By Rob Hamshar
One of the many hats I wore while posted in CEB’s Asia hub in New Delhi was that of “glocalizer”—contributing to the organization-wide effort to translate insights for the region. It was exciting to see such efforts come to fruition.
One of the more visible projects I was involved with is CEB’s joint initiative with the Indian business publication Mint Magazine (a partnership of HT Media—inaugurated by The Mahatma himself—and The Wall Street Journal). With Mint, we publish a monthly series, entitled the Six Myths, based on the thought leadership from the global memberships at CEB and the regional expertise of the folks at Mint.
Recently, our Six Myths installment focused on six common misconceptions about the world of Sales that are especially relevant to heads of Sales and Marketing in central and east Asia. Though most of the myths align to the broader challenges faced anywhere in the world, some were especially resonant in India.
The one the stands out the most is Myth #3—Sales Rep Time is Best Spent in the Field. The idea that an “always be in the field” mentality is an indicator of poor performance was an edgy finding from our quantitative analysis of Sales Rep Effectiveness a couple of years back. But it really takes on new meaning when you place it in the Indian context—where I’ve personally negotiated 3-hour traffic nightmares to attend important meetings across town (fyi: during monsoon season, multiply travel time by six). When you’re trying to close deals in the urban centers of today’s growth engine economies, perhaps the time in field measure takes on greater significance, and requires a traffic-to-meeting ratio to understand true performance (or would that just promote more aggressive driving?). More research to be done, I suppose.
As another example, we tackled the myths in driving customer loyalty. We pulled heavily from the past 4 years of MLC research into the Loyalty topic. As we got into it, we found the concept and connotations of loyalty can be markedly different in India and much of Asia when compared to North America, so finding the relevant parallels from our work was a bit tricky.
In the Indian B2B sector, relationship-based selling is still a dominant practice , despite findings to the contrary in most western contexts . And so personal loyalty and reciprocity is still the prevailing frame.
In the Indian B2C sector, there’s still considerable disagreement around what works and doesn’t work in building loyalty, especially when so few customers have reached the minimum threshold of satisfaction with their brand experience. Believe me—I can share more customer experience nightmares than you’d care to hear about from the mobile phone providers and food purveyors.
However, despite these differences, there is still a huge opportunity for MLC to immediately help Marketers understand and manage loyalty in their regional contexts. The success of the Six Myths is evidence of that.