Lewis Chong Chee Meng used his time as a lecturer to develop a business analysis model that reportedly removes emotional bias and helps companies increase sales. Today, ACMF Consulting, the firm he set up in 2013, has 15 clients. LIM WING HOOI reports.
Why did you go into lecturing prior to setting up your company?
I spent 20 years on sales and business development, covering more than 20 industries, including mining, engineering for plantation, engineering for recycling industry and telecommunications to market advisory services.
After my last job as regional sales director at a local IT company, I felt it would be boring to go back to any kind of employment because the cycles were similar. I no longer felt inspired to work for someone else. In fact I turned down a position that offered 100% salary increment from my previous job.
I needed money but not a lot, so in January 2013 I decided to take up a lecturing position in undergraduate and MBA programmes in a subject called International Management and Managing Entrepreneurship.
I worked long hours to build up my teaching materials. It was a tough job. The monetary reward was small but it was fulfilling to share my experiences with the students.
How did that lead to your consultancy?
I discovered that the models used in the programmes were not practical. It had limited direct connection to growing sales revenue, which is crucial for any business to survive. I felt there was more you could add to it.
One day, the dean of the faculty asked me to join him in a meeting with a company seeking to grow its sales revenue. The participants of the meeting were impressed with my ideas. The rest, as people say, is history.
I faced many challenges in my early projects with clients, though. I did not know which model was good enough. Most of them were nice to support my viewpoints but it wasn’t easy for my clients to apply them in customer acquisition and in the sales and life cycle processes.
Therefore, I needed something more applicable from my client’s perspective, and that was how I developed the Treasure Map of Sales (TMOS) model.
(He left his teaching post in December 2014.)
Can you elaborate on what it does?
Apart from the model, I use a basic spreadsheet to put in variables and criteria in order to remove emotional bias, both from myself and the clients.
Emotional bias is also known as syiok sendiri syndrome. As we love to see our business and ideas implemented, we only notice and recognise elements which supports our views, while ignoring the facts that are against us. Of course, this doesn’t mean your competitors are not aware of these realities.
What is TMOS about then?
The model helps businesses to identify the targeted unique selling proposition of the business quickly and systematically by triangulating the three main elements of businesses: firstly the product or service or software; secondly, the customer; lastly, the competition.
Another aspect that we look at is that we want our clients to establish market leadership. This requires businesses to invest on something that may not give them immediate income. This is an area that most SMEs miss out on.
It could be due to the owners being too busy at generating short-term revenue. This could explain why many SMEs remain small even though the business owners have dreams to grow the business.
A strong unique selling proposition is the result of years of efforts and investment. The model would help businesses to systematically identify the market leadership position, giving business owners insights about it.
Tell us about your philosophy on life.
I see failures as a necessary part of life. Failures are simply the practices needed before any success. When you understand life this way, then life is always occupied with fun, appreciation, joy and satisfaction.
What do you do to unwind?
Working, photography and meditation help me to unwind. The most stressful thing for me is doing nothing and letting my mind go idle.
I also offer three hours of free training to non-profit business organisations and chambers of commerce in the Klang Valley. In times like this, many SMEs need to transform to survive. I will train and coach them on how to do that systematically.
Any motto that you live by?
Focus, relax and appreciate. They help me to be more creative, release stress, understand my passion and enjoy every moment of life.