Categories
Feeding the pipeline Sales Planning

Give Yourself Time To Get It Right

Working quickly is seen as a normal requirement for businesses these days… But maybe there’s room to give yourself time to get it right

While we rush through life at this crazy pace, we often forget the benefits of forethought, care and accuracy.  Spelling and punctuation are fundamental to understanding and appreciation of what is written. 

If I see something that has been written in haste and full of errors, what impression does that leave?  Clearly, I will suspect that they run their whole business in this careless and unprofessional way.  In short, they will not win my business

When did you last read what you had just written? Do you still use a spell-checker, or does it slow you down? 

Slow down and focus on your copy - for blog: Do you give yourself time?

What does your Physical Evidence say?

There is an alarming number of posts and articles appearing on the internet which are poorly worded, crazily spelt and sometimes make little sense, simply because the ‘author’ has not bothered to read it back to themselves, carefully and considerately.

For example, you do not have to look far on Linked In to see poor spelling, grammar and jumbled sentences.  I will not quote any of these as some of them are written by my contacts and friends!

The same applies to everything in sales and running a business.  The sales process needs to be complete to be effective. If you leave any stage out, or even attempt to shorten it, you run the considerable risk of losing that business 

In marketing terms, consider ‘Physical Evidence’.  Consistency, congruency and accuracy suggest a good level of professionalism.  Fall down in any of these areas and it adds a question mark to your professionalism in other areas.

Tak a step back and really focus on your copy, quotes, social media... All of your client focussed communication - for blog Do you give yourself time?

How do I ‘give myself time to get it right’?

Likewise, you may have developed a great ‘shop window’ for your business, your website and marketing material being very attractive, but if your business quotes or proposals are full of spelling and grammar errors you risk losing that business. 

In the sales process, if you have provided the best presentation, and a perfectly written quote or proposal, but have not bothered to follow this up in good time, then the business will likely be placed elsewhere. 

If you feel you are unlikely to spot these errors, then I would recommend a proofreader.  I use Popple Services for the important written work.  If you need to check and improve your sales process to make sure that nothing is put at risk, then please make contact. 

Losing business by omission or carelessness is unprofessional and can be costly.

SLOW DOWN   –   CHECK IT    or   GET SOMEONE ELSE TO CHECK YOUR WORK AND YOUR PROCESSES.  It can win you more business.

Some may say these are old fashion values.  I say that if all else is equal then care and attention to the written word can be a god indicator as to the care and attention their customers can expect.  What do you think?

Want To Take This Further?

In the meantime, Salient Sales & Training offer both 1-to-1 mentoring and team training to helpful you refine your approach to sales and technical sales. Why not get in touch to discuss you options.

Categories
Sales Planning Sales process

Adapt or die

When times become difficult in life, it is important to be able to adapt to change.

Evolution set out the rules for this.  Those species that were unable to adapt to changes in their environment, be that climate change or the arrival of predators, would dwindle and disappear.

It is exactly the same in business.  Over the last ten years, and in particular have seen some significant changes to the way we operate, and specifically how we communicate.

I have written about this before, pointing out that the best way forward might be to agree a communications policy with a prospect or customer, involving the frequency of contact and the mix of media involved.

The questions are important, as are the answers to these questions.

For some, things have developed further. According to a number of good contacts, there appears to have been a significant drop in the availability of some people in business. Others have observed that their contacts arrange to communicate at a certain time and a certain way, but they fail to appear. 

When asked about it, they seem to be only mildly apologetic, not realizing that their counterpart has put aside that time specifically for that purpose.

Other observations related by my contacts:

  • Reliability is down – some are not doing as they say they would.
  • In interviews and meetings, no-shows are more common – apparently, they felt that not turning up was the best way to show they were not interested.
  • Ignoring communications as they are ‘too busy’.
  • No-one is making the tea – it is ‘below their pay grade’.
  • Commitment, belonging and responsibility appear to be going out of fashion.

These are just some of the comments I have heard along these lines.

I am not a total doom monger, and I know there are still a great number of good, helpful and hard-working people out there!  However, many appear to be disturbed by the increasing evidence to the contrary

Have you evidence or experience of this?  Is society changing along these lines?  I would be very interested to hear what you think!

What’s Next?

At Salient Sales & Training, we offer team and 1-to-1 sales and technical sales training. Get in touch today, lets discuss your goals.

Categories
Sales Planning Sales process

Timing in Sales is Essential

To pinch a line from the comedy archives; the secret of good business is… Timing.

Timing is very important during the whole sales process and in business development.

  1. When do you move from small-talk to focus on the business opportunity?
  2. When should you follow-up your proposal/quote?
  3. When do you attempt an Interim Close?
  4. When should you follow-up your communications?
  5. When is best to start ‘closing the deal’?
  6. When should you ask for the business?

These are just some of the useful questions you can ask yourself about the process of securing the opportunity. 

Following-up your proposal too quickly could jeopardise your chances of winning the opportunity.  Asking for the business too soon could upset your relationship with the prospective customer. 

The questions are important, as are the answers to these questions.

Timing is important.

What about the timing of your ‘Continuous Improvement’?  If you have not focused on making improvements to your turnover and profit then your business is likely to be stagnating, if not declining.

When is the best time to work ON your business as opposed to working in it; when should you plan to improve your own and your business’s performance?  The simple answer to this is when your customers are quiet. 

Do you experience a slow or quiet time in the summer? Perhaps that is the time to arrange training or coaching to bring you back to the ‘top of your game’?

You could be working on ways to find more customers and win more sales so that, come mid-September you are well prepared to deal with the flood of new business enquiries!

Think ahead and book some extra coaching or training now, so that you can find more and win more business.  Why not NOW!

…and if you are not sure of the answers for 1 to 6 above, get in touch with me

I can help. 

What’s Next?

Selling is not strange magic, it’s a skill which can be learned. Let me show you how it’s done.

Categories
Locating customers Sales Planning

How do you create positive business opportunities?

Well, that was unexpected!

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog which pointed out that Salient was experiencing a very quiet period, a long ‘lull’ with few takers for my courses and sessions. 

I checked and all was well with my communication, marketing, networking, products and my profile was high. 

I also checked with fellow business owners, and they too were finding it unusually quiet. I surmised that it was due to market caution, not knowing what direction the economy will take in the future.

Within the blog I offered some suggestions as to how best to deal with the situation and suggested we may still have some storm to ride.

The situation has changed. 

An Upward Trajectory

Within the last week, I have identified four new business opportunities.  More than that I have invoiced for one of them, I am agreeing training dates with another, sorting out final details with the third and arranging a presentation with the fourth. 

I am busy again!

How did this happen?

  1. It could be the success of my regular digital marketing.
  2. It could be because I increased the number of networking events I attended.
  3. Perhaps it was divine intervention, or karma.
  4. Perhaps that blog started people thinking that they needed some coaching.

On closer inspection, there appears to be no causal link between my blog and the four suggestions above.  Maybe they all contributed to the result?

My wife would tell me to stop analysing and just get on with it!

So that’s what I am going to do. ….and quietly thank everyone involved in all four causes!

Categories
Feeding the pipeline Sales Planning

What’s happening to my Sales Pipeline?

I thought it was just me.  It isn’t.

How are YOU doing?

As you know, pipelines should always be kept as full as possible.  This way you can be sure of a regular income and a profitable future.  Salient has been successful for the last 15 years and has been growing steadily.  Even the Covid years were reasonably successful.

However, in the last 3 to 4 months I have seen a sharp downturn in business opportunities.  The result has been a decreasing flow in the pipeline, sometimes best described as a trickle!

Despite great efforts from my digital marketing team and much networking, matters did not improve.  My profile is the highest it has been, but engagement, enquiries and responses are at their lowest level for many years.

To find out why, I created a check list:

1/ Are my communication links still open – ‘phone’, email, mobile, contact forms?

Checked and confirmed

2/ Have I been posting and engaging with social media?

Checked and confirmed

3/ Are my products and offers up to date, relevant and meeting current needs?

Checked and confirmed – interest is still generated; commitment to invest is not

4/ Is it just me? 

– Checked….it isn’t!

5/ How is the competition doing?      

– Fairly inactive; no business lost to them

Direct action

Direct action became the only option. I am not afraid of being open and honest and often ask my networking contacts, ‘How is business?’.  Invariably they appear quite happy.  However, this time I told them how quiet the market was for me and the little interest I was generating.  I repeated the exercise a couple of days later at another networking group.

The results were very interesting.  When pressed, by far the majority admitted to experiencing the same thing, or even worse.  Even an IFA confirmed that in the last few months he had had far more fund withdrawals than increased investments!

My strategy for recovery is to ramp up social media activity and attend more, and different events. I am focusing on the two most popular products I have, the 1 to 1 Coaching Day for Micro and SMEs, and the Technical Sales Training for larger businesses. So far, so good.

What’s Next?

Although it is tough at the moment, try not to be too despondent, you are certainly not alone.  No one knows how long it will last, but if you can cut costs, raise your profile and meet more prospects, then, come the slow recovery, you will be well placed to begin to grow again. 

Whenever you are ready, I will be happy to help you with new ideas for growing your business.  Until then, there are many ways of keeping your business going.  I am happy to have a chat and offer suggestions for riding the storm. 

Good luck!

Categories
Business management Sales Planning

Invest in your business!

Do you still actively invest in your sales success when the economy takes a turn…

I could earn a lot more money in Japan.

I prefer living in the UK, but Japan, and much of the far East, has a very different attitude to business.

Business in the UK tends to suffer from short-termism. When the economy is suffering, we ‘tighten our belts’ and go for a round of cost-cutting. Strangely, from my experience, this includes reducing sales and marketing activities and people. This defies all logic, as when business is harder to win it makes no sense to cut back on sales effort! The sales effort or department may be the most costly in the company, but properly invested and directed, the returns will easily outweigh the cost.

In Japan and the far east, when there is a struggling economy, their approach is to INVEST in sales and marketing. Business is still out there; you just have to work harder to find and win it. They use such hard times as an opportunity to train their sales team. When the economy recovers (they always do) they will have a team at the top of their game and so likely to find and win all the best opportunities. This is long-term thinking. Doesn’t it make more sense?

This year should see a slow improvement in the economy.

Will you cut back?

Or will you invest in you and your business?

Will you be at the top of your game when we emerge from the tunnel?

Ready to take the next step?

If you’re looking to invest in you or your sales team going forward, why not see our sales and technical sales courses.

Alternatively, why not get in touch with Salient Sales & Training – 07941 041 364, to discuss the needs of your business!

Categories
Sales & Marketing Sales Planning Sales process

Are ‘Sales Visits’ a thing of the past?

In my last blog, I told of the changes to how sales and marketing have been perceived over the last three decades. This showed how ‘Sales & Marketing’ had changed to ‘Marketing’ only. But needs to be ‘Marketing & Sales’. If that makes no sense read the blog again!

Another aspect that has changed significantly pre-covid times is the method of communication between customers and prospects.

In my training I demonstrate how face to face is by far the most effective way to communicate with anyone. Zoom, telephone, personal letter and email are all effective to a point, but face to face allows a higher level of understanding and appreciation of what the other person is saying and meaning.

Slowly, this approach has been evolving and has now changed, due to two significant drivers:

  1. As work pressure mounts, the time available for personal meetings has been squeezed to the point where there is little time available in a working day to include them, particularly now that we have Zoom or Teams available to us.
  2. Then came Covid. For personal health and safety, all face-to-face meetings were discouraged or banned. It was too high a risk to meet people face to face. In order to continue business effectively, video conference calls became the norm.

Covid has now receded to a level sufficient for us to attempt to ‘normality’. However, having experienced how effective video calls can be, and still being wary of meeting people face-to-face, some are declining to meet in-person. Furthering the likelihood Sales Visits will not be seeing a part in our current ‘normalcy’.

I have confirmed this with the more mature sales training delegates on the courses I have given recently. Their experience of 20 to 30 years ago is the same as mine, and they confirmed it has become very difficult to arrange customer visits for these reasons. What do we do?

A new strategy…

In the last 6 months I have begun to recommend a new strategy whereby a ‘Communication Plan’ is agreed between the two parties involved. This can involve an effective mix of methods and timings that are the most convenient for the buyer and allows the salesperson to complete the sales process as thoroughly and successfully as possible. So if you feel in-person Sales Visits are key to your sales process, let the other party know, plan for it!

As an example of the new process:

  1. Connect on LinkedIn
  2. Send a personal email or LinkedIn message to agree to a call
  3. Make a phone call to complete introductions and clarify their need
  4. If there is a sufficient interest, at this point the ‘Communication Plan’ can be introduced and agreed. This can involve a face-to-face first visit, then an agreed mix of phone calls, emails and video calls.
  5. Complete the sales process and win the deal. Frequency of contact needs to be agreed as well.

This is a simplified way to illustrate the idea. Each case will be different according to needs. You may have your own way of working through the sales process but be flexible. If they are not comfortable being asked every time for a personal meeting, mutually pre-agree terms in a Communication Plan.

If you’re interested in Sales or Technical Sales training for yourself or a team, please get touch – 07941 041 364

Alternatively, browse our website for more about the courses and workshops Salient Sales currently offer. You can also find our LinkedIn HERE.

Categories
Business management Ethical Selling Sales Management Sales Planning Sales tips

Experiencing difficulty bouncing back after Covid?

Having trouble re-emerging into the market? Do you think your business looks and feels a bit ‘stale’? What can you do? Bouncing back after Covid-19 doesn’t need to be difficult, I can help.

Here are some useful thoughts:

I worried too!

Before the lockdowns business for Salient was good. Beyond a few regular ‘tweaks’ I felt nothing needed to change, people were still expressing interest and buying my courses and sessions.

Then Covid came and people were furloughed, projects were put on ice, work slowed and, in some areas, stopped.  Why would people invest in Salient offers when they had no idea when they would be able to get a return on their investment?  It became difficult to promote something which had become of less perceived immediate value to the markets.

Does this sound familiar to you?

I felt I had a choice of three ways forward:

  1. Try and continue selling to a significantly smaller active market
  2. Put everything on ice; try and ride-the-storm
  3. Or, could I try some more lateral thinking?

Did I still want to have a business at the end of this? YES!

a screen displaying the words 'in process'

Therefore, I needed to focus on two key tasks:

  1. Maintain a profile, and
  2. Develop some additional and attractive new offers.

Maintaining profile is comparatively straight forward with social media and on-line networking.

Developing new additional offers was more difficult.  Many planning sessions, business analysis and key-person discussions, produced some useful ideas to add to the Salient offers:

  • Live-On-Line courses and sessions (LOL!)
  • Recorded courses and modules: my full sales programme on video in modular form,

(- available from the new and upgraded salientsales.co.uk website). 

  • Group workshops – brainstorming, structured or unstructured, ‘Inspiration to Action’
  • One-to One Coaching Sessions – more structured and goal orientated
  • Extra high-level modules for corporate courses and programmes
  • Salient Gems – weekly videoed tips and ideas to help you sell more.

These would also prove to be valuable for when businesses re-emerged from hibernation.

I have completed 80% of the above. Already, interest levels are good, and sales have started.

So, if you’re having trouble bouncing back after Covid, consider teaming up with Salient Sales & Training, let us help you to streamline that adjustment period.

What’s next?

This is my story.  If you need help to generate ideas for your business, and to develop processes to see them through, then please be in touch. I offer guidance and mentoring to help ensure their success.

You can click HERE to contact us. Or why not connect on social media so you’ll be first to access offers, quick tips and new courses as we release them: Facebook, Linkedin & Twitter!

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

Categories
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.