There are many reasons for starting in business and these are often very personal to the founder.
It's for this reason I decided to put into words the journey that led me to undertake the rocky road to setting up my own business.
There are many reasons for starting in business and these are often very personal to the founder.
It's for this reason I decided to put into words the journey that led me to undertake the rocky road to setting up my own business.
I don’t know about you but with less than 2 weeks until the next lot of the lockdown measures are lifted and we take a step towards pre pandemic normality it seems that businesses are ramping up efforts and the wheels of industry are certainly turning at a more accelerated pace.
Sales conversations are flowing and business confidence is on the ascendancy which has been reflected in the upgrading of UKs growth forecast over the past few weeks.
An effective sign of business confidence is when opportunities surface, the team moves around and people get promoted and we are certainly seeing signs of that!
This is a great thing, right? Absolutely! However it does come with a caveat, just how well thought out are these moves? How much consideration is given to enable a successful transition? And how well supported is the recently promoted team member? No one can question the good intent behind the move and equally it is up to the incumbent to prove themselves and make a success of their new position. That said, there are also potential “unforeseen” traps that can lie ahead that would neither be the fault of the incumbent nor their employer.
This happens a lot in my world whether that’s sales professionals becoming sales leaders or engineers and technical personnel moving into sales positions. In this post I’ll be covering the latter scenario.
In industry it’s very common for technical personnel to be moved into sales positions and rightly so owing to their deep understanding of the product or service they sell and the value they bring. Yet this can equally pose a problem and cause friction in the sales process.
By nature they are typically detail oriented. However if they are engaging with buyers who are not then their tendency to go deep could potentially be baffling to the buyer and scare them off thus shutting down the conversation there and then.
What is happening in this scenario is that the technical sales person is far too immersed in their world and their solution to consider what is going on in their prospects world and how their offer could solve their prospects problems. This requires a shift in thinking to avoid a potentially combative conversation which could result in a dead end and silence. What you’re looking to do is get the prospect to open up and lean into your solution, receptive to your ideas.
Getting back to basics, selling is about changing the buyer's state - what you are asking them to do is change their status quo, move out of their comfort zone and step into your solution. You’re looking to create a transformation and that is an incredibly uncomfortable experience for anyone - so with that in mind it’s about creating the right environment for the sales conversation to take place.
So what can be done? Create the right environment for the conversation to take place. Think about the buyer's journey and put the systems in place to support them through it. Develop customer centric processes to enhance their experience of working with you. After all, the sales process will define how they perceive working with you after the contract has been signed.
Some simple steps to do this are:
1. Learn what their challenges are then define what they are to verify you have understood
2. To do this requires active listening to appreciate what's going on in their world
3. Share readily based on what you have learned. Provide them with information that is relevant, timely and thoughtful. Anything that will bring value to the relationship and will support them in considering their buying options
4. Deliver value. You will know what this is having taken the time to listen and learn as noted in the previous points
5. Earn trust. You must earn the right to develop the relationship and make the sale
6. Create a feedback loop where you're constantly looking to improve your offer based on how the conversation goes
So let’s put this in context of the technical sales person. Although their in-depth knowledge and technical expertise is indeed an asset - and the reason they have been selected to represent your organisation - they don’t need to put it all out there at the earliest opportunity and potentially overwhelm the audience. Discuss the pertinent issues as they arise and mention anything that is relevant to the conversation at the time it becomes relevant. You may well need to delve into your knowledge bank at some stage and when this happens, ensure it makes the right impact rather than risk blowing their mind apart.
Showing a little restraint could pay dividends and remember, less is more!
I would love to know your thoughts on the topic so feel free to comment however if you want to understand more about the revenue generation ability of your business then click here to take the FREE scorecard.
We all get them and for many of us starting in business we have to make them which can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience.
What I’m talking about is picking up the phone and making a sales call.
With this in mind it’s understandable that we try to make the task pleasant for ourselves by attempting to befriend the person on the other end. It’s here you get the typical pleasantries and small talk that is delivered under the guise of building rapport but it actually serves to deviate from what we’re trying to achieve which is to engage with the prospect and identify if there’s an opportunity to make a sale.
It’s at this point I want to share that inane small talk is a pet peeve of mine. From my perspective as a recipient of these types of calls it’s incredibly annoying getting asked, “how are you?” from a stranger who is obviously trying to sell me something - it simply comes across as insincere. I know I’m not alone in my frustrations given the conversations I’ve had recently where this topic has come up.
So what does it look like?
It’s throwaway questions or statements that do not add value to the conversation. It typically manifests itself as; “how are you?” (as if that will elicit a genuine response). Any mentions of the weather or anything else equally innocuous - I’m sure you get the point and have examples of your own.
And why do we do it?
My reasoning is twofold:
1. Like I’ve mentioned previously, many of us feel uncomfortable picking up the phone for the purpose of making the sale so in order to get through the ordeal we try to be as affable as possible. We look to get the call recipient on side so that we can seemingly raise the matter of what we sell and hope that the person we are speaking with is charmed into submission.
Naturally many of us experience anxiety when it comes to rejection which is why we often deviate from the task. This is perfectly natural yet it is counterproductive as chances are you are likely to irritate the person you are speaking with who will be in a rush to get you off the phone. This could result in the prospect giving you into a false sense of security by agreeing to your request for them to ghost you from that point onwards or they could even hang up on you.
2. Because we’ve subscribed to the outdated notion of rapport building.
This stems from all those sales training sessions we’ve attended where emphasis has been placed on building rapport by deploying ice breaker questions. These are typically meaningless comments that bring nothing to the relationship. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t attempt to build rapport but do it in a meaningful way. Put it this way, the quality of your conversation openers could signal the quality of your product or service in the mind of your prospect. From experience I am far more receptive to an assured sales person than I am with someone trying to be my mate.
So what’s a better way?
That’s simple - just be frank, open and honest - which is always a good way to start a relationship. Remember that this is an unsolicited call, your prospect is busy and you are interrupting their daily flow so acknowledge it. Thank them for taking the call, state you will be brief in your introduction then be brief.
If you have positioned your offer well and done some rudimentary research on your prospect and their business then they may well be open to continuing the conversation. That said, they may not and in which case you withdraw from the conversation politely and move on to the next call whereby this person may be more receptive to your offer.
In essence business development is a matter of delivering the right message to the right person at the right time however this all starts with initiating the sales conversation.
If you take the time to be thoughtful in terms of your approach rather than regurgitating meaningless phrases you might get further with your prospect but if not then at least you won’t be wasting your time on conversations that don’t go anywhere!
I would love to know your thoughts on the topic or if you have any pet peeves when it comes to sales.
Thanks for reading!
In spite of the challenging economic environment we are going through there are many businesses that have actually experienced strong(er) growth during these uncertain times.
With certain routes to markets being closed off, albeit temporarily as a result of lockdown restrictions, many businesses have had to rethink their strategy to enable them to reach their customers more effectively.
Great products that serve the customer well will always perform strongly and we can see that from scrolling our linkedin feeds. However great products backed up with great insights, a well thought out marketing plan and a comprehensive sales process that puts the customer at the centre of what the business does will really drive revenue performance to another level.
So what contributes to rapid growth?
One concept that really makes an impact on the desirability of your product and therefore your sales volume is jobs to be done theory yet for some reason it’s not often covered in the usual sales and marketing guides. Although some of the themes run through the resources you come across, as a practice it somehow does not get the recognition and prominence it deserves.
So what is “jobs to be done theory”? Jobs to be done (frequently referred to as jobs theory) is a theory of consumer action - it’s built around the theory that people buy products and services to get jobs done. It helps you solve the right problem for your consumers by describing the mechanisms that cause a consumer to adopt an innovation. As people complete these jobs, they have certain measurable outcomes that they’re attempting to achieve.
That is generally the essence but what you’re effectively doing is aligning the company's value creation activities (your offer) to customer-defined metrics (their intention to buy and physical purchase). As a rule revenue generation follows value creation, so it’s your job to find out how your target market values your product. What emotional triggers does your product create? What does purchasing your product mean to them?
Too many times product businesses fail because they don’t focus on the right problem and building the right product. Jobs to be done theory helps you prioritise your product features by focusing on the job that people are hiring your product to do. The theory states that markets grow, evolve, and renew whenever customers have a Job to be Done, and then buy a product to complete it (get the Job Done).
So what does this mean for your business and how can you apply the concept to grow your business?
Only by getting answers to the question, “what job is your product being hired to do?” can you develop your messaging in a way that creates an emotional uplift with your customer and gets them to take the desired action.
To explain this in a more succinct way I have attached a link to a 7 minute video to demonstrate how McDonalds adopted the theory which unearthed a surprising discovery and as a result they were able to apply the findings with great effect.
In business we’re constantly being challenged to do more with less as economic constraints take effect across numerous commercial sectors. So with that in mind business leaders need to figure out how their business processes can be optimised to get the best out of the resources available to them.
To enable this to happen it’s never been more important to find ways to improve our productivity within our respective industries. Whether the business is a start up or turning over billions - it’s essential to eliminate any activities that don’t contribute to the attainment of our business goals.
One area frequently overlooked in terms of productivity is within the sales function yet that is where typically a lot of time and energy is wasted. The impact of this can be incredibly significant given the department is chiefly accountable for generating revenue for the business.
These issues become apparent when observing businesses going to market with their products. There are a lot of conversations to get through to make a sale so with that being the case the salesperson doesn't want to spend the majority of their time in admin mode - drafting emails, writing up notes, digging out relevant information and so on.
The stats speak for themselves…
Salespeople spend just one-third of their day actually talking to prospects so where does the rest of the time go?
4. Analysis Paralysis
Conversely the proliferation of the technology available has resulted in analysis paralysis meaning that many other business leaders have resorted to doing nothing, taking no action and are simply standing still.
Ever since I first attended my local brownies group all those years ago the mantra “Be Prepared” has always stuck with me and carried me throughout my life so far.
Is it a referral lead, inbound lead, target account lead, closed / lost lead? This is important to know as it will determine your approach.
What industry are they in? How many years have they been in business? How many employees do they have? Are they social media savvy? Do they use video?
What do they offer? What’s their messaging? What clues are there as to whether they would be a good fit for your offer?
Where do they communicate most? Who are their customers? What does their audience look like? Check out their feeds for news, recruitment etc.
It’s difficult to know what to believe these days.
As we enter the first day of lockdown 3 it is beyond belief that there are many out there who still think covid-19 is a conspiracy.
Added to that there are those who believe that by accepting a vaccine we are putting ourselves in danger.
As someone eager to get back to some resemblance of normality I’m chomping at the bit to get vaccinated as in my view this is our way out of the pandemic so I really can’t fathom where those other opinions have come from. However this year instead of getting embroiled in a social media stand off I have resolved to understand the situation from another perspective.
So with that in mind the purpose of this post is not to thwart any argument that contradicts my own but rather examine the idea of where beliefs derive.
I’m sure I’m not alone in rolling my eyes when hearing the term fake news. Somewhat jaded by its overuse as over the last few years it's something we hear with frequent abandon in modern day parlance exacerbated by the omnipresence of social media. That said, the abundance of fake news is a genuine problem, impacting every facet of our lives and therefore something we need to pay real attention to.
Having recently geeked out on the excellent Ian Hislop’s Fake News: A True History and British History’s Biggest Fibs series with Lucy Worsley we know that this is by no means a new phenomena yet I was astonished to observe that historical inaccuracies are still shaping our modern day thinking.
The manifestation of these events are still being experienced in our lives to this very day and it’s specifically pertinent given the UK is embarking on it’s journey outside the EU this week.
Again I’m not here to pass judgement on anyone as to how they voted in the referendum. The purpose of this post is to challenge ourselves to question our world view as the polarisation of opinion over the past few years, whether on the topic of brexit or the pandemic, is a reflection of how we see the world which is shaped by the information we digest.
Simply put, our beliefs shape our thoughts which leads to our actions or inactions and therefore our ability to move forward.
The thing that surprised me most when watching Ian Hislop’s programme is that in many instances the misinformation we are fed mostly on our social media channels is not meant to make us believe a certain way but rather make us cynical about everything we read. Effectively encouraging us to not believe in much at all and reject anything we come across, in other words become cynical.
A cynical world is a very dangerous place to be as we get blindsided with distractions and take our eyes off the ball to opportunists, so the main takeaway I got was to be skeptical instead.
You can do this by asking yourself the following questions when consuming information online:
As we navigate our way through the most challenging times many of us will experience in our lives we have never been in more need of help to make good decisions. Misleading information and interpretations will hinder our ability to do this and move forward both personally and professionally.
It would be great to get your thoughts on the topic and share how you undertake your due diligence on processing information.
Musing over this topic I entered the rabbit hole of the internet and came across the following article discussing the differences between cynics & skeptics and the impact it can have on your business especially if you are looking to grow your team.
New year and a new set of goals come into play as we forge our way forward intending for this year to be better than the last.
I'm not saying it doesn’t work but the chances are slim and may require intensive nurturing to get them to a stage where they are ready to engage with you and that is without even starting a debate on GDPR implications.
How much time do you spend on sales prospecting in your business?
Business owners does this sound familiar?
Thanks for reading.
Perhaps you're a new company and don't have a customer base. Maybe you have a service you're sure that people will love... if only they heard about you. Whatever the reason, buying an email list seems like an easy, low cost way to grow your business but there are some serious consequences to purchasing one. Even better, try using an opt in list as there are real benefits to using one!
1. Purchased lists harm your delivery to inboxes
Using a purchased list means you're not adhering to the ISP and email client guidelines. Furthermore, purchased lists often generate really high bounces, get flagged as spam by recipients and have low read rates.
All this means that you'll soon be noticed by ISP filters and instead of reaching potential customers, you'll be hanging out in the readers' spam folder.
But wait, there's more!
There are organizations called blacklists like Spamhaus as well as other filtering organisations like Cloudmark and Brightmail. Email clients like Yahoo and Gmail and Hotmail rely on them to help block spam. These blacklists leave spam traps or honeypots for shady list sellers to collect. Then, if one of those email addresses ends up in your purchased list, you're in big trouble! It's like having bad credit - it can take a long time and a lot of hard work to rebuild trust with blacklists and until you do, you'll have poor delivery results even if you've stopped using the purchased email list.
2. Reputable email marketing services won’t let you use purchased lists
Reputable email newsletter apps don't allow purchased email lists. This means that in order to send to those lists you bought, you'll need to use a “disreputable” service which is likely already on ISP and blacklist block lists.
You're known by the company you keep and sharing IP's with senders known for unsolicited mailings will get you bad results and a bad reputation.
3. Low response rates because your recipients don't know you
When a company you've never heard of sends you a marketing email you probably flag them as spam or simply delete the email. Sending to a purchased email list won't engender trust nor will it won't create a relationship with the potential customer.
When you buy an email list you're not taking steps to create positive engagement with customers. Instead, you're hoping that the few results you may get will somehow outweigh the overall negative responses that unsolicited emails usually receive.
Low response rates are down to the email addresses being poor quality. Many people use throwaway email addresses when pressured into giving their info. This is especially true for the methods that list sellers use to collect email addresses.When you buy an email list, you're really buying a large amount of defunct and unused email addresses.
4. List fatigue is also a concern. If you're buying a list from a trade show, keep in mind that the other vendors at the trade show, and even businesses elsewhere who bought the list, are also emailing these recipients. By the time you reach the recipients’ inboxes, those readers are going to be exhausted by the barrage of unsolicited commercial email they've been receiving.
Don't give up! Growing a healthy email list takes time but the rewards are worth it!
I hope you this has given you some food for thought and by all means feel free to share yours.
You’re gearing up to make the phone call and you go through the scenario in your head.
Fundamental to success in any business is the ability to make sales so with this in mind just how is your business geared towards making sales?
Fear not, thinking about this very question does not mean you have to break out into sweat.
It will come as no surprise how many people have justifiably negative feelings towards sales people and this often translates to the feelings of dread from business owners when it comes to undertaking sales activity, but it doesn't have to be this way.
Having spent my entire 20+ year career in numerous sales roles it’s crazy to consider just how far we have come in terms of what it takes to become successful. We all have many stories of when selling has gone badly for us, but how about when it has gone well? As a consumer I'm always impressed by a seamless sales process whereby I've felt good about a purchase I've made and more often than not the whole sales interaction has always started way sooner than I've expected. It's with this in mind I wanted to explore the act of selling a little further and consider how the process can be made to feel more engaging, connected and above all human to ensure the best results for everyone involved. All for the purpose of reducing the feelings of anxiety that is commonly felt around the topic.
And it's never been so critical to better serve your clients. If you run the clock back several months you couldn't have ever anticipated that we'd be enduring the ground swell that is the covid-19 pandemic meaning that our priorities have shifted since the year began. Simply surviving the commercial impact and keeping our heads above water means we are doing something well. It has never been more important to reach out and make the buying experience more human and that is why I jumped at the chance to participate in Hubspot's “Lions” Pipeline Generation Programme.
Core to the programme is how we reach out and connect with those businesses we can help. As mentioned previously our priorities have changed and the ability to get our prospects attention is becoming increasingly challenging so during the programme we were challenged to do exactly that and consider how we can cut through the noise.
3. Leveraging advances in technology. We know that the evolution of technology has served to increase barriers between human interaction but this does not have to be the case.
Thanks to the opportunity to participate in the programme I now have a full kit of cool tools that will increase my levels of insight and improve productivity going forward. What’s more, I can share them with my clients and business networks to support their growth.
It’s not only that I believe that by signing up to the programme I have put myself in a great position to succeed in my business ventures going forward (which of course is my main priority). It’s also the knowledge that I am supporting my business ecosystem which is some way I can make a contribution during these challenging times therfore supporting my mission to improve the prosperity of my wider community.
After all if we create a society where everyone benefits then surely we all win! Who does not want that?
So what steps have you put in place to enhance the sales experience? How is this helping you to get better results?
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.
We’re in business for the long haul right? If that’s the case then why are so many sales people still employing sleazy sales tactics that prizes closing the deal over serving the customer well? It’s as if they’re competing objectives which of course they’re not, if anything these objectives should be aligned to create the longevity of success we desire. After all you’ve heard the phrase once bitten, twice shy? If you are looking to continue working with those customers then why would you start the relationship on the wrong foot?
This is a close relative of the alternative close, “do you want it in green or red?” Because you’ve assumed the sale you’ve fast tracked the process of building a relationship and truly understanding the customers’ situation which could result in missing out on other opportunities with them or indeed their network. Just imagine this in a dating scenario, you’d run for the hills!
Although a non-exhaustive list (I’m sure there are many more tactics you could add which would make for interesting conversation) I want to conclude on a positive note and reassure you that there are some excellent sales practitioners out there. Simply what puts them heads and shoulders above their peers in terms of both closing business and retaining it is that they take the time to understand those that stand the best chance of benefiting from their solution.
Selling effectively is very much a skill that can be learned but it begins with the customer so taking the time to develop the relationship and become a trusted advisor will pay you dividends which vastly outweigh the impact any outdated shady tactics will provide.
I would love to hear your stories, experiences and insights on the topic so feel free to share your comments below.
It’s fair to say the game has changed beyond any recognition since February where the biggest challenge to the UK economy was coming out of the EU and many of us were coming to terms with the damaging impacts of Storm Dennis.
With a mix of good old fashioned British stoicism and denial, who could have ever imagined a health crisis taking place on the other side of the world would ever hit our shores and confine us to our homes?
And confined to our homes a great many of us were so how were we going to navigate our way through the lockdown in what has so frequently been defined as the “new normal”?
Three months on and we now know the answer to that with a great many heroes stepping up to the challenge whether employed within the public sector or business, of course we mustn’t forget members of the local community who rose to the challenge the pandemic thrust upon us. Indeed we should also acknowledge the fiscal support many (not all) have benefitted from so that now as we come out of lockdown our attention is turning to the state of the nation going forward.
Manufacturing is often cited as an indicator of the health of a nation economically meaning much has been made of their response to the covid-19 challenge and as always there will be those who have fared better than others.
Referencing the Make UK & BDO Manufacturing Outlook 2020 Q2 Report the key findings are:
Just a thought....a feel free to leave yours in the comments section below.
Whatever industry you’re in there are some very common threads as to why some businesses have not got into their stride and developed any momentum in their growth journey and this is indeed a huge source of frustration which can lead to some questioning the wisdom on their venture.
With the continual lifting of lockdown restrictions many businesses are initiating a return to work for those who were unable carry out their responsibilities at home meaning they are having to pick up from where they left off when they do eventually make it back.
Whether there were any elements of business continuity in terms of setting up remote working or not one thing is clear, there is no getting away from the stark reality that this situation has hit many of us hard and will continue to do so for some time to come.
As reported in the Guardian, “A survey by the manufacturers’ lobby group, Make UK, found that 25% of companies are already drawing up plans to cut jobs in the next six months. A further 45% say they are considering redundancies. Only 30% said they expect to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with all their staff on the payroll.”
It will come as no surprise that the industries hit hardest are hospitality, retail and leisure but the impacts felt will not stop there. Although there are a great many factors we cannot control there are some we can influence to limit the extent of the damage endured.
Below I’ve listed the predominant mistakes being made by many manufacturing businesses. Not all will apply but by addressing them we can take action to turn our businesses around.
Put this in a B2B context, the problems are amplified with there typically being a narrower customer base (depending on industry). Make no mistake, businesses talk and contacts move around so if someone feels unfairly treated then it is unlikely you will ever do business with them again.
I hope this gives you some food for thought and a level of optimism to keep you going through the challenging times ahead.
Thank you for reading.
It’s fair to say that this year has been like no other experienced in the lifetime of the vast majority of us (barring some centenarians of course) and it is clear to see that the impact of the pandemic has completely blind sided everyone to differing degrees. After all, who could have seen this coming?
We have been told by our elected administration that we have passed through the worst of the pandemic and are now on the other side of the proverbial mountain but must still tread carefully as, to continue the analogy, the descent can be more dangerous than the climb.
So it is surely to be expected that we would now be receiving guidance from the government as to how we will navigate our way out of the situation and at the weekend we were given the framework of a plan as to how this would unfold but suffice to say there has been a lot of criticism to the government's response about lack of clarity.
It’s not my aim to scrutinise those plans here but rather try and draw some conclusions as to how this will impact my business community going forward.
As a deviation from the themes I would normally cover I want to explore the roadmap from an innovation point of view inspired not only by the constant advice we are seeing on social media as to how we pivot our businesses to turnaround the economic impact of Covid-19 but also following an excellent Enterprise Nation webinar I attended earlier today covering the topic of innovation based on the needs of your customers.
As with most good practical advice for seasoned business professionals nothing really should come as a surprise and no ideas will be completely new or revolutionary here as the real value of sharing comes from serving as reminders and to vindicate your actions or decision making going forward.
So let’s start with the situation that’s right in front of us. From this week construction companies and manufacturers have been told that they can return to their commercial activities however to quote James Durie from Business West, the Bristol Chambers of Commerce, what about those businesses that have experienced a complete drop in demand? Many businesses have lost their customer base so what do they do?
It’s very easy to promote the idea of innovation but just how easy is it to implement?
So getting back to the webinar, what is clear is that we need to find ways to meet the needs of your customers which given how things have shifted could mean how do we find new customers and fast.
To address this challenge, I will outline three possible options which can reassuringly run alongside each other or alternatively can be your central focus depending on your situation and the resources you have available. Please note that this is on the assumption that your current customers have pressed the pause button.
1. Repositioning or reframing the application of your current offer
Are you able to fulfil the evolving requirements of your existing customer base? Are you able to fulfil the current requirements of a new customer base? Are there any conversations you can revisit to position your offer as the best viable option given your potential buyer's evolving situation?Are you able to fast track conversations with those prospects in new markets?
This is the best possible case scenario as to your current situation and something that can be acted upon instantly to yield quicker results in the short term with the right strategies in place.
2. Complete product innovation
This is your opportunity to revolutionise your offer and get your new ideas to market. Do you dare trade off your current customers that are potentially on hold or look for new ones to serve with vastly different requirements?
Clearly this is a high risk, high reward strategy. It could be the most radical thing you do to completely turn around your fortunes however it is an extremely time consuming tact to implement. It would also require a completely new levels of research to develop true insights to provide any information of value. So just how ready and able are you to follow in the footsteps of notable industrialists and business disruptors namechecked in daily parlance?
And finally the halfway house option which sits between the previous two.
3. Adaptation of an idea
This is not as powerful as option 2, as it’s considerably easier and quicker to implement with less associated risks.
Simply take time to pause and reflect on what is happening in the market. Can you adapt ideas from other industries and apply them to your market? Can you collaborate with other businesses to develop a more complete solution to address a wider problem?
Look at the bigger picture as to what is happening within your business community and develop an ecosystem to solve it. Most seasoned business professionals will already have the infrastructure in place to enable so it’s just a case of leveraging it to reach your lightbulb moment.
Ok, I accept the answer is not as easy to achieve as the previous options suggest as there may well be pitfalls in terms of the execution. That said unless the first move is made then the most inevitable scenario is to remain stuck and put it this way that is a challenge in itself as momentum is with us, after all, we are in the process of climbing down the mountain.
I would love to know your thoughts on the topic so feel free to share your comments below and if you would like to chat about your business in the context of the current situation then click on this link to initiate a conversation.
Thanks for reading.
A mantra you will hear time and again in business is that without sales there is no business and that's so true. However it's understandable for business owners and entrepeneurs to get exacerbated by this stating if only it was that simple. Well, it’s certainly not my purpose to over complicate matters and blindside professionals into working with me, that said it's not as straightforward as some suggest either as due consideration needs to be made to ensure your approach is fit for purpose.
Yes there are simple tools and techniques that can yield quick wins and inspire the salesperson into replicating them with the intent of repeating this success thus generating more sales, however to leave it there could quite easily lead you to a false dawn in the longer term as you may well not understand what you are getting right and why that is. Like many in business will agree, you learn more through making mistakes and “validated learning” rather than hitting the right mark in the first instance. Take this for example, ever tried a new sport or leisure activity to discover that you get a great result initially and then on further attempts your ability wanes and you struggle to understand what made you successful in the first place? That can pretty much apply to sales and indeed sales is about confidence but you must develop the right mindset to build that confidence, note that there are some great books out there which can delve deeper into this topic for you. I also want to add that during this blog I will be referencing some great sales resources which I will flag up to you to enable you to read further should you wish.
At this point I am going to make a confession, I've not always been the best sales person in my previous roles and unlike some of my sales peers in other published material I will declare that I have on occasion struggled in some sales environments. You know those ones you see parodied in the media, “hit those phones” “have you made your 100 dials for the day?” “smile while you dial.” It’s no wonder why many hard-selling companies have high staff churn and us sales professionals get a bad name.
Suffice to say, having been inspired by Frank Bettger’s awesomely titled, “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling” I wanted to share that it’s really ok to admit that this might not be your strength - yet, but with the determination to succeed and a willingness to learn it may well become the greatest tool you possess in your entrepeneurial arsenal. Like those who do come to master their art, it takes discipline and commitment to get you there.
So let's cut to the chase, what I will outline going forward is how to get resellers on board. Addressing questions like, how can you get your product on the shelves of those companies supplying your market? What you need to consider and how do you get buy in from those who decide what they put in front of your target customer?
To answer those questions, I will share tips and insights gained from my career in sales going way back from when I was selling automotive lubricants (or engine oil in laymen terms) to automotive dealerships (the people servicing your cars) whilst at Shell UK to a more recent campaign of selling pollution masks into distributors from around the world.
Hubspot’s Inbound Sales Methodology
C = The CHALLENGE your prospect is trying to overcomeG = The GOAL your prospect is trying to achieve
P = The prospect’s PLAN for overcoming their challenge
T = The prospect’s TIMELINE for achieving their goal
C = The negative CONSEQUENCE of failure
I = The positive IMPLICATIONS of success
B = The prospect’s BUDGET
A = The AUTHORITY required to move forward with your solution
So what do you think? Feel free to leave your comments below.
So we are into week seven of the lockdown and it looks like some of the restrictions we’ve become accustomed to may be lifted in the coming days which surely is welcome news to many businesses whilst at the same time presenting logistical and operational challenges.
The businesses I have seen that are faring better are the ones that are taking stock with view to finding a path through this. I cannot recall the number of times I have heard business owners concerned about engaging with prospects and clients alike through fear of coming across as opportunistic but this thinking could be doing yourself and your market a massive disservice.
The real opportunity here is to recalibrate and find a better way to engage with your audience, you never know you could come out the other end with a better offer that really addresses what your market wants and is fit for purpose going forward. So take the opportunity to:
Never has it been a better time to set up in business.
With the combination of low cost technology platforms, the numerous communication channels giving you direct access to your market and increasing deployment of remote teams whether direct or indirect means that any business that addresses the needs of the market and delivers it well stands every chance of success.
Well okay, I acknowledge that in reality it’s not that simple. Choosing the best systems that scale can be daunting, the ever increasing number of communication channels available make the task of deciding where to focus your time overwhelming and selecting who will help you achieve your mission...well, it can really question whether all these considerations are worth it.
Business is not for the faint hearted but for those who want to venture out and at least start realising a dream then note, it is a path well trodden and can be extremely rewarding.
Having spoken with many business owners and entrepeneurs it’s surprising how much oversight has been made in terms of their infrastructure going forward. Here I have outlined 4 considerations to make note of in terms of working with an outsourced sales agency.
Good outsourced sales businesses really want to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you but they need your help so:
1. Know Your Business (and Your Market)
This may seem dumb but it’s surpring how many businesses are unable to articulate this. It’s not about what you sell, it’s about the problem you solve. So to adopt a well used mantra, you are not selling the drill but rather the hole. This effectively comes under jobs theory, think about the job your solution is being employed to do.
If this is challenging to do then ask around, send a survey to your customers to find out how they get the best from what you do for them.
As regards your market, it can’t be everyone. Look at your data to understand who gets the best from what you supply. And if you don’t have data then create a hypothesis and test. Effectively there will be trial and error but until you get started and test it out you will never be any the wiser.
2. Decide on Your Goals
Unless you have thought about what you want to achieve then how will you know if a campaign has been successful? Again, when working with a client I have often asked what they are looking to achieve and have been met with “some sales.” This is not going to get you anywhere.
It is best to be as clear as possible here to stand a chance of achieving your goal whether that is number of appointments made, demos completed, attendees on a training course or simply revenue created.
Also be clear on the qualification requirements to ensure the numbers reflect a good fit between what you sell and what they need to not only stand a better chance of conversion but retention too! And if you miss the mark then you are more likely to get genuine insights when conducting the campaign post mortem.
The main objection external sales teams get from prospects is whether they will get a decent ROI. Well, by giving due consideration to the above points you should be halfway there.
3. When Engaging with an External Agency...
...whether you have searched them on Google, Linkedin, a freelance site or asked for a referral my top tip is to observe how they interact with you as a prospective client. Do they look after you and offer you reassurance in a way that you want to translate to your prospects?
How prepared have they come to the conversation? Are they asking you questions that are enabling them to learn enough about your business that fulfils the brief whether that’s at the lead generation / prospecting end of the conversation to closing the deal?
Are they presenting themselves in a way that you can see yourself or your team working with them? To be successful this must be an effective working relationship.
Are they setting expectations in line with the brief? Are there SLAs in place?
If all looks good here then at least you’re starting out on the front foot.
4. Ensure You Follow up
You have invested a lot of time and money in the process so don’t fall down here. Ensure there is a system and process in place to continue from what your outsourced service provider has achieved. Whether that is to keep the appointment made, call as promised or ensuring they are properly taken care of once they have made their purchase as that is really when they do become valuable and should be valued in turn.
So how have you got on with these musings? I am conscious I’ve skirted over a few details but only intended to give you enough food for thought while keeping it relatively light.
I would love you to share your thoughts on this or let me know if you have other similar topics you would like me to cover. Equally if you want to find out more or arrange a call to see whether I can offer help to your business then click on the following link. https://www.integrowsalesbristol.co.uk/contact-bri...
Thank you for reading.