looking for today but, owing to the fact that you were so helpful they are quite likely to return to you when next they are looking for some other pieces of (hopefully expensive) jewellery.

Make a Friend – Earn a Customer

By helping to solve your customer’s problem you have made a new friend. They will be quite likely to speak well of you and your shop and to frequent your business when in the area.

To solidify this relationship and increase the probability of repeat visits a reward of some kind is a great idea. Many places will provide a gift or coupon based on number of visits or amount of sale. This is also a great opportunity to introduce them to your social media offerings as a way to increase your exposure and customer base.

As there are things you must do to establish your business there are also some things to avoid.

TWO SURE MISTAKES THAT WILL HAVE YOUR BUSINESS CIRCLING THE DRAIN

  1. If your place smells bad, it is bad – it’s a bad place! This should be a no-brainer but I bet that you, like me, have been driven out of an establishment by foul or strong odours. If you happen to be nose-blind (can’t smell) be sure to get a friend’s opinion.
  2. Dirty floors or carpets – once again this is a mistake that is so obvious that if you find you’ve committed it perhaps you should relinquish your plan of opening your own business.

If you truly want your own business and would enjoy working in your chosen field, then the secret to success is working so hard that you make it look easy…and then it will be.

References

  • Moltz, B and Lesonsky, R. Small Business Hacks, 2018
  • Karmoroff, B. Small Time Operator, 2013
  • Small Business Administration <https://www.sba.gov/> [Accessed 21/01/2019].

The Rationale of Intermediary Sales Channels in an Organisation

A sales channel or marketing channel is one of the most essential and crucial tools for management in any business. It’s the way products and services get to the consumer from the point of production. Thus, its purpose in establishing an effective and well-planned sales strategy.
Sales normally depends on the way goods are distributed. There being, the route that the product takes on its way from production to consumer is very important. To ensure a clean and successful sales process, every business have to decide on the best route or channel for its products. The various sales channels that are normally used are manufacturer to direct consumer; Manufacturer to Retailer to Consumer; Manufacturer to Wholesaler to Customer; and, or Manufacturer to Agent to Wholesaler to Retailer to Customer.
As for the intermediary Sales channels, their functions normally consist of buying products for resale to customers. They also help in distributing products and supporting sales to customers by offering services such as financing. Playing on account of the organisation they facilitate exchange of efficiencies and creating of utility. Following is a discussion of some of the reasons as to why, or the purpose or the logic behind intermediary sales channels in any business or organisation.

Logistic functions

Distributors and wholesalers help reduce the burden on organisation’s logistics operations when they assume the responsibility for the physical distribution of products to organisation’s customers. They store the products and provide transport so as to fulfil customers’ orders. Some partners even make a point of taking bulk deliveries from the organisation and split them into smaller quantities that customers order.

Transactional functions

This is one of the most important functions played by the organisation’s channel partners. They help increase the total revenue range when they purchase organisation’s products and sell them to their own customers. Through this the organisation is able to reduce its transaction costs as it’s only dealing with the channel partner. The channel partner in turn gets the product to their bunch of customers. Apart from accessing the consumers on the organisation’s behalf, the channel partner also takes the risk of holding inventory for them. This helps reduce the cost of stockholding and the risk of holding excess inventory for the organisation.

Added value

Channel partners add value to a transaction by customising an organisation’s product which could have been an expensive practice to the organisation. Besides, they (channel partner) are able to add value by grouping related products and services into packaged solutions that enable customers to obtain all their needs from a single source. This help enhance the reputation of the organisation for the needs of the customers are met effectively.

Facilitating functions

Channel partners such as wholesalers and distributors use their sale force to deal with customers , negotiate sales and provide customer services. This facilitate and support sales of organisation’s product. At times channel partners offer credit so as to make it easier for customers to buy which still support sales of organisation’s products.

Support

In case the products are intricate and require support, the organisation is capable of allocating responsibility to its channel partners. The partners then set up service operations that can install, maintain, service and repair products in their locale. This backing reduces workload for organisation’s service teams and also it ensures that customers can get local support when they require it.

It is the aim of every business or organisation to see that it has succeeded in attaining its long run goal. There being, the management thus has the obligation
of choosing the most effective channel. A channel which is well evaluated depending on the cost and benefits, as well as customer convenience.

References

  • Blunt, L. Types of marketing Channels. [Online] Available at <http://smallbusiness.chron.com/types-marketing-channels-21627.html > [ Accessed 19 June 2017].
  • Linton, I. What Are the Kinds of Marketing Channel Functions? [Online] Available at < http://smallbusiness.chron.com/kinds-marketing-channel-functions-20828.html > [Accessed 19 June 2017].
  • Chand, S. 10 Most Important Functions of Marketing Channel. [Online] Available at <http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/marketing/10-most-important-functions-ofmarketing-channel/5784/ > [ Accessed 19 June 2017].
  • Markgraf, B. What Are the Different Channel Organizations in the Marketing System? [Online] Available at <http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/different-channelorganizations-marketing-system-24068.html > [ Accessed 19 June 2017].

Building a robust Marketing and Sales Capability – Part 2

This is 2 part post. See the first part here

Confirmed Information

Once the marketing team or the sales team identifies the lead to be a potential customer, and the sales team does have an interest to pursue a particular lead, it is then converted. This conversion has a few of different categories of information; a contact, an account, an opportunity:

  1. A contact is a person within a company. It is possible to have multiple contacts within a company. Most interactions with a company is to a contact
  2. A company is also referred to as an account. Some systems have the capability to have parent and child accounts. This relationship is to ensure that head office and branch offices are maintained under the same account.
  3. The third aspect is the opportunity. An opportunity is a clear potential to make a sale. The opportunity in many systems are gauged by a timeframe within which the sale can be conducted and the value of a sale that can be done.
  4. There are other optional aspects such as events, notes and campaign logs that can be maintained for a converted lead. The reason behind these optional aspects is maintain a history of interaction with the customer. For example, for which marketing campaign did our company first meet with this customer or when was the email campaign sent.

The confirmed information about a contact and the company that she works for is a static data point that usually does not change over time. Contacts and account details can be used for a variety of activities such as sending proposals sending quotations, sending invitations to events or for specialised discounts and promotions.

People moving

One thing to note about a contact is that, the person may choose to work for another company in due course of time. In such a case, usually I would recommend that you mark the current contact as terminated or change the status to dead. It is very rare that you would transfer the contact data to the new company that she works for. However, you would create a new contact and the new company and keep a reference note under this contact mentioning that she had work previously for another company.

Duplicate data

Most systems will be able to detect duplicates within the contact database using fields like email, primary phone number or a combination of name and address. Duplication must be seriously looked at during this phase of the sales cycle.

The Sales Cycle

We had discussed about targets and is being part of the marketing campaign and everything  beyond leads to be part of the sales cycle. The sales cycle has numerous steps and depending on the complexity of the product or service that is being sold, the length of the cycle can drastically change.

Qualification

Qualification is usually the first step in the  sales cycle. Once the lead, or contact is qualified,  it means there is a clear need for the product or service that is being sold. The exact need would be identified in the next step of the cycle.

Needs Analysis

Based on the information that is received about the qualified lead which is converted to a contact and also an account, the exact pain point is identified. A single product or service may not address all the pain points, however, so long as there is sufficient number of pain points a value can be found.

Value Proposition

Understanding the value that the product or service will deliver to the customer is important because this value has to be clearly expressed to the customer. Before a sale, the customer has to believe that the product or service will deliver what is expected. Most of the value proposition will have to be built around solving the pain points that the customer has exhibited during the need analysis. This is a stage where the mapping of the product features to the pain points of the customer takes place.

Identifying Decision Makers

When selling a product or service to a large firm, there are usually multiple people who will be using the product and therefore, it will be necessary to identify all those who will influence the purchasing decision.

Perception Analysis

There could be other components that is required to ensure the sale can be closed. The perception of the customer is understood to incorporate the additional requirements to satisfy all the possible needs of the customer

Proposal/Price Quote

A detailed proposal is presented along with the price of the product/ service

Negotiation/Review

Most cases for large contracts, there will be negotiations that are conducted. There could be specifications that are changed or general price negotiations

Closed (Won/Lost)

This is the final stage where, the sale is closed and result is either a win or a lose. If customer is won, then the next step is to bill the customer. If the customer is lost then there could be a assessment to understand the reasons why this customer was lost.

Maintenance/Recycle

In most cases, the customer contacts are maintained for future business, whether the sale was won or lost.

Not all sales cycles follow this exact pattern. The type of product or service will determine the length of the cycle. For example, the sale of a chocolate bar to person would last a few minutes, while the sale of a large commercial oil tanker may take a few months. This difference is not because of the physical size of the product but rather the time taken to make the decision to buy or not. Most individual buyers tend to be much faster in their decision making as compared to a large corporate entity. Therefore all the phases of the sales cycle mentioned above may not pertain to the sale of a chocolate bar!

Now that we have explore the different stages of a sales cycle, do let us know how you conduct the sales cycle in your firm. Please provide your comments below!

Building a robust Marketing and Sales Capability

Most companies are aware that revenue is of utmost importance to ensure growth and sustenance for the company. This is a 2 part post. Read the second part here

The two vital components of revenue are marketing and sales. Though most firms are well aware that marketing and sales functions are important aspects, very rarely do they look at marketing and sales as a capability not as an end goal  for generating revenue. This article does not downplay the importance of sales and marketing goals, but it does show that companies with systems and procedures can sweep up more opportunities than those firms with random or incomplete processes with goals at the end.

Another aspect is that, at times, companies fail to understand the boundaries of marketing and boundaries of sales.This creates an overlap of tasks and activities thereby causing loss in effective revenue management. The separate tasks and activities of revenue management as part of marketing and sales are described next.

Sales and marketing process has a variety of tasks and activities that can be sequenced in a linear fashion. This process is quite generic and can be adopted to a variety of industries and categories of companies. The following sequence shows the overall process of a typical sales cycle:

A typical sales cycle

Target → Lead → Confirmed Information (Contact, Account, etc) → Opportunity Exists → Understanding the pain point → Proposal → Negotiation → Closing → Maintenance or Recycle

What are targets?

Targets are pieces of information about a person or a set of persons from a particular source of marketing activity. For example, if a company has conducted a seminar, then all the attendees of the seminar would be potential targets for future marketing activities. There is no potential impact on the marketing or sales activities if targets change or have incorrect data. Target are quickly changed, deleted or modified depending on the type of information that is obtained about the target. There could be additional activities done on targets such as data cleaning or a call centre based verification. In some cases email subscriptions are requested to ensure targets are real. The most cost effective method is used to ensure targets are cleaned and moved to the next stage of qualification.

A target is just the starting point to a more personalised communication to a person or a company.

The next stage of activity in the sequence is to convert a target to a lead.

What are leads?

Leads are targets that have been qualified based on an email confirmation or a phone call. Since leads have origins in the target list, their conversion depends on the campaign activity.

Each campaign activity may have different types of qualifications and therefore not all targets get converted into leads. Targets which do not get converted, may not be important for the current campaign. In some cases, a marketing campaign starts from existing leads, that were used before or were those that would never converted in previous campaigns.

The stage of leads in the sequence of marketing and sales activities represents the boundary between marketing and sales.

A lead has sufficient information  about a person or a company to to have an effective communication. However a lead does not have all the information required to make it a sustainable data point for future interaction. This is because leads can appear as duplicates or may appear across different companies with different names.

Not all leads come from targets. Some are created directly in  the system based on the Information that is received by the company. These created leads are sometimes created by the marketing department and in some cases done by the sales department. Usually the volume entries for new leads are done by marketing department and lead corrections and data scrubbing is done by the sales department.

The conversion from targets to leads, exposes a level of efficiency that the marketing campaigns are able to achieve.

Why is this lead necessary?

In most companies the sales department may feel that marketing departments waste a lot of budget with no direct return on investment. A marketing department can use the ratio of targets to leads conversion to show a clear value of the different marketing campaigns that were conducted.

Usually leads have the same data that is in the target and therefore, most sales and marketing tools are not able to distinguish unique leads within their system. In the next stage of activity, the leads are changed to a more static data point and hence duplicates can be identified more easily.

Now, as a company, we are quite sure that the customer exists and the person we are talking to exists. The information about the lead has a significant level of confirmation. The next stage of activity in the sequence is to convert a lead to a contact.

Read part 2 of Building a robust marketing and sales capability

From Risks to Audits

Risk management and audit management are distinctly separate in terms of personnel involved and the techniques used. Most organisations that have ventured into assessing risks, have found that moving from risk assessment to audit (control and test creation) is quite a daunting task. Conceptually, moving from risk assessment to audits is the ideal and logical step to take, but there has be considerable hesitation from numerous organisations.

The GRC Envelop tool has a risk management module for the enterprise version. Risk registers, associated risks, stakeholders, risk opinions/scoring, risk treatments and many more features are present in the risk module. However, there is no connection between the risk management module and audits module.Why is this left out?

Once there is a decision by the business management as to which risks exist and which are to be assessed, the next step is vague for most of the clients. Here are some of the approaches that have been noticed when we implement GRC Envelop at organisations who have started risk-based auditing:

  • create a new audit and define a “relatively” new set of controls that will assess the risks
  • map the risks to a department or division and create a new set of controls
  • modify existing controls and tests to cover the new risks, but later realise there are control gaps

Over time we have observed two aspects that should help overcome the hesitation while moving from risks to audit creation; first, the understanding that risks are part of a process that exists in the organisation and second, the overlap between existing controls/tests and the new ones has to be taken care of.

Risk as a part of a process

Risks do not exist independently within an organisation.

The recommendation is to attach a risk that needs to be handled, to an existing process. This existing process forms the basis of the risk based audit. Attaching the risk to a process is the most efficient mechanism to track where the risk would fall within the entire organisation.

However, attaching risks directly to a process may not be the ideal situation because risk exists with reference to an objective. A risk is the situation when an objective fails to achieve the desired output of a process. Therefore, attaching the risk to an objective is a much better alternative. This results in the overall structure being: Process (at the top), having numerous objectives, and each objective having numerous risks.

Do keep in mind that risks may span multiple objectives.

Control and test overlap

Though it is true that newly identified risk may need a new set of controls and tests to capture the assurance that business management needs, it is not true that these controls and tests have to be new completely new. Most large organisation have quite stable processes and keeping this assumption means that the newly identified risks may have been implicitly captured in some other control.

Understanding control overlap caused by the newly identified risk is a painful process of weeding out controls and tests that are no longer needed. This also maintains an optimised number of controls and tests for each process (not to mention control owner satisfaction).

Not so easy to find a common path

To conclude, I agree that moving from risk assessment to audit execution is not a straight forward task, but the framework of using the process/objective hierarchy will help ease the transition and help manage the ever growing risk control matrices in large organisations.

One aspect that I’d like to throw in is, the feedback from audit results back to risk assessment, but I think I’ll keep it for another post.

I look forward to your feedback on how you move from risk assessment to audit definition!

Looking for an Audit management tool at low cost?

When looking for a GRC software, how much would price affect your decision? Would you try a free open source, but reduced feature software?

An interesting comment on the Norman Marks blog asks why you would stick to a fixed set of features rather than look for “á la carte” GRC software. At what “point” would you choose product that covers a fixed feature set over a pick-and-choose approach to software or visa versa?

The GRC Envelop is a risk and audit management tool that is web – based and has risk and audit work flows. To answer the price issue, GRC Envelop tool is available in 2 licences: an open source licence and an enterprise licence. The open source licence is referred to as the community version. The enterprise licence is refer to as the enterprise version. The enterprise version has commercial support and many additional features to help with risk and audits. Please take a look at the feature list to decide which one is better for you.

GRC Envelop tries to blend the price and feature set issue by the classic software design of breaking the tool into modules. For example, the risk management module that can be swapped for another risk management tool, using APIs provided.

Audit and risk management tools are quite common in the enterprise, and they help structure the audit work flow, maintain a common repository of audit/risk related information (such as objectives, risks, controls, and tests) and manage the people around the audit/risk activities. Assuming we look at audit management for now, there are four basic areas for every audit management tool should have:

  1. Creating audits – Title, description, start and end dates are of some of the features that are available while creating an audit. You can also attached work papers to an Audit. While creating an audit, you can create the processes, the objectives, the risks, the controls and the tests. At each of these levels you can attach work papers too.
  2. Managing and executing audits – to manage or execute an Audit, the GRC Envelop tool provides a separate workflow to ensure that auditors can only enter test results and test descriptions. While executing the audit you can create findings and actions. The ability to make control and test assessment is only available in the enterprise version.
  3. Report generation – the main use of this tool is to provide easy report generation at the end of an auditing exercise. report generation template can be modified according to your needs. The community version has only one default report generation template. The enterprise version has the ability to have multiple templates.
  4. User management – Restricting users to their areas is an important task for a tool. The community version has only one user type ( auditor) whereas the enterprise version has 6 user types (Audit manager, auditor, external viewer, internal business user, repository manager and risk manager)

The GRC Envelop provides all these basic areas. Paid support is also available for the community version. The community version has to be downloaded and installed on your machine or server. The enterprise version can be run on your servers or hosted on a public server. Please take a look at the feature list to understand which version will be most suitable for your use. Here are a few questions that we’d like to pose:

  1. Do you think there are other basic areas that was missed out?
  2. How would you define if a audit tool is easy or complex to use (steep learning curve)? The time it takes to learn a tool is one aspect, what else affects complexity?

Let us know in the comments below.

Point a web domain to the server

There are two ways you could point your web domain to our servers:

  • Change name servers (preferred)

  • Set the A/AAAA records

Change name servers

  1. Log into your web domain account.
  2. Look for the link or tab that states manage DNS (Domain Name Service) or manage NS (Name Server)
  3. You will now see a list of settings such as A Records, Hosts, CName (alias), MX (Mail servers), TXT (Text records), SRV (service), NS (Name Servers)
  4. We are looking for the NS (Name Servers) settings. It will look something this:
  5. Name ServersChange the values to the following:
    • NS1.QUICKROUTEDNS.COM
    • NS2.QUICKROUTEDNS.COM
    • NS3.QUICKROUTEDNS.COM
  6. Save your settings and exit from your domain account
  7. Email support or use the contact form so the we can complete the steps from our side.

Set A/AAAA records

  1.  Similar to changing Name servers first you should log into your web domain account.
  2. Look for the link or tab that states manage DNS (Domain Name Service).
  3. You will now see a list of settings such as A Records, Hosts, CName (alias), MX (Mail servers), TXT (Text records), SRV (service), NS (Name Servers)
  4. We are looking for A record or Hosts setting. It is usually the first in the list and would look something like this
  5. A Records

    A Records

  6. Change to value of the field to the value the is mentioned in your email. The value is four numbers separated by a dot. For example 192.168.122.160 (Do NOT use this value but take the one from your email!)
  7. Save your settings and exit from your web domain account.
  8. Email support or use the contact form so the we can complete the steps from our side.

At any point if you get stuck or get confused, we are here to help! Just mail support or use the Contact Us

Payments

Here are the details for making payments for you web hosting accounts

  • Indian Rupees (INR) only accepted
  • Please transfer to ICICI Bank via NEFT
  • Add your reference number (from the email you received) with your payment details

Name: Arambankudyil Consultancy Private Limited

Account Number: 626405018655

IFSC: ICICI0006264 (ICICI Edapally Branch)

Do not forget to add your reference number

A basic supplier information sheet

I have been asked numerous times as to what comprises a basic supplier information. What are bare minimum pieces of information that has to be tracked for each supplier that a firm deals with? Here is a small list that I think will help get you started with managing your suppliers.

Description Additional Information
Supplier # Unique Number for each supplier
Name  
Name 2  
Name 3  
Name 4  
Address  
PO Box  
City  
District  
Postal Code  
Region  
Country  
Industry  
Created on  
Created by  
Last Update On  
Bank # Bank number of supplier
SWIFT / BIC Routing number
Bank #2  
SWIFT / BIC 2  
Account group  
Customer If Supplier is also a customer
Block Payment Block supplier
Tax Number 1  
Tax Number 2 Some Suppliers have multiple tax numbers
Telephone 1  
Telephone 2  
Fax Number  
Telex number  
Email1  
Email2  
Contact Person 1  
Contact Person 2  
URL  
Credit Information Identifier  
Transportation zone  
Currency Usual currency amount
Account with supplier This is your account # on the supplier’s system
Advance Payment If this supplier requires advance payment