The University of Sheffield
Management School

Management School News

Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

The King of SPIN – Neil Rackham returns to ‘shake things up’

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Neil Rackham

Two decades on, his 1995 text, SPIN Selling, is still lauded as the most influential sales book of all time, and more than half the US Fortune 500 use models from that research to train their sales teams. Professor Neil Rackham’s studies have stood the test of time, but as he makes clear in this interview – it’s important to evolve. In his own words: “It’s a Darwinian world out there. Adapt or die.”

In March we welcome US-based Neil back to these shores as Visiting Professor to Sheffield University Management School. Ahead of his return, we spoke to him about the sales and marketing sector where he has such legacy, his current research and any advice he may have for our students.

On the state of the sector, Neil identifies a number of key shifts in sales and marketing, albeit in the USA: “The integration of sales and marketing or, at least, a major shift in how they work together is finally underway. It’s curious that the only two functions in the organisation with an identical mission – the generation of profitable revenue – should so rarely work well together. A few years ago, Professor Philip Kotler and I wrote an article in Harvard Business Review called ‘Ending the war between sales and marketing’. It created a lot of interest; less because of the article itself, more because many senior executives thought that they had big problems in this area.

“The internet has forced new thinking and has taken over the selling of simple products. In many companies, marketing now does the selling, using the website, social media and telesales. Sales, meanwhile, has focused on high level, complex business-to-business selling. This change has altered the way companies think the roles of sales and marketing.”

As a University of Sheffield alumnus, Neil remembers the city fondly and has some advice for students considering a career in the sales and marketing arena: “As little as five years ago, if a student asked me if they should make a career in sales or marketing, I would tell them, ‘It’s a great place to start, but don’t stay there too long unless your sole objective is to make money: you’ll die of boredom’. Not so today. A background in both marketing and sales is an invaluable springboard to senior management success. Selling, in particular, has become complex, strategic and professional – it’s about creativity; nothing to do with the old stereotypes of persuasion and pushiness. It’s about creating new value.

“However, the days are long gone when you could succeed in either sales or marketing by seat-of-the-pants methods. Just like a doctor, lawyer, architect or any other profession, there’s a need for certification, standards and continuing professional development. The field is moving incredibly fast: the knowledge you had three years ago is already nearing the end of its shelf life. Bodies like the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) have an increasingly important role in keeping us up-to-date and providing an assurance to potential employers that we are competent professionals.

As well as speaking at the Management School on 12 March, Neil is looking forward to developing his research network and working with students: “What I hope to do at Sheffield University Management School is to inspire some smart and talented students to enter this exciting and fast-moving area. I always learn from working with students – much more than I learn from working in boardrooms. I get out of it a whole lot of ideas. I’m fed up with explaining social media to geriatric senior managers. I love it when a student tells me things I didn’t know about, say, trending bloggers.”

As this article noted earlier, Neil’s popular texts are still influencing sales teams worldwide and his research career hasn’t slowed down – though it has a slightly different focus: “I’ve lost interest in the large corporations like IBM, Oracle or Citicorp who funded my early research. Most of the new wealth today isn’t being generated by these dinosaurs. It’s coming from small nimble companies that are creative and fun to work with. That’s where I like to be.

“The methods I pioneered in the 1980s, by all rights, should be long extinct in 2015. But they are not. There’s a wide perception in business that the methods still work. Of course they have to adapt to new times and I can see a lot of possible changes I’d like to explore, but the fundamentals are still alive and well.

“My present research concerns ‘pipelines’. In sales, a pipeline is the amount of business a company has where the sale has been started but may not result in a final contract for a year or more. I’m interested in things like how do you speed the rate of flow in this pipe and how do you increase its yield. I’m also working on sales and marketing integration and I find myself fascinated with how really big sales are made; where there may be a team of 50 people working on one billion dollar sale. That’s exciting stuff. It really gets your adrenaline going to know that tomorrow you’re going to hear if you’ve won or lost one of these giant contacts.”

Neil’s research is still hugely popular, but it’s how this has influenced his practice that also interests us. As founder of Huthwaite International, a global research and consulting firm based close to Sheffield, he has always been concerned with the role of sales and marketing practitioners in an organisational context. We asked Neil to elaborate on how important it is that this sector is represented on a company board: “The big contribution that sales and marketing make to corporate boards is to bring the voice of the customer. That’s often sorely missing – even today – in traditional companies. I confidently predict that both sales and marketing will have an increasing presence, and an increasing impact, at board level in the future.”

In many sectors, this is a controversial proposition indeed. Then again, Neil’s never been afraid to cause a stir: “In my student days at Sheffield, when I was Secretary of the Union [my membership is still up to date] I was a loud and enthusiastic troublemaker. Today I’m less loud and a little more subtle about it but, once a troublemaker, always a troublemaker. I hope to shake a few things up – in a professional and professorial way, of course.”

We’re confident that the world of sales and marketing will be eternally grateful for Neil’s troublemaking ways. We look forward to welcoming them back to Sheffield University Management School in March.

Book your place for Neil’s talk on 12 March on our Management Gateway – click here.

Management School students compete in the grand final to create the UK’s best student beer

Friday, March 15th, 2013

114 teamTowards the end of November 2012 two Marketing MSc students received an invitation from Dr. Panayiota Alevizou on behalf of two Engineering MSc students asking them to join the team that would represent The University of Sheffield in The Best Beer Competition 2012-2013.

This student competition is organised by AB InBev, one of the major players in the beer industry around the world and owners of Stella Artois and Budweiser, among other famous brands. The objective of the competition was to develop a new beer concept, appealing to the students of each team’s university (in this case The University of Sheffield). The beer also had to be sustainable and in line with AB InBev’s core values.

This is how Arjun Krishna and Damini Mahajan (Chemical Engineering), together with Alexandra Nicolau and Martin Fuentes (Marketing) teamed up to give life to 114 Sheffield Students’ Beer.

114 (one-one-four) is an outstanding smooth, crisp blonde beer with a refreshing taste and a tinge of honey. The bready notes of the malt and the sweetness of honey on the nose and palate are kept in check by the ‘piny’ bitterness from the unique blend of hops. In other words, “winter afternoon in a glass”. This 4,5% ABV beer is brewed in Sheffield in partnership with The Sheffield Brewery Co. Ltd., which kindly accepted the team’s proposition to be part of this competition.

The brand name 114 represents the number of selected students enrolled at the time of the University’s foundation in 1905 – our past and heritage. The honey used to brew it (represented by the bee) comes from the University’s beehives and shows our commitment and support towards sustainability in the local environment. The white rose of York gives a signature of locality to the product and the tagline indicates its origin and destination – by students, for students. All these elements are combined in our logo.

After developing the brand concept the team knocked on the Student’s Union door for further advice and guidance. They then realised that the Union, along with Sheffield brewery, would become two important players in the 114 story. In the words of Graeme Wood, Commercial Operations Manager of the Student’s Union, “This has been an amazing project to assist with. The team captured the essence of the University in so many ways from the original student numbers and the links with our bio diversity project and the sampling events allowed Sheffield Students to contribute to the process as well – the end product is stunning – and it is no surprise that they have progressed to the next stage of the competition”.

The team also received invaluable help from the Union’s president Abdi Suleiman and Interval Cafe Manager Chris Aucott.

It was with the Union’s funding and Chris’ help that the team was able to launch an innovative marketing campaign. The viral campaign featured “teasers” in the form of posters displaying only the brand name which were spread all around the University. The mystery behind the teasers was revealed a week later along with an invitation to a free beer tasting session at the Interval Café.

The event proved to be highly successful and 114 received very positive reactions from both students and staff at the University.

These activities gave the team enough evidence to support a strong concept in the competition, competing against student teams from more than 130 universities from around the country and Belgium.

After advancing past the regional and national stages, 114 Sheffield Students’ Beer is now heading to the final hosted on the 30th April in Brussels, Belgium.

The team is positive that its hard work, together with the support received and strong concept will take the University’s name to the top and place Sheffield on the map of European student brewing.

Senior Lectureship/Lectureship in Marketing Closing Date: 07 Mar 2013

Friday, February 1st, 2013

We are looking to appoint a research-active Lecturer in the field of Marketing. You will take a proactive
role in enhancing the Management School’s reputation for high quality and innovative
teaching and research. Applications are therefore invited from candidates capable of delivering
first class research and an excellent student experience at both undergraduate and postgraduate

You will hold a PhD in a relevant area (or have equivalent experience), will have teaching
experience and evidence of the ability to produce high quality research publications, and have a
demonstrable interest in developing teaching and research.



Management School celebrates at the 2013 Winter Graduation Ceremony

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

A reception was held on 10th January for Management School staff, students and alumni in celebration of all those who successfully graduated at the 2013 Winter Graduation. The following prizes and special awards were also presented:

P&A Prize for Organisational Leadership  
The P&A prize was announced by Linda Lewis, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, and presented by Kate Robbins, Forum’s Manager. The recipients for best overall performance in Experiencing Enterprise, New Venture Planning and the final project on the MBA course were:

  • Peter Clayton
  • Zahra Alomani
  • Lyubomir Mishkov
  • Joel Logue
  • Xun Zhao

Chartered Institute of Marketing Prize for Marketing
The CIM prize was announced by Linda Lewis, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching and presented by Professor John Cullen, Associate Dean for Knowledge Exchange. The prize for  the best MBA Project in the area of Marketing went to:

  • Peter Clayton

The CIM prizes awarded for performance on the MSc programmes  were again announced by Linda Lewis and presented by Daragh O’Reilly, programme director of MSc in Marketing.  The best overall performance across Marketing modules for the MSc in International Management and Marketing programme was awarded to:

  • Charalambos Charalambous

The best overall performance across Marketing modules on the MSc in Marketing Management Practice programme was awarded to:

  • Rodrigo Afonso

Geoff Sykes Memorial Prize
The Geoff Sykes Memorial prize for best overall performance on the MBA programme, announced by Linda Lewis and presented by John Cullen, went to:

  • Peter Clayton

Congratulations to all our prize winners and to all our Management School graduates.

See pictures below:

P&A Prize for Organisational Leadership 2011/2012 awarded to Peter Clayton
P&A Prize for Organisational Leadership 2011/2012 awarded to Zahra Alomani
P&A Prize for Organisational Leadership 2011/2012 awarded to Lyubomir Mishkov
P&A Prize for Organisational Leadership 2011/2012 awarded to Joel Logue
P&A Prize for Organisational Leadership 2011/2012 awarded to Xun Zhao
Geoff Sykes Memorial Prize awarded to Peter Clayton
Chartered Insitute of Marketing Prize awarded to Charalambos Charalambous
Chartered Insitute of Marketing Prize awarded to Rodrigo Afonso

SURE grant awarded to Management School academics

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Dr. Sunil Sahadev and Dr. Daragh O’Reilly have been awarded a Sheffield University Research Environment (SURE) grant to help map the development of marketing management paedagogy over the past 40+ years. This will involve conducting a longitudinal text-mining analysis of Kotler’s textbook “Marketing Management”. At the Management School, we involve our undergraduate students in our research where possible as it is mutually beneficial and productive for all concerned. As part of the SURE scheme one of our undergraduate students, Adam Haley, currently completing his second year of BA Business Management, will be working with Sunil and Daragh on this project over the summer.Daragh was previously awarded a SURE grant in 2010. This resulted in his journal article entitled “Mapping the arts marketing literature” (published in “Arts Marketing”) being recently chosen as a Highly Commended Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2012.

Congratulations to Daragh and Sunil!

Our Students Win Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Management School is delighted to report that two of our recent successful PhD students have received recognition in the “2010 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards”

Steven Kennedy who was supervised by Linda Lewis and Frank Birkin was highly commended in the “Management and Governance” category for his submission on “Using a Stakeholder Thinking Approach to Investigate Barriers to the Implementation of Sustainable Development”

Anna Scott who was supervised by Caroline Oates was highly commended in the “Marketing Research” category for her submission on “Towards sustainable consumption: Understanding the adoption and practice of environmental actions in households”

Further details of the awards and categories may be found at:

Congratulations to Steven and to Anna and to the supervisors of their research
on these awards.

Academy of Marketing Research Initiative Award.

Monday, July 14th, 2008

At the 2008 Academy of Marketing conference in Aberdeen, Caroline Oates received an accolade for her current innovative research. Caroline was announced as one of the winners of the prestigious Academy of Marketing Research Initiative Awards, receiving some £2000 to contribute to furthering her research on the portrayal of food in children’s television programmes.

As part of the award, she has also received an additional bursary to fund her attendance at next year’s Academy of Marketing conference.