Low, tight margins in many traditional businesses make sales promotions & marketing drives extremely expensive and unsustainable. For industries like oil retailing, life insurance, banking, etc. commoditisation of product & services adds a further hurdle and makes it even more difficult to attract new customers.
Contributive outreach is a community-focused shift in the way we engage markets. By contributing to the community from the very first encounter, there is an immediate impact in the trust surplus of the business. With continuity, contributive outreach leads to deep insidership –where the community locks out all competition and deals only with the one business it trusts and calls its own.
Insurance advisors, oil retailers and retail bankers have experienced the power of contributive outreach.
In the brute force approach, sales managers play with the law of averages. They drive volumes – leads, appointments, sales calls, etc. The general approach is to keep increasing sales people – more people, more calls, more sales.
This becomes a problem when leads dry up. Desperate sales people, looking to meet short term targets, end up finding the wrong customers (mis-selling) or trying to get an easy confirmation (under-selling). Those who do not get sales drop out of the job. Industries like financial services have witnessed 100%+ attrition in their sales forces.
In the engagement view of sales, sales is a conversation with a series of critical success points. At each success point, the conversation moves forward. Each success point can be converted into a clear capability which the sales person can learn and master. Thus, with the same number of sales people, the productivity & effectiveness of each sales call shoots up dramatically.
In the search for scale, customer interactions are dumbed down into basic transactions. The time for transactions is reduced and the role of the human staff minimised. While this leads to high-volume, efficient services, there is significant loss in the intangible experience that customers go through.
In a market where all players have access to the same processes and automation technologies, the unique rich experiences that customer interactions can generate become critical differentiators.
Co-created engagements unite the customer and the service provider in a contributive, value creating conversation. For the customer, they get solutions that serves them correctly. For the service provider, they get sticky, loyal customers who value the engagements and continue to stay engaged with the business.
In large partner networks, the general approach is to increase inputs e.g. commissions, contest rewards, margin discounts, tax credits, etc. It is expected that these inputs will generate equivalent amount of outputs. However, these yield only short term impacts. In the long run, it tears down the relationship quality between the partner & the business. This is often manifest in the exit of partners when new players come in, often offering enticing new commission rates.
To maintain a loyal and contributing partner force, investing in the enablement & empowerment of these partners is the way forward. The most successful and enduring partner networks have been built on deep enabling relationships between the business & the partner. The partner’s own evolution, both commercially and personally, is central to this relationship.
The human resource view takes an analytical approach to work – job descriptions, task management, process training, etc. People are told what they need to do. In this view, the success is dependent on the quality of the top-down instruction flows. When organisations face crises and need to be responsive or agile, the rigid human resources view of people presents many hurdles for evolution.
The contributor workforce view of people sees every individual as a valuable contributor to all the concerned stakeholders. When the employee is customer facing or in the back office, her approach to work can significantly impact quality at every stage of the value chain. The contributor workforce view influences all the different aspects of people – hiring, capacity building, development, measurement, etc.
Mr. O P Bhatt, Ex-Chairman, SBI on the Citizen SBI Project.
Mr. Pankaj Razdan, MD & CEO, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance and Deputy Chief Executive, Aditya Birla Capital (2018)