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Business management Feeding the pipeline General Locating customers Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

Some rules of emailing, yes, we’re still making the same mistakes

Some rules of emailing, yes, we’re still making the same mistakes.

How often do you receive and email and have objected to the contents?  The objection may be mild, it may be significant or it may be something in between?  Too many times

How many of us have written one straight back, assuming our interpretation is correct, and damaged that relationship?  Too many of us.

They say that the art of letter writing is being lost due to the convenience and speed of texting, emailing and the like.  Speed and convenience is a strong incentive to use these modes of communicating, however, make it too fast and it can be dangerous to your business.

Common mistakes:

  • ‘Hearing’ a tone of voice that changes the interpretation
  • Making a sarcastic comment that is either inappropriate or taken literally
  • Sending something which no-one has proof-read; which is poorly spelt and constructed
  • Only answering one question and ignoring the other three
  • Assuming familiarity and making it too informal for the contact

Some simple rules which should overcome these dangers and pitfalls:

  1. If it reads as though it was written with attitude, leave it and come back later. Try and read it with a smile on your face, it can sound so different!  THEN respond accordingly.
  2. PROOF READ everything. Poor spelling, grammar, or punctuation can suggest you are not thorough or professional.
  3. Avoid humour, particularly sarcasm. If you want to include levity, an exclamation mark could help to signpost this.
  4. Read everything received more than once and you will find other things which need a response.
  5. Read everything before you send it, to avoid these classic blunders, and others.
  6. Why not pick up the ‘phone?! It is more efficient and effective; you can cover more points in less time; you can build better business relationships.  Then summarise and confirm by email.  This is far more effective and professional than a rushed email or text.

Avoid the traps of fast texting or emailing and build professional relationships; use the ‘phone, or, even better, meet them face to face.

 

 

 

 

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Business management Feeding the pipeline General Locating customers Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

KICKING THE HABIT – and adopting a better one

KICKING THE HABIT – and adopting a better one

“Old habits die hard”.  Very true that one.

Another, which is one of my favourite quotes, is known as:

Einstein’s definition of insanity: ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’.

This is very true when it comes to training or coaching.  I’ll explain:

When training and coaching, we show the delegate(s) how they can do things more easily and more effectively, helping them to be more productive and successful.  We encourage the delegate(s) to embrace the new ideas and embed them in their daily routine.

They say it takes at least 28 days of daily repetition for the new skills to embed and to fully replace the ‘old habits’.

So, the concern of every good trainer is that, over time, old habits will creep back into regular use.  As expected, success obtained with the new skills starts to decline.  With the year following any training or coaching, the poor delegate is back to square one.  At this point it is not unheard of for the delegate or company involved to suggest that the training was ineffective, or even a waste of money!

Luckily, I have not received such feedback.

This is why the best trainers or coaches offer ‘refreshers’ on a regular basis, perhaps every 3-6 months, to help maintain the focus and to fully embed the new skills and techniques.  As an alternative, I also offer the Salient Mentoring Programme; a monthly re-focus and target management system that keeps people on track, motivated and successful.

Unfortunately, not everyone goes for more than the single, deep plunge they get from dipping into Salient expertise.  They feel that the short-term fix is all they need and for some this has indeed worked.  Some have grasped many of the new ideas and skills and applied them with tenacity.  These companies are seeing a marked difference in their sales results.

Glib though it may be, the saying that holds true in all these cases is simply:

‘If you want things to change, you have to make some changes’.

…and not let old habits undermine those successful changes.

  • Those on a diet do not stop as soon as they reach their ideal weight; they work hard to maintain it.
  • You may spend weeks or months achieving peak fitness. If you stop there it only takes a short time to return to ‘couch potato’ status!
  • The best mentors have their own mentors to help keep them at the top of their game. Sales people not at the top of their game will lose focus, and lose business.

Get to the top of your game and learn how to STAY THERE by refreshing and adding to your skills!

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Business management Feeding the pipeline General Locating customers Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

STEERING THROUGH CHOPPY SEAS

STEERING THROUGH CHOPPY SEAS

  • There are some people out there who just simply do not get what you are doing in business.
  • There are those out there who will show interest in your products, services, and in you, but they will then drop from the radar and not respond to any of your approaches.
  • There are those those who insist you drop the price or they will go elsewhere.
  • There are those who use you to put pressure on their present supplier and, in reality, have no intention of buying from you.

“If you have been affected in any way by the content of the above four statements…...”

Seriously, there are many reasons that people will NOT place business with you, all of which can be overcome with careful application of recognised skills and techniques.

HOWEVER, political developments have added another issue to this list.  We are to leave the EU.  What comes next?  No-one really knows, and because no-one knows, many businesses will cut back on their spending, buying only the ‘necessities’.  If you do not sell their ‘necessities’, you are less likely, even unlikely to sell to them.

PROSPECTING AND SECURING NEW OPPORTUNITIES ARE LIKELY TO BECOME MORE DIFFICULT during the coming months.

More difficult, but not impossible.  Certainly, we will need to work smarter and have plans which are carefully constructed, timed and focused.  We will need contingency plans now more than ever, as we plough on into the political unknown.

To make sales; to make MORE sales in a difficult market requires new strategies, extra skills and techniques, contingencies, but most of all, it needs careful planning.

I have planned for this!  I have a coaching programme called ‘2020 Vision for Business’ (what else?!)  In this, we will work on sales and marketing plans, strategies and contingencies, taking sales to the next level and ‘scaling-up’ your business; to be the best while others may flounder.

Whether or not you book on the programme, you will need plans and contingencies for growing your business next year.  Don’t leave your success to chance.

Plan and prepare now, to grow your business, despite political and market forces.

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Business management Feeding the pipeline General Locating customers Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

Deal or No Deal

Whether you like or loathe the man, and there seems to be little middle ground Boris has always had a very focussed approach to Brexit.  He has a plan and a strategy, rightly or wrongly.

Comparing this withe Sales Process, and there are many prarallels, he is attempting to obtain the best deal for the UK from the EU.

In every sale, the backstop; the very last option has to be a no-deal.  In other words, ‘I am prepared to walk away and neither of us benefits from this relationship’.  But to make that a useful negotiating tool, it must be an option available to you.  If you are not prepared to walk away, no matter how much you want the deal, then the opposition will use this to their great advantage and to your disadvantage.

If they know that you are not allowed the option to walk away, the ‘no-deal’, then they will find it much easier to impose their needs and wishes over yours.  It gives you a weak position from which to negotiate because they know that in the end, you will have to accept a deal that favours their needs.

Unfortunately, parliament do not understand this, or, they feel that the risk of ending up with no deal is too great.  So, Boris’s hands were tied.

This point is similar to that discussed in my blog of March 2019 where the delegate was not allowed to walk away without the order.  Here as well, his negotiating power was weakened and the customer had, and played the advantage.

This is not an easy line to follow.  It may result in bluff and counter-bluff and a cool head is needed.  However, simply believing that you have the power to walk away from the deal (even if you have no real intention to do so) may be enough to help strengthen your position.

Make sure they believe you have the choice, and then secure a better deal.

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Business management Ethical Selling Feeding the pipeline General Locating customers Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales Time management

Three essentials needed by those selling into technical markets

Three essentials needed by those selling into technical markets:

1/ Technical knowledge

2/ Training/Coaching in Technical Sales

3/ Motivation & self-belief

Why is technical sales training and coaching so essential?

Managers will notice a lack of confidence in those new to technical sales, and sometimes even in those who have been selling in technical markets for some time.

Lack of confidence results in reduced motivation. Less motivated salespeople will under-perform.  Under-performance limits success, reducing self-belief, and so confidence dips further.  This results in reduced productivity and profitability.

Likewise, the converse is true.  Help in the form of training and coaching in technical knowledge and selling skills for technical markets will boost confidence, motivate and ensure more and faster success.

I remember clearly the time when I was a new sales engineer.  I knew that my technical knowledge was good, but not yet complete.  My confidence in selling was very low, likewise my self-belief that I was any good at selling (although I never let on!).  Clearly, my bosses had seen more in me than I had; they had more belief and confidence that I would be successful.  If I had thought of this I may have grown more quickly in the job.

A little sales training was offered and taken, but this was very general and did not address the specific issues met when selling in technical markets.  My technical knowledge was built on the job with frequent returns to the engineering lab for help and advice.  Mostly, I learned on the job.

The perceived wisdom is that for any new salesperson it would take at least a year, possibly two to become cost effective and profitable.

What if you could reduce that ‘delayed profitability’ significantly?  What if it took just a few months rather than a year or two?  Wouldn’t that result in more profitable sales, and faster?

Reducing the delay by nine months to a year would make a substantial difference to the number and value of the sales achieved.  What extra value would that be?  An extra 20 or 30% of sales from that person?  It could be more.  Put a value on that percentage.  Would it not make sense to invest a little now to reap faster and larger turnover?

They say that the average time that a good salesperson stays with one company is no more than 2-3 years.  Without training or coaching, the time when experience starts to make them profitable can be 18 months to 2 years.  They may just have become profitable to you when they decide to move on.  With good, tailored training, you could extend that profitable time by up to a year.  Now THAT IS worth the investment!

Motivation, self-belief and self-confidence come from experience and from support.  Experience takes time, but support in the form of training and coaching makes a significant difference by shortening personal development and bringing forward success.

Training and coaching result in more knowledge, skills and confidence.  And hence more sales.

Why wait?!

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Business management Feeding the pipeline General Locating customers Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

How to overcome Brexit Blues and how the Salient ‘Plan B’ showed the way forward.

It has to be said, I am sorry, but it does have to be said.

Brexit has made a difference and will make further differences to business.

Things are changing and there are more changes to come.

But, I am not one of the doom-mongers as I believe it offers us interesting and useful opportunities.  I say ‘offers’ as it is up to us whether we take those opportunities or sit back and just hope.

Whatever happens there will be change, and we need to be prepared as best we can.  But prepared for what?  I believe there are four indisputable facts:

  • Brexit will happen!
  • Markets will change
  • There will be greater focus on domestic markets
  • We will find ourselves competing with more UK companies as larger providers seek to replace off-shore business.

This is what happened to Salient in the last 18 months:

  • Five larger prospects, (£1M turnover+), were reasonably secure in my sales pipeline.
  • As the Brexit vote loomed, happened, and shocked the markets, these five companies retreated, not wishing to ‘spend money when the market was so unpredictable.’
  • My cash-flow forecast dropped considerably!
  • I initiated my contingency, my Plan B, and targeted the smaller businesses that tend to ‘get on with it’ no matter what the market is doing.
  • I had to replace one large opportunity with ten smaller ones.
  • It was successful, and I have now progressed to Plan C where I develop the new smaller company market, while attracting new larger opportunities.

But what of the larger companies?  What will they do in this Brexit uncertainty?

I believe they will do very much as I did and look to smaller domestic markets to fill the gap in their turnover.

In other words, those who rely on domestic markets for the majority of their turnover will start to find more competition from larger suppliers.

There is another side to this.  Those seeking your products or services are less likely to look off-shore for suppliers as these are likely to become more costly.  Therefore, they will actively seek domestic suppliers. It could be you, if you are ready!  Another point is that if they previously sourced from larger companies, they are likely to spend more than your present customers.

To summarise, this could mean for your business:

  • New domestic markets are likely to open up
  • Competition will increase for home-grown opportunities.
  • The new opportunities have different expectations and spending levels

Are you ready?

Is your sales team and/or your sales process the best it can be?

Your sales effort needs to be at its best; sharp; focussed; forward-thinking.

Don’t miss the boat. 

If you fail to address this, others will get there first and will win the lion’s share of the new opportunities.

If you are successful in this, your business growth could be double what you would anticipate for 2018.

If you would like to discuss your experiences of this, please be in touch; call or email Andy

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Business management Ethical Selling Feeding the pipeline Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Technical Sales

Slow summer sales and the best way of filling a ‘Lull’

What does summer mean to your business?

What does THIS summer mean to your business?

Are you expecting a rush of new business to come to you?  Perhaps other businesses want to invest in you before the markets change, which will happen inevitably.

Or, are you expecting the normal summer lull to be worse than in previous years as, following ‘Brexit’, your customers are being cautious with their investments?

Perhaps you have the type of business which is not seasonal AND is resilient to change in the markets.

In most cases, businesses are expecting some form of downturn or lull in the coming months.  I believe, with careful handling, the pace of change is likely to be slow enough that the markets will not suffer greatly and businesses will become cautiously optimistic over the coming months.  I think WE MUST be optimistic of a favourable outcome.  If we are not, then we should give up now, and that approach is not for us!

So, the old adage ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ could never be more appropriate.

In every lull there is a need to fill the ‘spare’ time or effort with profitable activities.  What better way to fill the time than by training and coaching yourselves or your team to perform significantly better?  When markets start to improve again, for whatever reason, you can then hit the ground running with new knowledge and skills that will help your business to outperform all others.

Reinforcing skills and discovering new ideas and strategies can only make a positive difference to your sales growth and build your business during difficult times.

July and August are the ideal times to improve your skills and your performance.  There will then be time to apply your new skills and boost your end-of-year figures. 

Is that not worth the investment?

Click HERE for a REAL INCENTIVE to book some training.

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Business management Feeding the pipeline Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

Growth Spurts in Business – 5 great tips for selling more

Tips on selling more
Sell more and get a growth spurt!

Turnover lower than you’d like?  Plan for a growth spurt by selling more.  How to sell more?  For starters, try these five simple tips;

1/ Start with existing customers and see if they want more  - apply the Pareto Principle: 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers.  Call the 20%!

2/ If they still like you, ask for referrals and testimonials!  - personal recommendations give you more credibility and will attract more new business.

3/ Check that the market wants what you provide by asking a couple of key questions - use Survey-Monkey or similar.  Responses may show you need to tweak, or even change your offer to make it more attractive.

4/ Check where you have sold successfully in the past, identify the common sector, product or need and target that with renewed enthusiasm.  This may not be the top 20% (above) but it could be the easiest sector to target and win new business.

5/ Devise a product variation or amalgamation and make it a special offer of some sort to attract new interest.  You could make it part of a short, or longer marketing campaign.

These are just a few of the many ideas and strategies that can be applied to your business that will make a positive difference to your sales figures.

If you want to increase your sales figures, come along to the Salient half-day Workshop or full-day Masterclass on 17th or 18th March 2016.  Discover many more ways of selling more, and how to apply these and other practical and simple growth strategies to your business.

Come along to ‘HOW TO SELL MORE’.  There will be more than 20 tips on how to sell more.  Use just a few of these and your business will soon have a growth spurt!  More details here.

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Business management Feeding the pipeline Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

How to become more ‘Proactive’.

The most common issue found relating to sales growth:

Having presented many courses on various sales and business-related subjects in a variety of lengths, I have found a few issues that arise that prove common to all my clients.  Perhaps the most important of these is the need for the sales individual or team to become proactive as opposed to reactive in their approach.  In many cases, sales leads are obtained from responses to marketing effort or repeat business.  This is excellent, as it means that the market has seen the value being offered and is keen to purchase.  However, maybe due to new competition, or failing customers, this can result in reduced turnover.  They have recognized that relying on existing clients or responses to marketing can become risky and unpredictable.  Moving to a more proactive approach will help ensure all sales opportunities are found, targeted and won.

What do we mean by ‘proactive’?  How can we be MORE proactive?

Identify two key aspects:

The markets you are serving already, and

The markets you would like to serve.

…or, put it another way….

Your existing or past customers, and

New customers

Simple strategy for being proactive in sales;

1/  Decide the best balance for you of existing customer and new customer business.  You need both!  One for ‘bread and butter’ income; to cover the ‘overheads’ and more, and the other for business growth and future strength.

2/  Revisit existing or previous customers on a regular basis.  Calling is best; sending a newsletter is the minimum contact.  Never miss an opportunity for repeat business or to cross and up-sell.  Lack of such contact allows the competition to ‘move-in’.

3/  Choose your new markets and prospects carefully.  Make sure they are likely to have the need, the money, and that they are likely to appreciate the value you offer.

4/  ‘Seed’ that market; make sure your business is known to them before you make contact, by;

  • identifying likely decision makers and sending them publicity materials, or,
  • using the internet, finding a mutual contact and asking for a referral, or
  • invest in exposure in their trade press or institution website, or,
  • any of the above and more…..

5/  Following number 4 above, any contacting now will be far less cold.  If you have gained a referral, they will be happier to take the call.  If you haven’t, you can at least refer to your article or letter in the publication or website related to their industry.  It doesn’t have to be a ‘cold call’!

This is just one approach you can use to help you find new customers and win new sales.

Being proactive should also include actions to:

-          plan where to target new prospects
-          regularly monitor and review your carefully chosen KPIs to ensure positive progress                and growth
-          ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty
-          prepare responses to possible criticism
-          prepare contingency plans in case the unexpected prevents progress in your chosen                direction

  • There are many advantages to being more proactive, you have;
  • Higher profile with existing customers and new prospects
  • Warmer contacts!
  • The chance to target and win far more business opportunities
  • Greater credibility and respect in the industry or market
  • More resilience against competition
  • More market knowledge, particularly in future trends.

So, don’t wait for them to come to you.  In market downturns, this can be fatal.  Be proactive, ‘go-and-get-it’!

As my late Father used to tell me;  “The door to success is labelled ‘PUSH’.”

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Business management Feeding the pipeline Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips

Is everything going according to plan

There may still be time to add to your sales this year

NOW is the time to put together your plan for next year’s sales

I meet many businesses that, if doing well, make no plans to ‘feed the pipeline’, to seek and win new business on a regular basis.  At some stage, the feast will stop and famine will take over.  At that stage it may be too late to ask these questions;

  • Where will my sales come from?

have you targeted specific markets and customers?
- have you followed up all previous opportunities?

  • How will I make contact?

- and be sure you’re given the chance to quote
 - are you talking to the decision maker?

  • Am I sufficiently skilled in pitching, negotiating and closing?

enough to win the business?
 -  enough to ensure the best deal?

Did you have a sales plan for this year?  If you did make a plan; you have now reached the fourth quarter of the year.  Are you on plan?

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING?

You did make a plan? Good move; not enough businesses do.  Too many rely on the ‘Field of Dreams’ principle of ‘If you build it they will come’.  Unfortunately, business is never as simple as that.  Building a business ready to supply the market is one thing, but;

-        making it attractive to those who may buy from you
-        developing an interest from those who could use your products and services
-        showing how well you can fulfil their need
-        securing the business by gaining their commitment, and
-        delivering and exceeding their expectations

…are all skills that can be learned, developed and embedded into your selling process.

Selling need not be difficult, stressful or something to avoid!  Selling can be ethical, simple, even fun!  Being better at selling means winning more sales.  But, you do need some useful skills and techniques to help ensure this happens.

So Plan – Action - Review.  Review means measuring your progress against plan and making any changes needed to remain on, or exceed your plan.  You cannot measure everything, but knowing where you are against your sales plan will help you to ensure positive progress and achievement.

So, you have a plan for next year?  How about aligning it with you 5 year and 10 year plans?!  Don’t rely on the short term view; turn that wish list into reality by making longer term plans for it to happen.  Make sure you know where you’re going!

Salient Sales & Training  -  taking the pressure out of selling

(If you are not happy with your answers to any of the above questions, why not book on our next seminar?  Details are on the website, under ‘Events’.