Motivating the Sales Force

Regardless of how good one’s advertising, public relations, and other IMC programs are, for many companies, it is the sales force that is called on to close the deal—particularly those in the businessto- business market. As you might imagine, there is always a need for good salespeople, and companies do whatever they can to attract and retain them and to motivate them to continue to do good work—regardless of the industry. As the business environment changes, so too do the needs and wants of the sales force. In the past, when the salesman was the breadwinner, money worked well. By providing the sales force with the opportunity to earn more money by working harder, motivation was easily achieved. But now, times have changed. Dual-worker families, more emphasis on lifestyles, and more opportunities are just some of the factors that are resulting in more diversified salespeople and that explain why money in and of itself doesn’t cut it like it used to. So companies have explored a number of options, as seen in the following examples:
• Jupiter Media Metrix. As the competition between Jupiter and its number-one rival Forrester Research (both provide Internet research services) intensified, Forrester hung a sign in its headquarters’ office inspiring employees to “Beat Jupiter.” In response, Jupiter initiated a motivation of its own: leather boxing gloves in the lobby showcase of its New York offices. Each quarter, the sales rep who “scores the biggest knockout” against rival Forrester gets to autograph the gloves.
• Hobart. The Ohio-based commercial food manufacturer—whose equipment is in the White House—outfitted the White House cafeteria on the TV show West Wing with its equipment. The product placement was well received by the sales force, but to add even more to the punch, the national sales force meeting was held in Hollywood and topperforming salespeople got to tour the set and meet actor Martin Sheen. As noted by Dean Landeche, vice president of marketing for Hobart, “It became the buzz around our campus for quite some time.”
• Guardian Life Insurance. Among the hardest groups to motivate are the sales forces of insurance companies. As noted by one ex-agent, “The industry is unique in a sense in that we are working with unmotivated buyers—people who have a need for what an agent sells, but do not believe they need to buy it yet. We all deny we are going to die.” Keeping salespeople motivated is critical, and companies have taken various approaches. Guardian Life Insurance has created an online “university,” available 24 hours a day, to provide its sales force with desired training. The company also holds regional motivational sales meetings and provides access to outside motivation sources. Sales reps demand, and receive, constantly updated information on “hot topics” to keep them as aware of trends as their increasingly sophisticated clients are. Other companies have come up with their own incentives, ranging from money to trips to trophies. Mark McMaster, writing in Sales & Marketing Management magazine, suggests 51 possibilities, including:
• Have each salesperson bring a joke to the sales meeting.
• Hold a meeting where the only agenda item is popcorn.
• Rent a Porsche Boxster for use by the top performer for the weekend.
• Adopt an animal at the zoo and name it after the top achiever.
• Bring in a comedian for a 7 A.M. sales meeting.
McMaster provides another 46 possibilities, including playing games of tag, providing hotel upgrades, and encouraging practical jokes in the office. Interestingly, none of these include paying more money. Maybe money just doesn’t motivate people anymore!

Data Mining as a Marketting Strategy

Internet-based marketing strategies generate extremely large data sets from customer interactions. Purchase histories, financial records, customer service records, and Web site usage are just some of the data that reside in customer databases. In order to transform this mountain of diverse data into operationally useful information, marketers are increasingly using data mining procedures. Data mining is the computerbased exploration and analysis of large quantities of data in order to discover meaningful patterns and rules for the purpose of improving marketing, sales, and customer support operations. The combination of data mining procedures with data warehousing enables the MDSS to move beyond just support for the operational processes in the marketing organization and to focus on actual customer behavior. Data mining and data warehousing provide the means and the infrastructure for extracting strategic opportunity from knowledge of the customer.

a. The Data Mining Process
Large, multinational organizations produce much more marketing data per day than its managers can assimilate. The Internet facilitates the rapid growth of data on a worldwide basis. However, exponential growth of data can, paradoxically, lead to a situation where more data leads to less information as managers become swamped by the flood of data that defies ready interpretation. Marketers need to develop procedures for processing, filtering, and interpreting this data for strategic marketing purposes. Data mining is essentially the engine for a knowledge-based marketing strategy. It provides the ability to collect, process, disseminate, and act upon information more rapidly than the competition which is essential for the creation of first-mover advantage.

The first step in the process is to collect data on what the customer does. On-line transaction processing (OLTP) systems do precisely that. Virtually everything a customer does when purchasing a product or service generates a string of transaction records. If the customer calls an “800” number to order a product, the phone company will capture data on the time of the call, the number dialed, and the duration of the call. The marketing company will generate similar data in addition to that on products and services purchased, catalog referenced, special offers, credit card number, order size, and time since last purchase. Further transactions are generated by the order entry, billing, and shipping systems. The bank and the shipping company will log further transactions. The customer may need to call customer service to solve postpurchase problems. Internet transactions can generate even more data as the customer’s purchase behavior can be linked to Web-browsing behavior within a site and throughout the Web. This data can then be linked to purchase histories, financial history, and other personal-identity information.

Magazine Ads

For years magazine publishers focused most of their attention on selling ads in their magazines and devoted less attention to proving the ads were effective. At many magazines, efforts at measuring effectiveness were often limited to tracking consumer response to 800 numbers that appeared in print ads. However, the carefree days are over as many new advertising media have emerged, such as niche-oriented cable TV networks, narrowly targeted radio stations, and the Internet. Moreover, there are more than twice as many magazines competing for media dollars as there were a decade ago.With so many media options available,marketers now want tangible proof that magazine advertising is effective and can build brand awareness, help position a brand,or actually deliver sales.

Magazines have typically promised advertisers exposure or access to a well-defined audience such as fashion-conscious young women, sports-obsessed men, or automotive buffs. However, advertisers want evidence of more than exposure. They want proof that seeing an ad for Calvin Klein jeans in Cosmo makes readers more likely to spend $80 to buy them or that placing an ad for a Volkswagen Jetta in Rolling Stone helps the brand stick in consumers’ minds long enough to influence their next auto purchase. The executive vice president of Conde Naste Publications, Inc.,which publishes popular titles such as Vogue, GQ, Glamour, and Vanity Fair, says: “Twenty years ago, our only obligation to advertisers was to gather people who would see the ad. Now we must prove the ad actually does something. Sometimes, that’s possible; sometimes it’s not.”

Magazines increasingly have to compete against media that can provide evidence that their ads do indeed do something. For example, the Internet can show accountability instantly because consumers’ movements and purchases can be tracked through their mouse clicks. And with new digital technology, television sets will soon become transactional tools, allowing consumers to order information and goods right from their sofas with a remote control. Magazines can ill afford to wait any longer to prove that they work.

The magazine industry is taking steps to address the accountability issue. The industry’s lead trade group, Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), recently spent half a million dollars investigating ways to prove magazine effectiveness. One of the group’s studies found that boosting ad spending in magazines increased short-term sales of products and also generated more sales over time. Sales increased among magazine-exposed households for 8 of the 10 brands measured. Individual magazines are also trying to prove how advertising in their pages can help build a brand or move the sales needle. Another phase of the study found a significant relationship between advertising awareness and purchase intention. Moreover, awareness attributed to a combination of both television and magazines was most strongly related to positive changes in purchase intention. This “media multiplier” effect occurs because the heavy magazine reader is traditionally a light TV viewer and magazines deliver a new audience when added to a heavy TV schedule and can also help build frequency. Consumers’ loyalty to magazines and their willingness to spend uninterrupted, focused time with them has always been a powerful selling point for the medium. Now, however, magazines must prove that their connection with readers will generate sales for the companies that advertise in them. As Chris Miller, the MPA’s head of marketing, notes: “One of the most important questions for this industry is the bottomline question—does it drive sales?”

Anti-aging

Scientists who study the biology of aging view it as a process of accumulated damage to the building blocks of life (e.g., proteins, fats, carbohydrates, DNA) that begins early in life, eventually leading to the malfunction and/or dysregulation of the components of cells and the tissues and organs they form, and ultimately leading to the death of the whole animal. From this perspective, aging makes humans and other animals more susceptible to disease, but aging itself is not a disease. Indeed, the diseases and disorders that appear throughout life are thought of by scientists as byproductsof aging but not as aging itself.

Anti-Aging-650x365

To the scientist who studies aging, referring to aging as a disease is akin to claiming that a fever resulting from an infection is a disease. Treating a fever may make a patient feel better, but its underlying cause remains both present and unchanged. Therefore, reductions in the risk of death from fatal and nonfatal age-related conditions, improvements in muscle mass and bone density, and other measurable improvements in the human body (now possible through behavior modification and medical intervention) do not represent modifications of the underlying aging processes that give rise to these diseases and disorders.

Subjective statements that a patient feels better following an anti-aging intervention are insufficient proof that aging has been altered. The battery of tests portrayed as biomarkers of aging may be reliable measures of change in specific physiological attributes of an individual, but there is no scientific support for the claim that aging itself is being measured. In fact, efforts to measure these time-dependent changes in a way that enables one to assess biological age or the effect of an intervention reliably have failed.

Improving biomarkers in an individual, such as increased glucose tolerance and reductions in cholesterol. may reduce the risk of certain diseases, but this is insufficient proof that aging has been altered. Postponing heart disease and cancer through careful monitoring may reduce the risk of death and extend life, but even this is insufficient proof that aging has been altered. Science requires empirical evidence that aging can be measured and modified, and this can occur only if the biological process of aging itself is operationally defined and subject to measurement.

Currently, neither has been accomplished. From a scientific perspective, a genuine anti-aging intervention would need to reduce the rate and/or amount of accumulated damage that contributes to aging and to extend life. To date, no intervention has been scientifically demonstrated to have both of these properties. This is the case not because it has not necessarily been accomplished but rather because it is not currently possible to measure aging so that scientists know with certainty that experimentally induced life extension is occurring because of changes in disease pathology or because of a modification to aging itself. Distinguishing between the biological factors that contribute to aging and those that contribute to pathology and disease is critical to understanding why some proponents of anti-aging medicine mistake preventive medicine for delayed aging.