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
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
Sales & Marketing Sales process

Is it ‘Sales & Marketing’ or ‘Marketing and Sales’?

When I moved from science and electronics to start a new career in field sales, times were different. This was the late 1980s when the world was a very different place.  With evolution and development business has changed dramatically; mostly good, some less so.

One thing I have noticed only recently, is the complete about turn regarding sales and marketing. In those days, most sales positions included in the title ‘sales and marketing’.  When my sales role had been explained, I asked ‘what about the marketing?’  I was shown a pile of brochures, a directory and a telephone.  I was told to ‘go and find some new business’. Sales was an accepted discipline, aided a little by this form of ‘marketing’.  That was when I learned how soul-destroying cold-calling could be. And some of the wrong ways of trying to make sales.

Forward to the ‘roaring twenties’

We find a very different picture, in fact, very much the opposite.  Marketing has developed over the years to become a very potent and important discipline. Businesses have realised that by marketing and promoting products and services in an attractive manner, prospective customers come to you. As opposed to you calling them in an attempt to develop an interest.

If your prospects come to you, they are already sold on the idea of you becoming a supplier.  This means that half the sale is already achieved.  HOWEVER, it is still only a half.  You will have to build a relationship and, using sales skills and techniques, convince them to make the full commitment to buy from you.

But bear in mind that the sale will not happen until this final stage of (ethical) persuasion is successful.  You may have the best marketing approach, structure, strategies and initiatives, but unless you have the skills to negotiate and complete the sale, your marketing investment is effectively wasted.  Those who rely on marketing to make the sales are of the ‘if you build it they will come’ ideology.  People buy from people, so business-people will need to know how to sell, as well as promote their goods and services.

A recent posting to promote a networking discussion, called it a ‘Sales & Marketing session’, but described only marketing and brand strategy as the focus.  Do not forget your sales skills!  If you cannot sell effectively, you will no longer have a business to operate, let alone promote.  In every case, skill in marketing AND sales are needed.

Looking to get in touch regarding our training courses or workshops Click HERE to contact us via our form, or give us a call on: 07941 041 364

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 Sales process

Adapt or fall!

A bit dramatic I know, but this does reflect the present position of most small businesses.

Darwin would be fascinated with the choices facing business at the moment.

At the start of the pandemic we all hoped it would be over in a few months and we could get back to ‘normality’.  Many small companies simply ‘battened down the hatches’ intending to ride the storm, if you will pardon the mixed metaphors.

Unfortunately, it did not happen.  We are likely to be looking at many more months yet and most are realising that the ‘normality’ we anticipate may be somewhat different from that pre-covid.

In the last few weeks, I have gained some new customers who have admitted they felt they could hold back no longer and needed to move ahead, otherwise their customers would go elsewhere.  In fact, due to the scarcity of active businesses, they would now have to work harder just to stand still.

To maintain Salient’s position in the market and to adapt to the present situation I have had to change my approach.  Fewer customers wish to have strangers in their offices presenting training courses.  Having said that, recently I have presented my Technical Sales Programme on-site, distanced, masked, sanitised and very successful!

With fewer opportunities to train and coach ‘in-the-room’, I have added to my training, coaching and mentoring offers.  Becoming adept at running Zoom meetings I can now run any course or session on-line.

I have also used the extra time available to record my complete sales programme onto a video platform.  There are general sales and technical sales training versions for large and small businesses, and all will be available to purchase on line within the next two weeks.  I have also added small business group support and growth sessions called ‘Adapt, Survive and Prosper’, and these can be delivered with some in the room and others on Zoom.

a blackboard with a glass lightbulb in the centre, in the areas around it are 3 thought bubbles chalked on the right and another set on the left

By adding to my range of offers, I am now able to deliver:

Sales, Marketing and Business development

1/ courses or sessions in-the-room, as before

2/ courses or sessions on Zoom, or

3/ course modules recorded for more convenient viewing

By adapting to the new market needs I have ensured that all prospective customers can be served by Salient, whatever their circumstances.

This is what I have done.  What have you done to maintain or even grow access your available market and hence grow your sales?  Have you adapted?  Most such situations can be overcome with some thought, ideas and application. If you have not addressed this already, perhaps now is the time.  Clever use of the internet and some lateral thinking are called for.

Take the lead from Salient; Adapt, Survive and Prosper!

Details of Salient Small Business offers are here:  https://tinyurl.com/y5ptl27f

Recorded courses – coming soon.

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.

 

 

 

 

Categories
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!

Categories
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.

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

Deal or No-Deal

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 with the Sales Process, and there are many parallels, he is attempting to obtain the best deal for the UK from the EU.

In every sale, the backstop; the very last option must 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.

men in suits shake hands - deal or no-deal article

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 counterbluff and a cool head is needed.  However, if you simply believe that you have the power to walk away from the deal, this may be enough to help strengthen your position. Even if you have no real intention to do so.

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