Optimization has become the buzz term of the day. Let’s optimize our value propositions. Let’s optimize web site conversions. Let’s optimize our media spend. It may seem odd that a piece titled “Customer Revenue Optimization” would start by pointing out that the term “optimization” has come to lost its meaning.
But the reality is that it is the thinking beyond the buzz term that’s lost its way. All too often, firms are focused on optimizing sales and marketing, treating CRM as an expense item to be minimized. While expense reduction is a viable tactic for improving financial performance, there comes a point where pennies saved today will ultimately cost dollars tomorrow.
Moreover, many firms are under the illusion that growth can only come from improved or expanded sales and marketing.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
A short while ago, I began work with a small online retailer. The company was a text book example of everything it takes to succeed in today’s crowded retail space. Let’s call the company Cool-Mart. The company seemed to have the right mix of strategy and marketing; specifically, Cool-Mart:
There was only one problem:
There’s been a lot of talk about Web 2.0 as of late. This is the new era of the Internet where the web has gone to mobile devices and we are entering the “Internet of Things”—an age when every device is connected to the web and provides real-time data streams.
That’s probably right, but technological advancements are only as relevant as the impact that they deliver. In as much as we are in the era of Web 2.0, I’d argue we’re now living in the time of Business 3.0.
I think Thomas Friedman defined Business 1.0 as the time of the industrial revolution and Business 2.0 as the time of globalization. I’m defining Business 3.0 as the age of the Unicorn Club—an era defined by multi-billion dollar start-ups that go from idea to profitable business in just a matter of years.
I can think of nothing quite so important as sales. No, I am not some Machiavellian mastermind, nor do I go to bed at night scheming of how to manipulate and strong arm others. Yet these are the images that most often come to mind when one mentions the word or “sales”.
Yes, there are many equally important matters like love, morals, convictions, ethics and beliefs, but sales is the processes by which we identify and engage like-minded individuals who share these other traits.
I don’t assign much value to titles, but over the past decade, I don’t think I’ve had a single title that didn’t have the word “strategy” in it. Strategic Corporate Development. Strategic Planning. Strategic Marketing. Strategic Business Transformation…. The list is as long as it is boring.
It feels like everywhere we turn, everyone wants to be strategic. We no longer employ sales people, nor sales consultants, but—you guessed it, strategic sales consultants. Entry level positions at many professional services firms seem to start or end with the word “strategy”, and I can’t remember the number of times I’ve heard a senior business leader call for a “strategic approach” or ask for “strategic thinking”.