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How To...

How To...

Adopting the latest digital trend

When deciding where and when to invest in technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and biometrics, consider whether the new technology does one of the following in a unique way:

— Eliminates customer pain. Know your customers’ biggest pain points, and assess whether the new technology alleviates them.

— Elevates customer service. Introducing any new technology should enable better delivery of the core components of your brand promise.

— Creates a differentiated, personalised customer experience. Does the technology create a purchase experience that’s unique to each customer?

(Adapted from How to Know Which Digital Trends Are Worth Chasing, by Robert Haslehurst, Chris Randall, Jon Weber and Charlie Sullivan)

Take time to discuss your company’s culture

Companies should be as intentional about culture as they are about strategy and business model innovation. To become more systematic about culture design, you need to have tough conversations about what your current culture is and what your ideal culture looks like. Then you can work to bring the two closer together. Start these discussions by focusing on three elements:

— Outcomes. The things you want (and don’t want) your culture to achieve.

— Behaviours. The visible parts of your culture; the positive or negative actions people perform every day.

— Enablers and blockers. The formal or informal policies, rituals and rules that enable or block your culture — they’re the elements that truly help you to achieve your desired culture.

(Adapted from Don’t Let Your Company Culture Just Happen, by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur and Kavi Guppta)

Realistic sales goals

Unrealistic goals not only dampen sales but also cause top-performing salespeople to get frustrated and leave. Here’s how to assess whether your sales goals are stretching into the impossible:

— Track historic goal achievement outcomes. Set a benchmark for the percent of salespeople that should make their goals (typically 60-75pc). If the percentage is consistently below the benchmark, then your goals likely are too high.

— Prevent padding. Don’t allow senior leaders to pad national or regional goals before handing them down. Determine whether padding is occurring, to what extent and at what organisational level.

— Use diagnostics. Classify salespeople into high-, average- and low-performance segments, and track and compare voluntary attrition rates across the segments. Excessive attrition of high performers coupled with low goal achievement may mean your goals are overstretched.

(Adapted from Can Your Sales Team Actually Achieve Their Stretch Goals? by Andris A. Zoltners, P.K. Sinha and Sally E. Lorimer)

Get the most out of an internship

An internship is a great way to gain experience, build your résumé and even land a full-time job. But a short stint in a company may not be enough time to secure a job recommendation or full-time offer. Here are three ways to stand out:

— Be relentlessly punctual. Show up on time (or early) in the morning, arrive for meetings before they begin and complete assignments by their deadlines.

— Complete each task with excellence. Pursue any assignment — even if it’s mundane — with drive and determination. If you’re asked to make coffee, make the best coffee your colleagues have ever had.

— Ask questions. Anytime you’re meeting with a peer or superior, think of thoughtful questions you can ask that show you’re prepared for the meeting and that you respect their time.

(Adapted from 6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship, by John Coleman)

Hire for creativity

To build a team of creative thinkers, you need to hire people who are open to new experiences and have resilience, emotional stability, flexibility and empathy. During interviews with potential hires, ask questions that test for these traits. For example, you might ask the candidate to come up with multiple solutions to a problem, and then see if he is able to draw connections between those solutions to find a novel approach. If you want to test a candidate’s ability for empathy, have him tell a story about a day in the life of a potential customer to see whether he can take on someone else’s perspective.

(Adapted from A Data-Driven Approach to Group Creativity, by Bastian Bergmann and Joe Schaeppi)

Published in Dawn, Business & Finance weekly, October 24th, 2016

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