Monday, 4 November 2013

Why Salespeople Cannot Say "Nothing is happening"

There are very few jobs or roles in life were there is not at least a notional aspiration of getting everything finished. The dream that your To-Do list is blank and your inbox is empty. While a hugely unlikely scenario, you get my point - there is always that dream of clearing everything and showing that you have really excelled.

Salespeople can never enjoy such a goal. In fact if a salesperson says they have done everything they can, then they would very quickly come under the Management spotlight! Questions would be asked as to whether this person was really applying themselves. I can hear the words now "Don't they understand they have to be making things happen, always generating activities and opportunities?"

It is this situation that significantly contributes to salespeople's' overly optimistic forecasts. They feel the need to show opportunities and numbers that prove they are working - that they are indeed making things happen.

Of course salespeople need to do their targets and this will rarely be achieved without significant hard work. But there has to be a balance - Management need to be able to recognise that sometimes things do go quiet, that opportunities do wither on the vine.

Accurate forecasting or the impression that salespeople are always ahead of the game? It is actually a Management challenge to find that balance.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Start of 'Startup Without Funding'

We have learnt a lot in the last few years when it comes to attempting to launch online businesses.

After much consideration, we have decided that we have probably gain enough insight to be able to offer some value to anyone thinking about trying to start an online project, without having any investment.

To learn more about Startup Without Funding (SWF) please go to

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Next year's forecast - be prepared to get it done with a smile!

Here you are with less than four months of the year left to get your sales targets done and guess what? Your boss wants you to say what you are going to sell next year.

It is that time when forecasts have to be submitted for the New Year. Ridiculous you think! And while perhaps an understandable reaction, don't let it get to you. The truth is that for your organisation to function, plan and pay next years salaries, they have to have visibility to what is going to be sold. Or at least as close an estimation as is possible.

When sales staff used to complain to me about having to provide their forecast for the next 12 months, I would offer a genuine alternative. "I will do your forecast for you". Any sales person worth their salt quickly realised that was not a great idea - at least not for them! Do you really not want to have any input into what is expected of you down the line?

We know that nine times out of ten, as a sales person you are going to be given a target next year that is a stretch for you - that is simply the world of selling. But do you really want someone else to set the starting point for you, or would you rather do it. Assuming that you have been in post for a while, there should be no one better than you to be able to tell what your customers are likely to do next year.

So while it may make you wince, respond positively when the boss asks you for your input into next year's forecast. At the very least it should ensure you have visibility as early as possible to what is expected of you - and you may even get a better hearing from Management with regard to the challenges you face.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Make appointments while the sun shines!

Just a quick thought as I really do not want to miss one moment of this lovely weather if I can avoid it.

Try making sales appointments in the summer and particularly when the sun is shining (not that likely event in the UK). The logic behind this is twofold;

- People are happier and more receptive when the sun is shining.

- Many of your targets will be thinking about their holidays, so agreeing to get a date in the diary after they have been away, seems a much more palatable option than agreeing to see you next week! For them sometime after the holiday is a long way off, but you know it will come round quick enough.

Good luck with the sales appointments and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Confucius provides amazing sales insight!

When thinking of Confucius, I always imagine a philosopher and a teacher - but a sales person, well probably not. That is until I came across his following insight;

"Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand"

It is brilliant from a sales perspective and goes to the heart of the importance of not just listening, but also having a deep and meaningful conversation with your prospect about what it is that they are looking to achieve.

Involving yourself in the prospect's needs and really understanding them, will in turn draw the prospect into a deeper recognition of what you may be able to do to help them.

"Involve me and I will understand" becomes even more pertinent when thinking about any sort of sales demonstration. Get the prospect involved in the demo. If it is not practical for them to get 'hands on' at least make sure the demo is tailored as far as possible to their specific needs- so that they feel involved.

We recently bought a new car. Now I can remember in the past how car sales seemed to be all about talking at the prospect and often trying to get a decent test drive was like "pulling teeth". It seemed as if you almost had to prove you deserved a test drive. When we walked into the showroom, we were asked about the type of car we were looking for and then given a set of keys and told to go off by ourselves for a drive. "Aren't you coming with us I asked the salesman?" - "No sir, we let our product do all the talking that is necessary".

From that moment we were "involved", quickly "understood" and yes, we bought the car!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Don't fall into the trap of trying to sell via email

Making initial contact with a new prospect via email is absolutely fine. But please do not expect a reply (well at least not 99% of the time).

I see so many salespeople firing off lots of emails and sitting there waiting for a response. As if they do not accept that the person they have emailed gets at least as many emails as them, if not more. And like the vast majority of us, the prospect/target ignores, or certainly does not respond to, the vast majority of unsolicited contacts.

Please at the end of any email, tell the person you are approaching that you intend to follow up with a call and then do it. We have talked in the past about the challenges of cold calling / prospecting and how most of us find it difficult. At least sending an email first means that your target (hopefully if they remember) have some understanding of why you are calling and your initial introduction is that much easier, as your are able to reference the email you sent.

I know this sounds obvious, but I bet there are 100,000s of email sent out to prospects each week that never get followed up and therefore just disappear into thin air!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Talk to someone who really does not have the most basic understanding of what you do!

Sometimes we can over-think what we do, making the whole exercise of Sales into a hugely complex set of interlocking strategies that we consider very few other people are able to understand or appreciate.

Of course I am not suggesting that selling is easy - it most definitely is not. But just maybe we could make it a bit simpler for ourselves by reevaluating what it is that we do and how we go about it.

My suggestion is that you find a friend or relative who really does not have any idea what you do, but is willing to listen and give you feedback. Most likely you will get two benefits from such an exercise;

1) You will be forced to describe, in the simplest terms, what you have to do on a day-to-day basis and what are your challenges. Just doing this can make you reconsider the importance and focus you apply to different elements of your activity.

2) The person who is doing the listening will probably ask you some pretty naive questions, but guess what - "from the mouths of babies". You may end up being forced to rethink what you do, or at least provide a justification, that in turn will give you the reassurance that you are doing the right thing.

And for a bit of fun - ask your kids (ideally aged 3 - 10) what they think you do for a living? More often than not the answers will help you put many things into perspective.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Does Working FromThe Office (Rather Than Home) Improve Your Sales Performance?

While any sales person worth their salt is always going to want to spend as much time as possible in front of clients and prospects, I have often wondered when we are not doing that, where is the most effective place to work.

The answer is perhaps slightly different for each of us. For me it is a lot about the type of mood I am in. Sometimes I just want to get my head down and concentrate and luckily for me with a grown up family, I can do that at home. Often though I need someone to spark off, to have a chat about what is happening in mine and their world and just be in people's company.

I think the real trick begins with being totally honest with yourself. Which means if for a particular type of work or situation, while it might be easier not to get up early, get in the car and drive to the office, maybe you should make yourself. If you know your are a lot more effective, focused and productive when you are in the office, don't limit yourself by staying at home!

In Sales "effectiveness, focus and productivity" are directly related to performance and at the most basic level will increase the chances of you doing your numbers. BUT never chose or use the excuse of needing to go to the office instead of face-to-face selling time.

Very interesting article on the general subject of working from home published by the BBC 27th Feb 2013. It was inspired by the news that Yahoo intend to stop all home working - worth a read, link below.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Don't just ask about the organisation, ask about the person!

So often when we meet a new prospect we spend a huge amount of time trying to learn as much as we can about the business, but often ask very little, if anything, about the individual in front of us.

Such an approach is to forget one of the most important aspects of any form of selling - that "people buy from people". You are never going to get a better time to start learning about the person you hope to sell to than at your first meeting. Not quite so easy to ask someone when you are meeting them for the third of four time as to how they came to be doing what they are doing or where they live, or what university they went to, ext.

One of the best ways to get someone to start talking about themselves, is for you to tell them something personal about you. Drop into the conversation what you have been doing over the weekend or a story about your family. Even if they don't open-up at this stage , they are learning (starting to get closer) about you.