Category Archives: News and Insights


The Means Matter – Improving Sales

 

Our latest CPM Expert Speak comes from Mandeep Singh; MD & CEO, CPM India

 

The process of closing a business at CPM India is akin to any other business pitching to win. Upon receiving the requirements, we prepare extensively by discerning the pain points of our prospective client, strategise masterfully the exact method of execution, and present stunningly to secure the client and win the business.

 

Moments of celebration later, a conventional business would begin the process of delivering on the promised key performance indicators and commence the execution of the won project. This is the output phase where a company gets lost in the daily grind of achieving the end results of increasing the share of shelves, improving sales numbers, etc.

 

A vacuum is created between these two phases which is what separates CPM India from the conventional business. We, at CPM India, believe that ‘the means matter’ and we put the same amount of efforts in this input phase as any other phase. How do we do that?

 

improving sales

 

 

 

 

 

We do it through PERFORMICS which is nothing but performing retail execution by building better insights and capabilities for improving sales. We essentially integrated CPM’s brand essence to create a product that puts us on the retail intelligence map.

 

PERFORMICS is a tool-aided process to synergize the efforts of different silos and smooth the flow of information from the top to bottom and vice versa. It enables the client teams to plan activities such as merchandising activities, target tracking, and route planning through a customized web portal, the information from which directly flows to the android applications available with the field sales force which can use it to easily capture data and carry out the planned activities and also provide the client sales teams access to real time information. PERFORMICS includes compliance and analytics modules to audit the work and transform the available data into actionable retail insights. The whole process accelerates the performance and improves the sales manifold.

 

PERFORMICS has been a great enabler for us to look at the quality of inputs and focus on some data points to ensure that the end results are achieved. All in all,

 

PERFORMICS is a way to fill the void that existed in a client-agency relationship and has opened the doors for CPM India to venture into the retail intelligence space and make a huge impact. More importantly, PERFORMICS lets CPM India work more effectively for its existing clients to create insights that create the influence to drive sales.

 

Contact us to find out more 

 

improving sales

 

 

The Key to Delivering a Successful Regional Sales Activity    

 

Delivering Success Across the Region

Our latest CPM Expert Speak comes from Martin Ryan; Chief Development Officer at CPM Group of Companies Asia Pacific.  Martin has worked for CPM for eighteen years and has over twenty five years industry experience. He has overseen numerous regional projects, experienced great success, but also some crushing disappointments.

 

Here’s his candid overview of how to deliver regional success based on personal hard lessons learned.

 

Delivering Regional Success  

Winning regional business across a diverse geography is a special thrill. Within the space of a few hundred miles, languages, cultural norms, and currency can morph into something wholly different. Navigating across regions is always tricky and although better communication tools may have made distance seem smaller, the secret of successful regional sales activity lies in how we combine the efficiency of modern technology with other more human tools.

 

The Starting Line

Start by defining your team’s purpose. When CPM Singapore embarked on a regional project with a leading tech client we spent time completing a detailed analysis of their particular vision of success. What were the common threads applicable to all countries? What were the precise elements of measurement?

 

If possible, look for insight to those who are already delivering. A major factor in CPM Singapore winning a regional project with another tech giant was the time invested in understanding how the established Australian team delivered their strong track record of success. They were hugely generous in sharing their knowledge and we made substantial effort to join the dots so we could apply their established procedures across the region. This knowledge also gave us deep insight into the client’s culture and their expectations of an outsourced field sales agency. I believe this was a significant differentiator between CPM and our competitors, and a critical part of our successful bid.

 

You Need a Detailed Contract

Once the team’s purpose is clearly defined, time must be taken to draw up a robust contract.  Of course, it’s always hoped that everyone will play fair, but when crossing country boundaries it is crucial to state any legal liabilities, payment terms, and other obligations. Painstakingly outlining these clauses is something I learned the hard way. Relationships built on trust are important, but when other departments and countries get involved you need an unambiguous written agreement that balances transparency with what you may normally be take on trust.

 

You also need a clear process to manage billing and currency fluctuations. Having this in place in advance makes billing seamless and revenue easier to forecast. Outlining obligations when the contract ends is also important as different employment laws exist in different countries and you don’t want to be exposed to large redundancy payments.

 

This is also the time to set some ground rules for communication and response times, and all KPIs should be stated. Clearly outlining these before the activity starts will set realistic expectations and avoid mission creep.

 

Build Credibility by Building Key Relationships

 

A regional team must ooze credibility and to do this they must be capable. Some of the leadership attributes required include a good dose of self- confidence, the ability to think clearly and make decisions, being self- driven when remote, endowed with brilliant communication skills, technically astute, and not scared to present both to groups and in front of the camera. An underrated skill is the ability to communicate over the telephone, both one to one and in a conference call.

 

To make regional activity fly you also have to be a relationship ninja.

 

Start by knowing the client’s country by country structure. How does it differ? Who are the key people and what do they do? Have a clear understanding of which relationships to concentrate on and then put the time in to make them work.

 

Part of this includes an attitude of transparency and openness which can go beyond your working life. Trust people and give them access to your calendar, include details like holidays and children’s events at school. We live in a time when the boundaries between work and life are blurred and a regional role means you will be working outside of your own time zone’s conventional working day. This is the new norm so embrace it and make it part of your life. Inject a genuine and vigorous enthusiasm.

 

Once you have established this human connection and built key relationships at a local level you will know who to contact in each market, you will build respect, save time and avoid potential misdirection.

 

Make Your Field or Contact Centre Team the Most Important Aspect of the Activity

 

Your most important customers are the team delivering results. They’re the ones generating sales and smashing targets. They’re also spread over a large geography and making them feel part of a unified, emotionally connected team is a critical priority. Involve them, talk to them face to face whenever possible and painstakingly understand their needs and frustrations. Take the time to really listen and make sure you paraphrase what they are saying to prove you have heard them.

 

Creative Solutions

A regional sales project requires a global vision to set the strategy, but management of it needs to be carried out regionally utilising a deep insight into local processes. It takes dogged determination and patience to unravel and understand each step of the data collection process and collation of reporting. Acquiring this knowledge ensures a strong foundation, and facilitates informed decision making. Applying this rigor along with an understanding of where existing CPM solutions can fill gaps means you can make informed and creative decisions on what to adopt, or if it almost works, what to adapt, and only as a last resort do you revert to reinvention.

 

Grow Your Capabilities and be Innovative

Regional sales activity is not rigid; it is an iterative process that requires a solution that’s nimble and responsive. Knowing how to leverage existing solutions and apply the best of what is available locally is a fine balance, as giving teams too much freedom can compromise results. You need to know what’s non-negotiable and apply a rigorous application of continuous improvement. When you spend time understanding how people work you will know when it’s time to use the carrot, and when use of the stick is more appropriate.

 

Summary

To summarise, here’s what I’ve learned about running a successful regional sales activity. Start by really knowing your purpose, both regionally and in each country. Once you have clearly defined your objectives, assemble the reporting structure around them. Adopt processes that work elsewhere in your business, adapt them to give local relevance, and only reinvent as a last resort.  Make sure you have a detailed contract and include clauses that define liabilities.

 

Build key relationships. Success stems from open human trust. When possible be available across the region’s working day but also let people know when you are not available. Embed yourself into your client’s organisation and become indispensable without being arrogant.

 

Build credible and capable teams, culturally adaptable and results focused.  Understand and connect with your sales team. Make sure they feel you are involving them and understand their needs and frustrations.  Grow your capabilities. Solutions are iterative and constantly evolving. Be energetic and responsive and don’t become complacent.

 

Finally

Branching out from the local to the regional can be bewildering and at times maddeningly frustrating, but it can also be richly rewarding and joyous, transforming your understanding of both yourself and the hyper connected global world we inhabit. Fully embracing a deep knowledge of your client and becoming a trusted indispensable regional partner is one of the best things in our business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact us to find out more 

 

 

Welcome to our latest edition of Expert Speak, ”How about we tell you how much we can accelerate your sales?” which comes from Véronique Motte, President CPM Group of Companies in France

 

How about we tell you how much we can accelerate your sales?

 

sales demonstrations

A few weeks ago, our teams organised a conference during the 2018 edition of the MPV trade show which took place in Paris. The title of this conference was “The 4 drivers which really influence sales demos performance”. CPM France teamed up with L’Oréal France to present real-life feedback from this innovative approach.

 

True fact: sales demonstrations are a sell-out driver for brands

Deployed on a large scale over 40 years ago, at the same time as mass-market retailing, demonstration days are one of the most popular marketing drivers for brands and also one of the most outsourced. Interestingly, according to a study done by EY in France, it is also one of the most preserved media spends:

 

  1. Because it is easier to cut incrementally into a demonstration days budget
  2. Brands want and need to stay connected to the field and their shoppers.

For a long time in France, sales demonstrations were a sell-in incentive. Nowadays, being a media in its own right, it is therefore central to the concerns of marketing and sales departments.

 

Measuring sales demonstrations performance: an innovation on the market

Using sales data provided by L’Oréal and a mathematical equation defined by CPM France’s Business Intelligence team, we were able to build a robust statistical model based on linear regression. That’s how the ROI-focused approach for L’Oréal Consumer Products Division came into life.

 

We found out that in order to achieve a specific ROI, four drivers that can influence performance must be taken into account: the product display, the store environment, the promotion and the ambassadors themselves. This proved that when all the right drivers are aligned, the sales demonstrations performance can be accelerated by over 300%.

 

Reaching new heights…

I cannot express how proud I am of the teams at CPM who have made this possible. We are reaching a brand new level: we were famous for the quality of the field work execution we provided, which has never and will never be easy, but the right people with the right tools help… we are now able to measure for our clients the performance of the activities they outsource with us.

 

In other words: at CPM, we make demonstration days work. Oh, and by the way we also measure the performance of our other solutions too…

 

Véronique Motte

President CPM Group of Companies in France

 

Contact us to find out more 

sales demonstrations

 

Leadership #IWD2018 by Lorraine Butler

 

International Women’s Day creates time in our busy lives, for awareness and reflection on women’s efforts and achievements. It reminds us to stop and reflect on the progress women have made, our contribution and our successes.  In turn, it reminds us to continue our future strides to create future success both individually and collectively.

 

Personally, I have very seldom been comprised in my career because of my gender. That is not to say that I have not seen others (of both genders) who have been less fortunate.  I have always taken the approach of the ‘best person for a role’. However as I have matured through business and life, I see that personal circumstances have to be considered  and accommodated in order to help the best person be the best they can be. My management team live by this philosophy and I ask that we seek out leaders in all layers of our business who will embrace this philosophy. This philosophy doesn’t happen by accident, it takes time to nurture, develop and appreciate.

 

The principles of leadership can be taught yes, but it takes a person with leadership inherent in their personality and DNA to truly and naturally lead and embrace leadership principles. I believe leadership can be improved upon and learned over time, even for those who don’t have a natural leadership tendencies. But in order to become an effective leader, one has to truly want to lead, for the right reasons and needs to believe in the cause – only then will you win trust of your people, which is an absolute requirement of effective leadership. And of course you have good and bad leadership; The concept of Shadow Of the Leader is something I have always embraced – being mindful of the shadow that your leaderships casts, considering others are likely to follow in the same steps.

 

People skills are critical to any leadership role in our organisation. Our greatest asset is our people and leaders at all levels need to continuously inspire and motivate our employees. Good empathy and intuition are important skills – and knowing when to dial up or down each.  In order to lead teams, you have to build a good team around you, realising that often others on your team are better at certain things than you yourself are. A good leader will show the potential to embrace diversity within a team and take ownership of developing their people – where people grow, business grows.

 

My advice to women today at all stages of their careers  –  Anything is possible ! Whatever you want to achieve, it is achievable, but you are responsible for your own journey and destination. Surround yourself with good people. People you instinctively trust and can learn from. Regardless of whether you realise it or not – every day you are being interviewed! Do what is expected of you in your current role with excellence, but adopt practices and behaviours of the role you want next! Work to identify and secure a mentor who you respect and will learn from – but ensure to take heed of their advice –they haven’t achieved the success they have without learning a thing or two along the way – so listen, observe and action on their guidance, it will speed up your journey to success

 

Welcome to our first edition of Expert Speak for 2018, ‘Storytelling’ which comes from Mike Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, CPM International Group.

 

STORYTELLING

Last year we lost a client – something I am not used to, something I take personally and something that bothers me. Since then I have spent time reflecting on what went wrong and how we need to be better next time.

 

Part of this process led  me to reflect on the current trend for ‘storytelling’. Storytelling, we are told, is the best way to create chemistry with people, to get you more airtime with customers, colleagues and leaders; apparently, that’s because a great anecdote hooks people, takes them on an emotional journey and conveys a memorable message……stories that resonate with people inspire them to take action.

 

I completely buy all this and successful pitch meetings need to do all of those things but I think there is one word that is missing which is particularly important in challenging economic times…and that word is ‘true’….because  stories need to be true stories backed by evidence, fact and testimonials. Donald Trump has introduced the world to fake news and the blurring of fact and fiction and in a world where performance pressure has never been greater, where the sales director’s door revolves ever faster and where experience is at a premium, it is easy to believe the hubris of a new supplier pitch.

 

Ideas are easy but execution is difficult and the stakes are high when execution falls below the required standard. I hear increasing numbers of stories where clients are on the receiving end of over promising and under delivering suppliers, for example, thinking they are getting a state of the art reporting system from day one only to find it doesn’t work or where they are told they should not worry because their sales team will transfer to the new supplier only to find out that they have lost 50% within the early months because promises are not matched by delivery. This matters because poor performance stains the image of our industry as well the individual company delivering it and the short term pressures our clients are under means they can’t afford to lose a single sale.

 

Clients need partners who are going to do what they say they will and this year if you ask CPM to pitch for your work, you can rest assured our stories will be true stories.

 

Contact us to find out more 

ustomer-Service-Infographic

 

CPM Australia, a leading direct sales and contact centre agency and member of CPM International Group; partnered with ACRS to undertake a consumer research study analyzing the current state of customer service in Australia. The findings revealed that Australian consumers tolerance for poor customer service is lower than ever. A summary of the findings and downloadable infographic are available below.

 

Australians’ tolerance for poor customer service is lower than ever

 

Today’s consumers are faced with more choices than ever when considering how they want to reach a brand. They’re more digitally connected, socially networked and better informed than ever before.

 

Consumers are saying it’s still so hard to navigate and resolve customer service issues. These growing number of touch-points has had the negative effect of widening the gap between brands and consumers.

 

To better understand these concerns and how customers feel about the state of customer service in Australia, CPM Australia partnered with The ACRS Omnibus Tracker to explore these challenges. The “State of Customer Service in Australia Report” reveals critical gaps between customer service expectations of excellence, ease and accessibility and the disappointing realities associated with a lack of consistencies and response.

 

The power of word of mouth

 

The research points out that the power of word of mouth still holds its top ranking as the most popular channel. It reveals that the majority of disappointed consumers share their customer service experiences with one to five people. For those who have had a negative experience, 79% will air their grievances with friends compared to 72% who will share their positive interactions.

 

“It’s been a long standing belief that recommendations from friends and family is the most influential channel over all other forms of marketing. Yet, if consumers value word of mouth and marketers believe it’s effective, then why aren’t brand owners more focused on it?” said Martin Robbins, General Manager – Contact Centre, CPM Australia.

 

“I believe that the problem is that for the last few years, brands and retailers have been more focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting” directly with customers,” continued Martin. In other words, brands can get too caught up in collecting social media fans while forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who’ve signed-up just for the off-chance of winning a new gadget.

 

Costly realisations

 

The survey also reveals some costly realisations. Over one third (34%) of customers surveyed have stopped shopping at a company in the past year due to a poor customer service experience.

 

In today’s competitive markets, brands can’t afford to lose sales due to poor customer service. This research validates that customer service stories are spread widely — especially bad ones – and in our experience, you’re typically judged by your resolution and not the initial issue. The quality and immediacy of contact, response and resolution of complaints or queries cannot be underestimated in a world where consumers are less brand loyal and where social media and word of mouth can make or break brands.

 

Factors driving excellence

 

In an age where technology dominates our lives, the research shows that dealing with human being trumps social and mobile channels. Across all the age groups, 61% percent attributed an important factor to good customer service experience was getting their query resolved on the first attempt and speaking with someone in Australia (60%).

 

The study also suggests that social media and mobile channels will not solve customer service queries. For both simple and complex enquiries, customers’ top preferred communication channels for customer service based enquiries includes: speaking with a real person on the phone, followed by face-to-face (in store), and finally through email. Not only does the study reconfirm the notion that customers are seeking a human connection, but they are also seeking local Australian knowledge.

 

Download The State of Customer Service Infographic: [wpdm_package id=’5780′]

 

Contact us to find out how we can help drive sales for your business

October, 19th 2017 – Barcelona
CPM Barcelona named Best in Class in Social Media at UK CX Awards

 

We are thrilled to announce that CPM’s International Contact Centre in Barcelona took home GOLD at the UK CX Awards – for International Business – Best in Class – Innovation in Social Media, as a result of the amazing work undertaken by our CPM Social Media Team!

 

The CX Awards are a prestigious award body who undertake and annual awards process recognising innovation in customer experience throughout Europe.

 

Following a gruelling finalist presentation competing against 5 other shortlisted agencies; CPM were announced as category winners at an awards dinner soiree and ceremony held at Wembley in London last month.

 

This award recognizes CPM Barcelona for its forward-thinking and innovative approach to social media and social customer service. As customer experience specialists, CPM Barcelona delivers omnichannel customer service solutions for our blue-chip client portfolio, spanning 22+ languages and 65 markets.

 

“Winning the Innovation in Social Media Award is a testament to CPM Barcelona’s dedication and commitment to constantly innovate when it comes to customer experience, “says Fiona Whelan, Managing Director, CPM Barcelona.
“We place a heavy focus on innovation and future visioning to optimise digital channels and ensure continued service excellence as channels proliferate; securing customer brand loyalty and generating long-term relationships between our clients’ customers and their brands.”

 

CPM Barcelona is also in the running for 4 other contact centre awards at this year’s European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards and CCA Global Excellence Awards. Winner announcements will take place in November at the gala dinner award ceremonies.

 

About CPM International Contact Centre – Barcelona
CPM Barcelona, as part of CPM Group and a member of the Omnicom Group, is an international contact centre delivering outsourced customer experience and sales solutions on an EMEA-wide basis. CPM specialises in the delivery of omnichannel customer engagement solutions for global clients spanning High Tech, Consumer Electronics, FMCG, Retail and Travel industries and currently covers 22+ languages across 65 markets.

 

For further information, contact:
Rachel Doyle | M: +34 638 140 620 | E: Rachel.doyle@es.cpm-int.com |W: https://www.cpm-int.com/icc/

 

Last Friday CPM Ireland won “Best Field Sales Team/Field Sales Support”, in conjunction with Britvic at the Checkout National FMCG Awards 2017!

 

This is the 2nd year in a row that CPM has taken away such a great accolade.

 

In 2016 we were fortunate to win with our CPM/GSK team and now for 2017 we take away the same award for our CPM/Britvic team. This truely solidifies the fact that we are leaders in the Irish Retail industry providing award winning outsourced sales teams to support multinational FMCG organisations!

 

We are very proud our CPM/Britvic team, who deliver such a high calibre of output on an ongoing basis.

Every year CPM works closely with Britvic to plan in-store execution for the annual Britvic campaign calendar. This is a core strategic plan which ensures that all sales and merchandising activities are executed to at minimum industry best standards.

 

This year has been no different with CPM/Britvic excelling in their results. We are immensely proud of our Sales team and Field Sales Support and the results they have achieved over the past 12 months and the influence they have had through the key in store relationships they have built.

 

As part of the strategy for this year in conjunction with Britvic our goal was to become the partner of choice within the Soft Drinks Category based on strong store relationships, influencing decisions through intelligent insights, and excellence in execution in all stores we service.

 

This as a team we have achieved through greater understanding of the market, further investment in learning and development to enhance the acumen of our sales team as well as hard work, ambition and creativity in store that ensures maximum customer engagement with our brands and by default sales growth on behalf of our retail partners.

 

We believe this clear strategic focus and the commitment and determination in achieving this is why our CPM/Britvic Team have been awarded the fantastic award of “Best Field Sales Team/Field Sales Support” at the Checkout National FMCG Awards 2017.

 

If you require Award Winning Sales Teams to support your brands in store contact us today.

 

And for more information on other winners at the prestigious Checkout National FMCG Awards 2017 Click Here

Irish checkout fmcg awards

Contact us to find out how we can help drive sales for your business

Each year Omnicom invites 60 of its brightest talents from across its 1,500 agency network to come and participate in a Senior Management Program (SMP) at Babson College in Boston, MA. Lectures and think-tank style discussional exercises are conducted by legendary Harvard Business School Professors such as Len Schlesinger, Thomas DeLong, Nancy Koehne and Luis Huete. This year, Sophie Chelmick from CPM Barcelona was one of the selected participants to attend this premier educational initiative.

 

“It was transformational” explains Sophie, a Business Unit Director within CPM Barcelona after successfully finishing the SMP graduate program this July. “Our lecturers; incredible, experienced professors both professionally and academically discussed real-world case studies, strategies and solutions enabling us to explore new methods and approaches to traditional leadership concepts” explains Sophie. “it was also an opportunity to network with execs from a wide spectrum of Omnicom agencies to share ideas for taking back into CPM – as well as some potential future collaborations with those agencies”.

 

“This was very special” Sophie goes on, “a new kind of understanding emerged amongst all of us; particularly regarding some of the shared challenges the agencies face and how together we may overcome some of them; how, even as Omnicom businesses we all have an urgent and pressing need to focus on new solutions and innovations if we are to survive the future and harness the digital revolution”.

 

A key part of the program is to lead an initiative inspired by the course teachings; Sophie explains; “I was particularly struck by AMV BBDO’s creation of “Flare” in direct response to the threat of creative crowd-sourcing agencies and I want to bring the concept of “self-disruptive innovation for survival” into CPM. My initiative will be around the future of work in the contact centre both from a tech and people perspective to meet future needs of customers and employees.”

 

“My insights were deeply personal and emotional as well as professional, I learned how critical it is to spend time with my family and that by doing so I can be more effective as a leader. I now want to to ensure I pass on these learnings to our amazing teams here at CPM so that all my CPM colleagues as well as our clients can concretely benefit from the Omnicom SMP program!”

 

Omnicom is an inter-connected global network of leading marketing communications companies. The Omnicom portfolio provides the best talent, creativity, technology and innovation to some of the world´s most iconic and successful brands. With 75,000 people working globally and serving 5,000 brands in a 24 / 7 / 365 world – Omnicom is made up of 1,500 agencies worldwide and CPM is one of those agencies.

How can an Outsourced Agency Demonstrate Value in a Competitive Marketplace ?

 

Providing a service to clients that manifestly increases sales will always be the cornerstone of a strong value proposition. Pricing this significant service at a rate that represents fair value for this impact on a client’s business is an increasingly difficult task in today’s competitive marketplace. But I strongly believe it is more important than ever to focus on the value of the offering and clearly articulate what difference this can make to the client’s business.  Admittedly, and realistically, price is not irrelevant. Mickey Drexler, ex-CEO of J. Crew, says “The real price of goods is always the selling price. The best price is to sell it for what it’s worth.”

 

So, how does an outsourced agency demonstrate worth, maintain a keen pricing structure, and avoid a negotiation where the only outcome is a spiraling descent to the bargain basement of both price and value, a process I describe as ‘the race to the bottom’?

 

Before even venturing to introduce a pricing model, an agency must start each relationship by making strenuous efforts to understand the client needs and then clearly demonstrate the value of their agency’s creativity and wisdom.

 

Understand what problem the client needs to have solved? Be clear about what insight the agency can bring to the table? Ask searching questions and encourage the client to really define what success means to them.  All of this helps to establish a level of trust and to forge common alignment.

 

It also embraces transparency and a deeper understanding on both sides. Interestingly for the potential client, a closer evaluation of their needs helps the client to evaluate potential providers on their approach and capability rather than solely on price.

 

What about the spectre of procurement? For many sales or new business teams, the mere mention of procurement evokes a rolling of the eyes or worse!

 

In my multifaceted role as a Global Chief Operating Officer, Asia President, and Senior Accounting Officer for the CPM Group of companies, I’ve endured many negotiations with zealous procurement teams, watching each element of our service being systematically broken down and assigned a price instead of a value. It’s a very straightforward, almost mechanical, process to place a price on inputs with no bearing on the benefits.

 

However, the procurement team/individual that can relate those inputs to the value created in the outputs, embraces the real added value the organisation seeks.  The procurement professional can help demystify the challenges of internal budget structures versus real output based pricing, and work collectively with marketing and their agency to build a cost model that rewards good work and demonstrates value.

 

This can be the huge benefit of procurement done well. Yes, they often force agencies to examine their costs and present them in a more transparent manner, but this can only benefit any business longer term. Understanding the price of service delivery is essential for agencies to then realise profit whilst ensuring clients get value.

 

PepsiCo has recently eliminated procurement from marketing negotiations, but 53% of companies still involve procurement and the onus is on sales teams to embrace this and positively influence the decision-making process, defending their value proposition by clearly demonstrating its impact whilst working in an open and transparent manner, building trust with its procurement client as well as the marketing teams.

 

If business is negotiated on the correct footing, with the service framed as an investment not an expense, then both the client and the outsourced agency can harness the power of synergy and create a mutually successful outcome, based, not simply on cost, but on value linked to insight and a robust ROI.

 

Winning business that has a miserably low margin while voraciously consuming precious resources, leads to an inevitable and sometimes bitter parting of the ways, which can have a big impact on the agency’s business overall.  It takes courage to hold your nerve around the negotiating table and look for new ways to add value, but it is imperative that your service is not viewed as a mere commodity. I’m afraid to say that all too often agencies have nobody but themselves to blame as they agree to commercial arrangements that are best described as suicidal. Who can blame client procurement, they are merely doing what we all try to do, which is secure the best product at the lowest price. I’d like to purchase a luxury car for the same price as a mid- range sedan, wouldn’t you? The fundamental issue here is procurement will keep asking for more concessions until the agency says no! The agency must find ways to say yes outside of simply cutting price and leverage the value-added aspects of the work the agency can and does do for the client.

 

The world is our marketplace and communication is getting faster. Whole industries, including retail, have undergone tremendous disruption. To be competitive, agencies must be agile, able to simplify process and embrace diversity. Rigidity is a thing of the past. Linear thinking and acting is hopelessly outdated. We must all work on a broader commercial approach. Business is global and it has never been easier to communicate and harness global learnings.

 

I recently attended a regional conference in Asia where teams from six countries pitted their collective problem-solving and creative skills to put forward several workable project plans designed to roll out across the region for a major client. The client was in the room and was electrified by the sheer energy and practical application achieved in a breathtakingly short amount of time. This was a clear demonstration of how enhanced service can be collectively achieved by harnessing the synergy of truly diverse teams.

 

Agencies must foster and encourage mental agility and flexibility amongst their people as they are the drivers of value. Business can’t be exclusively conducted from the isolation of a desk. Client service teams should actively network and absorb thoughts and insights from a diversity of sources. We all must keep up with current trends in the market and strive to be thought leaders, the respected “go-to” person in our field. This is especially important if we are going to master and exploit change and not be left an irrelevant colossus, too big and bloated to adapt in the face of fundamental upheaval.

 

In an increasingly digital world, the distance between clients and the field has never been closer.  Agencies must manage their reputations, earn respect and nurture authenticity in all areas of our business. Actions and character must be in-sync and agencies must align what they do with what they

say. Relationship building has always been central to a successful campaign and now it is critical to get closer to clients. This means actively involving field teams.

 

Communication, like a fountain, must flow upwards as well as downwards. Agencies must inspire everyone to take responsibility and be heard, not mumble in the corner if things are not right. In a world where word of mouth is king, agencies should empower all employees to be advocates, the field teams are brand evangelists and a powerful manifestation of value.

 

Agencies destined to survive and thrive will be rooted in strong foundations and adaptable in the face of change.  Always listening and globally aware, not complacently locked in silos. Not intransigent in the face of a problem and not taking the easy route of pointing fingers and blaming others. Instead, they must strive to think creatively about how to clear roadblocks as a team, with each member taking responsibility.     It’s too easy to say no constantly; find ways to say yes that make commercial sense, add value and bring creativity to the solution required.

 

The pressure of today’s marketplace will always make it attractive for clients to go for a cheaper option. But business is rarely won on price alone. Competitors can undercut, but it is up to each agency to demonstrate they can offer an intelligent, consistent depth of service, delivered by a committed, energetic and engaged field team. Cutting corners and spiraling ever downwards leads to a race to the bottom and is ultimately unsustainable. Instead, focus should be concentrated on insight and people as they adapt, thrive and make evangelists of clients. There will be no better way to demonstrate value and as a positive by product, earn a decent margin.

 

Paul Woolley, August 2017

 

Outsourced Agency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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