Do you have courage to lead for good? Can you make a decision at a $2B cost to be true to your values? CVS did and their business is better off!

I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek, as I guess many of you. I stumbled this morning on this video of his about courage to lead and it reinforced my belief that, just to start, public companies should be publishing their results in the form of a Triple Bottom Line (3BL): People, Planet and Profit.

Don’t you also sell cigarettes in your stores Mrs. CVS?

Simon reminded me about this fascinating story about CVS, the pharmacist in the US, facing a tough decision to make in the journey of becoming a health company, CVS Health, from a drugstore chain. This transformation was lead by Helena Foulkes, Exec VP at the time. Inc reported about her speech at the Conscious Capitalism Leadership here.

CVS had a vision statement expressed pretty much as “We are to protect the health of our employees and customers”. Repeatedly, in meetings with hospitals and doctors discussing potential partnership, towards the end of these meetings someone would say: “Don’t you also sell cigarettes in your shops?

Imagine the face of CVS’ execs… Foulkes explains that CVS had always sold cigarettes in their drugstores, they made money out of it: $2B to be precise. Making the decision to ban cigarettes from all stores was a tough one to make in light of short term profits but congruent with the mission statement, the hiring and retaining of millennials, attracting HR and Insurance partners but also simply because it was the right thing to do for society’s health!

And so they went ahead in 2014, removing all cigarettes from their stores. Wall Street did welcome the move by slashing the stock, analysts “predicting” dark days for CVS and no change for cigarette consumption. It turned out that cigarette sales didn’t all go somewhere else, despite competitors like Walgreen’s and Rite Aid using all kinds of reasons to “think about it further”, CVS’s courage paid off.

CVS revenue by the end of 2014, in spite of drugstore losses, increased circa 10% with operating profit growing above 4% and CVS stock peaked at all-time high in 2015.  The pride of employees, customer loyalty and advocacy made it happen.

Changing economy foundational values for a better world? 3BL made mandatory?

This amazing story highlights the biggest challenge business leaders are facing today: building organizations making money AND meaningful change at the same time.

“There’s clearly a sense of the need in the business community to modify capitalism in some way, to redefine it, and to re-establish it in the public imagination as a force for good.”

said Alan Murray, the managing editor at Fortune.

Hence my belief to make 3BL mandatory for public companies by the major stock exchange markets as an integral part of the companies quarterly results publication. It would in turn provide all investors with transparent information about what companies real impact is on people, planet and profit. Maybe it would ignite a virtuous circle of investors asking themselves: “At similar prospective financial returns, shouldn’t we invest in the best 3BL possible?”

True information creates education and what leaders are doing inspires. Millennials to start, they are already over 60% of decision makers in Tech, care about companies purpose — that is true purpose not green washing easily spotted. Zeno reports, out of a 2020 research interviewing more than 8,000 people , that consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong Purpose.

What are we waiting for? Let’s have the courage to lead for good!

So what are we waiting for to make Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) core to our businesses? Not just appointing a chief CSR like corporation did appoint CDOs because business leaders didn’t know how to handle digital transformation. The wake up call COVID sent their way was brutal.

Let’s not wait for the brutal wake up call greenhouse gas emission is to send us in a few decades! Let’s genuinely act now upon the biggest challenge mankind faces. This generation — as the last generation to be able to do something about climate change before it’s too late — can address with the means at our disposal: courage to lead for good!

Happy to discuss it with you, feel free to comment and share ideas below.

Do you think you’re connected to your customers? Really? Do you think they agree? Let’s check…

When was the last time you heard in a strategic meeting some defining statement from your execs like: “We are customer-centric”, “Every decision in this meeting should be made based on customer insight”, “Customer First!”, etc.? Feels good? Do you think your customers perceived any value out of it? Did you check?

Do you capture customers’ emotion besides customer data?

Are you connected with your end customers?

Answering this question, most execs or managers from these meetings would answer with a big YES! Actually, based on a Cap Gemini Research out of 600 executives, 75% of organizations believe themselves to be customer-centric. So, you’re not alone. But when interviewing for the same research 3,000 consumers, the reality check was brutal: only 30% did agree!

After more than a year into the pandemic, this trend did not slow down. On the contrary, the customer disconnect for a lot of businesses was brutal, especially for all companies still going through their digital transformation, let alone the ones that did not aggressively start it — but this is the minority few laggards.

In my world of Tech B2B, Trust Radius reckons:

“Due to the pandemic, 33% of buyers spent more time researching products before making a purchase this year. 49% of buyers spent time doing extra research because of data security concerns.”

The 2021 B2B Buying Disconnect annual TrustRadius research

Chances are the strategies your brand had in motion need to be revisited, relying solely on customer data will probably not be enough. Were you curious to compare repeat customers’ data with Net Promoter Score (NPS) of these same customers? Was it congruent? Not necessarily right? The reason is maybe that these repeat customers had an expensive barrier to exit, so they kept buying from your brand. But when asked by their peers whether it’d be a good idea to buy something from your company they said: don’t buy this solution at the risk of being trapped for many years. I hope not, but do yourself a favor: double-check.

If you’re looking for a wider perspective about how COVID-19 did change customer behavior in Tech, here is a good view of time spent by them during their buying journey coming from the same TrustRadius research:

How COVID-19 Impacts the Amount of Time Buyers Spend on Different Activities in the Buyer's Journey | TrustRadius
It reinforces a trend I wrote about previously highlighting that B2B buyers would spend only 17% of their purchasing journey time with ALL potential suppliers’ sales reps (from Gartner).

As a matter of fact, if customers and prospects tend to spend less time with representatives from your company, how do you think you’re being more connected with your customers? Do you start to feel the same pain I’m feeling?

How to reconnect to your customers?

There are several factors widening the customer disconnect, without being exhaustive let’s list some here:

  • Digital is prevailing in the buying journey
  • B2B brands are not engaging enough with the end customer, they should seek for a more B2B2C stance
  • Millennials are becoming a majority of the buyers, 60% in the Tech B2B world as an example
  • Customer loyalty is driven primarily by trust (43%), simplicity and convenience (24%) i.e. more driven by their right brain
  • Fatigue developing from a customer experience that didn’t evolve enough
  • The incoherence of the engagement through all the customer touchpoints as a result of the vendor’s departmental silos
  • Not taking enough into consideration customers behavior and emotions compared to customer data (left brain driven strategies)

I would have many things to write about reconnecting with your customers, and I will certainly do this in future posts. One punch line would capture the essence of my state of mind today:

Reconnect with your customers’ and employees’ right brain!

To be continued…

Please share your own perspective and experiences about this in commenting or responding to this post.

RevOps at the core of CX and growth? Becoming more Customer centric to break silos is the way to go

I’ve been experiencing first hand the difficulty B2B companies, from scale ups to established tech vendors I’ve been given to work with, to adapt to the buyer’s journey’s radical transformation. As Alastair Woolcock from Gartner reports:, sellers have limited opportunity to influence customer decisions as B2B buyers would spend only 17% of their purchasing journey time with ALL potential suppliers sales reps!

Pie chart showing distribution of buying groups' time by key buying activities.

If you add to this that 33% of all buyers, climbing to 44% for Millennial, would prefer a “seller free” sales experience, one can easily guess something needs to change in B2B Go-To-Market (GTM) and offered customer experience.

Actually, among many things to embark on, I’d be supporting the advent of Revenue Operations (RevOps) and appointing a true Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) in your organisation. The major benefits to expect would revolve around:

  • Alignment of sales, inside sales, business development, digital, marketing and customer success organisations, putting customers at the center,
  • Creating focus around the growth strategy, never loosing sight of the customer satisfaction,
  • Thus simplifying the cross-departments processes, increasing overall efficiency and improving the customer experience (CX).

RevOps is a foundation to become more adaptable and agile.

CROs should build on RevOps for your business to better cope with the ‘New Normal’, fuelled with uncertainty and accelerated changes, unpredictable customer journeys and a demand for hyper-personalized in context interactions, typically spanning across Marketing, Sales Development, Sales, Phygital Commerce, Customer Success and CX more generally.

This is a journey, climbing the maturity ladder one step at a time but accruing value all along. I’ll be certainly talking about this more in the future.

Have a great week-end and feel free to share your experience in response to this post.

Happy New Year 2020

« Il n’y a rien de tel qu’un rêve pour créer le futur. »
“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”
— Victor Hugo

I wish all of you to dream high, dream big, dream loud and to enjoy every single step taking you to your future.

Je vous souhaite de réver haut, grand et fort et de savourer chacune des étapes qui vous menera au plus près de votre futur.

Work your value proposition like crazy

Happy customer?
Did you really work your value proposition?

I cannot stop expanding the list of products or services introduced by major brands or startups that have miserably failed to meet their audience. Many reasons come to mind but for sure the value proposition is at the core of a good positioning. I just stumbled upon this simple framework that will help you work on you value proposition hopefully before you introduce a new product or service or a new version of it.

I’d encourage you to go through several interviews with prospects and customers to work on it at the expense of focusing to much on your beliefs, hunches and other top executive’s far too remote from them. Reality check: people are trying to obtain gains and alleviate pains they are in day to day, not necessarily the ones you are discussing in your executive meetings.

This video captures it pretty nicely. Feel free to share your experiences about value proposition and positioning in commenting this post.

Have a great week.


CX Network | Introducing Oracle’s VP of EMEA Marketing

CX Network

I’ve been interviewed by CX Networks recently as a new member of their Network’s Advisory Board. It’s all about hyper-personalised marketing, AI, chatbots and conversational UI like Voice Devices and other cutting edge marketing concepts in today’s customer experience economy. Curious to your approach about taking customer experience to the next level and comments on my views.

Here is an excerpt:

We speak to one of the newest members of CX Network’s Advisory Board – Emmanuel Obadia,VP Marketing, EMEA Applications at Oracle about cutting edge marketing concepts in today’s customer experience economy.

Hyper-personalised marketing is a key trend in the industry, how in your opinion have we seen this develop in 2018?

Emmanuel: “We moved from interruption marketing to permission marketing thanks to Mr Seth Godin; to inbound and content marketing more recently. Now we’re really in the consent marketing era. This is the necessary progression, because the consumers are now in control.

“The industry expectation is to apply real-time, one-to-one, in-context personalisation at scale. In practice, this is difficult  because the buyer’s journey is not linear at all and when your organisation becomes larger you will have different parts of the team working to address the customer experience for the marketing journey. It becomes even more difficult to do that in the context of the entire customer experience that goes across marketing, sales, ecommerce and customer service.

“A lot of companies have embarked on this mission to perform real-time, one-to-one, in-context personalisation at scale. But, according to a recent report I read in the UK, only 16% of organisations are able to adjust to customer experiences in real-time based on customer behaviour. Only 17% are able to adjust to the customer journey in a few hours. 25% say it takes more than a day because they’re going through manual processes.”

Read the entire interview on: CX Network | Introducing Oracle’s VP of EMEA Marketing

Economists worry we aren’t prepared for the…

Do we spend too much time focusing on how AI will destroy some jobs and not on how to fix this? According to this research, we actually do. Discover more insights here:

Economists worry we aren’t prepared for the…

So a robot takes your job — what next?

EMEAPAC Champions

Let’s take it on today: IoT, AI, And Blockchain. Time To Reimagine The Art Of The Possible? — Forbes

Taken together, the transformative effects of IoT, AI, and blockchain become multiplicative. Lots are written about it and it becomes difficult to figure what’s coming up next.

Our minds must stretch when we envision the impact of these three technologies taken together. It’s hard for us to wrap our heads around this new art of the possible. So much is changing in such a short timeframe.

Make no mistakes, this is the advent of digital transformation phase II, whatever our role in the enterprise we should be paying attention and starting to leverage these innovations within our daily jobs/life.

More and some examples in the Forbes article.

Source: OracleVoice: IoT, AI, And Blockchain: Time To Reimagine The Art Of The Possible?