Jul 20

China Watch Blog has learnt that people’s fear of sales and marketing, which has long been viewed as a mysterious art, is unfounded.

According to Richard White, founder and Chief Executive Officer of WiseTech Global, if there’s one thing all companies struggle to measure, it’s the relationship between marketing and sales, and how these business units affect new revenue creation.

“We all know that there’s a connection, but actually tracking a prospect from the time they know nothing about you through to the point where they are a revenue-generating customer, who is happy to recommend your services, continues to be a challenge.

“Part of the problem is sales staff and their work methods,” White explains.

It’s in their interests to wave their hands mysteriously, and suggest their innate skills and talents are the secrets of their success, and the way most businesses operate ensures that it remains in their interest to behave in this way. Their success is measured based on how much new business each sales person wins, and little attention is paid to the amount of business they have lost, or failed to win on the way. Even less attention is paid to the contribution made by brand, the product itself, price or all the other inputs which ultimately affect the outcome.

Because we don’t ultimately know what contributes to success and failure, it becomes impossible to learn from what we’re already doing. It therefore also becomes impossible to improve. Failure is always put down to outside influences, while success is ascribed to the mysterious talents of the sales person.

The other part of the problem is the way most companies remunerate sales staff. They’re usually paid on a very narrow measure of personal success, with no reference to what the organization achieves overall. Little attempt is made to track their day-to-day activities, interactions with customers, or the correlation between marketing and sales. As a result, we lose the link between what they do, and what they achieve.

We understand that there are talented, successful sales people, but what makes them successful is routinely misunderstood or misinterpreted; and as a result, we create a situation where real improvement through learning is impossible.

Most companies manage this issue by employing sales staff based on what they say they’ve done, put them on trial, and fire them if they haven’t met expected sales goals. But this method does not provide any business insight into the steps involved in transforming a prospect from a complete stranger into a customer willing to pay for, and promote, your services.

The central problem, however, lies not with the sales people and their methods, or with the way they are remunerated, but with the way we think about the sales process itself.

We think of it as a process – as an ongoing flow rather than a series of discrete stages. We focus on the movement rather than the points of interaction. As a result, it becomes impossible to understand what happens at each of those points; how people change and what changes them.

If we were analyzing a factory process, we wouldn’t look at the conveyor belt which moves the goods, but at each of the points along the line when the good is changed or modified.

In marketing and sales, there is movement from one state to another, but it is perhaps more useful to consider it as a series of points rather than one long continuum – and here’s why:

There may be tens and perhaps even hundreds of tiny points of transition where the customer is ‘touched’ by either sales or marketing – so many in fact, that it may look like an impossible task to first quantify them and then measure their effect. Good sales people will personally make many attempts to ‘touch’ the customer, as they qualify, understand education, inspire, and ultimately create the confidence that converts a “lead” into a “customer”.
However, it is possible to identify and measure many of the small transitions that occur, and it’s well worth the while of each sales person to track them, because they are able then to plan for when they need extra inputs like an email, video, phone call, automated message, or detailed personal interaction.

The process may sound overwhelming, but when you begin to do this you will also be able to figure out that there are many small stages that can be skipped, and others which could do with more focus in order to properly manage the sales cycle.

Once you divide the activity into discrete stages, you can also begin to use software to track and manage the progress of leads into customers; you can design and target your skills toward particular customer types, and most importantly you can turn the sales process into something which is predictable and therefore scalable.

I can already see sales people all over the world lean in closer to the screen, narrow their eyes, and grow angry at the assertion that part of their magic can be clearly, logically deconstructed and managed by software.

However, it is possible to create a highly successful and scalable sales and marketing system that grows your business even in times of economic turbulence or downturn, assuming your base product and pricing is right.

By focusing on the points of transition rather than the movement, it is entirely possible to create a predictable, and measureable set of steps specifically targeted to your prospect no matter where they are in the sales cycle.

The ‘magic of sales’ is about giving people what they need, when they need it, so they can respond to the needs of the prospect as they develop into a customer … simple really.

Armed with such a tool marketing teams can create a succinct plan, and build content which boosts the effectiveness of the sales team, enhancing their confidence to respond to high-quality leads through a well-designed set of targeted stages.

Effective sales people can become more productive because they have access to all that they need, and weaker sales people can be stepped through the different stages without having to double-guess what is needed to advance the sales process, and when.

By Identifying, quantifying, tracking, measuring and training, you ignite the torch that brings light into the dark art of sales and marketing.

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Apr 26

China Watch Blog has learnt that Oil painter Zhou Chunya tops the Hurun Art List with sales of his auctioned works hitting US$75 million in 2012, according to a report.
Zhou, 58, is the youngest artist ever to top the list compiled by Hurun Report Inc based in Shanghai.

Zhou Chunya, oil painter

The value of Zhou’s work has more than doubled from last year when he ranked eighth, according to the report, best known for its annual Hurun China Rich List.

As many as 222 of Zhou’s paintings were sold in 2012. The most expensive one was a 1994 piece with stones as its theme, which was auctioned for 29.9 million yuan, XInhua reported.

Oil Painter Zeng Fanzhi, 49, came in second with US$73 million in sales last year.
Renowned Chinese ink painter and calligrapher Fan Zeng, 75, took third place with US$69 million in sales at public auctions last year.

The total turnover of the top 100 list fell 21 percent from last year to US$1.2 billion. The threshold for artists making the top 100 fell 11 percent from last year to US$2.4 million.

The average age of the artists is 66, three years older than last year. The youngest is 37-year-old Chinese ink painter and calligrapher Ren Zhong, whose work ranked 51st with US$7 million in sales in 2012.

The list also includes six female artists, more than any previous year, including 91-year-old Chen Peiqiu who had an annual turnover of US$22.4 million last year and is ranked 11th.

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Apr 22

China Watch Blog has learnt that half of the Hong Kong women interviewed in a survey said they’d suffered sexual harassment, and one-in-seven complained about sexual abuse. The findings were compiled by the Women’s Coalition on Equal Opportunities.

The group also found that a quarter of women had been victims of domestic violence. The group said female restaurant workers had the worst experiences of sexual harassment and abuse, RTHK reports.

A spokeswoman for the group, Elaine Lam, said the high number of cases was shocking.

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Mar 30

China Watch Blog reports that airlines should charge obese passengers more, a Norwegian economist has suggested, arguing that “pay as you weigh” pricing would bring health, financial and environmental dividends.

Bharat Bhatta, an associate professor at Sogn og Fjordane University College, said that airlines should follow other transport sectors and charge by space and weight.

“To the degree that passengers lose weight and therefore reduce fares, the savings that result are net benefits to the passengers,” Bhatta wrote this week in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management.

“As a plane of a given make and model can accommodate more lightweight passengers, it may also reward airlines” and reduce the use of environmentally costly fuel.

Bhatta put together three models for what he called “pay as you weigh airline pricing.”

The first would charge passengers according to how much they and their baggage weighed. It would set a rate for kg per passenger so that someone weighing 59 kg (130 pounds) would pay half the fare of a 118 kg (260 pound) person.

A second model would use a fixed base rate, with an extra charge for heavier passengers to cover the extra costs. Under this option, every passenger would have a different fare.

Bhatta’s preferred option was the third, where the same fare would be charged if a passenger was of average weight. A discount or extra charge would be used if the passenger was above or below a certain limit.

That would lead to three kinds of fares – high, average and low, Bhatta said.

Airlines have grappled for years with how to deal with larger passengers as waistlines have steadily expanded. Such carriers as Air France and Southwest Airlines allow overweight passengers to buy extra seats and get a refund on them.

Asked about charging heavier passengers extra, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said: “We have our own policies in place and don’t anticipate changing those.”

United Air Lines requires passengers who cannot fit comfortably into a single seat to buy another one. A spokeswoman said the carrier would not discuss “future pricing.”

About two-thirds of US adults are obese or overweight.

In a 2010 online survey for the travel website Skyscanner, 76 percent of respondents said airlines should charge overweight passengers more if they needed an extra seat.

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Nov 17

China Watcb Blog reports that IntroAmerica is an educational consulting business targeting mainland Chinese students who wish to study in America.

Contest Flyer

“We are working with US colleges interested in recruiting Chinese students, while at the same time trying to provide invaluable information to Chinese students seeking information about American culture, college life and the college admissions process. More simply, IntroAmerica aims to be a ‘bilingual match.com for US colleges and Chinese students,” says head of Product, Sondra WuDunn.

She is responsible for its website www.IntroAmerica.com as well as overseeing various aspects of the company’s social media platform. In conjunction with its launch last week, the company is are hosting a video contest and inviting all college students in the US to partake.

All they need to do is create a short video about their college life, submit to Sondra’s website or facebook page, www.facebook.com/introamerica, get their friends and family to ‘like’ our facebook fan page, and ultimately vote. Winners will be announced next month, with the top video contestant earning $3,000.

I invite you to check out our new website and ‘like’ our facebook page, but, more importantly, help spread the word about our video contest to any friend, associate or relative attending college who might wish to participate –please see the formal email announcement below and the attached flyer.

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Nov 06

China Watch Blog picked up this interesting article from Star Online quoting an international financial expert, Satyajit Das, who contends that the debt- fueled boom and “botox economics” of the past have come to a halt to make way for what will be, at least until global debt levels come down, a bleak future.

Gold, not a solution during difficult economic times

“The most difficult period will be the time it takes to wipe out the debt,” he said last week at a talk organised by the Malaysian Investment Banking Association. Das has over 30 years experience in capital markets and risk management and is now a consultant to banks, corporations and regulators.

In a sobering assessment of the health of the world economy, he likened the various pump-priming actions by governments and central banks to driving with the handbrake on.

From the current malaise, he sees three possible outcomes: a 75% chance of stagnation, 20% of a collapse, and 5% of belle epoque.

For the man on the street, he has this advice: “First I would pray. People asked me what I would buy in 2008. I said foodstuff, energy, and a gun to protect you. The world is going to look a very ugly place.”

Das, a former banker who published a book in 2006 anticipating the credit crash, thinks that in the future the top 10% of the population will rule the world and hire 20%, leaving 70% with nothing.

“You already see this with security and gated communities becoming more prevalent. I’ll be dead, thank god,” he laughed.

On what the ordinary person should do to protect his wealth, he said: “You need a trading mentality and to look very carefully at what other people are doing.

“My investment strategy now is very simply summed up. I don’t bother asking questions about fundamentals. What are other people thinking and doing?”

Das also dismissed the long-held notion that gold was a refuge in times of trouble.

“I don’t understand gold, it is an irrational asset. My mother, who is Indian, would buy gold whether it is valued at US$20, US$200 or US$2,000. It doesn’t make any difference to her because people have an innate desire to own gold.

“In my mind there is no difference between gold and paper currency. You still rely on someone to give you something in return it is a different act of faith. Gold is not a good investment after adjusting for inflation, but it can be a short-term tactical asset.”

Asked about Malaysia, Das said that as the global economy waned, the question was not whether the country would be affected but rather to what degree.

“Malaysia has natural resources. You have things people need, at least in the near term.

“But a lot of the growth is dependent on government spending. There is a need to get away from investment-driven growth.”

On Asean, he remarked that the 10-nation region was to an extent “trapped in the China story” as its suppliers and exporters, especially in the case of Singapore and Hong Kong which are trade-dependent economies.

However, Das pointed out that the world was not at the end of growth per se, just the end of “financially-engineered” growth.

“Real growth stems from a few things: population growth, productivity and innovation, and new markets.

“But they are limited. Besides North Korea, I can’t see any other country that has not been integrated into the global economy, unless the Martians start to trade with us,” he joked.

“The point is all those things will not bring us back to the growth of the past. We are in for a very long period of adjustment. To some extent we are going backwards.

“We are going to see not a great deal of forward progress, but a return to a more sustainable economy. That will be a long process.”

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Oct 25

China Watch Blog has learnt that Hong Kong experienced a 23% decrease in the number of financial services job opportunities in Q3 of 2012 compared to Q3 of 2011.

According to the latest quarterly Job Barometer from eFinancialCareers, a leading global career site network for professionals working in the investment banking, asset management and securities industries, the overall APAC region experienced a less dramatic decline (-16%) over the period with average job postings decreasing from 2,876 in Q3 of 2011 to 2,408 in Q3 of 2012. Singapore and Australia recorded decreases of -5% and -34% respectively.

Despite the slowdown, churn and a small amount of conservative expansion has kept the job market afloat in the last quarter. Comparing Q3 of 2012 with Q2 of 2012, APAC job opportunities fell only slightly (-2%). Singapore was the only market registering growth, with a modest 1% increase over the period. In comparison, job opportunities in Hong Kong and Australia decreased by 5% and 6% respectively.

“The last 12 months have taught us that even with the support of China as a major growth engine, Hong Kong is not immune to the redundancies that have swept through global financial services,” said George McFerran, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, eFinancialCareers. “With a slowdown in economic growth and a transition of political leadership expected for Mainland China, Hong Kong firms are taking a conservative approach to hiring with a focus on highly specialized positions in growth sectors such as capital markets, insurance and risk management.”

Asia Pacific Top Performing Sectors in Q3

Capital markets, insurance and risk management were the top performing sectors in the regions, with quarter-on-quarter growth of 30%, 23% and 19% respectively.

Capital markets – Capital markets saw quarter-on-quarter growth across APAC of 30%, with ongoing demand happening outside the front office – in risk, compliance, quantitative analytics and IT.

Insurance – The insurance sector remains a bright spot of hiring driven largely by growth recruitment, especially for labor-intensive agent, claims and underwriting positions. Recruitment plans for large insurance companies are ambitious in a region where growing prosperity is resulting in an expanding demand for insurance products. Recent natural disasters in the APAC region over the last two years have also reinforced the need for insurance professionals.

Risk management – As banks continue to come under scrutiny from shareholders and regulators, the operational risk job function is broadening in scope and job specifications are becoming more vigorous. Local talent shortages and internationally transferable skills mean overseas-based candidates are sometimes hired for these roles. Liquidity risk professionals are also in demand as banks strive to meet Basel III milestones and come under pressure from ratings agencies.

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Oct 17

China Watch Blog has learnt that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called upon aviation stakeholders to work together to create greater value for customers across the travel experience while enabling greater efficiency for industry participants.

“Airlines expect to carry some 3 billion passengers in 2013. And that number will double by 2030. Connectivity is a critical component of modern economies. Serving that growing demand will require innovation. We need to understand what consumers expect and what they value enough to pay for. Aviation is team effort. And that is a challenge for all industry stakeholders. Travel agents, airports, air navigation service providers, regulators, manufacturers, ground service providers, global distribution systems (GDSs) and many others must work together to make each passenger journey as safe, secure, seamless and convenient as possible,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. Tyler made his comments in an address to the World Passenger Symposium which opened in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates today.

Tyler highlighted three priority areas for cooperation to create a more seamless and more interactive modern travel experience:

Simplifying airport processes with Fast Travel
Implementing a Checkpoint of the Future (CoF) for passenger security
And developing a New Distribution Capability in line with modern retailing practices

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Oct 17

China Watch Blog has learnt that World Ventures, a US company that offers heavily discounted vacations, air tickets, hotel accommodation, cruises, car rental and major sports events on a global basis has come to Asia, offering low cost travel.

Yours truly received an email from a very close friend that his spouse Marelene has just launched this new business which sounds promising. Have a peek at Marelene WorldVentures

Yes, it is all very American in its approach and Marelene’s just got onboard just as the business starts to roll out across Asia. So, please you (China Watch Blog) readers, give her all the support you can.

According to her husband, Tony Philips, if you’ve got time (and can bear with some of the Joe Traveler humour!) it’s worth viewing the introductory DreamTrips Life video. Marelene Dreamtripslife

Or if you simply want to see the sort of deals on offer, just click “Shop for Travel” in the top right hand corner of the page above.

I bet you will find something that might interest you, so keep surfing the website.

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Oct 17

China Watch Blog has learnt that due diligence of Mergers & Acquisitions (M&As) do not focus enough on post deal integration to be able to fully tap full potential of such deals, according to a new worldwide study by global law firm Eversheds, whose deals are more than 75% involving cross border.

Little or no focus beyond the deal transaction to post-integration is compromising the benefits and value of cross-border M&A, and internal processes are as much to blame as external factors, the report says.

Global businesses are not realising the full potential of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as a means of driving growth due to weaknesses in the deal process, the new global study, The M&A Blueprint: Inception to Integration , published by Eversheds, shows that deal teams need a more holistic approach and stronger connections between the planning, completion and post-deal integration phases.

The study involved more than 400 multi-national businesses who have worked on cross-border M&A deals in the past three years. It shows that nearly half (43%) of businesses believe that the most common cause for deals not successfully achieving their goals is due to a failure to address post deal integration from the early stages of deal due diligence.

The report also shows that legal risk is an increasingly important consideration in the assessment of potential deals. General Counsel provide essential input at this stage and more than half (59%) of all respondents said they had spotted potentially damaging issues early enough to caution management about proceeding with the deal.

The research highlights that less experienced buyers are finding the process challenging but even those with a wealth of knowledge believe that there are improvements to be made.

Robin Johnson , M&A partner at Eversheds , said: “The current economic climate has made the business of doing deals much tougher, with the research highlighting an acute awareness of risk in the process. However, company boards are under pressure to secure growth and M&A is an essential business tool for achieving this, in particular for organisations thinking about tapping into or increasing their penetration in new international markets.
“Our research shows that the overriding factor contributing to the success of a cross-border deal , is the presence of a core team providing the ‘connective tissue’ to link all the phases together , taking the deal from the inception stage through to post-completion integration. Businesses need to start joining the dots between the different stages of the deal cycle to move the focus from just simply ‘doing the deal’ to thinking about life for the business beyond the deal.

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