“Leadership On Demand . . .” is a book I co-authored with Paul Travis in 2008 and today it still stands as the preeminent guide for how to effectively use interim executives. The book’s content can be viewed here: http://www.slideshare.net/cbesondy/leadership-on-demand
With all the uncertainty that persists in the U.S. business environment companies remain loath to add full-time employees (FTE), especially in marketing and sales. Unfortunately, staff levels in these two departments are still at all-time lows following the cut-backs of 2008 and 2009.
For CEO’s one answer to generating revenue, capturing market share, keeping overhead in check, and remaining highly nimble is the smart use of interim managers in marketing and sales.
On the other side of the coin, for seasoned marketing or sales veterans with solid credentials who find themselves “in transition”, starting a new career as an interim executive just might be the right move.
Our book, “Leadership On Demand” is a good reference. I invite you to check it out.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
The newest Manpower employment survey was released on December 9. It revealed that 67% of the companies surveyed planned to hold steady their staff levels in Q1 2009. Caution is in the wind. Most companies are taking a wait and see position and who can blaim them.
For really smart companies this is a great time to sock it to their competition with the help of interim marketing and sales talent, of course.
Taking a “wait and see” attitude doesn’t mean your company should put itself in neutral. It simply means taking a conservative stance in terms of headcount for full time employment. Use interim sales and marketing leadership to help you accomplish those mission-critical initiatives or fill key vacancies for a season. This is an opportune time to gain market share from those competitors who are hiding in their dens afraid the sky is falling.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
When I was in school there was no such thing as “the short bus”. Kids with special needs got on the same bus as the rest of us. I recall this situation worked fine for everyone, but I probably wasn’t paying attention.
At some point after I left the K-12 school system, districts started providing separate transportation for kids with special needs–those with learning disabilities and physical disabilities. Then the term “short bus” was born because the buses were smaller. If you rode that bus you were branded by your classmates as not being as smart or as capable as they were. Yep, kids are cruel. “And the point is?” you ask.
My point is I believe most C-level execs think the people in their marketing department get off the short bus every morning. They don’t hold their marketing people in high regard. Marketers are seen as a necessary business expense and not a strategic contributor to the organization. They aren’t viewed as people who “understand the business”. Unfortunately, in too many companies they are right.
This can be explained in three parts. First, a lack of marketing leadership has not adequately defined the role of the marketing function within the organization. Second, there isn’t the right business acumen in the department to deliver on any mission higher than worrying about the font size on the company website. Third, the top execs in the company don’t have a clue about what marketing’s true value should be.
I see the caliber of people who are in most marketing positions today and I shudder. I’m not saying that marketing people are stupid. That’s not the case. I see way too many who are mis-informed, mis-guided, and ill-prepared to do much more for the business than make the logo look good.
SMB companies, in particular, are struggling to get high value from their investment in the marketing function, but are stuck in a no-man’s land. They generally can’t afford to hire a seasoned marketing executive who can both train and lead the marketing department to new heights.
Company after company makes the mistake of thinking they can solve their sales and marketing leadership problems by paying big bucks for a VP of Sales & Marketing. Wrong! Any person with sales in their title will devote 95% of their time and energy to making their revenue target. Five percent of time and energy for marketing leadership doesn”t cut it.
Enter the interim marketing executive. A SMB company may not be able to afford a permanent CMO, but they can certainly justify an interim CMO engagement, properly scoped to lead, install best practices, and train the marketing staff. The right interim executive can transform an entire marketing department in less than six months.
Put your marketing team back on the long bus where they belong. Talk with an interim marketing executive today ( I know a few) about what they can do to boost marketing’s performance to a new level.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
The cover story of the March issue of Inc Magazine was about Zipcar, an innovative company that specializes in renting cars by the hour to its members. It’s a very attractive concept for city dwellers and students who don’t need a car every day and may not have a safe and affordable place to park a car even if they had one.
When you need a car to run errands or for a day-trip to the country just reserve a Zipcar. Pay for what you use. Transportation on demand.
In the same week that I read this article I spoke with a company, eVapt, that has developed a better way to meter software as a service (SaaS). The growth curve of Saas applications is impressive. No wonder. The technology allows companies to pay for how much they use of a particular software application. Use a lot, pay more; use infrequently, pay less. Makes sense. Software on demand.
So, when a company looks at its marketing and sales resources and sees that there are a few gaps why aren’t those gaps being immediately filled with managers on demand?
Too often I see companies let a vacancy in a key position go unfilled for months while the recruiting process grinds along. The smart move is to put an interim executive in the position and keep the momentum going until the perm hire can step in.
Then there’s the case of the gap in critical skills or bandwidth for a mission-critical initiative. Why aren’t more companies being honest with themselves about what their current staff can and can’t do during the time period? And we wonder why product launch dates are missed or compromised. Evaluate where special skills and experience are needed and add a seasoned interim manager to the team.
Using interim management resources today seldom is an indication that a company is in trouble. It means companies are being really smart about resource allocation. Alas, old perceptions are slow to change.
We look at customers who use Zipcar and say, “Good thinking. Use a car whenever you need it, but only pay for what you use.” We see companies that save millions of dollars a year by adopting SaaS instead of traditional software licensing. We think, “Wow, those guys are really using their cash wisely.”
What do you think when a company, perhaps your own, considers an interim management solution?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
About 12 months ago I saw the need for a book that would enlighten CEO’s on the strategic use of interim managers in Marketing and Sales. With the help of co-author, Paul Travis, and editor, Theresa Heath, we interviewed top executives who had experience with interims and wrote our book. Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue is now available in paperback and eBook. We self-published the title using the latest in print-on-demand technology and eBook technology. We’re selling the book directly from our site and through book resellers . The news announcement appears below and can also be viewed here.
Management’s Antidote for Turbulent Times
New Book Sheds Light on Practice of Using Interim Managers in Marketing and Sales
March 28, 2008, Austin, Texas. What is the little-known secret some CEO’s use to keep employment costs down while maintaining growth strategies during uncertain economic conditions? The answer involves the prudent use of interim or on-demand managers within their Marketing and Sales departments, according to the authors of Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue.
Although companies are familiar with using interim or on-demand executives to fill temporary gaps in HR, IT and Finance departments the new book provides fresh insight and best practices on how to use interim, “just-in-time” talent to impact the revenue engine of their organization—Marketing and Sales.
The authors contend that too many companies have allowed temporary gaps in Marketing and Sales leadership to retard their revenue performance. The gaps occur in three areas: a key management position is vacant for more than a month, a critical set of required skills is missing in the organization, or there’s a shortage of management time to accomplish an important business initiative.
“This topic is one of great importance to our economy and society. The chapters do a good job of identifying the general trends that would lead a company to consider the utilization of an interim manager,” said John Mavers, First Vice President, Washington Mutual Bank.
Through its 14 chapters the book shows CEO’s how to identify when interim management should be considered, how to structure an engagement, how to socialize the solution within the organization, how to justify the fee, etc. The book includes interviews from CEO’s, COO’s and Board members who share their experiences and insights about the prudent use of on-demand leaders in small and large organizations.
Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue is published by LOD Publishing, LLC and can be ordered from www.leadership-on-demand.com or http://www.Amazon.com. The suggested retail price is $28.95 plus shipping and handling. The title is available in both paperback and eBook formats.
About the authors
The authors and editor of the book have over 75 years combined sales and marketing management experience primarily in high tech, pharmaceutical and medical device sectors.
Charles Besondy, author. After a career holding marketing leadership positions for small high-tech companies in Washington State and Texas, Besondy began his consulting and interim management practice in Austin in 2001. He has conducted interim management assignments for a range of companies, such as a Web start-up, a computer manufacturer, s professional sports franchise, and a large financial services vendor. Regarded as an authority on the topic of interim management for marketing functions he is co-author of the book, Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue. His blog on the same topic, One Riot – One Ranger, is a popular source of insight and leading-edge thinking on the topic of interim management.
Paul Travis, author. Having managed a team of 10 and a budget of $5 million as a Vice President of Marketing for a publicly traded internet security company, after executive roles in foodservice to software publishing, Travis made the move into consulting. He has served in both project and interim capacities primarily in branding, product marketing, and launching new offerings – for technology, food/beverage, and manufacturing clients situated between British Columbia and the Midwest United States. In addition to his capacity as President of the Institute of Management Consultants – Pacific Northwest Chapter, he serves on the board of two privately held companies. His blog, www.60-Second-Marketing.com, features educational insights around snapshots of “hits and misses” in the marketing world.
Theresa Heath, editor. With over 25 years of experience, Ms. Heath is an innovative leader skilled in creating and implementing business development plans that reinvigorate sales teams and grow new products and markets. A strategist with a global and conceptual perspective, Ms. Heath approaches problem-solving in a relational and holistic manner by utilizing experience, intuition and knowledge to craft fresh and imaginative solutions. Heath is a versatile executive with both sales and marketing expertise in the healthcare and technology sectors, with a particular emphasis on bringing new technology successfully to market and exceeding company goals. Her background and flexibility serve her well in consulting, particularly in sales turnaround situations, developing new markets and new product commercialization.
Title: Leadership On Demand
Subtitle: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue
Authors: Charles Besondy, Paul Travis
Editor: Theresa Heath
ISBN: 978-0-9802035-1-6 (paperback), 978-0-9802035-0-9 (eBook)
Category: Business Management
Length: 112 pages
Retail price: $28.95
Binding: 6”x9” trade paperback
eBook platform: Requires PDF reader software
Illustration: Charts and tables
Additions: Case studies, resources, survey, Website for the book’s readers is http://www.leadershipondemand-book.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
By Charles Besondy
Depending on the political slant of your favorite news source the U.S. is either falling into recession or experiencing a mere speed bump. Everyone can agree the economy has taken it on the chin lately. The undertow caused by defaults of sub prime mortgages is still threatening to pull some financial companies under. The record high price of oil is having an inflationary impact on nearly everything we buy. The value of the dollar is at record low levels compared to the Euro. Swings of 100-200 points a day on the NYSE is common place. Unemployment is still relatively low, however, and inflation is in check (at least for now).
These are unnerving times for executives responsible for driving their business plans forward no matter the head wind. Revenue forecasting, always a challenge, is made more difficult by the economic factors in play (not to mention a Presidential election). When there’s less confidence in the revenue forecast executives are loath to add to their fixed costs, such as payroll. It is common in times like these for companies to become very cautious about filling vacant positions, or adding head count.
Just because the economy is sputtering doesn’t mean that companies are putting key initiatives on the back burner, or hunkering down in a bunker mentality. It simply means they are looking for ways to maintain momentum while mitigating financial risks. Interim managers or on-demand leaders in Marketing and Sales can play invaluable roles for companies during uncertain economic times by achieving the necessary results without adding to fixed payroll costs.
Q2 Employment Outlook Softening
ManPower, Inc, the $21 billion employment services company, just released its Manpower Employment Outlook Survey for Q2 2008. It clearly reflects a softer jobs market for the quarter ending June 2008.
ManPower’s CEO and Chairman, Jeffrey A. Joerres summarizes the report’s findings, “The important change we are seeing is not about reductions in workforces, like we would typically expect in a recessionary period, but rather an increase in the percentages of employers who are planning to put a hold on hiring and forge ahead with the people they already have. This is definitely a ‘wait and see’ approach as they evaluate where their economies are headed, rather than a panic attack at this point.”
In the survey “a quarter-over-quarter comparison shows the weakest employment prospects since Quarter 1 2004. According to seasonally adjusted survey results, employers in nine of the 10 industry sectors expect the hiring pace to remain stable or decline during Quarter 2 2008. Of the 10 industry sectors surveyed, only Transportation/Public Utilities employers anticipate improved conditions for job seekers in the coming quarter versus Quarter 1 2008.”
As you’d expect the figures vary by region and by industry sector. The report can be downloaded from ManPower’s Website.
Damn the Torpedoes and Full Speed Ahead
Any experienced business leader will tell you the keys to achieving results during periods of uncertainty are to mitigate the financial risks but keep charging forward. The use of interim managers is a smart way to achieve much-needed flexibility and results during unnerving times. Here’s why.
- You can quickly apply the right talent to achieve the necessary results. Hiring an interim is much faster and easier than is recruiting someone for a senior-level permanent position. Less valuable time is lost.
- You can focus entirely on the skills you need for the short term without complicating the picture with concerns about future requirements. You don’t have to find the marketing or sales leader who is perfect for this quarter as well as next year and beyond. You can focus like a laser on meeting the short term requirements.
- Interim managers are the utilities of management talent. You only pay for what you use. This is an enormous benefit during uneven economic conditions because you can adjust the volume of service you need very easily and quickly. To use interim talent you’re making short-term financial commitments with variable dollars, rather than long term, fixed cost commitments.
- Interim manages can deliver results for less. When the total cost of recruiting and employing a permanent executive or senior manager is compared to an interim’s fees the cost advantage can be significant.
- Interim managers often provide a more practical and cost-effective solution than management consultants. Usually you can bring in the same level of talent, one with both strategic and operational credentials, who can be a member of your team for less than management consultants with bureaucracies and fancy offices to support.
Don’t let the next months of economic uncertainty prevent you from keeping your customers satisfied and your competitors on their heels. Maintain fiscal flexibility and generate results through the use of interim management for filling gaps and driving forward key initiatives.
For a more in-depth look at how to successfully utilize interim management strategies check out these sources:
- Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue, available from Amazon.com
Allow me to share a bit of introspection. In my long career as a marketer I’ve worked for eight companies as an employee, but I’ve provided services to over 55 different companies as a consultant or interim manager. Nearly all my employers and clients were in different industry segments or product categories.
So, when I see bios of executives who have for 25 years worked for three companies all in the same industry I’m astonished at their dedication to one industry. I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t get really bored though.
As you can imagine this introspective glance at my career got me to thinking (once again) about the relative value of domain expertise versus process expertise for an interim manager.
I can see the value of having experience within an industry sector or product category if one is attempting to work for another company in the same field. Really, I can. However, I think domain expertise is overrated. I believe more companies when hiring a permanent or interim executive in marketing should put more weight on the leader’s process skills and relationship skills.
One of the biggest values an IM in marketing can bring to the organization is objectivity. If the person doesn’t have in-depth industry experience they will question everything and ensure that customer data and market trends are significant factors in strategic and tactical marketing decisions. This objectivity and current market insight is absolutely critical to off-set the tendency for companies to drink their own Kool-Aid to the point of extreme myopia.
A person who has been in the industry for a time is likely to believe they know it all and be eager to show the client that they do. They will also be very tempted to rely on “what worked for them at ABC Company.” In both cases objective, market-centric thinking can take a back seat when someone wants to showboat. Professional marketers won’t do this. No matter how experienced they are in a category they’ll insist on the latest customer data, competitive analysis, and market trends to help steer their decisions.
If you’re considering interim management to fill a gap in the ranks, to shore up skill levels temporarily, or to add one-time bandwidth look first at the individuals who have a track record of applying proven processes and marketing instincts to their assignments. It’s hard to go wrong with that type of experience.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
I’m frequently asked what my day rate is. I always give a range, because the rate I charge depends on many factors that I take into consideration to strike the right balance between value delivered and effort extended.
For the CEO who is momentarily frustrated by the non-existence of a “rack rate” for interims I simply point to the fact that salaries for CEOs are all over the map, too. Sure, there are published averages and ranges by industry and company size, but those ranges can be wide; same too with IMs.
For thought leadership and best practices one only has to look east from this star spangled land to our friends in the U.K. where interim managers are an accepted and widely used resource.
A June survey by a leading U.K. Interim Management firm, Russam GMS, gives us a few data points to consider here in the Colonies. The electronic survey was distributed between June 2007 and July 2007 to nearly 8000 interim managers. It was completed by 670, or 8.4%.
Among survey respondents the average daily rate for a full-time engagement was £568 ($1,153) up 2.3% from a year ago. The average daily rate for a part time engagement was £618 ($1,255) up 9%. It’s important to note that the survey did not break down the data by level of position (Director, VP, C, etc.). The survey was heavily populated with respondents holding IM assignments in government and healthcare, two sectors not know for lucrative pay scales.
Dennis Russell in his excellent book, Interim Management, first published in 1998, stated that a good rule of thumb for IM compensation is 0.75% to 1.3% of the compensation for a permanent hire. According to Russell’s formula an executive in the role of an interim VP position with a $200K comp plan would charge in the area of $1,500 – $2,000 a day (0.75% – 1%), and an IM filling a director-level position with an equivalent $125k comp package would charge $1,250 to $1,625 per day (1% – 1.3%).
These rates apply to interim assignments, say, engagements of 3 to 9 months. Anything less than that is more of a consulting project than an interim assignment and the rates you can expect to see will be as much as 50% higher. Volume pricing applies to IMs, too.
The best thing to remember is this, it all depends.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
According to Manpower’s 2007 Talent Shortage Survey, “Management/Executive” is the 5th toughest job category for employers to fill right now due to a shortage of qualified candidates. Forty-one percent of the U.S. companies that Manpower surveyed reported having difficulty filling management positions.
Certainly baby boomer retirements are having an impact here. Furthermore, I suspect some industries have lost their luster and are having difficulty attracting younger managers. This is a problem that doesn’t need to exist.
When it comes to filling management-level positions too many companies are failing to consider interim executives or on-demand executives. There is a rich pool of senior managers and executives ready to step into any position and achieve results. What’s more, these on-demand execs bring a healthy objectivity to the role that is an added benefit.
I’m willing to bet that half of the open management positions could be filled with qualified managers within 30 days if the companies just shook off their old tired hiring practices.
Any company that limps along for more than two months without filling a key position has only itself to blame.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I have decided to write a book on the topic of interim management for the marketing function, and you can play a part. If you have hired or have considered hiring IMs for marketing roles I’d very much like to interview you for my book. Please post a comment if you have something to say on this topic and would like to be interviewed. For the rest of you, if you think a particular topic should be covered in the book, let me know.
There are some good books on interim management in general, but the focus of my book will be on the marketing department. I feel strongly that smart companies see IMs as excellent tools for staying nimble and quick within highly dynamic markets. IMs give companies the ability to bring in the perfect blend of experience and expertise at C-level, VP-level and Director-level positions. When the requirements change, it’s easy and painless for the company to change the talent mix. Not enough companies are using this model, however.
I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
« Previous Entries