Ask the right questions to get the right answers

IN this column, I continue with a series of articles that identify how to explore different perspectives driving success related to something (the situation, your focus) that you want to decide, resolve, plan and implement. Today, I look at the perspective of safety. Before you and your key people embark on any initiative to change or improve things, spend some time exploring people’s perceptions, understanding and commitment from the point of view of safety. Here is a list of questions that you and relevant others could consider. You don’t need to answer all questions - just those that resonate with you and your situation or focus. Some questions will produce the same answer. Reason? Sometimes you can ask a question and get no answer. Rephrase the question and, bingo, you get an answer. Give this list to the relevant people and give them time to reflect on the questions, then discuss and explore all viewpoints. 1) How does our focus affect sales and marketing and / or how do sales and marketing affect our focus? How could we incorporate changes to our sales and marketing strategy? How could we incorporate raw materials and supplier’s costs (or future changes) into this situation? 2) How could we incorporate competitor activity into this situation? What could we do better than our competitors in this situation? How could we provide better after-sales service than our competitors in this situation? 3) How could we better manage equality between what we say about our product or service delivery and what we can actually deliver in this situation? 4) What could we do to increase sales? How could we better manage our key accounts in this situation? What products or services generate the highest sales and the best profit margins? How does that affect this situation? 5) How could our formats for promoting the features, advantages and benefits of our product / service range be improved in this situation? How could our point of sale material differentiate us in the market place? Be better than our competitors? 6) What dollar value are we getting for our existing marketing initiatives? What could we do to retain existing customers and attract new customers? What activities could we initiate to develop new business? 7) How do we ensure that frontline people know and communicate the features, advantages and benefits of our product / service range? What training and support is needed for our sales and / or marketing people in this situation? 8) How well is our product/service range meeting/exceeding the needs, wants, preferences or expectations of our customer base? How does that affect our focus? 9) How could we anticipate and respond to changing market conditions? How could we incorporate the key factors that affect our market in this situation? 10) In what ways is our total product / service offering better than our competitors in this situation? In what ways is our technical support service better than our competitors? 11) How well are we collaborating between marketing, sales, stock, supply, warehousing, logistics, invoicing and documentation to provide a seamless transaction for customers? 12) How could we better communicate our total ‘value for money’ package to the customer? 13) How could we better manage the relationships between our frontline sales and marketing people and the buyer/decision maker/end user? 14) How are we separating fact from opinion? How well are we drilling down to get the facts? 15) How might our current ways of thinking about sales and marketing perspectives be limiting our effectiveness or future success? 16) What ways of thinking about sales and marketing perspectives might serve us better? Daniel Kehoe created and developed the Super-Thinker ® – an outstanding and innovative tool for decision making, problem solving and planning. He has worked as a management consultant/acilitator since 1979 in Australia and overseas. In that time he has worked with over 5,000 managers ranging from chief executives to frontline managers. Daniel is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants and is the author of the best-selling You Lead, They’ll Follow book series, volumes 1, 2 and 3 published by McGraw Hill and sold worldwide. On-line See the Super-Thinker ® at Contact Daniel

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