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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!

 

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

KICKING THE HABIT – and adopting a better one

KICKING THE HABIT – and adopting a better one

“Old habits die hard”.  Very true that one.

Another, which is one of my favourite quotes, is known as:

Einstein’s definition of insanity: ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’.

This is very true when it comes to training or coaching.  I’ll explain:

When training and coaching, we show the delegate(s) how they can do things more easily and more effectively, helping them to be more productive and successful.  We encourage the delegate(s) to embrace the new ideas and embed them in their daily routine.

They say it takes at least 28 days of daily repetition for the new skills to embed and to fully replace the ‘old habits’.

So, the concern of every good trainer is that, over time, old habits will creep back into regular use.  As expected, success obtained with the new skills starts to decline.  With the year following any training or coaching, the poor delegate is back to square one.  At this point it is not unheard of for the delegate or company involved to suggest that the training was ineffective, or even a waste of money!

Luckily, I have not received such feedback.

This is why the best trainers or coaches offer ‘refreshers’ on a regular basis, perhaps every 3-6 months, to help maintain the focus and to fully embed the new skills and techniques.  As an alternative, I also offer the Salient Mentoring Programme; a monthly re-focus and target management system that keeps people on track, motivated and successful.

Unfortunately, not everyone goes for more than the single, deep plunge they get from dipping into Salient expertise.  They feel that the short-term fix is all they need and for some this has indeed worked.  Some have grasped many of the new ideas and skills and applied them with tenacity.  These companies are seeing a marked difference in their sales results.

Glib though it may be, the saying that holds true in all these cases is simply:

‘If you want things to change, you have to make some changes’.

…and not let old habits undermine those successful changes.

  • Those on a diet do not stop as soon as they reach their ideal weight; they work hard to maintain it.
  • You may spend weeks or months achieving peak fitness. If you stop there it only takes a short time to return to ‘couch potato’ status!
  • The best mentors have their own mentors to help keep them at the top of their game. Sales people not at the top of their game will lose focus, and lose business.

Get to the top of your game and learn how to STAY THERE by refreshing and adding to your skills!

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

STEERING THROUGH CHOPPY SEAS

STEERING THROUGH CHOPPY SEAS

  • There are some people out there who just simply do not get what you are doing in business.
  • There are those out there who will show interest in your products, services, and in you, but they will then drop from the radar and not respond to any of your approaches.
  • There are those those who insist you drop the price or they will go elsewhere.
  • There are those who use you to put pressure on their present supplier and, in reality, have no intention of buying from you.

“If you have been affected in any way by the content of the above four statements…...”

Seriously, there are many reasons that people will NOT place business with you, all of which can be overcome with careful application of recognised skills and techniques.

HOWEVER, political developments have added another issue to this list.  We are to leave the EU.  What comes next?  No-one really knows, and because no-one knows, many businesses will cut back on their spending, buying only the ‘necessities’.  If you do not sell their ‘necessities’, you are less likely, even unlikely to sell to them.

PROSPECTING AND SECURING NEW OPPORTUNITIES ARE LIKELY TO BECOME MORE DIFFICULT during the coming months.

More difficult, but not impossible.  Certainly, we will need to work smarter and have plans which are carefully constructed, timed and focused.  We will need contingency plans now more than ever, as we plough on into the political unknown.

To make sales; to make MORE sales in a difficult market requires new strategies, extra skills and techniques, contingencies, but most of all, it needs careful planning.

I have planned for this!  I have a coaching programme called ‘2020 Vision for Business’ (what else?!)  In this, we will work on sales and marketing plans, strategies and contingencies, taking sales to the next level and ‘scaling-up’ your business; to be the best while others may flounder.

Whether or not you book on the programme, you will need plans and contingencies for growing your business next year.  Don’t leave your success to chance.

Plan and prepare now, to grow your business, despite political and market forces.

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

How to overcome Brexit Blues and how the Salient ‘Plan B’ showed the way forward.

It has to be said, I am sorry, but it does have to be said.

Brexit has made a difference and will make further differences to business.

Things are changing and there are more changes to come.

But, I am not one of the doom-mongers as I believe it offers us interesting and useful opportunities.  I say ‘offers’ as it is up to us whether we take those opportunities or sit back and just hope.

Whatever happens there will be change, and we need to be prepared as best we can.  But prepared for what?  I believe there are four indisputable facts:

  • Brexit will happen!
  • Markets will change
  • There will be greater focus on domestic markets
  • We will find ourselves competing with more UK companies as larger providers seek to replace off-shore business.

This is what happened to Salient in the last 18 months:

  • Five larger prospects, (£1M turnover+), were reasonably secure in my sales pipeline.
  • As the Brexit vote loomed, happened, and shocked the markets, these five companies retreated, not wishing to ‘spend money when the market was so unpredictable.’
  • My cash-flow forecast dropped considerably!
  • I initiated my contingency, my Plan B, and targeted the smaller businesses that tend to ‘get on with it’ no matter what the market is doing.
  • I had to replace one large opportunity with ten smaller ones.
  • It was successful, and I have now progressed to Plan C where I develop the new smaller company market, while attracting new larger opportunities.

But what of the larger companies?  What will they do in this Brexit uncertainty?

I believe they will do very much as I did and look to smaller domestic markets to fill the gap in their turnover.

In other words, those who rely on domestic markets for the majority of their turnover will start to find more competition from larger suppliers.

There is another side to this.  Those seeking your products or services are less likely to look off-shore for suppliers as these are likely to become more costly.  Therefore, they will actively seek domestic suppliers. It could be you, if you are ready!  Another point is that if they previously sourced from larger companies, they are likely to spend more than your present customers.

To summarise, this could mean for your business:

  • New domestic markets are likely to open up
  • Competition will increase for home-grown opportunities.
  • The new opportunities have different expectations and spending levels

Are you ready?

Is your sales team and/or your sales process the best it can be?

Your sales effort needs to be at its best; sharp; focussed; forward-thinking.

Don’t miss the boat. 

If you fail to address this, others will get there first and will win the lion’s share of the new opportunities.

If you are successful in this, your business growth could be double what you would anticipate for 2018.

If you would like to discuss your experiences of this, please be in touch; call or email Andy

Categories
Business management Ethical Selling Feeding the pipeline Sales Ethos Sales Management Sales Planning Technical Sales

Slow summer sales and the best way of filling a ‘Lull’

What does summer mean to your business?

What does THIS summer mean to your business?

Are you expecting a rush of new business to come to you?  Perhaps other businesses want to invest in you before the markets change, which will happen inevitably.

Or, are you expecting the normal summer lull to be worse than in previous years as, following ‘Brexit’, your customers are being cautious with their investments?

Perhaps you have the type of business which is not seasonal AND is resilient to change in the markets.

In most cases, businesses are expecting some form of downturn or lull in the coming months.  I believe, with careful handling, the pace of change is likely to be slow enough that the markets will not suffer greatly and businesses will become cautiously optimistic over the coming months.  I think WE MUST be optimistic of a favourable outcome.  If we are not, then we should give up now, and that approach is not for us!

So, the old adage ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ could never be more appropriate.

In every lull there is a need to fill the ‘spare’ time or effort with profitable activities.  What better way to fill the time than by training and coaching yourselves or your team to perform significantly better?  When markets start to improve again, for whatever reason, you can then hit the ground running with new knowledge and skills that will help your business to outperform all others.

Reinforcing skills and discovering new ideas and strategies can only make a positive difference to your sales growth and build your business during difficult times.

July and August are the ideal times to improve your skills and your performance.  There will then be time to apply your new skills and boost your end-of-year figures. 

Is that not worth the investment?

Click HERE for a REAL INCENTIVE to book some training.

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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
Locating customers Sales process Sales tips Technical Sales

HOW MANY SALES PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO SCREW IN A LIGHT BULB?

To me there are three possible answers to this.

(The ‘not quite hilarious’ answer is number 3.)

At the end I will challenge you to find a fourth!

3 possible answers:

1/  When I was part of the ‘corporate world’; field-selling and directing sales for larger companies; the glib answer to this was ‘None’, that’s the Marketer’s job’.  This old chestnut was coined by territorial salesmen who neither understood nor respected the valuable work done by the marketers (or ‘marketeers’ as some like to call themselves).  The reply was at best, mildly amusing, but, to me, it simply emphasized the big divide between the sales and marketing departments.

For whatever size of business, sales and marketing need to work together. Good marketing raises your profile and attracts new customers but does not ‘win’ the business.  Sales skills are needed when the new prospects contact your business.  Good marketing can result in a much faster and easier sale as you avoid having to find and make contact with new prospects.  But remember; the sale will not just happen; you will still need to pitch, negotiate and close, and then manage the new client.

2/  The real answer to ‘how many sales people…?’  If the marketing has been done effectively, then the customer will have realised;

  • the value of a light bulb (it’s gone dark), thus identifying the need, and….
  • a good idea of how the product (the light bulb) is applied (screwed-in).

A helpful sales person may then show the customer how to achieve more light by buying and inserting the new bulb, thus, fulfilling the need.  However, at the end of the day, it is the customer’s responsibility to actually screw-in the bulb.  So, again, the answer is ‘none’!

3/  The answer is 2;  one holds the light bulb still, while the sales manager makes the world revolve around him (as he likes to think it does)….

HERE’S THE CHALLENGE: let me know your suggestions for answers to the question:

HOW MANY SALES PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHT BULB?!!

Answers may be humorous, ironic, or simply thought-provoking.  The best entry will win a half-day of one-to-one sales & marketing coaching, aimed at lighting the way ahead for your business and helping you to grow your sales.  (This can be in person at the Salient office in Royal Wootton Bassett, or by Skype and email.)

The winner will be decided on May 31st 2015.

Categories
Business management Technical Sales

Why ‘TECHNICAL’ Sales Training?

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT ‘TECHNICAL SALES TRAINING’ ?Salient Technical Sales

Good, standard ‘Sales Training’ covers all the bases and offers proven skills and techniques that result in excellent sales conversion in any market.

‘Technical Sales Training’ does all of the above, but also adds in the extra level of skill needed to sell into technical markets, such as:

  • Identifying all decision makers, technical and commercial
  • Building relationships with engineers as well as buyers
  • Understanding and adapting to the different needs of technical and commercial personnel
  • Ensuring all specification and quality needs are addressed as well as price, deliveryand other commercial requirements

General Sales Training can be adapted for individual businesses, but it is Technical Sales Training that covers all the issues that can be experienced when two very diverse mindsets have to be satisfied before a sale can happen.

CASE STUDY (personal experience as a sales novice; from the early part of my sales career!)

A large established customer specialising in car instrumentation needed specialist electronic circuitry to be manufactured in significant quantities.

The Chief Engineer called me in and over 4-5 months our parts were prototyped, quality checked and ‘designed-in’.  The Chief was very pleased and said the order for the first million parts would be with us in a matter of weeks.

Nothing happened and contact attempts were ignored so I made another appointment to see him.  At this meeting I learned that our main rival had won the business!  The Chief was furious as he had not had parts from them and had not met with any of their personnel.  He wanted to give us the business but had been over-ruled by the purchasing department who had approved our competitors using an extensive paperwork exercise(!)

The lessons:  Always involve both technical and commercial personnel in any sales approach, and avoid assumptions, such as who is the decision maker.

I never made that mistake again!

This is a classic example of just one of the issues that can be faced when selling into technical markets.  There are many more as it is rare that technical personnel understand the needs and priorities of the commercial department, and vice versa.

Those skilled in technical sales can overcome all these issues and more.

The courses are ideal for technicians and engineers moving into sales as well as for commercially trained personnel needing to sell into technical markets.

For more information, contact Andy on 01793 843118, or 07941 041364, or email andyentwistle@salientsales.co.uk