What it really means to leverage insights to navigate the exponential change

What it really means to leverage insights to navigate the exponential change

Much has been written about the use of customer and market insights instead of simply generating them. Leading brands typically excel at understanding their customers and markets for developing strategies for sustainable growth, creating superior customer experiences, driving continuous innovation, and increasing the efficiency and impact of their marketing and sales activities.

They see insights as generating the fact base that will enable them, for example, to optimize their offering portfolio, inform their innovation programs, focus their marketing and sales programs, or setting the right prices. Insights reveal what your customers value, to what extent your company delivers it, how customer and market requirements evolve, and which tactics you can deploy to improve your performance relative to your competition.

Based on our consulting engagements and the impact analysis of our work, we dare to say that organizations leveraging customer and market insights typically outperform their peers in two key areas: sales growth and gross margin. Two of the key questions that we often get in this context relate to the key success factors for excelling at this and understanding the relationship between strategy, insights, and competences. So, here are our selected thoughts on the topics.

 

Insight engines are ingrained in today’s business strategy and stakeholder experiences

The insight engine drives an evidence- and facts-based understanding of your customers’ needs or motivations and – more broadly – of the drivers, trends, and directions of your business environment. It powers business decisions and strategy. It also informs your marketing decisions and activities and sales processes. In summary, the key capability of the insight engine is to produce all the data required for business strategy and for powering more proactive, efficient, and predictive marketing, sales, and customer service.

Treating the insight engine as a pure technical set of capabilities results in an inevitable failure. Above all, it should be seen as a strategic capability including a number of well-known core competencies that can be divided into data, operational, and people competences. Most of these competencies are related to business acumen, organizational culture (building a data-driven culture as part of this), and ways of working that in today’s business can represent a pivotal foundation for competitive differentiation.

In summary, you need to understand what customers really want, what they are likely to want in the future, to what extent they are getting it from your company today, and how you can keep them coming back for more.

 

The insight engine is powered by competencies 

Competencies represent a pivotal set of building blocks when it comes to bridging the gap between data and strategy, i.e., turning raw data into evidence- and facts-based business decisions. More specifically, these are the most critical core competencies required in insight today:

  • Data competencies. This is about the ability to extract value from disparate data sources by generating a single-market, single-customer view that is shared and used across your entire business. Data aggregation, data enrichment, data synthesis, and data activation are the key concepts here.
  • Operational competencies. Increasingly, this is about a relentless focus on imagining the future and the idea of experimentation. The forward-looking orientation focuses on anticipating and testing future opportunities. Experimentation leverages a test-and-learn approach to identify new business opportunities, inform decisions, and optimize your processes.
  • People competencies. This is oftentimes the most diverse and challenging set of competencies. For example, business acumen and business literacy are critical foundational competences in a sense that customer and market understanding are of very limited value to the business, if it does not inform a business decision. The power of story telling should not be underestimated either, as it is related to the ability to communicate insights in a usable, meaningful, and engaging manner.

In summary, leveraging insights is a holistic game. It is about the ability to integrate data, make insights-led decision recommendations, run and scale experiments, and communicate to the business (through the power of story telling). There is oftentimes a big gap between aspiration and reality. Bridging this gap is, of course, completely doable and very critical, as it takes the right strategy and insights to navigate the exponential change we face in our world today.

Dare you try? Based on our experience, we dare say that creating a corporate-level or business unit-specific strategic plan or a marketing and sales playbook that is relevant, insights-driven, and forward-looking and that also considers the concrete competencies and other relevant “enablers” required for its successful roll-out and execution will show up in your top-line and bottom-line growth.

What it really means to leverage insights to navigate the exponential change

What it really means to leverage insights to navigate the exponential change

Much has been written about the use of customer and market insights instead of simply generating them. Leading brands typically excel at understanding their customers and markets for developing strategies for sustainable growth, creating superior customer experiences, driving continuous innovation, and increasing the efficiency and impact of their marketing and sales activities.

They see insights as generating the fact base that will enable them, for example, to optimize their offering portfolio, inform their innovation programs, focus their marketing and sales programs, or setting the right prices. Insights reveal what your customers value, to what extent your company delivers it, how customer and market requirements evolve, and which tactics you can deploy to improve your performance relative to your competition.

Based on our consulting engagements and the impact analysis of our work, we dare to say that organizations leveraging customer and market insights typically outperform their peers in two key areas: sales growth and gross margin. Two of the key questions that we often get in this context relate to the key success factors for excelling at this and understanding the relationship between strategy, insights, and competences. So, here are our selected thoughts on the topics.

 

Insight engines are ingrained in today’s business strategy and stakeholder experiences

The insight engine drives an evidence- and facts-based understanding of your customers’ needs or motivations and – more broadly – of the drivers, trends, and directions of your business environment. It powers business decisions and strategy. It also informs your marketing decisions and activities and sales processes. In summary, the key capability of the insight engine is to produce all the data required for business strategy and for powering more proactive, efficient, and predictive marketing, sales, and customer service.

Treating the insight engine as a pure technical set of capabilities results in an inevitable failure. Above all, it should be seen as a strategic capability including a number of well-known core competencies that can be divided into data, operational, and people competences. Most of these competencies are related to business acumen, organizational culture (building a data-driven culture as part of this), and ways of working that in today’s business can represent a pivotal foundation for competitive differentiation.

In summary, you need to understand what customers really want, what they are likely to want in the future, to what extent they are getting it from your company today, and how you can keep them coming back for more.

 

The insight engine is powered by competencies 

Competencies represent a pivotal set of building blocks when it comes to bridging the gap between data and strategy, i.e., turning raw data into evidence- and facts-based business decisions. More specifically, these are the most critical core competencies required in insight today:

  • Data competencies. This is about the ability to extract value from disparate data sources by generating a single-market, single-customer view that is shared and used across your entire business. Data aggregation, data enrichment, data synthesis, and data activation are the key concepts here.
  • Operational competencies. Increasingly, this is about a relentless focus on imagining the future and the idea of experimentation. The forward-looking orientation focuses on anticipating and testing future opportunities. Experimentation leverages a test-and-learn approach to identify new business opportunities, inform decisions, and optimize your processes.
  • People competencies. This is oftentimes the most diverse and challenging set of competencies. For example, business acumen and business literacy are critical foundational competences in a sense that customer and market understanding are of very limited value to the business, if it does not inform a business decision. The power of story telling should not be underestimated either, as it is related to the ability to communicate insights in a usable, meaningful, and engaging manner.

In summary, leveraging insights is a holistic game. It is about the ability to integrate data, make insights-led decision recommendations, run and scale experiments, and communicate to the business (through the power of story telling). There is oftentimes a big gap between aspiration and reality. Bridging this gap is, of course, completely doable and very critical, as it takes the right strategy and insights to navigate the exponential change we face in our world today.

Dare you try? Based on our experience, we dare say that creating a corporate-level or business unit-specific strategic plan or a marketing and sales playbook that is relevant, insights-driven, and forward-looking and that also considers the concrete competencies and other relevant “enablers” required for its successful roll-out and execution will show up in your top-line and bottom-line growth.

Growth through digital learning

Growth through digital learning

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, numerous organizations and managers are understandably in a crisis mood. There is a risk that survival will take over and learning and skills development projects that are vital to future success will fade to the background to wait for better times. Now, if ever, it is important to invest in competence development, and digital learning provides an impressive pathway for this.

Over the past year, we have learned to hold effective meetings, do sales work and maintain customer relationships online. Digital tools enable flexible remote work and interaction conveniently.

Online training has for a long time been a part of the available range of learning tools, and the pandemic crisis has created a digital leap in both educational institutions and companies. Unfortunately, however, online training is often reduced to a mere sharing of documents and presentations or talking head videos on the learning platform.

Effective e-learning is a carefully thought-out entity that includes for instance the following:

  1. Learning objectives have been thought out and set for the training and form the basis on which both the content and the related tasks are planned.
  2. The objectives are measurable, so at the end of the training it is possible to assess how well the learning objectives were achieved.
  3. The entity is consistent, appropriately paced and progresses logically.
  4. The broader entity is divided into modules and into sections according to the themes to be learned. Entities that are too long and heavy will not promote learning.
  5. The content is designed in a user-oriented way and the entity contains various elements and interactive tasks that activate the learners and support learning.
  6. The training includes social elements where users can share what they have learned, give tips and discuss the topics.
  7. The training provides analytical information that can be used to monitor learning and develop the content further.

Learning forms the basis not only for overcoming a crisis but also for future success and growth – both at the organizational and individual level. In these times, promoting digital learning is more important than ever. However, organizing digital learning in companies requires special skills, technologies and resources.

To help you and your company to get started, Intolead has implemented a visual guide in the form of an online course on the building blocks of effective online training. If you are considering how digital learning should be integrated into your company’s strategy, or if you are preparing an online training or a related call for tenders, this guide is for you.

After completing the online course, you will understand what the learning objectives are, what makes up effective online training, what benefits online training can bring to your training strategy, and what things to consider when preparing a call for tenders for digital learning.

 

Digital sales is the new normal

Digital sales is the new normal

The year 2020 changed the way we work. Sales did not escape change either, and face-to-face customer meetings were replaced by digital and remote sales. It is very likely that some of the changes will remain permanent. This in turn means that salespeople need to develop their own skills as required by the new normal in sales.

One likely development is the proliferation of hybrid sales models. Sales meetings that focus purely on informing the customer will continue to be based on online meetings. At the same time, customers expect even more value added and expertise from salespeople to develop the customer’s business. Salespeople need to be able to act as coaches, to facilitate workshops and to build customer value together with the customer. The importance of new interaction skills as part of a salesperson’s job description rises to a new level.

Competitive advantage from understanding the customer and the market

The new normal in sales requires even better preparation for appointments. One good way to support this is to introduce tools for accumulating and refining customer and market understanding. One such tool is the Insight Architecture model, which enables the salesperson to systematize the processing of information about customers, markets and competitors, for instance to build distinctive sales messages. The model also helps to better understand the customer’s business and provides a good foundation for building meaningful appointments. This skill is expected even more from the salespeople in the future – regardless of whether the meeting is arranged online or face-to-face.

The importance of internet is emphasized

The year 2020 significantly accelerated the digital transition in sales. In sales the digital shift can be seen in two different ways. First, companies and organizations must now, at the latest, invest in their own digital channels. Customers are searching for more and more information independently online, and this automates some of the steps in the sales process. Businesses need to be able to produce relevant and engaging content for the customers. This supports the customer’s buying process and accelerates sales.

Second, the digital shift affects the salespeople’s work such that they must be able to influence customers’ purchasing decisions and choices also on digital channels. Social selling capabilities, for instance in terms of influencing their own network, are emphasized. In addition, salespeople need to be able to better master digital facilitation and consultative sales skills. Naturally, the salesperson’s own digital profile must also be in order and support company-level sales and marketing messages.

The basics in sales are the same as before

Despite the change in sales and the growing role of the internet, the basics of sales are still the same as before. The salesperson’s key professional skills include building trust with the customer. This is best done by preparing well for sales appointments, listening and understanding the customer, being proactive, and showing your own personality to win the customer’s trust.

Check out this brief nano-training, and you will get more practical tips for your sales work.

 

Engage your employees with online training

Engage your employees with online training

Previously acquired expertise has an expiry date, and for many of us it is already behind us. The life cycle of competence is shortening in the transition of work, and investing in employee training is becoming increasingly essential for the success of companies. By taking your training online, you can free up resources, increase job satisfaction, and engage your employees.

It is in the self-interest of companies to ensure that the competence and tasks of employees match each other in terms of both knowledge and skills. Therefore, more attention must also be paid to competence management. It will help companies to remain competitive also in the future. Investing in competence development is a strategic choice for an organization, so building a culture of continuous learning begins with the leadership. Is your company committed to it?

 

Free up resources for better use

Organizing face-to-face training requires time, money, premises, and equipment. Online training is not only cost-effective, but also environmentally friendly, due to reduced travel associated with training events. From the business perspective, the best thing about online training, in addition to learning new skills, is that the time saved can be used for productive work.

The scale of investment required for e-learning varies. You can get started, for example, by acquiring a single course or learning module from an external partner, providing information on a given topic. At the other end of the scale it can mean investing in your own learning environment that actively supports employee competence development. Of course, there are also cost-effective, cloud-based solutions for this.

 

You can only win by training your company’s employees

According to research*, companies with a committed workforce are up to 20% more profitable than others. In keynote speeches, almost every manager agrees that staff engagement is critical to the business. Yet, in practice actions are often limited. Commitment to the organization can be facilitated by having challenging work tasks, internal and external training, coaching and mentoring, as well as the benefits derived from them.

With training, it is possible to promote job satisfaction and flexibility in work tasks. As learning develops work and benefits the work community, it pays off to value the employees and provide them with time to study during working hours.

 

A committed employee is your company’s most important asset because he or she will
  • follow the company’s strategy
  • trust the management
  • want to develop the company’s operations
  • improve the company’s turnover
  • increase customer satisfaction
  • find their own work meaningful
  • feel motivated and want to achieve the goals set
  • provide better quality work and be more productive
  • give positive impression of the organization, and strengthen the employer image

We at Intolead are experts in digital learning and can help you in building effective training solutions that support your company’s competence development needs. Our engaging and user-centric contents are always pedagogically high-quality and visually inspiring. If you have something to ask about e-learning, please contact us. Together, we can create a training solution that best serves your needs. Check out also our digital learning services.

*Source: Forbes (2018): Four Lessons From Companies That Get Employee Engagement Right

Developing future skills as part of strategic planning and everyday work

Developing future skills as part of strategic planning and everyday work

Working life is rapidly renewing with digitalisation and emerging technologies. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report*, by 2025 most companies’ employees will need new skills. Companies should therefore take a proactive approach to the challenges posed by the transformation and integrate competence development into their strategy. The critical competence needs of the future can be identified in an agile way through Intolead’s Future skills process. The quick and effective method will help create a concrete plan for developing future skills at the team level.

 
Towards a culture of lifelong learning

How can companies respond to the changing job demands caused by the turmoil of working life? By actively promoting a culture of lifelong learning in the work community. This is one of the most important aspects in utilizing and managing competence in organizations. However, the adoption of lifelong learning requires an attitudinal and cultural change in our relationship with learning.

On-the-job learning has been talked about in working life for a long time, but in practice formal education still seems to dominate, and often also employees expect that. It is therefore necessary to further strengthen future skills and awareness of the need for continuous development and learning. Supporting self-direction is also essential: developing competence is everyone’s responsibility, not just the employer’s or the supervisor’s.

When competence development is integrated into strategic planning, it is directly linked to the direction and goals of the organization. In addition to the actual core competencies, companies should also develop the meta-skills of their personnel. These include, for example, the employee’s ability to manage their own work processes, manage hurry, take advantage of digital tools, communicate and network effectively, try new ways of working, and solve problems creatively. These skills support everyday learning, adoption of something new and wellbeing at work. They support both the individual, the work community and the company, and build the capacity for change and confidence in the future.

Competences and competence needs highlighted through systematic Future Skills work

The Future Skills method developed by Intolead can be used to map future competence needs and create a plan to develop them at the team level. The process also reveals the personnel’s current level of competence and hidden competences as well as the most critical competence gaps in relation to the jointly identified future skills.

During the work that lasts two weeks, the areas of competence that are critical for the future success of the company are identified and a concrete competence development plan and milestones are developed together to improve the company’s future stamina. The plan uses the 70/20/10 model, in which 70% of learning is based on independent learning at work, 20% on learning from others and 10% on learning through actual training. Much of learning takes place in the workplace by working and by exposing oneself to new challenges.

A key premise in the process is that competence development is linked to the company’s strategy, and employees are activated to reflect on and develop their own and their team’s future skills. This strengthens flexibility and the ability to change at the individual, team and company levels. Other benefits of the Future Skills method for the company include a better view of recruitment needs and the creation of a direct feedback channel for management to support strategic planning. This will ensure that the organization continues to have the best expertise at its disposal, also in the future. The goal is that individuals learn to learn and that the culture of lifelong learning flourishes in the work community. If you want support for the renewal of competences or for the future challenges of your company, we are happy to help. Contact us at info@intolead.com and ask for more!

 

*Source: World Economic Forum: The Future of Jobs 2020