This is part one of a Marketing Excellence series drawn from a members-only interview of TopRight CEO Dave Sutton with CEO-CFO Interviews, a weekly publication featuring in-depth interviews with top corporate executives.
CEOCFO: When you are working with a company and developing a marketing or business strategy, what might you look at which others do not realize is important to add in the mix?
Dave: One of the challenges that many of our clients face is that many of their people have grown up inside of the business. If you are a consumer packaged goods specialist, a telecommunications specialist or an automotive industry specialist, everything that you know about sales and marketing emanates from your experience within that industry. One of the first things we do is recognize and bring the voice of the customer into the discussion. What we mean by that is we work in many different industries, so we see a broad array of product and service categories and how customers react to different marketing strategies, messages and offers. The first thing we do is bring a non-biased, unvarnished perspective focused on answering the question: “Is this product/service really reaching the intended market and is the marketing efficient and effective?” One thing we are known for is the fact that we measure everything. Not only are we big on the creative aspects of marketing and the campaign to reach your intended customer audience, but we also want to assure that marketing activities actually convert to sales and incremental revenue for the business.
Oftentimes, people inside the company may have other motivations that are holding them back. One barrier might be a previous experience that could have occurred from a specific category, making them not want to make a mistake or being hesitant to ask something that may be interpreted as a dumb question. The other thing we run into frequently is people ‘protecting their turf,’ not necessarily thinking about the best thing for the company over all but instead they are thinking more about the priorities of their department, function or specific job. This often leads to dysfunctional performance in the marketplace.
CEOCFO: How are you able to convince upper management?
Dave: What we bring to the table are the facts about what is happening in the market and within the company. We come in with data and we “tell the truth to power”. That is a very important capability that we develop in all of our people at TopRight. We face many situations where senior executives, whether CEO or CFO or CMO, have direct reports who may know of an issue, but are not willing to step up and tell them what is really going on. The immediate value TopRight brings, is entering the situation and telling leaders exactly what is going on with 100% honesty, and no hesitation.
From our perspective, I believe we do our best in finding the win/win for our clients. We are looking at this not from a perspective of challenging the folks that are currently on the sales and marketing team for example but trying to get to the facts and reveal actionable insight, because in their heart of hearts, those people are trying to do the right thing and there may be obstacles in the way that are impeding their success. We help to highlight anything that needs to be addressed for better sales and marketing effectiveness. If everybody on the client team agrees on the destination and what success looks like when we get there, TopRight is positioned for a successful, high-impact engagement. We are not going to be successful unless our client is successful. We stake our business on what we can do. The results speak for themselves. If everybody on the team agrees to the same measures, we are golden. If there are issues with the people that are either not committed or in some cases passively committed to achieving the success that the senior team is looking for, it is sometimes a great way to weed out some of the problems.
We have people that are not growing in the same direction and senior executives many times will look at TopRight and say thank you for helping us identify some of the gaps and capabilities. We also have the passively committed employees who are not helping us win and succeed in the market. I tell my clients the great thing about working with TopRight is that we do not have a horse in the race, so they don’t have to worry about us protecting or trying to take someone’s job.