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

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 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 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 process Sales tips Technical Sales

Beware the spread of ‘Sales Phobia’

Has anyone else noticed this? ‘Sales phobia.’

A contact of mine who runs a business that provides professional training to education, public sector and professional bodies, was telling me that his clients appear to have adopted sales-avoidance strategies.  I suspected this was a wind-up until he told me that, for some, their new term for this was ‘Customer Engagement’.  Others had replaced sales and selling with the catch-all of ‘Business Development’.  I had previously heard of a consultant in the south of England effectively demoting sales by saying it was part of the discipline of ‘Business Strategies’.

Sadly, there may be a simple reason for this; bad experiences of being sold-to and more people are expecting to be given the ‘hard sell’ As a result they do not respect the sales process or people who sell.

Having spent 20 years in field sales and sales management, I have been very aware of the pressure that senior management put onto their sales teams.  In the companies I worked for, it was always ‘do whatever it takes to win the business’.  In the extreme, one MD said to a colleague of mine ‘if you don’t win the business, don’t bother coming back’!  This culture fostered some terrible sales practices, all based on pressure, manipulation and worse.

At the same time, business-to-consumer sales was facing growing and tougher competition and so, instead of offering better service as an enticement to buy, they too adopted pressure selling techniques.  We all remember the awful reputations gained by car and double glazing salesmen!

Unfortunately, I believe that, while some improvement has been made, pressure selling is still rife and the sales discipline as a whole has become tarnished by these unethical practices.  The culture is also perpetuated by the likes of The Apprentice, and, occasionally, even Dragon’s Den., i.e., if you don’t do what is expected, if you don’t win, you are humiliated and you are out.

When selling, how far would YOU go to protect your income, your standard of living?

I suspect that this continuing culture has caused the name change.  Perhaps our own professional bodies should take notice and make solid pronouncements against pressure selling techniques.  Perhaps not enough has been done to ‘clean-up’ sales with clearly defined boundaries of what is ethical and what is at least ‘dodgy’.  I feel passionately about ethical selling and have flown the flag for some years now, but I too come across very negative attitudes towards selling and sales people in general.

I aim to bring back enjoyment and satisfaction in selling by teaching a clear and clean sales process that is open and understood by all prospects.

In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson; “Everyone lives by selling something”.  Often this is just selling ourselves; making a good impression; having a positive impact.  If we cannot do this without being devious or manipulating our prospects, then clearly we cannot be trusted and perhaps we deserve the demotion to a sub-discipline.

In short, ethical selling must inherently be more successful, especially in the longer term.

  • Pressure selling is less likely to result in repeat business or referrals.
  • Building business relationships and selling ethically reduces the need to keep looking for new customers.
  • Customers who don’t enjoy buying from you are less likely to come back for more.
  • Keeping existing customers AND finding new ones will build a business far quicker than if you constantly have to look for new opportunities because former customers have voted with their feet.

If we don’t all start flying-the-flag for strong, ethical sales, then fewer people will respect it, expectations will remain negative, and we will all become ‘customer engagement’ experts!

Do you have a ‘Sales Phobia’?

Let me ask a different question:

Does the idea of selling cause you to palpate or procrastinate?

Do you fear a prospect rejection, or worry about making a fool of yourself when asking for the business?

If the answer is yes, you may have a sales phobia.

Unfortunately, I fear this is becoming more common.  I am doing my best to change business culture to accept that sales can and should be ethical, simple, jargon-free and enjoyable!  I achieve this in most cases.  However, there is a risk that this phobia is becoming institutionalized.  It should be a high profile and honourable profession.  Don’t let the gainsayers try and tell you otherwise!

Selling can be even more fun than buying!

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

How to become more ‘Proactive’.

The most common issue found relating to sales growth:

Having presented many courses on various sales and business-related subjects in a variety of lengths, I have found a few issues that arise that prove common to all my clients.  Perhaps the most important of these is the need for the sales individual or team to become proactive as opposed to reactive in their approach.  In many cases, sales leads are obtained from responses to marketing effort or repeat business.  This is excellent, as it means that the market has seen the value being offered and is keen to purchase.  However, maybe due to new competition, or failing customers, this can result in reduced turnover.  They have recognized that relying on existing clients or responses to marketing can become risky and unpredictable.  Moving to a more proactive approach will help ensure all sales opportunities are found, targeted and won.

What do we mean by ‘proactive’?  How can we be MORE proactive?

Identify two key aspects:

The markets you are serving already, and

The markets you would like to serve.

…or, put it another way….

Your existing or past customers, and

New customers

Simple strategy for being proactive in sales;

1/  Decide the best balance for you of existing customer and new customer business.  You need both!  One for ‘bread and butter’ income; to cover the ‘overheads’ and more, and the other for business growth and future strength.

2/  Revisit existing or previous customers on a regular basis.  Calling is best; sending a newsletter is the minimum contact.  Never miss an opportunity for repeat business or to cross and up-sell.  Lack of such contact allows the competition to ‘move-in’.

3/  Choose your new markets and prospects carefully.  Make sure they are likely to have the need, the money, and that they are likely to appreciate the value you offer.

4/  ‘Seed’ that market; make sure your business is known to them before you make contact, by;

  • identifying likely decision makers and sending them publicity materials, or,
  • using the internet, finding a mutual contact and asking for a referral, or
  • invest in exposure in their trade press or institution website, or,
  • any of the above and more…..

5/  Following number 4 above, any contacting now will be far less cold.  If you have gained a referral, they will be happier to take the call.  If you haven’t, you can at least refer to your article or letter in the publication or website related to their industry.  It doesn’t have to be a ‘cold call’!

This is just one approach you can use to help you find new customers and win new sales.

Being proactive should also include actions to:

-          plan where to target new prospects
-          regularly monitor and review your carefully chosen KPIs to ensure positive progress                and growth
-          ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty
-          prepare responses to possible criticism
-          prepare contingency plans in case the unexpected prevents progress in your chosen                direction

  • There are many advantages to being more proactive, you have;
  • Higher profile with existing customers and new prospects
  • Warmer contacts!
  • The chance to target and win far more business opportunities
  • Greater credibility and respect in the industry or market
  • More resilience against competition
  • More market knowledge, particularly in future trends.

So, don’t wait for them to come to you.  In market downturns, this can be fatal.  Be proactive, ‘go-and-get-it’!

As my late Father used to tell me;  “The door to success is labelled ‘PUSH’.”

Categories
Business management Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

What’s Stopping You?….. from winning that business?

Is it them, or is it you?

Here’s a quick check list for you to be sure it doesn’t happen;

To make sure it’s not you:

1/ Have you properly identified and agreed the need? – if you’ve assumed what they want instead of asking questions, then delays may happen while you        clear up any confusion

2/ Have you managed expectations? – if they are expecting ‘A’ in 3 weeks and you give them ‘B’ in 5 weeks you may lose the business or at least have it            delayed.  Make sure they know and agree what to expect.

3/ Have you agreed the process?  Their process for the purchase may be very different from your sales process. Talk to them, make it match.

To make sure it’s not them:

1/ if there is a delay from them – do you know all the decision makers and influencers so that any delay can be explained and overcome ASAP?

2/ if there is silence from them – have you agreed with the customer the best and most effective ways, and how often you can communicate with the key people in the sale?

3/ if it’s price – are you selling on value, not on price? i.e. stick tight to your quote and offer more value, rather than less price.

-  Six common issues that can at least delay, and sometimes lose the business.

-  Six simple strategies that will help to make sure they don’t happen.

-  Smooth the way, win the business.

To find out more and consider other barrier solutions why not come along to the next Salient Seminar: ‘What’s Stopping You?’  Details HERE.

Categories
Business management Feeding the pipeline Sales Management Sales Planning Sales process Sales tips

Is everything going according to plan

There may still be time to add to your sales this year

NOW is the time to put together your plan for next year’s sales

I meet many businesses that, if doing well, make no plans to ‘feed the pipeline’, to seek and win new business on a regular basis.  At some stage, the feast will stop and famine will take over.  At that stage it may be too late to ask these questions;

  • Where will my sales come from?

have you targeted specific markets and customers?
- have you followed up all previous opportunities?

  • How will I make contact?

- and be sure you’re given the chance to quote
 - are you talking to the decision maker?

  • Am I sufficiently skilled in pitching, negotiating and closing?

enough to win the business?
 -  enough to ensure the best deal?

Did you have a sales plan for this year?  If you did make a plan; you have now reached the fourth quarter of the year.  Are you on plan?

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING?

You did make a plan? Good move; not enough businesses do.  Too many rely on the ‘Field of Dreams’ principle of ‘If you build it they will come’.  Unfortunately, business is never as simple as that.  Building a business ready to supply the market is one thing, but;

-        making it attractive to those who may buy from you
-        developing an interest from those who could use your products and services
-        showing how well you can fulfil their need
-        securing the business by gaining their commitment, and
-        delivering and exceeding their expectations

…are all skills that can be learned, developed and embedded into your selling process.

Selling need not be difficult, stressful or something to avoid!  Selling can be ethical, simple, even fun!  Being better at selling means winning more sales.  But, you do need some useful skills and techniques to help ensure this happens.

So Plan – Action - Review.  Review means measuring your progress against plan and making any changes needed to remain on, or exceed your plan.  You cannot measure everything, but knowing where you are against your sales plan will help you to ensure positive progress and achievement.

So, you have a plan for next year?  How about aligning it with you 5 year and 10 year plans?!  Don’t rely on the short term view; turn that wish list into reality by making longer term plans for it to happen.  Make sure you know where you’re going!

Salient Sales & Training  -  taking the pressure out of selling

(If you are not happy with your answers to any of the above questions, why not book on our next seminar?  Details are on the website, under ‘Events’.

Categories
Business management Sales Ethos Sales process Sales tips

Let’s get a bit closer…

Communication and Buy-IN; are your customers and prospects fully engaged or merely notified?

I was training a group of 10 delegates a couple of weeks ago.  They were a great bunch, very professional and clearly dedicated to the company. However, like many, they felt that contacts; customers or prospects; were not fully engaged with them.  Their contacts would not respond promptly; weeks would go by with no response to a question, query or quote.  Apparently, some quotes of considerable value were still outstanding and they had assumed that they had not been successful.  Three things immediately sprang to mind:

FOLLOW-UP, ASSUMPTIONS and COMMUNICATION!

Any question, query or quote goes cold very quickly unless reinforced with a follow-up.  They may be short of a single fact or simple clarification.  ‘For a ha’porth of tar, the ship sank’ as they used to say….apparently.

This team had worked hard to offer what they felt the customer needed, but had stopped short of the follow-up.  Looking keen and following up within a small number of days will only give good impressions and emphasise that yours is the company to engage in business.

This level of attention has three key benefits:

  • It shows you’re keen
  • It keeps you up to date with customer intentions
  • It speeds up the sales process

Without effective follow-up, others will step in to take the business.  The ‘personal touch’ will be lost and engagement will transfer to others who express more interest in working with them.

Rule 1 – follow-up, if you don’t, others will.

In each case assumptions have been made.  It could be you are assuming you have little chance or the e business is not due to be placed yet.  Maybe they have assumed that your lack of follow-up means you are less interested in the business.  There are many other common assumptions and whichever side is making them, they are very dangerous and likely to damage your prospects of winning any business.

Rule 2 – never make assumptions; ASK!  Summarise, clarify and confirm every time.

How you generally communicate can make a huge difference to the progress and success of the business you are chasing.  I asked the team of delegates what forms of communication achieved the highest emotional connection or engagement, the most ‘buy-in’ from the customer.  We produced this list in descending order.  I then asked how they would usually communicate and in what proportion.  The results speak for themselves:

Engagement %                  % usage of communication methods

Face to Face                        90                                          5

Skype                                   50                                          5

Phone call                            30                                           5

Letter                                    10                                           5

Email                                     5                                            90

The company relied almost wholly on email, but admitted this was the least effective when wanting to engage with customers or prospects.  Despite the hard work and best of intentions, they had notified instead of engaged.

Rule 3 – if you claim to be a friendly and personable company to work with, don’t rely heavily on email for your communication.  If in doubt, ask them, see them, call them, write to them; why not use two methods, write then call, or visit then write etc?

If your customers matter; and of course they do; work more closely with them to understand their need, to fulfill their need and to win the business.  I am sure this team will now move forward by following up every contact and proposal as they certainly deserve the greater success it will bring.

Categories
Business management Locating customers Sales Ethos Sales process Sales tips

Is your 1st Impression….2nd best?

It could be YOU!

  •   They might not like the look of you!
  •   Perhaps your opening line closed the conversation
  •   Your enthusiasm has overwhelmed them
  •   Your lack of enthusiasm has disappointed them
  •   Your garlic/coffee/curry breath has caused their spectacles to melt!

All these factors can have a negative result when attempting to sell.  Have you noticed a common theme?  They have little or nothing to do with your product or your sales skills.

In fact, many business opportunities are lost even before any attempt has been made to sell.  This is simply because the seller hasn’t considered their own personal presentation.  Such issues can also play a part in business conducted over the telephone or over the internet.  Here the issue is ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’.  We all know this to be true, but how often do we stop to think how this can apply to us and our business approach?  First impressions are more about how we look, how we act, what we say and what we do.

Emotion has a huge effect on how we regard the people we meet.  The emotion generated can have a positive or negative effect on any business being sought.  Before we have even opened our mouths, the new prospect can have made a subconscious decision not to do business with us!  Are we guilty of self-sabotage without realising it?

It is true; we do business with people we like.  Often, we decide whether we like them or not within just a few seconds of meeting them.  Yes, first impressions are very important.

Next time you want to approach someone whom you think may be a prospective customer, take a moment to consider:

  • Do I look the part?
  • Would a mouth spray help?!
  • Am I prepared to listen before I attempt to sell?
  • Do I have an interesting opening line and elevator pitch?
  • Will my enthusiasm for my business be seen as being keen or aggressive?
  • How can I help them?

……and only then, how can they help me?

Give yourself a chance! Once these questions are answered positively, you stand a good chance of winning their hearts and their business.