Resultsman’s Blog

Copenhagen- Observations

Copenhagen- Observations

Maybe I was naïve, for having expectations of a defining agreement coming out of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Maybe I was not realistic. Warning signals we evident back in November. Let’s try to put this process that the nations of the world are engaged in into perspective. In looking over the history of previous climate change treaties and negotiations, I realize that the non-binding agreement that was reached was a more realistic outcome for a process that takes time to conclude. The Kyoto Protocol, a success or failure, depending if you are a class half full or glass half empty person was not arrived at without multiple conferences and countless negotiating sessions. It took time to reach.
Copenhagen was billed by the press as a decisive opportunity for 105 heads of nations and countless business leaders to come together to address the issue of climate change; the defining issue of our age…. Maybe, I was unrealistic in expecting that the conference would deliver a legally binding international deal to tackle climate change.
The four letter word, “time”, is the crux for concern. If current projections are unchecked, by 2030 China will be emitting 60% more CO2 than the US. This comes in spite of having per-capita emissions of 6 T/person vs. those of 20T/ person in the US. Action is required, because time appears to be running out. It is not my intent to start a debate over the relative merits of the scientific claims behind predictions for global warming in spite of a personal belief as a scientist that they are real and the warnings we are receiving should be heeded. The consequences for lack of action could be quite severe.
Let’s explore what we the people of the world got and what was not delivered by the conference.
Causes for Concern-
(1) There is no long term target for a 50% reduction in the amount green house gases by 2050. I chose a target based on my readings. There might be a more appropriate target. If so, fine. Go with it!
(2) There is no time scale for turning the deal which was forged into a legally binding international treaty.
(3) There is no system to tax or penalize nations whose emissions of CO2 grow over time. (In retrospect, I was a bit simplistic in my hopes that the EU’s cap and trade model would be adopted. I neglected to consider its short comings a model that is peppered with offsets and bribes. Some are saying that the Cap and Trade model is analogous to the mid-evil practice of paying for forgiveness of sins by purchasing indulgences.) Perhaps a rising carbon fee model should be adopted.

Reasons to be Pleased-
(1) A non-binding accord calling on Nations to deliver their own, non-verifiable voluntary targets was reached.
(2) 17 nations emit 90% of the worlds CO2. These nations recognize the need for action. China, the US, India, Brazil and the EU are all engaged, participating in the joint communiqué.
(3) There is a consensus included provisions for the developed nations of the world will help to pay for technology transfers into the developing nations of the world ensuring CO2 emissions will be better controlled.

So, What Is Next?
My answer, carry on. Plant the seeds for the growth of the global treaty that we need. We, the general public of the world need to keep the pressure on the leaders of the world. Force the leaders to deliver the voluntary targets called for by the Copenhagen deal. Politicians will respond to the will of the public if our voice is strong and unified. Issues need to stay in the spotlight of international scrutiny. We can’t let the impetus leading into and coming from Copenhagen wither and die. Nations are engaged and each is negotiating to protect their own parochial interests. There is a process going on. Our job is to keep the pressure on the process to make certain that it is not abandoned. Stay informed. Remain active.
Show Strong Leadership and Persevere-
Sustainable business models are profitable. The truly innovative business leaders of the world have already adopted models that are templates to be emulated. This time of transition is filled with opportunities. This is a time to show strong, positive leadership. Don’t be reckless. Businesses and people have to be educated and informed to the point where they believe in the merits of a sustainable business model. They need leaders to encourage them to do this. Stay positive. As a nation and world we can (and will) work our way through this present situation.

Was I naïve? No! Do I have high expectations for the leaders of the world? Yes! Can we help to shape the future? Most assuredly!


Have Traditional Salesmen been morfed into Willie Lohmans?

Posted in Sustainability by resultsman on December 17, 2009

Sustainable Solutions?

Have Traditional Salesmen been morfed into Willie Lohmans?


A paradigm shift is taking place. Certainly, within the geographical confines of North America, the issues confronting Willie Lohman, the central character in Arthur Miller’s book Death of Salesman, have never been more relevant than they are in today’s world of ecommerce.

I ask, are salesman still relevant in today’s selling models?  Certainly, the cost pressures driving business in general are forcing businesses to optimize their marketing and sales models. Witness what is happening within the pharmaceutical, chemical and automobile industries.   I contend that sale personnel are still relevant, but the role that they must assume in the business model is very different that it was even five years ago.

What does a sustainable business solution ask of a business?  Profitability, environmental

acceptability, and socially responsible….

Let’s explore the global dynamics.  A fundamental shift is taking place within markets. Manufacturing in all business sectors continues to migrate to sources of inexpensive labor in Asia. Pharmaceuticals, electronics and automobiles are all following this trend. Within a year we can expect that China will produce more cars than the US.  The $3.7 trillion demand and market for chemicals is certainly following this trend.  In the last two years, Asia ($1.3 trillion) has surpassed North America ($ 806 billion) as the leading region for the demand of chemicals.  This gap will continue to widen through the economic recovery.

Here is what we can expect- Demand for chemical products will decline in Western Europe, remain flat in North America, and grow dramatically through Asia.  On a segment basis, through all regions, we will see growth in the demand for pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical intermediates, and specialty chemicals along with a decline in the demand for industrial chemicals.

So what will the implications of these trends be? Limited “organic” growth- 2 to 3% through North America. Ultimately I suspect that this will mean that there will be a greater need for M&A activity in order to maintain the “business side” of sustainability.  With mergers come consolidations and fewer sales representatives.

Profitability- Certainly employing a sales model that uses fewer salesmen, and accomplishes a business’s sales objectives will meet the business sustainability criterion. 

Within the pharmaceutical sector, we are witnessing a shift in who controls what drugs are prescribed.   Costs are dictating what products are used.  In effect, our primary care physicians as losing control in favor of the payers or insurance companies who are dictating what they will pay for a treatment.

Here are some facts- Pharmaceuticals- Fewer primary care physicians per capita have less time and take less time to visit with the traditional Pharmaceutical representatives.  When they do see a representative, doctors remember less of the encounter than in the past. The net result, less impact on the part of a sales representative. 

What about the chemicals? How many unaddressed solutions are there out there?  My contention is less now than in the past. The real opportunities will be in areas that are really the best environmental solution in the case of inorganic chemistry or adopt renewable, sustainable raw materials as a part of their solution… reduced VOC emissions in use or a favorable carbon footprint resulting in lower CO2 emissions.

A greater percentage of commerce in the chemical industry is being transacted on-line. There are less people available and willing to see sales staffs.  Those that do see a sales person, often devote less time to the calls because they have other duties.

 Today’s customers are better educated and know more about company’s products when they do make contact with a sales person.  Sales personnel must truly be experts in their fields if they are going survive. Correspondingly, they need to penetrate to the level of the decision influencers like research or formulating chemists in order accomplish their objectives.  

The world has reached a point where marketing and sales are truly intersecting?   Think about this, marketing is defined as creating the conditions that make a customer want to purchase a good or service. Web sites are doing this.  Transactional functionality is accompanying the educational focus on many web sites.

Finally, the social aspect of this entire new business model is yet to be defined? Are corporations our brother’s keepers? Certainly, unstated social contract between corporations and employees is a thing of the past.  In all too many instances corporate citizenship was a means to an end. Local plant employees were active in local civic organizations in order to promote and prevent issues. I can’t really say how altruistic the renewed efforts accompanying sustainable business models really are.  

In summary, previously, sales people where a primary source of information about the products that they sold. Today’s customers are better informed before they ever make contact with a sales representative. They are likely to already have accessed a company’s web site to learn about products and be in a position to make buying decisions.

I ask you, Willie Lohmen?  Probably not, but certainly there will be fewer representatives operating in new more encompassing roles. More will be expected of fewer individuals with less supporting help.