Categories
General Sales Ethos

Inward Investment?

What do I mean by inward investment?

Yesterday morning I attended the Thames Valley Chamber, Swindon Business & Economy Breakfast.  The presenter, Rhys Herbert, economist at Lloyds Bank, spoke at length about the state of the economy and painted a future showing slow improvement over 3 to 5 years.

He identified one of the main drivers of the speed of recovery as inward investment, the lack of which is too prevalent in this country.

When things get tough in the UK, inward investment slows or even stops completely.  I have written about this before, noting that middle and far-east countries will invest in, and train their staff during a recession. 

That way, when the economy improves, they are at the top of their game and well placed to win a good share of business.  Not so in the UK I’m afraid, as was confirmed by Mr. Herbert.

Invest in yourself with appropriate training or coaching and you can return to the top of your game.  Growing your business as the economy improves is the best win-win you can get. 

However, without such inward investment, others will likely overtake you and your future success may be in jeopardy.

When did you last invest in your skill set?

What’s Next?

At Salient Sales & Training, we offer both team as well as 1-to-1 sales and technical sales training. Get in touch today, so we can discuss your goals for growth.

Categories
General Sales Ethos

Internet Overwhelm

Internet Overwhelm? Are we becoming swamped by emails, posts, articles, newsletters, offers, opportunities?

My recent blog referred to the various comments I had received regarding how business attitudes appear to be changing.  After writing that, I had further conversations relating this specifically to the internet.

Apparently, some feel they are being overwhelmed by the level of communications coming to them online.   It appears that they receive so many communications, instead of filtering, deleting or otherwise blocking, they are selecting only the shortest or most brightly-lit (attractive) reads.

Have you been feeling internet overwhelm? A woman sits typing on a laptop, surrounded by post-it notes and paperwork

Then it occurred to me, I think I have developed a similar habit.  It seems I tend to ignore some emails or posts, depending on the subject matter, headline or length. 

Unfortunately, this can apply before I have checked out if it might be useful. 

I have found that long-standing contacts are also doing the same.  I have sent an email outlining the status of a project and just one of the four recipients has actually read it.  ‘Must have missed it’ is a popular reason given. Is this a subconscious filter in action? 

Is the internet now so overwhelming that we are losing our discipline in filtering and selecting the most useful communications, favouring instead the ‘easiest read’?  Are we ‘saving it for later’, but never actually returning to it?

I suspect we are now moving so fast that we are forced, consciously or subconsciously, to be selective in our attention.  Could counteracting this experience of internet overwhelm be as simple as slowing down to consider more fully, or forcing ourselves to read rather than scan a written document or article?

Is it simply a matter of slowing down?

What’s Next?

At Salient Sales & Training, we provide team and 1-to-1 sales and technical sales training. Get in touch today, what are your goals?

Categories
General Sales & Marketing

What can Salient do for you?

Here’s how Salient Sales and Training can help…

With extra ideas and strategies in planning, prospecting and contacting, I can make it easier for you to find more customers.

With tried and proven techniques and simple process, I can help you pitch and present with confidence and ease.

With clear and ethical tactics, I can help you to negotiate to set up the best deal for everyone.

With simple and straightforward questions, I can help you to convert and win many more business opportunities.

In short, I can show you how to make significant improvements to your turnover and profits.

….or is planned business growth not on your agenda?!

With Salient courses, sessions and workshops, you do not have to adopt a whole new system of selling.  Simply, you can take, adapt and adopt as many ideas, tips, techniques, and strategies as you like. 

Choose those which relate to you and your business and make them work for you. The more you use, the greater the uplift you can expect.

I don’t charge for chats so feel free to call Andy on 07941 041364, email andy@salientsales.co.uk, or book a meeting through my calendar.

Categories
General

Bullying in Business

They are still out there.

For those who read my blogs, they will know that I am firmly against bullying in business (or anywhere for that matter).  Despite great strides from good HR experts, I note from recent posits on LinkedIn that it is still rife and is still causing trauma and mental health issues. 

See Denise Pickburn’s post.  Over 90% of around 450 that responded to the question said they had experienced bullying in business. The results for those on the receiving end can vary from lack of confidence to significant mental health problems.

Rightly, the focus of such posts is on the effect of bullying on the individual.  However, little is mentioned of the results for the companies involved.  Bullying is not limited to bosses, but they set the ethos and the culture of the company.  Their behaviour sets a precedent that can be adopted by others within their field of influence.  But what are the results?  I suggest these are likely:

  • Good employees will leave to go to more caring competitors.
  • Those who stay may have lost a level of confidence sufficient for them to believe they would not be considered for employment elsewhere.
  • Those who stay may have adopted the same bullying ways and, therefore, are likely to have the same approach to business, in order to survive.
  • Those who stay maybe of the same mould as those with bullying ways, i.e. it becomes self-perpetuating.

Bullying in business is often in the form of pressure on the employee to achieve targets at whatever cost to themselves or others.  It requires a ruthlessness that is not natural to most people.  Bullies will target the less confident, as easier prey and less likely to stand up to them.

Those with more confidence are less likely to be employed as they would not respond to the bullies and may even become a threat to them.  Less experienced or generally timid people are perceived as easier to intimidate and control and so are more likely to be the target of the bully. 

I have read a few great posts where the target looks likely to be easy pickings, unfortunately these are often small, young and female, only to find that they have the confidence and bite of a terrier! See Fiona Scott’s recent post for just such a case.

To all confident people: if you see anyone being bullied; if you can, please call them out on behalf of the victim.

Categories
General

Persuasion – Building Buyer Relationships Part 3

When it comes to the Sales Process, the development of the relationship between buyer and seller can be viewed as three distinct actions: Educate, Influence and Persuade.

Just as we have shown that education and influencing can both be positive and ethical, they can also be manipulative and cynical, sadly, the same is true of Persuasion.

Time for the final step: Persuasion

Your influence may have been positive, but that does not automatically lead to a sale.  Countless times I have experienced the response, ‘yes, I see how that can be useful to us, but not just now’.  This could hide a range of thoughts from the prospect, from meaning that they cannot move forward for various practical reasons, or another way of declining without saying ‘no thank you’.  It could be that they have too much going on at the moment.

Whatever their reason, it is up to you how far you press them to find the real reason.  You could take that as a firm no and cross them off the list, but this is potentially a missed opportunity, they have after all said that they can see the benefit.

At the other end of the scale, if you press to hard you can undo all the goodwill you have developed and they may never buy from you. How can you at least keep them interested and possibly persuade them to change their mind?

The first answer is to simply ask them. ‘What is it that’s stopping you using these benefits now?  There are again, a number of ways this can go:

If they say, ‘no money’. Don’t give it away, ask them when they think they could afford it.

If they say, ‘I’m not sure it’s a good fit’, go through the advantages and benefits again.

If they say, ‘too busy’, explain how easy it would be to install/supply/provide and for them to reap the benefits.

Are you coming on too strong?

The key to all this is to know when to stop, when to take no for an answer.  If you have challenged their ‘no’ once or perhaps twice, stop there.  Any more challenges and they will begin to leave the conversation, possibly for good. If you back away it helps to maintain your credibility (you are not desperate!), as long as you agree a frequency of contact in order to keep them warm and to be available when they DO want to place an order.

My preferred tack is to focus on the value and the benefits:

‘When would you like to enjoy these benefits?’

‘What do you lose (or win) by postponing this purchase?’

‘How much could you lose by postponing this by 6 months?’

Adjust the wording for you own products or services. I am sure you understand the principle.

Anyone who delays investing in something of value to them is effectively losing out until they do purchase it from you.  You want to give them this opportunity and to demonstrate how that now they have seen the value, it’s ‘the sooner the better’ for them.

What’s next?

To discover our sales training and coaching packages, see the Salient Sales website or get in touch with us for more tailored options.

Categories
General

Influence – Building Buyer Relationships Part 2

When selling, the development of the relationship between buyer and seller may be considered as three distinct actions:

Educate, Influence and Persuade. 

Part 2: Influence

This is the second part of the series. In this blog we will be looking briefly at Influence.

Influence is key to selling, but how do you influence ethically?  Clearly, from the ‘spin’ comments in my previous blog, it is very easy to stray over the line and end up misleading the prospect. ‘Positive Ethical Influencing’, as promoted by Salient, is an approach aimed at maintaining focus on being fair and honest with the customer. 

The way you influence prospects and customers is key to the business relationship you are trying to develop.  This relationship will define whether the customer will buy, and if they do, whether they will come back for more.  Any evidence of exaggeration, hype, misdirection or simple lies will result in nothing coming your way and the likelihood of the door being closed to you for good.  Be careful what you say!

This is not just true of sales, but also of life in general.  What you say and what you don’t say; what you do and what you don’t do, all have consequences.  Sometimes these consequences can be very positive and fulfilling. Likewise, depending on what you say or do, the results can be catastrophic.  Be careful of what you say, and what you do.

Influence plays a great part in life, and in selling particularly.  I have simply scratched the surface here.  I will develop this theme in the future, but in the meantime, beware of misinterpretation or misunderstandings. Never mind business, wars have broken out on the strength of a misunderstanding or unfortunate phrasing.

What’s next?

To discover our sales training and coaching packages, see the Salient Sales website or get in touch with us for more tailored options.

Categories
General

Education – Steps for building Buyer Relationships

When selling, the development of the relationship between buyer and seller may be considered as three distinct actions:

Educate, Influence and Persuade. 

In this blog we look briefly at Education.

Education is an important start in selling.  Your prospective customers need to know what can be done to fulfil their need and specifically, what you can do for them.  They need to know the facts and it is your job as salesperson, to make sure they have all they need to make an educated decision. 

Can you ‘spin’ it?  Spin used to be a balanced and accepted term meaning a way of describing things with emphasis.  This could be a positive emphasis or spin, or negative, according to how you wished to influence the prospect.  As an example: ‘the car seemed keen to accelerate and be exciting to drive’ has a positive emphasis or spin to it. Alternatively, to say: ‘It was too easy to reach and exceed the speed limit as the accelerator was very sensitive’, paints a more negative picture of the same characteristic.

Spin should be used with care as it is very easy to begin to exaggerate a point to make it in your favour. The ethicality of this is questionable as you are moving quickly from educating to influencing, and likely not in the right way.

Buyers are not idiots.  They are most likely trained to counter spin, misdirection and all pressure selling techniques.  Those in sales that give honest answers and deal fairly with the customers, are the ones most likely to win the available business, both short and long term.

Education is the first of the 3 distinct actions on the development journey between buyer and seller. In the next we will look over Influence. And in the final, we will go over Persuade.

For more tailored sales training and coaching, see the rest of our website or get in touch with us.

Categories
General

How do you shop Ethically? Investigating Ethical Buying.

What is ‘Ethical Buying’?

I fly the flag for, promote and teach ‘Ethical Selling’. This is the open and honest approach to sales where building trust and loyalty are key to ensuring good, ongoing and profitable business relationships. 

To compliment this, I felt I should try and implement ‘Ethical Buying’. 

What is ‘Ethical Buying’? 

Simply, ensuring that the products and services you buy are sold by a company with a conscience; social, environmental, and people-focused, be they customers or employees. A few are ethical suppliers, but I suspect that most fall down in at least one of these areas. 

Some companies do not claim to be ethical in the way they operate, and you should not be surprised when you look into their business model. However, some do and of this group some are right and some are wrong.  It is worth digging deeper to see if they practice what they preach. 

I dug deeper and found it is not easy to buy ethically.

For example, I wanted to avoid buying plastic clothes such as polyester, viscose and nylon.  This is a challenge.  Who reads the labels these days, other than to find out the size and how to wash it?  I aim for cotton, wool or other natural fibres.  I found these difficult to source as at least some part of everything I considered included man-made fibres.  When I did find items of fully natural materials, I noticed that they were made in China, Indonesia, Taiwan and other distant places. 

In shipping to the UK, these will claim a large carbon footprint.

The situation with cars is even more involved.  Parts are sourced world-wide, plastics play a huge part, and some treat their workers very poorly.  Many of the larger car providers also have a questionable history, but this is another issue.

‘Natural’ energy is also a problem.  Wind turbines require the shipment of huge parts from all over the world and in order to secure them into the ground, vast amounts of concrete are needed.  Making concrete produces over 8% of the worlds carbon emissions.

Building insulation often uses man-made fibres.  Straw is an excellent alternative, and we have a huge surplus of this material in the UK.  Hopefully, this will catch-on.

What can you do?

How can you be an ‘ethical buyer’ in these circumstances?  Simply, try your best.

  • Try to source locally
  • Avoid plastic when possible
  • Select natural or at least recyclable materials
  • Check customer feedback to see how they treat customers
  • If important to you, search more deeply into the supplier’s history

Manufacturing in the UK is at a very low level and so sourcing locally is often impossible.  All I can suggest is keep trying! Things are constantly changing, and when a young business does set-up offering what you’re looking for try to support them.

In the meantime, Salient will continue to promote ‘Ethical Selling’ as the right and best way to approach selling. As well as purchasing ethically whenever we’re able.

Categories
General Sales Ethos

Do you have Covid Blues?

How have the virus, the lockdowns, the uncertainty affected you?

Some people claim to have ridden the storm, they have come out of this stronger and very focussed, but I suspect they are in the minority.

Others have been affected by the pandemic quite badly, or at least negatively. Many I speak to are not just tired, they are weary. Many of my contacts claim they are finding it difficult to reach the same level of energy and momentum as they experienced pre-covid.

Alongside the physical issues, of equal concern is our mental state.  Many have suffered without actually having Covid.  The lockdowns, the masks, the zoom calls, the restrictions, the sad loss of friends and family and the relentless ‘bad news’ that the media throws at us, have all taken their toll. 

Do we talk about our melancholy?  Probably not.  Like me, you have learned that the response to the question ‘how are you?’ should never be ‘not great thank you’.  Only close friends will be genuinely interested in our welfare. More business will be done with people who are ‘good thanks’ than those who are ‘not great’.

A year or so ago, when feeling… despondent, I decided to answer truthfully, the question ‘how are you?’ I noticed two things:

1/ Everyone expressed concern, but conversations were shorter, unless that is I made a point of ‘perking up’.

2/ Asking the health of others, resulted in a range of answers between ‘great’ and nothing worse than ‘ok thanks’.

If there is genuine concern, they may ask again, ‘no, how are you really?’ Now that’s a friend.

What can we deduce from this?

  • Only true friends want to know the real answer, and are likely to help.
  • Acquaintances or new contacts will make the expected social responses but are likely to feel uncomfortable enough to withdraw from the conversation at an early stage.

What can we learn from this?  Nobody likes a grumbler!

If you do need help, confide in real friends who you know will be genuine and care about you. You can also enlist the help of someone who has proven skills in wellbeing and mind-reset. I did.

If you aim to gain profitable business contacts, there is only one effective solution……fake it! 

Seriously, I used this option when I felt less than my usual ‘jolly’ self, and I found that my smile was infectious and the contact’s mood improved. It proved far more likely I would develop a good business relationship with this approach.

As a useful by-product of this, my own mood improved, as I smiled, they smiled as we got to know each other better.

I do not normally advocate this approach, and still say fake nothing but your mood. However, this is one time when you both benefit from the ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ approach.  It’s in the power of the smile!

Categories
Business management General Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process

5 Key Ways to Grow Your Market Share

Can you grow your business when many around are shrinking?

I think you can, and I wanted to share my ideas with you.

My last blog suggested ways of adapting to market needs and I explained how I had added to the Salient range of offers by promoting courses on Zoom (or other platforms).  Are there other ways of growing your market?  The first four major areas you can consider are:

  • Market Penetration
  • Market Development
  • Product Development
  • Diversification

The Ansoff Matrix shows clearly how these are related: (Igor Ansoff – Harvard Business Review 1957).

Market Penetration means selling more of what you offer into your existing market.

Market Development is selling your present range of goods or services into new markets.

Product Development describes selling new products into your existing markets.

Diversification involves selling new products or services into new markets.

As an example of market development, my sales modules and programmes are now fully recorded and available to purchase from the Salient website (here:  https://tinyurl.com/y44gahlg  !)

I am promoting and selling my existing courses, general sales and technical sales, into a new market.  The new market comprises those businesses and individuals who prefer to learn and experience in their own time and space, rather than attend at specific times and locations which can be inconvenient to their own businesses.

Product development can be achieved by adding something that compliments or is a relevant addition to your existing range of products and services.  Ideally, this should be something you have identified by asking the market what else they need, or at least your existing customers!

Market penetration in simple terms is finding more ways of selling what you have in the market you presently target.  For this I would recommend revisiting dormant customers and making contact with ‘lost’ business.  Business previously lost may be looking again for a new supplier and we may only have lost it by a small margin.

Diversification can be fun!  Lateral thinking can result in some great ideas for additional products and services which will attract new interest in your business.  I caution you to prepare well and to do some useful and effective market research prior to this.  It is essential you know what your potential customers want and need before committing time and funds to developing new products and attacking new markets.  However, the rewards can be high as ‘out-of-box thinking’ can make a significant difference to your turnover and profit.

Finally, the fifth way of growing your business, and a less risky alternative would be Collaboration, again with much preparation and due diligence.  You would halve the cost of any such growth plans by working with another trusted business.  However, you may halve the risk, but you will also halve the profit made!

Your first choice is whether you try and ‘ride-the-storm’, or, work smarter and develop your business.  If you choose the latter, your second choice can be made from a number of options as outlined in the matrix above. When the ‘new norm’ arrives, if you have used the time wisely and prepared for growth, you will be much more secure as a business than those that have relied on rationalisation and hope.

If you are interested in hearing more about our ‘applied sales’ courses, in general or technical markets, then please contact Andy on 07941 041364, andy@salientsales.co.uk

If you would like to learn more about the Salient recorded sales training programmes, visit the offers on our website here: https://tinyurl.com/y44gahlg