Category Archives: News and Insights


What is a High-Tech Account Manager?

 

According to Business Dictionary the definition of an Account Manager is:

 

“An employee whose job is the day-to-day support of a particular customer’s account with a business, and who serves as the primary point of contact between the customer and the company. The account manager position can provide customer support, technical support, planning and optimization for the account, as well as developing a relationship with the customer.”

 

The key phrase we take from the above definition is “developing a relationship with the customer.” This is by far the fundamental building block of Account Management in order to be successful. This is no different in High-Tech Account Management, the main difference being that a higher level of technical knowledge regarding the product is often required.

 

To be successful in this role is dependent on a range of variables but it essentially comes down to being able to build strong, lasting business relationships. Below we have highlighted some key qualities that are instrumental in this.

 

What are the qualities that lead to success?

 

Confidence

In High-Tech Account Management you may often find yourself talking and presenting technical slide-decks to CEOs, CTOs and Software Engineers; professionals that have years of industry experience and have a real in-depth technical knowledge. Although it is not our place to know the absolute ins and outs of the latest technology, it helps to get a high-level overview in order to be confident in the role.

 

Presenting via the telephone throws up some interesting points to be considered. Body language is non-existent in this scenario, it is all about phone manner and presentation skills. Practice could not be more important than at this stage and the presentation must be concise, thorough and delivered with confidence. Take the time to learn about the company, present the slide deck to colleagues, partners, dogs – anyone who will listen – because the more natural the presentation, the more at ease the listener will be and the more they will be taking in.

 

Trust

Confidence is key to building trust with accounts. Learning the product knowledge and, therefore, presenting it assertively leads to the audience gaining trust in the information provided.

 

Like in any relationship, trust is the groundwork that must be laid for success. Stick to your word, when you say you are going to do something – follow that through. Know your account, do your homework. Showing that you know your stuff will let your client know you are serious and they will trust to leave their business with you.

 

Communication

This follows on nicely from the previous point – stay in touch. After a successful initial reach out with newer accounts, follow-up is vital. Working with Software Engineers, it is essential to build the engagement pipeline to ensure the momentum continues. An effective engagement pipeline will map out the activities paved out for the next year; embarking on technical projects to produce results that show the valuation of such advancements in the latest products.

 

Don’t leave an account in the dark, as soon as you know the latest information that impacts this account, inform them. They will respect you for that.

 

Organisation

Being a High-Tech Account Manager often means being the middle-man between the client and the Software Engineers, whom will be working hard on technical projects. Build a rapport with both sides to ensure you keep yourself in the know at all times. Keep everyone in check, it is not the responsibility of the Software Engineers to manage your relationship – they manage the project. Linking back to the above point, make sure everything is communicated well; if everything runs smoothly, your client is likely to want to use your services again.

 

The Final Result

 

All-in-all our role as an Account Manager is to grow the account base. This will only be done through successful relationship building and management. If all of the above points are done correctly, your rapport will lead to your client having a high level of respect for you and in turn, you will have more influence over the account and where they choose to take their business. Leverage this with some hard work and great client management skills and a successful business relationship will last years and produce many prosperous ventures.

 

Learn more about our High-Tech expertise and Telephone Account Management solutions.

Location, location, location! The importance of share of shelf online ?  Detail, online merchandising tool

 

Holiday shopping is continuing to set new sales records, especially online. In Sweden for example 1/3 of all gifts are estimated to be purchased online. That’s a 14% increase in e-shopping over just last year, according to the prognosis from the Swedish Trade Association Quite a lift. And most other markets are looking the same. Is your brand ready to profit from that? Are you visible online? How are your SKU’s looking? Your digital share of shelf? Do you know? A lot of brand managers don’t. That’s where Detail, our online merchandising tool can help.

 

Online visibility is crucial for your brand

The digital shelves are where the customers find your product, read about it and compare it to other products. Studies show that over 80% of all shoppers turn to their smartphones to find information about a product, while in a physical store.* This means that your visibility online is of double importance – for information and awareness as well as for actual shopping. But while physical retailing has been studied for decades, the strategies for online sales are quite new.

 

Consumer behavior – nothing new under the sun

A comforting notion for brand managers wondering how to reach customers online is that people are pretty much the same as before. It’s just the channels that are different. People still prefer products at eye level, which in the digital era translates to being in the top spots of the search result page. Because that’s pretty much the attention span we have. The majority of shoppers who enter a site use the search function (roughly 70% of all shoppers) and the rest rely on menus and navigation to find what they are looking for. Research suggests that shoppers using the search function are the ones most ready to make a purchase. Hence the importance of being in the top tier of the search results. People buy what they see, the only difference is that they now do it from the couch. Hence the rise of “couch commerce”**.

 

Your keywords – your brand

Since people don’t scroll through page after page of products looking for just your brand, keywords have become increasingly important. Not only for visibility in big search engines like Google and Bing, but also onsite at the different retailers. The modern brand manager needs to be observant about which keywords different brands and products appear under, both generic as well as more specific. Detail helps with this by letting you choose which keywords you would like to keep track of, and gives you clear information on how your brand ranks in relation to the chosen keywords as well as current and historical trends and competitors.

 

Be visible, be in stock and be purchased

Successful brand managers make sure that their brand is at the top of the digital shelf by bidding on the right keywords. And the products get bought if they are in stock. This is where Detail comes in. Detail is a revolutionary new way to supervise your brand’s online visibility, the in-store availability of your products, the past and present price and consumer ratings and feedback. Detail gives you a comprehensive ranking of your brand’s and products’ position on each retailer site. It even lets you keep track of what your competitors are up to. An easy-to-read interface gives you an instant overview of the current situation … and lets you dig deeper into products or retailers that you wish to investigate more thoroughly.

 

Stay on top of your game (and the digital shelf)

We have several different packages ranging from a simple status check to the full standing of your brand’s presence online. And once set up, Detail provides daily reports on how well you’re performing. Detail helps your brand to stay visible and on top of the digital shelf wherever you want.

 

To get all the benefits of Detail, don’t hesitate to contact us

 

* https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/search/owning-the-digital-shelf/

** www.yourdictionary.com/couch-commerce

Detail Online Merchandising, was your business ready for Black Friday?

 

Turn Everyday into Black Friday!

Black Friday is traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping period, and the retail highlight of the year. Physical stores spend months on planning their offers, stocking up and making sure their promoted products are highly visible. But how do you do that online? How do you check price? Visibility? Share of shelf? Most brand managers don’t know. That’s where Detail comes in. 

 

Black Friday online

Traditionally, Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday, which is when the online stores begin their promotions. But since most physical stores are now also online, the line between Black Friday and Cyber Monday has become blurred. Basically, it’s just a full weekend of shopping frenzy. And since everything, retail included, is becoming more digital, you could make the case that Black Friday is online.

 

Control your brand’s visibility

In a physical store, it’s easy to see how well your brand is presented at a peak shopping time like this. Just go in and have a look. Are the correct signs there? Are they clearly visible? Are the shelves well stocked? Are the products accurately labeled? Are there staff around to assist the customers? Do the staff know your brand and products? Checking your brand’s visibility online is trickier, or at least it used to be.

 

Detail monitors retailer sites

Detail is a revolutionary new way to supervise your brand’s online visibility, the in-store availability of your products, past and present price, and consumer rating and feedback. Detail gives you a comprehensive ranking of your brand’s and products’ position at each retailer site. It even lets you keep track of what your competitors are up to. An easy to read interface gives you an instant overview of the current situation. And lets you dig deeper into products or retailers that you want to check more thoroughly.

 

Detail online merchandising

 

 

Easy to manage

A lot of effort has been put in to making the Detail interface clear and easy to use. With a lot of features, it’s an all-inclusive product that gives you straightforward and simple answers.
You can view it online or in the app, and easily see how your chosen product/s perform at different retailer sites. You can also set notifications if there are deviations from how your brand should be presented online at any retailers.

 

Turn every day into Black Friday

We have several different packages ranging from a simple status check to the full monty (not to be confused with the film) of your brand’s presence online. And once set up, Detail provides daily reports on how well you’re performing. That way, every day will turn into a Black Friday for your brand. Which is actually perfectly in line with the original meaning of the phrase: Black Friday stems back from the black ink used by accountants to mark profits (as opposed to the red ink used to mark loss). To this day, the saying “back in the black” is frequently used.

 

To get all the benefits of Detail, don’t hesitate to contact us

4th December 2017 – Barcelona 

 

CPM Barcelona takes home Silver Best Customer Service Team of the Year Award at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards

 

We are thrilled to announce that CPM’s International Contact Centre in Barcelona took home Silver in the Best Customer Service Team of the Year Award category at the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards last night; recognising its revolutionary approach to Social Media and Customer Service!

 

Speaking about the awards, Tom Johnston, Business Unit Director – Sales through Service, CPM Barcelona said, “I am delighted that our ground-breaking and innovative approach to growing the online community, serving our millennials via their channel of choice and truly monetizing Social Media through customer service excellence, has earned the accolades of so many industry experts.”

 

“CPM is committed to innovation in consumer engagement and embracing digital channels as part of our industry-leading approach to omni-channel customer service.  This award acknowledges the amazing success and commitment of our social media team in delivering best-in-class customer service.  I am extremely proud of the team,” says Fiona Whelan, Managing Director.

 

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 omni-channel customer service solutions for our blue-chip client portfolio, spanning 22+ languages and 65 markets.

 

Following a multi-stage award submission process, which included a face:face finalist presentation competing against 9 other shortlisted agencies; CPM were awarded Silver medal category winners at the awards ceremony held at the impressive Evolution venue in Battersea Park, London.

 

CPM Barcelona’s Social Media Team had already triumphed at the UK Customer Experience Awards earlier this year, scooping the prestigious Best in Class – International Social Media Award.

 

The European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards (ECCCSAs) are the largest and longest running awards in the customer contact industry. Highly regarded for its robust judging process, the ECCCSAs recognise organisations that are leading the way in delivering exceptional service to customer.

 

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: http://www.cpm-int.com/icc/

Christmas Shopping infographic

 

Christmas shopping intentions

 

CPM Australia, a leading direct sales and contact centre agency and member of CPM International Group; partnered with ACRS to to undertake consumer research to better understand their understand their Christmas shopping intentions. The findings revealed that Australian holiday shoppers preferred to shop in-store than online. A summary of the findings and downloadable infographic are available below.

 

Sensory experiences will help influence retail sales this Christmas

With the busiest retail period of the year around the corner, we surveyed Australians to better understand their shopping intentions for the 2017 Christmas season. We partnered with the ACRS Shopper Tracker via an online survey with a sample size of 456 shoppers representing the Australian population to gain insights surrounding this key trading period.

 

“The research reveals that physically touching products will drive purchase decisions this holiday season,” said Andrew Potter, Managing Director, CPM Australia and Retail Safari. “Sixty-eight percent of respondents confirmed that the ‘ability to see and touch’ the product remains the top reason for shopping in-store. Aside from touch creating symbolic connections between buyers and sellers, the data also reveals that the physical store is still the most preferred channel for Australian consumers this Christmas.”

 

Bricks & mortar VS e-commerce is no longer valid

However, the research reconfirms the notion of bricks & mortar versing e-commerce during the festive season is no longer valid. Australian Christmas shoppers are seeking seamless experiences within their in-store and online shopping undertakings. Increasingly, retailers are recognising that the most valuable shopper this holiday are those who shop across multiple channels and are looking for a consistent omnichannel experience. 

 

Festive spending on the rise

Overall plans for spending are on the rise this year, with a larger proportion of shoppers intending to spend more (+4%) for Christmas in 2017 compared to Christmas in 2016, while a smaller proportion of shoppers intend to spend less (-6%).

 

Holiday shoppers still prefer to shop in-store than online

As the convergence between online and offline retail becomes more widespread, the desire among Australians to complete their Christmas shopping in actual stores is still strong this year. This holiday season, most consumers plan to use both physical store and online (56%), or only physical stores (30%) to conduct their shopping. Compared to last year, those surveyed who plan to use solely online channels during this holiday trading period has increased from 8% to 14% this year.

 

‘Tis (already) the season

The study also reveals that holiday shoppers’ path to purchase will start even earlier this year. It seems there are plenty of early birds who are keen to get their wish lists out of the way and are likely motivated by spreading costs over three months instead of one. The figures also indicate the majority of buyers are planning to do most of their Christmas shopping as early as November (50%) leaving only 29% making purchases in December. For those aged between 18-34 early November is their expected holiday shopping month. While those aged 35-54 anticipate to shop in December and for those aged 55-74 expect to shop between late November and December.

 

Department stores will see fewer shoppers

The most surprising change the study reveals is the switch in Christmas traffic intentions between department stores to discount players. New price-conscious shoppers are now changing directions and are seeking out gifts that won’t break the bank. With 64% of respondents signalling that they’re substituting department stores for discount department retailers over this festive season, we believe this switch as being driven by price and choice. Compared to our 2016 study, this interchange could result in department stores seeing up to 15% less traffic this season.

 

Gift cards will be the star of the season

While holiday gift categories remain fairly stable, shoppers are intending to buy more DVD & Blu-ray movies or CDs for music (+10%), toys, dolls, games (excluding computer) (+9%) and electronics (+6%) compared to 2016. Gift cards or gift certificates will be the star of the season and remain the most popular gift choice (50%); while craft items and sports gear are among the least popular across the three age groups.

 

Christmas shoppers are seeking seamless experiences

“This latest research reconfirms the notion that the digital age continues to change the way people shop, especially this Christmas. Today’s digitally connected omnichannel shoppers are looking for more than just products to buy – even when they’re shopping for others this holiday. They will be seeking sensory experiences, as well as seamless, valuable and actionable retail experiences that are consistent with their digital expectations,” says Mr. Potter. “Partly driven by the impending arrival of Amazon and the rise of e-commerce overall, brands and retailers are rediscovering what made them special to begin with. As a result, experiential retail will be prominent this Christmas as brands and retailers will be sharpening their focus through stronger connections with their consumers, by featuring alluring merchandise and encouraging shoppers to engage with the store and their staff. Therefore, the moral of this Christmas story is that it’s vital for bricks & mortar retailers to provide a festive experience to someone going into their store that they couldn’t receive through another channel.”

 

Download Sensory experiences will help influence retail sales this  Christmas Infographic    

 

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

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

 

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 five 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 four 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: http://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 Agencies 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 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 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

News and Insight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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