When the CEO of Melbourne Convention Bureau Karen Bolinger is asked about the secret of Melbourne city’s success as the world’s leading destination for large international conferences, her answer is: “We call it Team Melbourne!”. She believes that it is the spirit, unity and the consolidated efforts of the industry and the entire community that makes Melbourne the city of choice. This statement is yet another evidence that supports the ancient theory of Aristotle that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” as well as another more recent theory of Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka, who argues that "The whole is other than the sum of the parts", explaining that the whole has an independent existence.
It is not a secret that the boundaries and landscapes of competitive markets have been changing dramatically in the last two decades. Although organisations do continue benchmarking themselves against their immediate “competitive sets”, many of them recognise that these sets do not represent a real picture of their competitive markets.
Markets are becoming more and more fragmented and saturated. In order to maintain and grow their business companies involved in business-to-business (B2B) marketing cannot not rely on “traditional” advertising and direct marketing as much as they did before. Many small and medium-size organisations admit that in the last few years majority of their revenues were generated by repeat customers and through referrals. Without underestimating the role of branding, advertising, direct marketing, digital marketing, and publicity organisations place more and more focus on personal selling, enhanced service and customer relationships as they believe that these are the key components in satisfying an ever-growing demand for greater added-value by B2B customers at all levels.
Salesperson - “L’Homme Orchester” (The Orchestra Man)
Subsequently there are growing demands on a salesperson that has traditionally been the first point of contact for B2B customers. In modern world a salesperson is both the first, intermediate and the last point of contact that is expected to be fully committed and personally accountable for the desired results. He or she should be creative, proactive, easily approachable and responsive, extremely knowledgeable of his client’s business and represent his (client’s) interests within his own organisation and more.
I am sure many sales people would be able to say the same, but I had numerous cases in my experience when I knew more about their client’s organisation, its requirements, buying behaviour or most recent developments than the client himself which had to be managed in a way to avoid potential awkward moments when interacting with a customer and at the same time achieve your objective.
The “Holistic” buzzword seeps through Marketing
So what is the the main issue that organisations need to address in order to be able to achieve their business goals?
More and more strategists advocate the ideas of “holistic marketing” and the need of creating “strategic sales organisations” where the function of sales, marketing, customer relationship, product and service concept development are embedded into the entire organisation. What does that mean? It means to create working environments:
where operations generate future sales leads through great service delivery and face-to-face interactions with the end-users;
where asset managers and developers are not only finance and legal specialists, but also marketers, operators and talent managers;
where recruitment, learning and development are not the prerogatives of HR departments only;
where a company promotes the culture of looking at things outside a box and having the courage to challenge traditional parameters;
where research is a cross-functional activity and knowledge is communicated at all levels;
where brand propositions are created by operations, finance, HR teams along with marketing and sales to ensure that they are fully aligned with the true values, goals and capabilities of organisations; and
where Marketing does not need to create fictitious statements about “who they are” as a company because they do not have to!
Sounds simple and logical, right? Yet, the "implementation is hard", because, like Oscar Cerezales, the COO Asia Pacific & Americas, MCI Group said when sharing his thoughts on the future of professional associations at the ICCA IMFS Seminar (MCEC, Melbourne, February’16): “Reality is a Challenge!”