How to better utilise a sales force, what should be done to maximise the value of the marketing budget, and ways to enhance the effectiveness of business strategies were among the topics addressed by experts at the Speakers Connect Showcase last Friday.
Priscilla Chan, founder and director of Speakers Connect, said the event was designed to inspire the audience with innovative ideas.
Frank Furness, a London-based speaker and an expert in sales, told the audience it was essential for traditional salespeople to believe in the products they sold. "If salespeople believe in the products and services, and they are focused like a laser beam, they are going to be great," said Furness, who is the author of Walking with Tigers - Success Secrets of the World's Top Business Leaders.
He also stressed the importance of thoroughly researching the target market.
Furness also spoke of the need for corporations to effectively motivate and utilise "unseen" and "unrecognised" sales forces.
For example, he said a hotel's frontline staff were an "unrecognised" sales force, and management should devote resources into training them properly to ensure that customers had a positive experience that they would then tell others about.
"[Managers] should have a mindset of 'customer first, task second'."
"Unseen" sales forces refer to the internet and the multiple social networking sites that young people use to share information.
Companies should get online and use channels such as YouTube for promotion, Furness said.
"They can set up sites providing specialists' advice and ideas, and publish online newsletters," he said. "Many people are keen to subscribe to online newsletters for an expert's advice. After several months of subscription, companies can begin selling products in their newsletters." These options were free, he said.
Advertising industry veteran Darren Woolley spoke on how an organisation could get the most value out of its marketing budget. To do this, an organisation must make the department as accountable as sales, Woolley said. "A common mistake is that marketing expenditures are not linked to results."
Woolley outlined a multistep approach to effective marketing which starts with clearly defining business objectives and developing holistic communication - sharing emotional and factual information - with the target audience.
The role of marketing should also be determined - whether it is the acquisition of new business, client retention, demand creation, or positioning. Strategies should be customised with measurable results.
David Goldsmith, an expert on leadership and management, spoke on how an organisation could maximise the effectiveness of its business strategies when its divisions found a common language before the strategic planning stage.
To develop strategies, leaders needed to identify the desired outcome and then consider the necessary tactics, he said.
Goldsmith told the audience that the development of "strategy of tactics" was crucial, whereby leaders and their teams selected the best tactics to achieve the desired strategic goal.
In building the tactics, leaders developed an efficient and clear map, or structure, in order to delegate projects to individuals with the skills required to execute them, Goldsmith said.
Bruce Stinson, of the Alpha Eight Institute, spoke on the importance of understanding others in enhancing teamwork and increasing productivity. Stinson said an interactive personality assessment and team-building exercise, called "Click! Colours", categorised people into four colour-coded personality types.
"Red represents the carer who listens to others and is keen on building relationships. Yellow likes taking risks and visualising grand schemes," he said.
"Those with 'green' personalities are organised and need everything to be within their control. Blue denotes an analyser who likes solving problems and providing logical explanations to everything."
Stinson said that while "Click! Colours" were a useful tool, we should avoid stereotyping and making generalisations. "We all have sub-personalities and our behaviour is influenced by the environment. The application of 'Click! Colours' is to enjoy the diversity of individuals and learn to leverage the different personalities and cultures, engage others, while always being yourself."