Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Operationalizing Research

I just finished a project interviewing some of our leading Vocollect customers who have implemented voice in a workflow other than selection. (For those of you who don't know the distribution center space, selection or "picking" is the most labor-intensive operation in the DC with the most product touchpoints and therefore the most common place to implement voice-directed picking.) The next task: operationalizing these results with the salesforce.

I suddenly realized at the end of the project that I didn't know enough about what our salespeople are doing on sales calls today, so I spent some time on the phone with the team members. I learned some important things that will help me create a sales tool that the salesperson might actually use. In the process, I also collected some best practices that I can consolidate and share along with my market research.

In my experience, marketing departments all too often create products, programs or promotions without enough input from sales. I recently described this to my friend Prakash, one of our product managers, as "projectile vomiting over a wall." After a short while, the salesperson is more likely to put up an umbrella to avoid the vomit rather than putting up a bucket to try to catch your marketing spew. Just getting input from the sales guy does not mean you have to listen to everything he says, but you might get a better result in the implementation.

Market research and customer intelligence both improve the effectiveness of the sales team but only if sales actually believes and uses the information.