Archive for February, 2009


B2B Web Sites – design for quick visits !

February 26, 2009

I received some great advice from a channel strategist working for a WW Distributor. He’d been doing a huge amount of research into what his (Business to Business (B2B)) customers wanted from his web sites/portals. The research delivered one interesting message: customers want to spend as little time as possible on a B2B web site.

Given many of the web sites that I’ve been involved with have had a stated aim of keeping customers on the site for as long as possible there would appear to be a conflict here. With iQuote we are aware that customers want to visit, produce a quotation, export it and logout. So that’s how it has been designed as has the Computacenter Cost Control Calculator. As will everything B2B that we do that is functional.

An interesting angle for anyone involved in B2B Web Site creation.


Leverage your customers!

February 23, 2009

Working primarily in the IT Sector has benefits as the technology changes so frequently. However, it is often not very exciting subject matter – compelling yes, exciting not so. I’d noticed that a number of good web sites for Marketing Agencies focused heavily on projects for clients. Back on our case study/customer reference theme.


Servo's New Web Site has been doing some work for Servo on incentive but also copywriting. We were also involved in the new web site: defining templates for service descriptions, proof reading and general input. One of the suggestions was to focus on customers on the Home Page: it provides variety and customer proximity.

Check it out:


Always have an answer to this question…

February 20, 2009

2820131001_6e1e1c57c12Why does your Company exist? This came up in a book that I purchased called something like ‘Mavericks at Work – why the most original minds in business win’. One of the businesses under review (design/architecture arena) encouraged its customers and prospects to ask competitors this question.

This is such a brilliant question as the natural response is to say “make money” – not great. Clearly it is easier to answer if you make garden sheds compared to services such as Marketing. Maybe even the garden shed is better answered along the lines of “make people’s outdoor life more pleasurable” or “blend practicality with aesthetic quality”.

How would you answer this question?


ROI – a Hot Topic

February 17, 2009

Return on Investment has always been around however in these somewhat leaner times it is no longer sufficient to demonstrate that Return on Investment is likely, it has to materialise. However, somewhat ironically you still have to prove that it is likely!

ROI now has to be quicker than ever AND greater than ever. Quicker to justify the use of cash, greater so that if the return isn’t as great there is more contigency in the plan. has just completed a project for Computacenter in the UK that shows the 3 year ROI for a Sun Microsystems consolidation project. I would expect to see many more online indicators like this during 2009.


iQuote Project Update

February 13, 2009

For those people that read this Blog because they have a (vested or academic) interest in iQuote here’s a quick update. Week commencing 16 Feb 09 iQuote goes live in pilot phase (is that a half life?) in the UK. This milestone is the result of over 6 months of planning, developing and deep dive product analysis.

Subject to a successful pilot any Retailer, Reseller or Distributor will be able to offer its Sales People and Customers customisable products through an intuitive online tool. What’s more iQuote will show inventory, guide pricing and handle incentives such as loyalty programmes. The subscription model means that this is available at a single digit percentage cost of creating and maintlogo-iqblack2aining a similar self-managed tool.

I’ll use the Blog to keep you updated on the project and iQuote generally.


The Strategy of Chance #2

February 12, 2009

For iQuote we take a feed of pricing and inventory and the format for that feed is pretty much dictated by us. One of the Distributors that we are working with in the UK based our feed on a standard customer file. It included additional information such as inventory due date and the weight of an item.

The result is that we are now able to give iQuote users an indication of when that Distributor is expecting stock replenishment and we have a long-term plan to utilise the weight information to help the user estimate courier costs. Better service for users, totally accidental.


Call to Action

February 11, 2009

I read on the Web that people are becoming “Sales Hardened” so Direct Mails or Telemarketing activities where the Call to Action was to speak to Sales where becoming less effective. It made me wonder what would be a strong Call to Action to replace it….speak to Marketing (who’ll put you through to Sales) or speak to a Consultant/Technical person (would appear to be a stronger one). Events (even Webinars) are a bit hit and miss due to bandwidth out there. Visit this web site or download this….OK but ultimately we do these activities to sell more – and that’s what Sales are there to do.

Interesting as often people get so pre-occupied with the graphics, layout and message that the Call to Action is an after-thought.


The Strategy of Chance #1

February 10, 2009

I bumped into a former ‘work colleague’ in a customer’s reception – hadn’t seen him for a decade! We had a “what do you do now?” conversation. He was at PlateSpin and I was doing what it is that I do. A couple of months later was putting the final touches to a channel sales incentive that spanned USA, Canada and Northern Europe.377626777_1a8a2bf1b2_m

It was a tidy project for us in that it expanded our capabilities: in development terms as it had hierarchical authorisation but also in financial terms as it was multi-currency. He seemed happy with the service and has volunteered the project for a customer reference (Case Study – see previous Blog entries).

We won that on the back of a chance meeting. Of course you have to put yourself in the position to have chance meetings – not that you should start hanging about in receptions just in case…was it Gary Player that said: ‘people say I’m lucky – the more I practice the luckier I get’ or similar? Not sure how relevant that is but I am always pleased that I can remember a quotation.



February 10, 2009

I had heard that WordPress was a good site to do a Blog. I have to say that I’m really impressed. The whole back end is so sophisticated – excellent Dashboard and comments engine. I am sure that there are loads of additional features that I haven’t yet unlocked.

I felt proud that someone visited my Blog today then clicked one of the links to see Harry Beckwith’s teeth ! There’s some lovely people out there.


Product Managers Abound

February 10, 2009 is a blend of Product Management and Development capabilities. It operates best in a sales channel environment as that is where the Product Management function tends to be duplicated: a Manufacturer may have a few Product Managers but if it sells through 150 Channel Partners you potentially have 150 Product Managers.

Incentive control was the first place that there appeared to be an opportunity. Not in reducing the number of Product Managers but by providing the tools to enable Product Managers to be more effective and efficient. So the first offering was a fully automated incentive engine.

It is still somewhat amazing that so much money is invested in Incentives that are managed in Email and Excel with the odd Pivot Table thrown in. If you have dedicated development resource it doesn’t have to be that way!

I apologise for the blatant plug.