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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 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 General Sales tips

BANTER OR BULLYING?

BANTER OR BULLYING?

CHARACTER BUILDING, OR CHARACTER DEMOLISHING?

How important is it for everyone to be resilient, thick-skinned, even hard-nosed?

Life can be hard.  Without one or more of these traits we run the risk of being beaten down by the more forceful and ultra-confident types.

To illustrate, let me describe an extreme version of this:

A confident go-getter enjoys ‘banter’ with their colleagues.  One colleague is a less confident and seldom joins in with the exchange of ‘winding-up’ and derisory comments.  To some, this makes them ideal targets for such banter, and the comments start.

Initially teasing, they are easily shrugged off.  But, they continue, and can develop a hint of mocking.  Others, wanting to remain with the confident and ‘favoured’ group, will find themselves joining in, sometimes without intending to.  Within a short period of time, perhaps a few weeks, one person has become the butt of most of the ‘banter’ going on.

Originators of office/school/group banter will claim it is ‘character building’.  They believe they are helping those bearing the brunt of the humour to gain a thicker-skin, to ‘man-up’.  The ‘Butt’ may well attempt to join in, but will show their inexperience in making quips and digs and will likely receive more ‘digs’ as a result.  Initial banter is usually ignored, but continued and it gradually eats away at the recipient, resulting in lost esteem and confidence.

Life is hard.  Perhaps we should encourage this form of banter to help weed-out those not capable of defending themselves and so to form stronger teams.

But, what are we doing if this continues unabated? We are making someone’s life pretty miserable.  They will see it as bullying and will find it more and more difficult to become involved, contribute, socialise and engage.

Then there is the other extreme, where we cosset and protect the weak and avoid all banter and ‘wind-ups’.  I remember when a boss I had in the mid 90’s apologised to me for swearing.  He assumed that, as I didn’t swear, it must be that it offends me.  Bless him!  Extreme swearing does offend me, but the occasional ‘Anglo-Saxon Derivative’ (as my English teacher used to say) can add richness to the language.  The reason I didn’t swear was because I had four young impressionable daughters at home and Dad swearing, even inadvertently, was not the example I wanted to give them.

There is another way.  I saw this happen once and it had a great positive impact on me.  At one stage in my career, the boss was also the chief source of the office banter.  He would rip into anyone, strong or weak and wind them up to a high level.  Most of us recognized this and responded in kind (to a lower level; we wanted to stay in good books).  There was one chap who did not take this well.  He was a really nice guy and had much to contribute to the group.  However, it was clear that he was enjoying being at work less and less.  His mood changed and his engagement with all of us was less frequent and helpful.  He was becoming isolated.  This was not the group’s intention, but none recognised it for what it was and no-one wanted to suggest to the boss that he stopped.  In the end, the boss sorted it.  He was perceptive and understood fully the risks to the team and to our colleague.  The boss took him to one side and had a chat with him.  The next thing I know, our colleague was smiling, animated and seemingly in awe of the boss!  His output increased and his loyalty knew no bounds.  He was even seen to join in with the banter occasionally.

What did the boss say?  Eventually, my colleague confided in me.

In a nutshell the boss had told him that he was sorry that such actions and comments were upsetting him.  He told him how valuable and valued he was, how he should ignore anything that offended and to regard it as immature behavior on their part.  He wanted my colleague to come to him and tell him at any time if anything was bugging or upsetting him, because he wanted him to be happy in his work and to enjoy his time.  The boss, even said he regretted the way he behaved but that it was now expected of him and he was worried that any change would be regarded as a weakness.

In showing humanity and humility, the boss had succeeded in turning round the whole situation.

Perhaps this is the best approach when such ‘banter’ risks getting out of hand; risks losing a colleague, or worst of all, demolishes someone’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

There is no easy answer.  But, taking account of people’s feelings can result in stronger teams, stronger relationships, and stronger leadership.

 

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

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.

Categories
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?!

Categories
Business management Ethical Selling General Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

Where to draw the line.

That’s a good question…..

When training a sales team from Samsung recently, I was asked a question which prompted a lot of thought and soul searching.  I was able to answer it, but was the answer just too easy? 

The question?   Where does an ethical sales person ‘draw the line’?

The answer is simple, and quite straight forward: ‘wherever your conscience lets you draw the line’.  This is obvious, clear and fits all.  However, is it a helpful answer?

The example given by the team member was of a potential customer who used their own ‘pressure buying’ techniques that quickly strayed into bullying; the Genghis Kahn school of negotiation.  Apparently, the buyer would throw his pen onto the table and demand loudly that they accept his terms or get out.  Other tactics of similar aggressive and intimidating nature were used.  Would YOU sit there and take that abuse?

He had my sympathy.  Most experienced sales people have had situations of similar severe discomfort.  While the buyer rants, raves and threatens, you are sat there wrestling with your own conscience and professionalism. What are your options?

There are many as every situation is different and requires some ‘thinking-on-your-feet’.

Below I describe the two extremes and an ideal. 

1/  Fight back?  This is the most satisfying.  Potentially it can gain respect from the buyer and a mutually beneficial solution could be possible.  However, it is extremely risky, as it may escalate the emotions and temper to the point where errors are made, opportunities are lost, and things are said that should never be said by true professionals.  Are you reducing your own standards by lowering yourself to their position?

2/  ‘Take it on the chin’; in other words, sit there and use silence or passive resistance as your main tool of defense.  This is a very professional approach that will make the buyers behavior seem very childish and clearly bullying in comparison.  However, there is also the risk that they will then take your reluctance to engage in a fight as weakness and assume their argument has been won.

3/  A carefully judged balance between the two, whereby you respond to aggressive posturing with a firm insistence and repeated ‘no’.  Your volume would be higher than usual but less than theirs; maintain eye-contact as much as possible; your words would again be professional, but your manner should show you standing firm but being fair.  Consistency, professionalism, repetition and firmness are needed, with a clear message that you will not be intimidated.

The salesman was strong and held his ground as best he could.  Give-in to a bully and they will always bully you.  If you cannot work with them, and you have the authority, you can walk away, but do not let them win.

Yes, it is up to you and your conscience.  Sometimes it may be a balance between needs and conscience.  Apply your own positive, firm approach but do your best not give in to intimidation. When you can, retain the moral ‘high ground’ and give little away.  No-one likes a bully, and it is a great shame that some believe this is the way to behave in modern society.  However, one cannot deny that they still exist, and we must deal with them while achieving our objectives AND remaining professional.

Categories
Business management Ethical Selling Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales process

What politicians could learn from Ethical Selling …and what we can learn from the politicians’ mistakes

 

Thursday 23rd June 2016 was a landmark day for many reasons.  The outcome of the referendum surprised a lot of people and delighted others.  But, why am I blogging about the referendum of all things?   One word: INTEGRITY!  As many of you will know, I fly the flag for honesty, openness and integrity in business and particularly in sales.

Sales and selling has long suffered a bad press due to the involvement of those with little or no integrity; those who firmly believe the end-justifies-the-means and the means can be anything at all to win the business.

There’s the parallel.  The press is now talking about the ‘fallout’.  Now we hear that key arguments and figures were in fact a ‘mistake’.  We have now heard that ‘immediate emergency measures’, means ‘we’ll have to look at it in a few months-time when the dust is settled, as we need stability’.

AND THEY WONDER WHY WE DON’T TEND TO TRUST OR RESPECT POLITICIANS AS MUCH AS THEY WOULD LIKE US TO!

If a certain PM, a particular UKIP leader and a well-known chancellor had done things differently; perhaps they could have kept their integrity AND continued to influence people ethically and positively!  They would have remained respected, believed and would still be able to influence.

The Salient Points:

  1. Politicians need to be good at sales and selling. They are in a position of influence and the people expect to be led and advised with honesty and integrity.
  1. NEVER ASSUME what people want, or the outcome of an initiative. Making assumptions as to what people think, expect, want or need is a recipe for disaster. Identify and clarify the need, what is really the issue, then aim to fulfil that need.  Assuming everyone, or at least a majority are going to agree with you is never a good idea.
  1. If you seek to influence and persuade your customers, or in this case ‘the electorate’, it’s always a good idea to provide accurate facts and reasoned argument.
  1. If you have competition, do not make it personal! YOUR ARGUMENT SHOULD NOT BE LACED WITH PERSONAL ATTACKS ON THOSE WHO OPPOSE YOU!  Sell it on its merits.
  1. If there is any possibility that you may lose the argument, after all there is always ‘the unforeseen’, have a CONTINGENCY PLAN, which helps you to carry on, but perhaps in a slightly different direction. (‘Damage Limitation’)
  1. If you want to remain a supplier to your customers (or ‘in office’), then the following applies:

Be clear and consistent in what you say, giving enough facts to allow an educated decision to be made by your customers (‘the people’).  This wasn’t done well in the referendum.

These facts and arguments must not be exaggerated, or untruthful, because, surprise-surprise, truth will out, particularly in the fall-out after the event.  This happened on both sides.

Customers (the public) will see this disparity between what you promised and what you deliver as a clear manipulation of the process to achieve the sellers’ (politicians’) own ends. They are MUCH less likely to buy from (vote for) them againThe PM is going; others will likely follow.

A customer who is given all the facts they need in order to make an educated and reasoned choice, and these facts are given accurately, without exaggeration, fabrication or vagueness of interpretation, will be happy to deal with you again.  IF the final answer is ‘NO thanks’, they are still likely to return and engage with you again.  Customer retention and loyalty is only possible if you maintain this integrity.

If you are proved to be false or manipulative, then you should not be at all surprised if the customer then goes elsewhere.  That’s politics as we know it!

As it should be in SALES and in POLITICS, it is down to motive, intent and conscience. I aim to sleep well every night.  Do you?

Categories
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.

Categories
Business management Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Sales tips

Move your own goal-posts.

Do you really want it?

Lots of money; holidays; cars; clothes; lifestyles.....?

Do you really want it, or do you just want the end result, the reward?   Do you want the omelette but are not prepared to break a few eggs and spend time whisking?

Everything of value to you has to be fought for.  A struggle is often needed to move forward.  This could entail time; working all hours, repetition; over and over again until you get it right; changes to relationships; being with patient people who share your dreams, and so on.  Whatever you do requires effort.  How much do you want that dream, that wonderful end result that will make you happy?  Are you prepared to struggle to achieve it, to work through the process time and again and again until the outcome is secure?

I meet many people who claim to have a dream, a goal, an objective, but have not yet asked themselves these questions.  In fact, too many have not even made a plan or mapped out the route they would need to take to get to where they want to go. (Have you?)

Here’s an example (names and figures have been made up to protect the guilty):

John wants to be successful   -  how successful John?

John’s dream is to achieve a turnover of £100,000 in 5 years  -  where are you now John?

So, John needs to find and win £85,000 of new business within 5 years – really?!

That is as far as John gets with his dream.

John’s approach is to keep doing what he is doing to make the business grow.*  He believes that “opportunities will arise along the way which will boost the business”.

Hands up who is surprised when, in 5 year’s time, John is turning over £32,000, and most of that is from a couple of clients who are personal friends.  John’s expansion plans are on hold.

Did John achieve his dream, his goal?  No.  Why not?  Probably because he chose a goal without considering the process, the effort, the struggle that would be needed to set his sights that high.

Every dream has a cost.  That cost includes the time and effort, the loss of focus elsewhere, the reduction of short-term-gain in favour of long term benefit.  Likely there will be disappointment, fatigue, despondency, even despair in yourself, and possibly those close to you.  Is it worth this struggle, or is it likely to damage other things you value more; your family, friends, principles, standards, enjoyment?

If you have considered all this and it is worth it, then go for it!  Or, as I read on Facebook last year: ‘Don’t downgrade your dream to match your reality, upgrade your faith to match your destiny’!

However, if the process, the struggle, the ‘pain’ proves too high a cost; lower your sites.  You can still win, and enjoy the journey.

* Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.