Raising Commercial Awareness
- Increase turnover at no additional cost
- Reduce costs by using existing in-house experience
Would you be interested if we said we offer a commercial awareness training programme seeking to raise the understanding amongst all staff about what your company needs to do to be profitable, be successful, and serve its customers well.
Sound interesting then read on!
What is Commercial Awareness?
The Cambridge Business English Dictionary defines commercial awareness as, “the knowledge of how businesses make money, what customers want, and what problems there are in a particular area of business.”
Can you say all your staff know your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, core values, biggest competitors, key stakeholders, and current business challenges. Even when they have this knowledge are they able to apply it?
Benefits and Uses
Many companies see commercial awareness as a key requirement in their current staff, new staff and potential new employees. People who take the time to understand how the organisation operates and makes a profit – as well as how the industry as a whole works – are the sort of people who then demonstrate a high level of motivation, interest, and focus on the bottom line. This awareness helps the business grow and allows new staff to “hit the ground running” and make informed decisions, right from the start.
Kate is a successful consultant/agent, and she has just applied to become Head of Department. There are many candidates for the position, but Kate manages to impress during her interview.
She demonstrates an in-depth understanding of how the organisation works, and she outlines how the organisation can help strengthen their market position. She explains how she’s negotiated with clients to increase fees by 15%, and how she plans to keep rates competitive.
She also outlines several important trends that she has noticed with competitors’ , and she details her plan to take advantage of this information, so that the organisation can benefit through increased business and efficiency savings.
These insights are news to the board. But they also show that Kate is focused on the bottom line, that she cares about the organisation, and that she’s interested in ways to improve the company as a whole. Kate wins the promotion because she has demonstrated commercial awareness. She saved money where she sensibly could, she knew what was happening with competitors and within the wider industry, and she used this information to help her organisation succeed.
Commercial awareness, or business acumen, can make an enormous difference to all your staff whether they’re just starting out or experienced professionals.
From running our own businesses we understand that it’s human nature for staff to become blinkered in terms of their job role. At induction they get given a job description and then get moulded into a role around that job. There is little understanding that all staff can and should be making a contribution towards generating sales and efficiencies. This goes for the receptionist right up to Senior Management.
We also realise from experience that staff tend to get recognised for their technical competency in their job role. As a consequence they get promoted on the basis of their technical ability and not on their ability to do the new job role. That new role often requires new skills and not those technical ones that got them the promotion in the first place.
We can design programmes which seeks to change the mindset of staff to increase their commercial awareness and thereby improve the organisation’s bottom line. Programmes can be bespoke to meet your specific requirements.
- to maximise efficiency of customer ‘flow’
- to create new fee generating opportunities
- to recognise new fee generating opportunies
- to recognise how to maximise surplus/bottom line
- benchmark against competitors to identify USP’s
- to recognise the importance of setting effective customer satisfaction data
Some of the priority areas:
- Discuss and consider how ‘customer flow’ can be increased
- Identify stages of a customer journey through the organisation. (highlight key and priority stages).
- Take part in a team dynamic exercise
- Silo working and how to avoid
- Improved cross-departmental communication
- Change of mindset to understand role and responsibilities goes beyond main job function
- Assign responsibility and staff to each stage of this process to take ownership
- Discuss and examine what happens if a stage is missed or not completed
- Develop a work flow and rota or responsibility to ensure a phone or section is manned throughout the year.
- Describe what excellent customer satisfaction looks like
- Design a satisfaction rating system to measure this
- Take part in a case study exercise to examine elements of the above outcomes.
- Complete a simple project plan to take with them as a team back into the workplace to develop and use (important to identify key KPIs needed to achieve this effectively)
Behavioural Change Task Example
The simplest of changes can have the biggest impact. A common problem which resonates with many organisations is the prompt and efficient answering of the incoming communication whether it be calls or e-mails. Here’s an example of a task which can be done to change embedded behaviours.
There could be a sealed box which someone has to take charge of at all times and hand over to someone when they leave the room, do a task or have had enough. The box will have a mobile phone in it on silent (they obviously don’t know that) and when the box is opened at the end it will display missed calls for every time it has been ‘left’ without someone watching it. (someone in the room will be making those calls discreetly).