8.3 tips to drive commercial excellence in 2018

Don’t stop reading!!!

Commercial Excellence is a bit like giving to charity, drink less alcohol and cutting out junk food. We know it’s important (right?!?!)… but it just isn’t as sexy as other topics. Well vanilla isn’t sexy… but it’s the #1 flavour of ice-cream. Google’s homepage isn’t sexy, but it’s #1 in the search engine world. And I would boldly suggest that deep down you know substance IS more important than style, and that the world in which you operate would be a heck of a lot better if the commercials improved. So check out these morsels of insight, and you never know… Commercial Excellence may just bring sexy back…

Starting from the top…

1. Prioritise improving what is already working

Genius! Pure genius. But gladly no longer should digital transformation be a drastic pivot of ‘out with the old, in with the new’. Instead, focus on learning what works, change what doesn’t, and strive for continuous improvement. In over 15 years I am still to collaborate with a company which spends >10% of A&P per annum on improving what they already have. Incredible eh!

2. Explore the new and shiny – but from a solid base

Strategic businesses know what they are selling, and focus their activities at driving that forwards. Innovation happens ‘within the envelope’ to make their special sauce even saucier. Just consider Google Search and you’ll know what I mean. Use innovation firstly to improve what you already do, then to try to reinvent what you do. Yes – the world is changing, but not as fast as people will tell you.

3. Steal the best bit from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits - start with the end in mind.

The end is, and should always be, to sell more of what you make (be that products, experiences, memories etc). If you’re a rower, it’s all about making the boat go faster. When in business, it’s all about the business case. Nail that down, and go from there. Only do what fits, and ignore what doesn’t. (There’s probably a hack of an old Michelangelo sculptor quote in there somewhere!)

4. Embrace the math (for all my US reader [thanks Dad])

And as my mother used to say… “take care of the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves”. Mum and Dad aren’t talking much just now. But they’re both right. Commercial excellence is all about the data – the conversion rates, the thresholds, cost and return on investment. Embrace the excel and start tracking and optimising. Quick question, if you had $1, and earned 1% per day on it, how much would you have (compounded) at the end of the year? [Spoiler alert… it’s $37.78].

5. Apply commercials to all areas of your business, and then build a feedback loop. It can be done...

I was with a management consultant recently who hated talk of ROI. I am the complete opposite. With a company last week we were applying ROI to staff retention rates, office consumables and cash conversion optimisation. No longer should staff apathetically say “But what can I do to improve profitability in my <insert role>?” If you can measure it, you can manage it, and you can quantify the value, and drive commercial improvements. No more excuses.

6. Build PVJs (process value journeys), segment and then optimise

Yep – ‘PVJs’ have just been made up… by me. Google it, and there is nothing there. But what this means is understand the steps in a process – be that a customer value journey, a supply or value chain, or a work process… identify where value comes from, and what drives cost, and then build strategies to push down costs and increase value. Simple right? What was I saying earlier about giving to charity again…?

7. Ensure interactions are valuable for you and the end user

There are few things that I hate as much as a lunch menu done on the cheap. Or a Gu desert on offer (where they halve the cost, but also halve the amount of Goey pud in the pot). Commercial Excellence does not mean disappointing the end user experience. It means striving for more for your customers, whilst that ‘more’ costs you less. We all know real world good and bad examples. Make your approach the right side of the line.

8. Reward your teams along the way

“But this is what people should be doing anyway right?!?!” Was the response of a dejected CEO when the idea of incentivising commercially-orientated behaviour was suggested. Clearly the example here wasn’t in the property, banking or recruitment sectors, but the principle stands true. Make performance improvement tangible, and share the benefits. If you want to know how we’re doing this for clients using Blockchain… then get in touch, as it kicks the ‘no ROI / no proven uplift’ argument right into touch!

8.3 Do a little of the unexpected. But just a little.

As much as data, calculations, thresholds and strategic focus are important, so too is the human angle. Remember that emotion is the driver of most behaviour, and it’s amazing what a little of something different can do to move the needle. Be creative, think different, and surprise & delight.

Commercial Excellence is at the heart of everything Portera Consulting does. To discuss how these disciplines can be applied to your business or function, get in touch.

About Portera

We are a strategic consultancy with core specialisms in strategy, data and marketing technology. We support global businesses to convert technology into a commercial driver.  Tech is the essential business enabler – but we keep its focus on cost efficient business growth.


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