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

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
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 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
General

We need proof!

We need proof.

How many emails, written articles, blog posts, letters and so on, do you receive that are 100% spelt correctly or read well? For me it is far too few.

Almost every written contact I receive, or publication I read, has some form of mistake on it. I’m afraid I find this very frustrating because it takes just a few minutes, sometimes just seconds, to proof-read your own work. Normally I would suggest arranging for someone else to proof-read it, but of late, the mistakes have been so bad that the author could not have failed to spot them if they had only bothered to read them through before sending.

Generally, I will not buy from a company that is so unprofessional that it fails to read what it has written before sending it to customers or prospects. How can I recommend them to others if I know they don’t take care to check what they are saying?

Normally, I regard this as just lazy and unprofessional, but, since lockdown I’m afraid it has become worse. We are all human and we all make mistakes, but very few should get passed a quick read-through. None should get through if it is professionally proof-read.

The last straw for me came when I received a letter from the funeral directors we had commissioned. In the first half of the letter it referred to my Mother who had sadly passed away. Later in the email it twice referred to my Father instead of my Mother.  I politely pointed this out. Their response was to say ‘I have not attached the amended letter’.

Aaagh! Clearly he meant ‘I have now attached the amended letter’, but he had not re-read that one either.  His letter and response would have upset some people.

I sent him a polite email pointing out that perhaps proof-reading was not one of his strengths.  He did not bother to respond.  You cannot help but wonder, where else they are less than professional.

Will I recommend them?  Probably not.

Stay professional!

Stay safe.

Categories
Business management General Locating customers Sales Ethos

Remembering ‘social niceties’

Ensuring mutual respect and deference.

At some stage in the future, lockdown will end. For months we will have been meeting, talking, and socialising with the images of people on screens. When we finally get to meet with them again, how will we cope?

Can we remember the ‘social niceties’ as we used the call them, the social conventions that ensure mutual respect and deference?

I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of the social decorum or etiquette that we were expected to follow when we were younger (which is probably before you were born, dear reader). Yes, in such prose as these when addressing the reader they were often referred to as ‘dear’ or even ‘gentle reader’!) The following relate to ‘greetings’ in the 1960s. Some of these conventions are still applied by the ‘old school’!

• If a lady entered a room all the gentlemen were expected to stand. If a large room or hall, or in a large gathering it was understood that only those whom she approached would stand until she was seated.

• All gentlemen would stand to shake hands but the ladies would remain seated to do the same. (I believe this is still expected and correct behaviour.)

• Unless they are a relative or long standing friend or acquaintance, no kissing is allowed. If the lady leaned forward for a peck then this could be offered or received, but this was unlikely.

• Anyone senior to us in years we would call ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, unless instructed by them to do otherwise. If respect needed to be emphasised then these could be used at any time.

• If you knew someone’s Christian name you would not use it unless invited to in an introduction. It would be Mr., Mrs, or Miss as appropriate. Again, Sir or Madam could be used if superiority is clear or even suspected.

• If passing someone you know, gentlemen should raise or touch the rim of their hats. If a lady then stops to engage them in conversation the hat should be removed until the lady moves on.
– there is a lovely story involving my Father. In the early sixties he was a civil servant working in the city of London, in Somerset House. The ‘uniform’ in the city was great-coat and black bowler hat. This hat was raised or the rim touched at all required moments. One day when returning home and almost at our garden gate, he met an acquaintance. He started to raise his hat. At the same moment, his acquaintance offered his hand for a handshake greeting which was also acceptable, but was a more familiar approach. Dad accepted this and so started to offer his hand in return. His friend had also realised the disparity and was starting to raise his bowler hat at the same time. My Mother relays this story as she was watching from the window and says that the greeting was attempted three times with hats being raised and hands offered alternately, until finally they gave up and just said hello.

• On ending the conversation, if with a lady, the hat was returned to the head and with a gentleman it was raised or the rim touched on parting.

a group in a meeting chat, shake hands and smile with each other

That may seem very involved but that was the way we were taught to behave, the expected ‘norms’; and THAT was just for the greeting!

I am not suggesting we re-adopt these social expectations, this was just a bit of fun. But, we can be certain that when our ‘normal’ is returned we will feel very strange shaking hands with strangers or even standing right next to them in a meeting or gathering.

I used to give a talk called ‘Selling, Ballroom Dancing and Space Invaders’. The latter reference is to those who invade our personal space. I would not be surprised if our normal personal space has been extended due to ‘social distancing’.

Let’s hope we can soon return to ‘social nearness’, or for the brave, ‘social closeness’, and we can look forward to sharing time AND SPACE with everyone we wish.

Stay safe!

Categories
General

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

The Government is keen for business to continue so that when we are able to return to the ‘norm’ we can be better prepared.  Perhaps this is the best time to focus on personal and professional development within your business.  With good training, coaching or mentoring in sales, marketing and business development, you could use the time wisely by developing a more complete and successful approach to growing your business.

So, Salient is going Live-On-Line….

To help you follow social and health requirements I will now be offering my courses as either a live-link to allow full interaction, or as recorded modules for you to access at your convenience and as often as you need.  I have chosen Zoom as the most effective platform. I will use the ‘Entrance Lobby’ facility to ensure the sessions remain secure.

These courses will be offered at a lower cost than an attended course.

Also, as a special offer, when the crisis is over, I offer a ‘refresher day’ at a bargain price, when I will come to your offices and deliver a summary of the course and, where appropriate, run a workshop to cover aspects in which delegates still need assistance.

In this way, delegates will have the advantage of isolated learning, together with a final interaction session, when the dust settles.

All delegates for live sessions will be provided with a workbook.

Live sessions will include all aspects of the course when given on-site; flip chart, discussion, slides, exercises, discussion etc.

Assistance is offered on an individual basis (phone or email) at no cost for up to one month after the sessions.  Sessions last from one hour to one day and courses are available for 2 to 5 days duration, either consecutively or separated by up to 3 weeks.  Clearly, the longer the course, the greater the scope and depth we can cover, and the longer the new ideas and skills are likely to be retained.

Costs: with reduced overheads, the cost of Live-On-Line sessions will be signficantly less than those arranged for personal attendence (pre-and post-covid-19).

Salient has adapted and will continue to offer great value in all courses, programmes and sessions.  Expertise in sales, marketing and business development, designed and applied to your business.  Use Salient and stay safe!

 

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

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!