The CEO Challenge

Helping you apply the science of Revenue Generation to drive predictable, profitable growth

CEO Challenge

Two Ways to Plan Revenue– Which Would You Choose?

Method 1:

First we will set next year’s budget for the company and each department.  Then we willFotolia_32383368_XS have each department spend the next day planning how they will allocate the budget for their team and bring back any issues we must adjust.

Based on the applied budget we will do a SWOT for each group, product and for the company to present those back to the big group.

Finally, on the last afternoon the job is to go back into teams and assign responsibility for meeting the revenue targets by departments and products for next year.  We will close the meeting with 15 minute presentations showing where the assigned revenue is going to come from and who is responsible.

Next week you go back and launch your 4th quarter revenue push and lay the foundation to accomplish your next year assignment.

That is a “no Revenue Strategy” way to do planning.  The goals and the resources come from headquarters and the world is expected to bend to HQs dream with NO reflection of the value the customer wants.

Method 2:

Imagine if day one the group answered these 5 questions and then deployed in alignment teams based on the answers?

  1. What is our brand promise?
  2. What’s the customer “problem” that we solve that no one else solves?
  3. What niche/s do or will we dominate?
  4. Who is our ideal customer?
  5. Which are our key offers for dominating the niche?

The deployment plan is aligned to these questions, which creates aligned metrics to manage to.  Since deployment is aligned it is easy to define the budget required to dominate a niche or niches based on the value of the customer’s problem we uniquely solve.

Which method do you want to use, the first or the second?

“Revenue Science” creates the greatest growth from your
Marketing, Selling, and Delivery resources deployed.

Contact Us to learn about “Revenue Science”
deployment and certification.

Article written by Rick McPartlin

Rick McPartlin

As the co-founder and president of The Revenue Game, my mission is to help companies focus their organizations around the critical function of "revenue generation."

CEO Challenge

3 Ways to Create “Buyer Frame of Reference” Habits in any Team

Buyers know that every company on the planet wants their money.customer

The way companies get the buyers money is by making money “FROM” the buyer or “WITH” the buyer.

There are some buyers who look forward to competing with the seller to see who pummels who.  There are some times when a buyer just needs to fill their empty tank with gas and puts up with a little pain at the pump price, but most of the time buyers want to do business with persons and organizations who want to make money with them.  They want others who are on the same side of the table, where they value similar things, have integrity, and where everyone works for long-term value.

There are sellers who would like to make money with the buyer but don’t know how to do that.  Here are 3 teachable, trainable and measurable ways to be sure the seller team is making money with the buyer by living and engaging from the “buyer frame of reference.”

First, get the last two weeks of written communication for members of your team (emails, letters, proposals, presentations, cover letters, etc.).  Next get a colored highlighter and start reading the written communication.

Every time some first-person reference is in a document put the highlighter to work.  Every time there is an I, me, we (talking about the seller’s team), company name, etc. shows up in one of those communications light it up.

Now pick one or two of those documents and ask the writer to do it again with no more than two first persons (none is better).  Now facilitate your team talking about two things.  Which language is more powerful – more thought leader like and which will be more compelling to the reader.

Second, ask the team to identify the next three scheduled communication connections with suspects, prospects, partners or customers.  For these three activities answer this question:  Why will the receiver of the communication be glad they got the communication.

If the receiver will not be glad, how do you change the message to be of value to the receiver.  Then never again send an email, letter, proposal, request, introduction or make a phone call when you don’t know how to delight the receiver of the communication before it happens.

Third, make a “Joint SOW” (scope of work) part of the engagement process.  A Joint SOW is how you create clarity between you and your customer around customer value.  The clarity starts with the problem, need or goal of the customer. Once you think the customer’s problem is clear align what you believe you can do to eliminate that problem and link your plan with their pain seeking continual and measurable clarification.

Part of the Joint SOW is who does what (you, the customer or some other party).  Another part of the Joint SOW is sizing (how long will it take, how much will it cost, what is the result the customer can count on) and finally what exactly is the engagement model the customer can expect from you and you from them.  This is all being done before what is thought of as selling.  This is making sure that engaging with the buyer is the best possible choice for both of you.

Amazon does the “Joint SOW” as a process in about 3 minutes, in a restaurant great wait staff do this when diners sit down, and Oracle does this with the buyer’s enterprise team buying ERP over a 3-month period.  Build the “Joint SOW” that fits you and your ideal buyer.

The power in a “Joint SOW” is that the buyer knows the outcome will be based on a joint understanding of their goals that is supported by an aligned and measurable engagement model.

All three of these activities can easily become habitual for no financial investment.  Almost immediately each of the three create better relationships with prospects and customers making everyone more money with less effort and risk.

Go get the yellow marker and start highlighting the trajectory of your increased sales and profitable growth.

“Revenue Science” creates the greatest growth from your
Marketing, Selling, and Delivery resources deployed.

Contact Us to learn about “Revenue Science”
deployment and certification.

Article written by Rick McPartlin

Rick McPartlin

As the co-founder and president of The Revenue Game, my mission is to help companies focus their organizations around the critical function of "revenue generation."

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CEO Challenge

CROs biggest problems are being “right” and moving “fast”

There are be a lot of books and movies about time travel and seeing the future. Often the premise is the hero Businessman looking for new businesswho can see the future but can’t tell anyone without breaking a trust or sending the world into at state of confusion as bad as Hell itself.

This forces the hero to save the day without asking for help to bring the world back to stable alignment.

In the real world there are professionals who live this experience. There are teachers, social workers, probation officers, clergy and cops who see an infant, a child in kindergarten or first offender in court. Even without a crystal ball or next year’s newspaper the future is written. This person will have a highly challenged future of poverty, illness, substance abuse and / or legal problems. Is the outcome always the way envisioned? Of course not. There are places and ways to change those futures to create leaders, teachers, business owners and cops. There is also the possibility that just plain good luck will change everything.

Doctors live this “clear future” experience all the time. What they see is even more scientific than the other professionals. Every day Doctors “clear future” gets even more predictable because every day there is more science, more research and more data to analyze and predict. As doctors ask better questions, do better diagnostic tests and tie all of the body systems together to access interdependency they help patients live longer and healthier lives.

The social professionals and the doctors improved ability to diagnosis and help people make changes grow, but there are powerful things that inhibit change and they are:

1. The patient, client or customer willingness to listen and apply the learnings to their life.
2. The patient’s, clients, or customer’s discipline to change and move to a new and better place.

CROs are professionals just like the groups above and like the doctors apply science from many areas to support and guide their organizations or clients to a place of health and long-term financial success.

Like these other professionals the CRO can see realities that are invisible until there is a diagnosis and then they can recommend the application of the best “Revenue Science” has available. Like the other professions the issues are about this organization’s survival and ability to thrive. “Revenue Science” will make that predication very accurate after the diagnosis. Then the issues are:

1. Will the organization or client or customer and apply the learnings.
2. Once the organization or clients understands the learnings do they have the discipline to change and move to a new and better place.

To be a CRO like the other professions is driven by passion. The passion is to apply the science so individuals, teams, industries or countries so they don’t wake up one day and realize their ability to compete is in trouble and time has run out.

Because of “Revenue Science” a CRO like an MD sees what is coming and often they see it months or years before that day when it is too late. What the CRO can’t do is see the future and force their organization or clients to align with it overnight.

A CRO’s work is organization wide with many professional and personal belief systems. On day one each person and part of the organization has beliefs, facts and myths born in their individual experience and business silo. In addition, almost every person and silo has had success in the past using what they know, so change is scary.

An analogy to the silo beliefs is from medical science. The patient has gotten to 35 without much exercise, they have a high stress job, still smoke and love their beer and don’t believe that pre diabetic means they will become diabetic. They heard the doctor, can’t believe it applies to them and plan to be a little careful but no real changes.

CROs face the same issues with an organization. The silos really believe they just need to do more of what they have been doing and maybe do it better. They often believe all their problems are out of their control. The problems may be brought on by the other silos, the market, technology changes or just a bad economy.

The CRO knows that “Revenue Science” provides ways to drastically improve results by focusing on what can be controlled and part of that is getting the silos aligned to a Revenue Strategy and deploying accordingly.

The CRO can see exactly what needs to be done and it should start now, but the humans in the game are not ready to change the rules. The CRO wants to move fast and far, but if they try too much too soon it will all fail and the CRO will need a new job and won’t be replaced (the CRO will be seen as the problem).

The CRO can see how the organization can move forward, step-by-step pulling the silos into a team – if only the team would play. To win for the organization and for the CRO mission it is about changing the habits of the humans over time. As the habits of the humans change the culture changes and the level of achievement changes also.

The successful CRO will redefine how fast to move and what habits to change based on the team. In the short-term these “Revenue Science” habits are steps toward the culture they want in the long-term.

Examples of short-term human habits to develop are:
1. Establish a high-level cross organizational Revenue RoadMap with key human behavior outcomes (if a suspect doesn’t tell you the problem they want solved and what that will look like – this is not a qualified prospect) along the RoadMap.
2. Establish high-level cross organizational metrics based on those human behaviors that are simple to capture (and in the future can be continuously improved).
3. Change all communication to be buyer focused – try to eliminate all I, we, us, me, etc. by getting your highlighter out.
4. Change all phone scripts to be customer focused.
5. For any activity (marketing, an email, a meeting, a demo) be clear up front the expected human behavior outcome expected and measure.

Over time as “a” human habit changes the disciplined CRO starts the process to change another habit and is teaching everyone all the time about how all of this fits together in a Revenue Strategy based Revenue RoadMap.

CROs, doctors and teachers all want everyone to make massive improvement NOW because these professionals know it can be done. They also know once the change is made everything is better, but since they deal with people they have to be patient and move one step at a time.

Being “right” and moving “fast” often makes you “wrong” and everything will take “too long.”

Article written by Rick McPartlin

Rick McPartlin

As the co-founder and president of The Revenue Game, my mission is to help companies focus their organizations around the critical function of "revenue generation."

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CEO Challenge

CLASSIC- Growth through Focus: It’s Clear as a Bell

Every now and then we look back at our articles and see some that we consider CLASSICS. They were relevant then and are relevant now.  This is one of them.

"Faced with economic headwinds, many global corporations are struggling to grow their businesses profitably.

"Meanwhile, many business leaders continue to seek growth by extending their existing product lines and brands, as well as by entering new geographic regions. After all, growth is supposed to be about ‘MORE’ — more products on the shelf, more categories, more brands, and more markets.

"However, this approach is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what business leaders should do to drive increased revenues and profits."

Growth through Focus: A Blueprint for Driving Profitable Expansion
Strategy+Business, August 2010

It may sound strange, but regular CEO Challenge readers will easily agree with authors Sanjay Khosla (Kraft Foods) and Mohanbir Sawhney (Kellogg School of Management). It’s true:  In the science of revenue generation, FOCUS & ALIGNMENT are always the answer for consistent, profitable growth.

Yet KNOWING something isn’t the same as DOING it. So let’s make the first steps clear as a bell. Over the months ahead, we’re publishing a series of articles about the most important tool in the "revenue generation" practice bag – THE BELL CURVE.

The Bell Curve

In 1991, Geoffrey Moore reminded the business world about the power of the Bell Curve in his classic “Crossing the Chasm,” and we’ve built on the model to provide clarity on the strategies and tactics companies should use at different points.

The Bell Curve represents the lifecycle and profits of a successful product or service (“offer”). An offer is born on the left and generates minimal profits early in life, but one day it finally experiences a long-awaited growth spurt. High growth rates naturally slow as the offer reaches its full market potential at the top of the curve. Time passes … the offer matures … profits begin to decline ever so slowly, then more rapidly. Finally, the offer dies when it reaches the right.

Depending on the industry, some curves are wider or steeper, but the concept is the same: birth, growth, death.

What does this have to do with focus? Think of the Bell Curve as a bell on a buoy during a foggy night. The bell alerts a sleepy ship’s crew to change course while the buoy guides the captain through the fog to safety.

In other words, the bell is a critical tool for maintaining focus and alignment. In fact, it should drive everything your company does throughout an offer’s life. It defines the strategy for growth, the structure you’ll need to support that growth, and everything you do to execute your strategy.

And there’s another key: It doesn’t matter where you think your offer is on the curve.  Only your customers’ opinions count.  They’re the ones who are ringing the bell.

Step one: Understand your buyers

To improve your focus, place each of your offers on the Bell Curve. This is much harder than it sounds because you need to take your customers’ point of view about what they’re buying from you, not what you think you’re selling. Do you REALLY know why they buy, what they think and expect, and how long the relationship will continue? Have you honestly asked that question to them or your team lately? Guessing doesn’t count -- like the ship’s captain in a foggy channel, you need to know exactly where you are. Reality is unforgiving.

Here’s your mission: Find out what your customers are truly 1) buying and 2) paying you for. Their answers will place your offer on the curve.

On the left, they pay for your brain

When a new offer is born, buyers have never seen one just like it.  They may have no clue why they need or want it, and if given one, they probably won’t understand how to extract value from it.

To sell this baby, you’ll need to really hunt for prospects who are highly likely to need it. They ALSO need to be willing to invest time and money to explore something new and daring. That means they’ll need a VERY LARGE upside (personally and for their company) from your offer.

Your fates are now intertwined: this young, inexperienced offer must deliver tremendous value, so you need to partner with customers, guide implementation and ensure your mutual success. In the process, you’ll also discover and resolve problems with your offer that could hamper your expansion.

This partnering requires a lot of time on both sides, and good buyers will make sure you stick around to deliver the upside. So if your offer doesn’t carry a premium price tag, a good buyer will think 1) your brainpower isn’t worth much, 2) you have no motivation to make sure the offer succeeds, and 3) the promise of huge upside can’t possibly be true. Good buyers – the ones that you’re most likely to succeed with – will understand why you’re expensive. In fact, they WANT you to be expensive because they NEED and VALUE you.

That’s why these customers are 1) buying your offer and 2) paying for your brain. On its own, the offer isn’t viable. It’s your brain that delivers the value and success.

On the right, they pay for "stuff"

On the other side of the bell, buyers believe they know everything they need to know about your offer -- in fact, they frequently think they know more about it than you do. After all, your offer is a commodity and it’s in decline. Don’t bother trying to sell your brain - they will only buy and pay for your stuff.

In the middle, it's a mix

Then there’s the happy medium. At the top of the Bell Curve, buyers have some knowledge about the business and/or technical elements of your offer, but they also need some of your brain to maximize its value. Buyers can clearly state a problem, but they need your help with the solution. At this stage, you can win customers by using your stuff, your brain, AND the buyer’s brain to create a solution to the buyer’s problem.

Once you understand what your buyers are truly buying, you can place those offers into one of five “tracks” on the Bell Curve. Each track represents the strategy, structure and executional plan you’ll need to drive profitable revenue through that lifecycle stage.

So where's your company?

Your company probably has offers at different points on the curve, and now you can envision how different the strategies, structure and execution must be to support those various offers.

Here’s where the concept of focus comes in: Where would you put the essence of your COMPANY on the Bell Curve?

> Are you a company that sells stuff (Commodity Track)? Stuff has low margins but makes up for it with high volume, straightforward transactions. Customers who buy stuff care about product and price, so you have a big marketing and promotions budget to reach this audience. You may sell through retail, distributors, channels, the web, call centers. And since you’re competing on price, this track requires excellent tactical, operational organizations that can tightly control costs.

> If your company brings your products and brains to solve problems alongside your customers, you’re in the middle of the curve (Solution Track). Your customers and competitors understand the problems to be solved, so the market is competitive. Yet with a market this large, there’s a lot of business to go around, so margins are good. Your revenue comes from direct selling and some channel effort supported by solid marketing initiatives. To win in this track, you need to be very good at 1) your skill area and 2) working collaboratively with your prospects/customers.

> Now let’s say you and your employees get up every morning and think about how your offer changes the status quo (Proactive Partnering Track). There isn’t a recognized market for your offers, but you suspect a very large opportunity to create huge upside for customers who have major problems. You also have to find buyers who seek out new ideas, will shoulder the risk without worrying about your short track record, and are willing (almost eager) to pay through the nose, so you’d better be proactively selling your brain. At this stage you have to be good at doing everything simultaneously – developing your market, message, niche, brand and offers – and hope you’ll create a predictable revenue stream from some of it.

Remember: Growth through Focus!

Now you can really start to focus. Your Bell Curve location drives your value proposition, go-to-market approach, customer profile, pricing model, core competencies, competitive strategy, cost structure, messaging and much more.  It also highlights which offers are closely aligned with the company’s spot on the curve and could represent the greatest potential for sustainable, profitable growth.

“Growth through focus” means dropping the distractions to concentrate your organization on strategies and offers with the greatest potential and alignment with the company’s core competencies. And the Bell Curve is a powerful tool to gain clarity on why and how to proceed.

“Revenue Science” creates the greatest growth from your
Marketing, Selling, and Delivery resources deployed.

Contact Us to learn about “Revenue Science”
deployment and certification.

Article written by Rick McPartlin

Rick McPartlin

As the co-founder and president of The Revenue Game, my mission is to help companies focus their organizations around the critical function of "revenue generation."


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