2017 new challenge again.

Since December last year have been requested to join an big international company. This company is an important manufacturer of wireless Systems and Telco Software Solutions. It’s a challenge without any doubt, I must develop business in those areas where I’ve been working since many years: Italy, Spain and Portugal, Latin America and Mexico. I must enhance its brand awareness, fight against hard competition and give fast results to my board.

You could ask me how could I accept this challenge, so difficult and with a high grade of being unsuccessful. I simply answer: because I believe in myself and I believe in the people who is supporting me.

I’m always trusting people and his capacity to help me. I’m always learning and my attitude is focused on facilitating proactivity. In this way, everywhere I go, I can find high level support and a lot of people willing to help me even in the most difficult activities.

I don’t want to make a long speech about management and managers’ qualities, everything has been discussed many times in my blog. What I can say is that in my work I simply apply what I think is right for me and my colleagues, everything based on an absolute respect but paying attention to establish targets and following up activities aimed to reach our goals.

Today the market asks you to be fast and is asking you to be a killer, avoid errors and straight to the target. Is not easy, I know but is a must if you want to be successful. The “funny” thing is that most of the time, well prepared people able to support you and giving you a high value is just working close to you! Simply they need to be involved deeply and, above all, stimulate them to give their own opinion on how to solve problems, address customers or modify processes to be more effective.

I think that this experience will be very important for me and definitely will make me grow again professionally and as a human being.

Hope to be able to start writing more often about this, because this experience deserves it.

Think Local, work global

Once again I would like to discuss, new business tendencies and above all rules I apply with my customers. Some days ago I was watching TV and suddenly I heard this sentence, “Think local and work global “.  This sentence could have different meanings; I try to tell you what I’m thinking about.

From my point of view, I think that actually is really important for many companies trying to local-globalwiden their market abroad. Italy for example has many companies mainly SMEs with a huge knowhow and an innovative product portfolio.

Unfortunately they are able only to move locally, they hire locally, design locally, as a matter of fact they do everything locally. Today new global markets oblige to widen strategies to new international markets. Local markets are getting smaller and smaller.

For this reason entrepreneurs must address new international markets, working global but preparing themselves and think about new strategies locally.  Locally we have a huge potential but it must be managed, morphed, adapted and above all customized to make these companies successful.

I’m experiencing different industrial environments and I can say that there is a fundamental problem in those companies.

A lot of managers and executives aren’t able to prepare their staff properly because they don’t think too much about how to face global markets before starting operations. I mean that a lot of preparatory activities are missing: market assessment, products potential or key differentiators, selection of international partners etc, etc…

It seems impossible but is like that!

Again “think local and work global” sounds so important, that I want to stress it again and again.

2012 was a really though year and 2013 at least the first months will be complicated as well.

A lot of SMEs must improve themselves as quick as possible in order to be competitive, managers should “think” how to involve personnel to find the way to increase revenues, towards a continue analysis and improvement of processes.

At the end of the day think that “globalize” business doesn’t always mean externalized activities and production abroad in the so called “chip manpower countries”. My recommendation is to focus on quality and think that coordination and steering must always be local, paying attention to international activities but maintaining control in your Country.

Is a way to assure that your brand, style or recognized services is well protected and supervised.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

It’s not so simple but someone could say: “why a song can give you the sense of your business today? “

Harder better faster strongerSimple, this song resumes how businessmen like me and many millions more, must be today.

Harder: in your business you must harder, in many senses, harder against your competitors, harder in selecting customers; leave the ones that aren’t giving you good business in comparison to the hours spent “chasing” them. Harder in expressing your ideas; is better to show things clearly avoiding unpleasant misunderstanding that can compromise your job. Harder taking your decisions, I know that what I’m going to say is not so easy to accept but in your organization you should know who can be your trustable partner and if someone is not convincing you in terms of performances, give him/her some chances but at the end you must tell them to leave.

Better: Today everything must be done better. The market is requesting you best in class performances, continuous improvement. You need better products, better processes, better strategies and better partners. You must look for your key differentiators in order to show that you are better than others!

So, still thinking that this song doesn’t fit perfectly?

Faster:  If you are an entrepreneur or a manager you know that time is another element. You must be faster than competitors.  Not just in term of products to be launched in the market but you must be faster in taking strategic decisions, be analytic, extremely analytic,  be a faster filter of all those elements that are conducting you in some never-ending decisional processes. I know that is not so easy be fast especially when some decisions can hide big risks,  but unfortunately I experienced many times that to be successful in your business you must react very quickly.

Stronger: You don’t need just to be harder, better and faster, you need to be stronger too. Why? Because only people very strong can support the stress caused by such a though business environment. You need to be stronger in your daily routine; be able to work hard and dedicate time to your family too.  Stronger to fight tiredness, I’m working almost 15 hours a day with different customers and I must say that sometimes is not easy. If I shouldn’t be stronger than some years ago when I was working as an employee, today I couldn’t face this incredible economic crisis.

So , Thanks  Daft Punk, really well done!

Provoke your customers

You have to provoke your customer! This is what I’m learning from some interesting articles and discussing quite often with my sales colleagues. As I already mentioned in my previous articles, during this period of crisis everything became extremely difficult: from having financing and loans to setup new strategy for properly addressing the market while avoiding extra costs.
Provoke learning 2It’s a must to be more prepared than some years ago, mediocrity is not acceptable anymore. In every performed activity we must reach the excellence.
Today, as a matter of fact, it’s really hard to close deals and when you reach the goal to sell something you have to fight against poor margins and financing requests quite often impossible to satisfy. So the questions are: how should I approach my customers now? How could I convince them to buy something while they are always telling you that they don’t have money?
One solution is just what I say before: we have to provoke our customers. How? Just deeply analyzing them in order to find where they problems are and propose a proper solution. This could be related to an existing problem or a potential one that could occur if nobody takes actions. It’s not easy, I know, but in this way we can have some chances to close some deals.

A second important point that must be taken into consideration while dealing with this sales approach is related with whom we should organize meetings. If we want to be really effective, we need to involve people with top positions. In this way, we have someone who is directly affected by the problems we identified and of course can manage an extra budget.
Of course before doing this we have to prepare ourselves carefully, trying to retrieve as much as information as possible from the customer, by interviewing lower levels of the organization.

My last comment for this issue is the following: even if this sales approach is recommendable in difficult times, it’s not the only one. It depends on which market we are addressing. For the market I’m dealing with, telecoms, I’m sure it’s good together with a proper solutions portfolio. For other markets, maybe we should think more about something focused on product features and with a value for money approach.

Market strategy in a new challenging telecom environment

Some days ago I was discussing quite a lot with some colleagues about the  economic situation worldwide and how sales directors should fight for catching some new deals. After some minutes arguing about this and that approach, some strategies and how be effective in this new market, I’ve decided to write thistrategys post.

First of all let’s analyse what is asking the market: Due to the fact that Telecommunications networks are evolving towards next generation architectures, the market is asking solutions that can effectively help operators to Optimize CAPEX ad OPEX. The market is also asking sales experts too, able to recommend flexible and scalable solutions. These solutions must follow standards and be as much as possible Interoperable inside a multivendor environment. Mobile operators are going to implement new shared networks and need a “flat architecture” with Ethernet interfaces. Multi-standard Aggregation is the key.

If we are thinking to go for a worldwide market, nowadays is quite important to have a structured sales organization to be able to have an extremely quick time to market and partnering the customers in the most suitable way, avoiding delays in services and operations.
Some companies are not so lucky to have local companies spread worldwide and consequently they have to trust some resellers.
In order to have the most effective sales approach, it’s not only a matter of pricing, that still is important, but it’s also mandatory to “educate” VARs and business partners on how to stress the value proposition or the products.
The “traditional” retail electronics distributors/integrators/VARs approach is not valid any more due to the fact that the competition is becoming more and more aggressive.

Today we are not only talking about products. We are talking about solutions and key differentiators.

Sales directors and their teams must be incredibly skilled and prepared to discuss with their customers on how their portfolio could fit in their networks. Of course I’m not saying that commercials should act like R&D personnel, I’m saying that they should at least be able to argue quite in details with the customers about technical issues and be able as well to report customer’s need to their project engineers.

I don’t want to spend too much time describing how should be the most effective sales organisation but of course I would like to share some points I consider quite important.
When a company wants to address international customers, after a deep geomarketing study, in addition to the sales hubs/partners located in strategic countries, it should be also established technical assistance and repair/return centres.
Everything should be organized properly depending on the business volumes and logistic (some hubs/centres should be able to operate in neighbours countries if needed).
Local representatives structures should be small and flexible in order to maintain low costs, but they must be well prepared too. Local partners must be properly trained on the proposed value proposition and how they should follow a particular sales strategy.

It’s mandatory to make the customer feel comfortable with a company. One of the main reasons why some competitors are not so well considered is because they are lacking in services and customer support.

Key contacts in a Country must promote products, understand how solutions could be proposed/integrated into new/existing networks. Sales approach must be discussed and implemented locally. It doesn’t exist an “universal” approach.

Last but not least, it’s recommended to study business opportunities with contacts and agree on a strategic account plan. Utilize “best practice” and references coming from previous successful deals.
Customers always want concrete facts, they are too often bored with a lot of words and a little bunch of evidences.

I Hope that these few arguments could give some ideas or, at least, influence someone to think about what is mentioned above. This new Telecom Market is asking us to evolve, abandoning the old sales approach and moving towards a 2.0 level.