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

Revenue Management

Situation

The client was a rapidly growing food chain based in a metro city in South India. They are focused on the premium cafe customers who are looking for a/c, beautiful interiors and a South Indian menu.

The rapid expansion throughout India has caused their revenues to drop in 3 successive quarters. Most of the newly opened locations have not broken even after 3 months of operations.

Business Need

The client has done a thorough study on the viability of their shop at each new location so they are confident that the location has potential. The client needs to know what changes to make so that their overall revenue per location is increased.

Analysis

The initial knee jerk reaction of the client to the current situation was to increase the advertising budget and start localised advertising, such as flyers and local newspaper and TV channels. Our team had to convince the client’s management to pull back on all the advertising spend and evaluate the entire source of revenue before committing to an advertising budget.

From our expertise in the food and retail industries, we selected a range of parameters to collect data. Most of the parameters that we had selected, such as customer age range, frequency, etc. were available with the client. Some of the parameters such as local events, tourism related customers, etc were not available and therefore we had to setup the collection for the same. Most of the analysis pointed to weak product-market fit for the entire range of menu that was presented.

Solution

The client was instructed to cut back on all menu items to just the ones that were not present in the locality of each cafe. The remaining items on the menu formed the base framework to understand the taste palate of the local customer. We were quite surprised to see the difference between the menu items from location to location. This cut back was held for a few weeks before offering customers additional menu range as a free sample. All new items were provided free for a couple of months until there were some customers who specifically asked for the new menu item. We recommended this ‘ask’ as a trigger to place the item on the menu permanently.

Results

The results were significant to the client as they did not expect the variation in menu items from location to location. The assumption was that the local cafe from a particular location could thrust the opinion of taste to another geographic region and maintain the revenue. 

The client was aware of the taste requirements at their original location but refused to accept that their taste would not be accepted in its native form to another location. 

Once we had shown the client the cut back menu item and only when a customer ‘asked’ for a new item, the results were rather evident to the client. The revenues bounced back to healthy numbers and they have now become a well known eatery in nearly all their locations.

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!

Data analysis in Sales and Marketing

Situation

The client was a small mutual fund company whose parent company was a medium sized Bank based in Western Europe. As part of a major restructuring and cost reduction, a majority of the internal workforce was reduced at the mutual fund company. The marketing department was almost eliminated and the sales department was reduced by more than 50%.

Business Need

The client needed to show that they still have the ability to grab market share in the tight economy in Europe in 2011. The sales force was strained significantly because of the workforce reduction. The client needed a different strategy to approach the market.

Solution

The reduced sales force needed much more quality data to fill the sales pipeline. There was no other alternative. Buying market data sets would lead to large volume of cold calls and turnaround would be very slow.

Based on numerous conversations with the management of the mutual fund company, we found a majority of the board members and operational heads, also reported to the parent Bank. Using this as a key stepping stone to enter the parent Bank we were able to access the customer data of the bank.

We proposed to use the data of all the customers in the parent Bank and map them to the existing clients of the mutual fund company. Using data analytics tools we found potential customers from the parent Bank data that have similar characteristics as those who had bought mutual funds. Using this inference, we were able to rank the potential bank customers who had not yet bought mutual funds.

Results

The results were extremely pleasing to the client. The list of potential customers had a very high propensity to buy mutual funds and in turn the sales team found it very easy and efficient to approach and close new mutual fund accounts

Within a period of 3 months we were able to deliver the entire data set from the parent Bank, rank ordered for potential customers.

There was a 300% increase in new mutual fund account creation for the mutual fund company.

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