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
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
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 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
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
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 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.