Take two random companies “A” and “B”. They are both facing stiff competition and the marketing and sales budgets are fixed in stone; how would they go about increasing revenues?
The marketing manager from company “A” might try to convince the finance department to increase its budget or try to invoke a jolt of energy into the sales force via pep talks or threats to increase sales for the upcoming quarter.
This approach, though sometimes work in the short-term, is generally very stressful and less predictable in the long-term. When quotas aren’t met everyone usually trades blame which leads to more frustrations.
Is their another way?
Enter the world of company “B” where incremental innovation is ongoing. Company “B” knows the importance of incremental innovation and thereby makes it a part of the job description. When applied to sales and marketing the result is a system that converts more prospects and turn the competition into followers.
This is the approach company “B” uses to thrive and lead the market.
Professional marketers use incremental innovation all the time to increase conversion rate. An example would be testing which headline in a split test converts more prospects.
So how would you go about getting your employees in sales and marketing to commit to your incremental innovation program? Remember, incremental innovation occurs by making a small change then conducting a test against the control then making another change and conducting another test then repeat until you have a well optimized process.
First, your employees need to know how to use their imaginations. Without the use of their imaginations breakthroughs aren’t possible. It is the thinking tool that makes innovation possible. It’s the most potent tool everyone has at their disposal. It’s not money or even superior products.
Second, they need to know how to ask the most appropriate question at each step. Using your imagination is all about asking the right questions at each step of the way which naturally leads to small breakthroughs. Each of these small breakthroughs gives you greater insights into your prospects mind which leads to better marketing and increases in sales.
Third, the incentive for following the innovation program should be one that motivates the staff to act in the way you want them to.
One might ask, why doesn’t company “A” implement the incremental innovation approach? There are several reasons, such as ignorance of the alternatives and ignorance of the ease with which any alternative can be implemented.
A marketing manager from company “A” might state, I know it’s important to innovate but how do I get my employees to innovate and how much will it cost in time and real dollars? Other obstacles include employees who are reluctant to committing themselves to an innovation program. However, if the right incentives are in place few would object.
Imagine if the sales manager had to lay off a few workers in a short while and were to say to them, if you can find a unique way to improve sales, then the additional revenues would help to justify to the higher-ups to keep everyone. In fact, this example was used in Ray Giles book “Turn Your Imagination Into Money”, one of the best books on the use of the imagination in incremental innovation. It’s available at http://www.ImaginationBook.com. Giles shows in an example how quickly sales rose by 20% when one sales manager tried this approach. And best of all it didn’t cost much - no money, only a little time. This is the kind of virtually-cost-free innovation that causes company “B” to excel.
Company “B” excels because it’s committed to an incremental innovations program and your people will take innovation seriously if they realize that as innovation increases so do sales, their commissions and bonuses.
So company “B” has a successful feedback mechanism where everyone wins. The company wins with additional revenues, the marketing manager wins with a bigger bonus, less headache and less pep talk and the sales force wins with greater commissions.
Over time, company “B” will have well tested and highly optimized marketing and sales processes that yield great results. Aren’t these the processes that every company wants? They can be implemented and best of all they are cost-free.
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