Business Competition Best Practices: Win Loss Research
Frequently I am asked "how do you get information about the competition?" Most people are surprised when I tell them that getting useful competitive intelligence is actually the easiest part of managing successful business competition. One of the best methods to gain valuable competitive intelligence is so simple, straightforward, and productive that I have put it on my list of Business Competition Best Practices: Win Loss Research.
The benefits that Win Loss Research routinely delivers include:
- Increasing your rate of successful wins in competitive sales situations
- Enhancing your product management and development initiatives
- Reducing the level of uncertainty involved in sales forecasting
- Strengthening top and bottom line results for your business
- Improving the efficiency of your sales cycle process
- Setting the stage for future business growth
Win Loss Research drills down beyond standard pricing issues and gets into territories such as: decision process, sales team approach and professionalism, company reputation, product attributes, service issues, and handling of proposals. Although pricing information is involved, it should not be the centerpiece of the research unless it becomes apparent that it really was the key issue that drove the decision. The goal of Win Loss Research is to provide you with competitive insight you can act upon - actionable competitive intelligence - for sales process improvement and better results.
Typically this research is conducted either over the telephone or in a face-to-face interview. The latter is more common in places and cultures where that is the preferred communication modality. Getting the results that you want out of Win Loss Research is a combination of art and science; art being the skill of the researcher in eliciting the intelligence that you need; science being the development of a research guide that facilitates the discovery of actionable competitive intelligence.
As with almost anything worth doing, focusing on Critical Success Factors (CSFs) increases the likelihood that you will get what you need. For Win Loss Research, focusing on the following CSFs will greatly increase your likelihood of obtaining productive competitor intelligence:
1) Use professional competitive researchers who are skilled in drawing out actionable competitive intelligence. They will also be perceived as unbiased, thereby ensuring candor.
2) Selecting the optimal mix of win and loss opportunities to research is a reasonably complex task which must be done correctly to ensure that you are gaining insight from the target markets that matter most.
3) Development of a stimulating research survey that operates as a guide rather than a questionnaire is the backbone to outstanding results.
Surprisingly, the tone and quality of the initial research request can make or break your ability to get robust participation.
A common pitfall among companies that report doing Win Loss Research is that they have their employees, typically the sales representatives, perform the research. You do need to have your sales people find out what happened. This should precede Win Loss Research which goes beyond the limited conversation from your sales reps' debriefing. Also, it defies human behavior to think that the customer will feel comfortable being candid with a sales rep who has not met their expectations or that the sales rep will be candid in passing along information that may be construed as unfavorable to them.
An extraordinary thing about Win Loss Research is that any size or category of company should be able to implement this as an ongoing business practice and see steady gains in their customer acquisition and sales. This form of research is not particularly costly or difficult to do, yet it does take a certain willingness to expose yourself to news that may make you uncomfortable at times.
One of the most frequent comments our researchers hear is a compliment to our clients for taking the time to learn and improve from their experience. Once you establish a practice of doing Win Loss Research routinely and take action on the results, your company will realize the benefits of implementing this business competition best practice. Author Bio
Celeste Bishop is President of Bishop Market Resources a Competitive Services Agency that provides a breadth of traditional and online competitive intelligence services, including business research and sales process improvement research. For more learning resources check Brain Food at: www.bishopmarketresources.com/competitive-intelligence-brain.html
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Over the course of my corporate career, as well as my career as a leadership keynote speaker, I have had the opportunity to observe, work for and learn from some great business leaders.
From my experiences with the "best leaders" I have known, I have compiled what I believe is a list of some of the most important leadership characteristics that make for an effective leader.
1. Leaders know they are judged not by what they say but by what they do - simply stated, leaders value actions over words. They know that they must lead by example. They know (I hope they do) that people - their team, peers, bosses and even competitors and adversaries are always watching them.
2. Leaders define reality and responsibilities - one cannot move to a better place until they know or define the place they are in - in the most specific way possible. Why? Because important decisions needed to move forward will be based upon the current reality.
3. Leaders set performance expectations and hold people accountable to get the job done - Leaders know that their primary role is to make things happen. The most basic responsibility of every leader is to set expectations. Expectations, when met, make things happen! Yet, many do not make full use of this very valuable tool.
4. Leaders find ways to challenge their team to help them grow and "stretch" their capabilities - a leader knows that if he gets better, his organization will automatically follow and get better. He or she also knows that if an individual team member gets better, the entire team will benefit..
5. Leaders reward the right actions - the right actions are those that move the organization closer to the vision that the leader has created. Some will be significant but most of these actions will be performed daily as part of the usual routine.
6. Leaders never accept "below average" and act quickly when poor performance has been identified -Regardless of how good a leader is or how well intentioned they are, the decision to follow him and meet the expectations he has set is a personal one made by each employee. However, just like it is easy to find and reward the right actions, a poor performing employee will be painfully obvious.
7. Leaders know how important it is to listen to what their team members have to say - effective leaders know that one of the best ways to engage their team members is to listen to them - about their job concerns; job challenges and their suggestions about how things can be improved.
So, what should you do now? Simple...conduct your own self examination to evaluate how well you are leading your team. Remember what I said earlier, when the leader gets better, so does the team and ultimately the business follows.
Conducting this type of business self analysis can be challenging. Sometimes it's hard to be objective when you are looking at yourself and your job performance. Not sure where to start? Call me. Let me help you create the plan that gets you the best results in the most reasonable timeframe. Like I said before, "leaders know that their primary role is to get things done" - starting with themselves!
Chris Ruisi is an experienced executive/business coach as well as accomplished leadership/business motivational speaker. He mentors and guides executives and business leaders to find their “stretch” point to learn the full measure of their capabilities in chaotic times. He helps them to “master being comfortable feeling uncomfortable.” Chris understands how leadership works, how organizations work, how power works, and how decision making works. Known as a popular blogger, and sought after speaker, he has also created an extensive video library on YouTube. Through this work, he has created a community of entrepreneurs, executives, and business leaders who understand the importance of Being Fearless; Stepping Up, and Playing Big. To learn more about Chris visit www.TheCoachszone.com or email Chris at Chris@TheCoachsZone.com
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Leadership time is your organization's most valuable asset. Where leaders focus their time and effort affects everyone below them and the organization as a whole.
So how can leaders make the best use of their time?There are a number of small, incremental changes - shifts - each leader can make to their daily behaviors that will assist in keeping both the focus and momentum of the organization pointed in the right direction.
Shifts in Personal Work Habits that Increase Focus
It's easy to get mired in the details of the day, to get lost in the weeds. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the end of the day and realizing thatno forward progress was made on the initiatives that matter most.
This happens because of the non-stop interruptions and distractions that bombard us throughout the day. Here are a couple of ways to reduce the daily "noise" you experience.
- Turn New Message Alerts Off. These self-inflicted interruptions are riddling your ability to focus and be productive.Instead, check your e-mail, texts and voice mails periodically throughout the day to remain responsive to those who need your attention.
- Create a Designated Work Space. Identify a defined physical space - like your desktop -that you clear of everything except the one thing you need to work on right now. Thiswill help you eliminate the distracting effects of peripheral vision,i.e., the files and other stuff on your desk.
- Do One Thing at a Time.There is a growing body of science thatproves that multi-tasking is inefficient. Still skeptical? Try having a conversation with someone who is checking their e-mail at the same timethey're "talking" with you. Doing one thing at a time means you can be laser focused on that one thing and results in increasedpersonal productivity.
These slight shifts in your personal work behaviors reduce the distractions and interruptions you suffer. The result will be a quieter, more focused work effort allowing you to get more done.
Shifts in Management Style that Increase Responsiveness
Managing others isa vital, yet time consuming activity. It's also an area wheregetting lost in the weeds is very easy to do. Try these shifts in your management style to increase both your responsiveness and efficiency.
- Reduce Meeting Length by 25%. Work fills the time allotted.If meetingsare scheduled for 60 minutes, they take 60 minutes.If scheduled for 45 minutes, they'll take 45 minutes. Shazam! We just found 15 minutes in the dayfor everyone.
- Use Robust Subject Lines. Descriptivesubject lines assist the reader to determine how important your e-mail is in relation to the othersalready inthe inbox. It also assiststheir ability to find and file it quickly.
- No Core Dumping in Real Time. You have a lot of good ideas, but you alsohave some not-so-good ideas. Sharing every new idea you have with your entire staff via a "group"missive is very distracting FOR THEM. Instead, gather your ideas together, review them periodically, and, if appropriate, share them with your staff to see if additional development is merited.
Time working or meeting with team members is some of the most expensive time spent in any organization. Maximizing that time is a key leadership objective and these suggestions can help you accomplish that objective.
Shifts in Leadership Perspective that Increase Effectiveness
A key leadership strategy is the development of team member talent. As your people become more capable, they can take shoulder more of theexisting workload and facilitate your focus and efforts on other initiatives. The following suggestions will help youcontinuously improve your team's abilities.
- DoRightVersusBeRight. Actions speak louder than words - always. People watch you - their leader - to determine what is important and how to achieve the results sought. Knowing when to do the right thing versus when to prove your intellectual prowess is a subtle skill that must be constantly refined for your and their benefit.
- Honor Face Time - Be Present. The most important time you spend with team members is the real-time time. Be totally present whenever you are engaged in a real-time event with one or more of your people. Do NOT check our e-mailon your BlackBerryor rummage around looking for things. Stop whatever you are doing and honor the"face time" spent with them.
- ElicitVersus Give Answers. If you answer every question your team asks, you're training them toask questions. Try asking questions back instead. You hired these people because you thought they were bright and capable. Give them a chance to prove it... to you both.
The more you develop the people around you, the more effective and cohesive you all become. Maintaining a view towards the small things you can do to effect this result will drive everyone to a higher level of ability.
Small Changes Create Large Benefit
The recommendations above may seem inconsequential. Many may seemobvious common sense. But challenge yourself to look clearly at how you work, manage and lead to see if any of these suggestions will benefit your organization.
Each suggested shift in behavior is small, but the aggregate benefit of these small shiftsis significant over time. Find a way to achieve that significance for yourself, your people and your organization.
Paul works with clients who believe individual performance drives organizational success. As the creator of the QuietSpacing productivity method, he is a frequent speaker and recognized expert on getting things done. Paul works with individuals, groups and organizations to create more productive working environments. You can learn more about Paul's work and subscribe to his complimentary newsletter - Six Minutes to Success - at www.quietspacing.com
Article Source: http://www.articlesphere.com/Article/Nine-Ways-Leaders-Can-Better-Manage-Their-Time/252058