Saturday, 28 November 2009

Are Exhibitions worth the time and trouble?

The future of trade shows for 2010 and beyond. Part 1

(In my travels last week I had two requests on this subject. One came from a Sales Director of a leading cables, connectors and accessories manufacturer/supplier who was attending a marketing course I was running, and the other came from a Sales manager whom I visited later in the week whose company manufactures and distributes servo motors, drives and couplings.

Both raised the current concern of whether exhibitions were worthwhile in today’s tough times. So thanks to them for prompting me to write on this topic)

20th Century - Exhibtions
The exhibition centre Olympia in West London was established in 1886 as the ‘National Agricultural Hall’. Olympia has had to adapt through many recessions and booms in business cycles over the last 123 years of its operation. The Olympia complex is now part of Earls Court and Olympia Venues (EC&O) has dual slogans “Creating legends” and “Where it all comes together” both convey what exhibitions can do for us;firtsly to promote and secondly meet at a one stop shop for the market all under the same roof.

In the current recession, some firms who traditionally exhibit, may be looking to cut what they might consider non essential expenditure
With the economy as it is, they are seeking to rein in costs and might even decide to skip shows next year. Yet Suppliers are coming under increased pressure from customers to show them business efficiencies and higher returns on investment. In the Marketing Communication mix Exhibitions, trade Shows and the like still have a contribution to make.

(Olympia, West London November 2009)

Visiting and/or showing at a trade show gives companies a great opportunity to increase sales and sales activity through meeting and learning from the key decision makers and influencers in their industry. At an exhibition you can see, understand and possibly experience or observe a series of demonstrations of the latest products and services in the market place all in one spot. The networking opportunities within one venue have obvious advantages also.

Buyers and Sellers are questioning the value of exhibitions
In potentially difficult trading conditions, with the same number of companies chasing diminishing budgets, sellers have to work harder than ever to win what business there is out there.
One of the ways to give you an advantage could be exhibiting at a trade show.
Trade shows provide sellers and buyers with the opportunity to fulfil a number of sales and marketing objectives at the same time – lead qualification, market research, product launches and building, your brand for example.
You can also see your whole marketplace in the space of relatively short time. The biggest strength of exhibiting at a trade show is being able to engage in conversation with your target audience.

• The future of High Profile shows
It is fair to say that the high profile exhibitions for certain sectors that include huge expensive stand designs are becoming a thing of the past . Many exhibitors and visitors are interested in more specialist shows and niche communities.

• Evolving in the future?
Trade shows are naturally evolving into more niches, specialist exhibitions with ‘focus’ .

We will also see the growth of pre-show professional networking events as visitors look to maximise their time on site, instead of simply turning up and visiting stands.
Increasingly, exhibitions will be as much about meeting peers and industry leaders as visiting exhibition stands.

(Advertisement Board 2009 Outside Olympia)
Exhibition organisers are building more detailed education and training programmes featuring key speakers from all areas of the industry.
Today’s exhibition organisers pick out topical business areas that they think will affect their visitors the most over the next year and assemble high profile line up of expert speakers, business leaders and entrepreneurs to provide valuable advice and help for delegates looking to build a stronger business through difficult times.

The next five years?
It’s difficult to look beyond this year as we all wait to see how 2010 unravels. Although cost slashing, acquisitions and restructuring will inevitably have their part to play
2010 may be the year when more traditional exhibitors finally bid farewell to conventional business models and concentrate their efforts on the sophisticated provision of solutions, with value-added benefits.
Exhibitors will need to further demonstrate return on investment and business efficiency will be key for all in the business next year.
Even if your company might skip showing at an exhibition it still might be worth visiting as part of your ongoing networking activity and reconnaissance of your competition.

Here are some websites addresses to European Venues whose Calendars you may care to consider for your prospecting Diary and keeping you up to date in what is new in your industry.

Birmingham : NEC :
London Earls Court & Olympia :
London Docklands ExCel Centre :
Hannover, Germany:
Essen, Germany:
Glasgow : Scottish Exhibition Conference Centre

In a future post further advantages and disadvantages to Buyers and Sellers of Exhibitions will be considered.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Ghost Forest at Trafalgar Square

Great exhibition by artist Angela Palmer in Trafalgar Square 16th November 2009

More about the campaign

Monday, 2 November 2009

Is PR under the hammer of the tweeters?

Entrepreneurial thought and action daily challenges the Sales and Marketing Status Quo.

For example Product Life Cycles shorten and shorten through the effects of the ‘creative destruction’ * of technological progress and the entrepreneurial marketing and selling of such development.

This applies to both tangible product and intangible service markets it seems. Evolutionary economics abounds. Every one has to fight for their share of the food but the pecking order can be changed by the entrepreneur. Take a look at this entrepreneurial heron who has newly arrived to upset the incumbent gang of peacocks who have held stage at this garden at Holland Park, London for years.

• Cassette tapes were replaced by 8 track which were replaced by Compact Disc which are being replaced by MP3.....
• Conventional Film e.g. Kodak replaced by Polaroid which was replaced in turn by digital photography.....
• Newspapers replaced by on line media
• Traditional MBA and University Alumni and old school tie associations, replaced by social networking such as Linked In and Viadeo

*The term creative destruction is often attributed to the economist Schumpeter:-

Schumpeter’s Gale: “The opening of new markets and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as US Steel illustrate the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one and incessantly creating a new one ‘ (The process).... must be seen in its role in the perennial gale of creative destruction; it cannot be understood on the hypothesis that there is a perennial lull.” Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883 – 1950), - The process of creative destruction (1942)

What is next Sales and Marketing issue to come under the iconoclast’s sledge hammer?

Ray Snoddy in his excellent column in Marketing Week magazine suggests that the old PR adage ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ may being smashed by the fusiliers of tweeting. We have after all witnessed the awesomely speedy campaigns mounted over the Stephen Gately /Jan Moir debacle resulting in amongst other things – withdrawal of banner adverts by Marks and Spencer and Nestlé on the Daily Mail web site.

What likely business effects will Twitter have on your market?

Your comments please

Do we really need Business Gurus? Do we need Gurus in Selling?

Selling is much about learning from your clients yet entrepreneur Henry Ford pointed out that if he had listened to his customers he would have built a better horse and buggy.

London to Brighton Veteran Car rally November 2009.

In the Schumpeter column in the Economist 24th October 2009 issue there was an articulate swipe at Gurus under the title “The three habits of highly irritating management gurus. “

In their rifle sights were the authors and perhaps rather easy targets of Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People/ families etc.....) , Tom Peters ( In search of excellence (1982)) and author Jim Collins.

The three habits lampooned by Schumpeter were
1. Presenting stale ideas as breathtaking breakthroughs ( Common sense made complicated)
2. Citing model firms ( as best practice)
3. Flogging of management tools off the back (systems. Processes and “rules” etc) (The bracketed comments are my distillation of lengthier expositions in the article).

The Schumpeter column concluded:- “If management could indeed be reduced to a few simple principles, then we would have no need for management thinkers. But the very fact it defies easy solutions leaving mangers in a perpetual angst means there will always be demands for books like Mr Covey’s.”

Such lampooning could also be directed to the myriad of Sales Books on the bookshelves but I know will be back to the bookshops to buy them and read them and even the magazine racks to pick up my Economist.

“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How useful do you find Business Gurus?

Friday, 30 October 2009

Thriving in this recession an A-Z (Part 1)

Do you go “A and B the C of D” and integrate your prospecting with digital marketing ?

A while ago in a phrasebook on “modern youth speak” produced by the leading supermarket chain TESCO for its staff understand the younger generation was included “A and B the C of D” which means above and beyond the call of duty

(TESCO store at Warwick Road West London London)

Successful Professional Salespeople are those who serve their clients and employers above and beyond the call of duty.

This is never truer than when digging out new business. Seeking out those ‘suspects’ progressing them into ‘Prospects’ converting them into ‘Active Clients’ a sales process sometimes referred to as The Planned Business Development Cycle. (Not forgetting that once you have an active client to nurture them by protecting and expanding that business.)

Maybe it is some while since you had to do some genuine prospecting. Perhaps such activity has in all honesty been on the back burner of late. It is all very well for those who quote the old adage “repair the roof while the sun shines” (often said by training consultants I confess) however that is little comfort or practical help to those hit by recession in their markets who haven’t been keeping up to date their pipeline of prospects.

Today I am starting a set of Blog Posts on specific skills for selling in tough times such as this recession. I am writing it as an A-Z of selling in a recession responding to a series of requests from course delegates.

Our A and B the C of D has to be going ‘that extra mile’ of prospecting.


A ssess your current prospecting process
1. Evaluate your current prospecting efforts.
Like a local weather forecaster you need to measure your environment - dry bulb, wet bulb, Relative humidity, rainfall, barometric pressure there are similarly activities and information we need to measure in the Sales environment.
(Local weather Station in West London)
2. How do you currently prospect? Is it systematic or ad hoc ? What do you currently have in the pipeline? What companies are most likely to buy your products or services and why?
3. If you don’t measure it you can’t manage it. It is good practice to quantify and record your results of website hits, direct mail, telemarketing campaigns, face-to-face calls, referrals and networking. You may care to do this by a best bets list or a ‘probables’ versus ‘possibles’ of projects list .

Developing a ‘ Suspects list’ will help you progress them to that Planned business development goal of an active client. Your CRM system can help you greatly with this but if you do not have access to such a system you can use Microsoft’s Outlook programme that has lots of flagging and Priority reminders to help on the to do and 'Task' areas.

It may be worthwhile though by deciding whether your primary sales challenge is managing Projects or Clients/Customers. (It can of course be both). Nonetheless remember there is some truth in the saying that ‘you want to chase the business not the customer.’

For Projects record Name of Project, what stage the project is at, who is involved, some roadmap or set of milestones for the project and have a next action column to prompt you to advance the project

For Clients you may wish to record Company name, Address ( + Web Address), Type of Business, Turnover, No of employees, Products/services of yours they could, would or have in the past used, who your competition is, who the prospect/client's competition is, Contact Names, titles, phone number, mobile number, email address and best time to contact.

In these recessionary times headcount reductions have meant many contacts are multi-tasking and may only be doing their ‘buying role’ on certain days or at certain times. Also there has been an increase in part time work or people who may only be in the office for say three days a week. It is important to find out this information, record it so that you work best with them.
(Rainfall Measuremt - Rain Guage at Pembroke Square Weather Station, London)
Customer Records and data base management ensure that you record date of calls, who you contacted, note what happened and most importantly note what the aim of the next call is.
It may also be helpful to make a note of what business was lost, to whom and why when the circumstances are such

4. Decide which of the methods you want to pursue and improve. It is of course lots of work but we are working here - above and beyond the call of duty.

5. Be sure to put your prospecting objectives in writing because “when all is said and done, more is said than done!” Committing your objectives to a list on your pc or to paper will help you focus

6. Remember to review, evaluate and improve your prospecting pipeline.


Bulk-rate metered post pulls through as well as first class mail. In the UK at the present we are suffering a National Postal Strike. So you may wish to try other postal suppliers. TESCO cuurently mail out to their Clubcard members mailings by DHL Global Mail.I guess there might deals out there whilst this dispute continues. Once the Royal Mail has sorted itself out the current dispute they will need to claw back lost revenue so keep your eyes posted.

(Notice of Current Industrial Action ( Strike) at the Royal Mail)
• Why not save money without sacrificing results? Many find that second class post renders pretty much the same results as first class.
• Use a mailing house, unless you have a special in-house mailing department. There is a strong argument for using specialists or outsourcing as we call it nowadays.
• If you try to do bulk mail in-house, chances are, you will not mail again soon. It is a lot of work and soaks up resources which could be working more profitably for your business in other activities.
(Red Post Box (Victorian) Is snail mail a Sunset Selling medium ?)


Customer analysis helps create your road map for the future
• Use primary and secondary research data to identify prospects with similar profiles to your current clients is useful.
• Market segmentation is not only useful to marketers but also Sales people.
• Do not overlook this critical step even if you sell to "everyone." .


Direct marketing yields results
• Advertising revenues are down in conventional media but there has been quite a transfer to digital marketing.
• There are specialist software systems who can measure return on investment of direct marketing by linking the direct mail piece to a special landing site on your web. Google Analytics can help with the Macro picture on hits on your web sites.

I recently attended a seminar in central London hosted by the specialist Trovus. They hold regular seminars called "Trovus Tuesdays". These are occasions where there is an opportunity for both users and providers of the Trovus Revelations system can discuss and decide how best to grow and develop the product.

There was a most interesting and provocative presentation given by user Richard Brenkley of Coast Digital on the power of on line digital marketing, and web design

Richard said he was not a bit surprised about the rise of digital marketing over conventional media because clients increasingly want to have measurable return on investment in their direct marketing activities.

If your resources don’t stretch to digital marketing put a reference number on direct marketing piece it will help you track effectiveness.

• Some argue that there is no known limit to the number of times you should contact your target market. I am not so sure but I accept that one seldom alienate customers with over attentiveness, I guess it is the way one keeps in touch as much as the number of times one keeps in touch.

• Continue to reach your prospects by mail (snail or email ) or phone until your pound return vs. pound invested no longer shows a profit. However you won’t be able to do this if you don’t measure and record your activity.
(Autumn leaves in West London)
Professional salespeople realise that seeing the market as just a series of body blows and windfalls means you have lost control and are merely reacting . - Surviving the recession rather than thriving in the recession.- Windfalls are pretty but they are not around for long. It is best to be more systematic and integrating with digital marketing is the future.

Next post E , F, G and H. Thanks for reading this blog Keep following the blog for more skills on successful selling skills for this recession

Monday, 26 October 2009

“7 years old and you want to be a salesperson?!”

The news today (26th October 2009) tells us of plans drawn up by the Government’s Schools Secretary Ed Balls. Primary schools will be offering career-related learning, as well as opportunities to experience university life and the world of work, to children aged 7-11. “So how soon did you get into selling?” At most sales training courses either within the formal sessions, or at the breaks or meal times, the question of how we all got into selling arises at some point. It is a fascinating opportunity to hear people’s story. A few of the entrepreneurial types seem to have known early in their life (maybe as early as seven years old) that they wanted to be in business but the stories of most delegates portray a less planned career path and even completely accidental introductions into professional selling. Here’s part of my story but what I would really like to read about are your stories so please post a comment and share how you got into sales. I did not ‘discover’ the world of selling until I was well into my twenties. During the third year of my degree course in Chemistry (described suitably in my case by the academic world as a “Thick” sandwich course) I spent nine months in the care of Beecham Products Ltd., the food and beverage wing of Beecham’s now GSK. My ‘work placement’ was as a laboratory assistant in the central quality control laboratory at Brentford, West London. After six months I had earned my spurs and my enlightened managers asked me what else I would like to experience in the business before I had to return to college. So I asked about what happened in other departments. The result was they sent me for a week at a time to a distribution centre, a marketing department, to work at the laboratory at the factory that made Lucozade, out with the lorries delivering to stores and then I had a ‘mind altering week’ out in Dagenham east London with a sales representative. At that time Beecham had the franchise for Coca Cola and brands like Ribena, Morton’s Tinned goods, Lucozade Quosh, Horlicks Schloer etc. The sales representative I travelled with had to sell a target of 16 cases of product each call to a store. In those days retail salespeople had to do a stock take, stack the shelves in store, and merchandise. After this you had try to secure a suggested order and sell any special promotions. These were recessionary times with the particular challenge that the local dominant employer for the area was Ford, and their Dagenham plant was on strike! It was to say the least a tough sell. Yet I learnt from watching this salesman so much about persistence, how to try and maintain a positive mental attitude, observing lessons in humility, of coping with rejection but also and most importantly, having fantastic fun at work. Like many people I met at Beecham, he allowed me to get some exposure of his work world and seemed genuinely interested in me and what I wanted to do. At the end of the week he asked that question “So what do you want to do career-wise from what you have seen in all the different parts of the company?” I answered “Personnel (HR) work probably.” At which point the guy challenged me “Why?” he asked. I replied “because I like to work with people”. At this point he went into a rant about ‘****ing Personnel Departments’ much of which I was sure was exaggerated and certainly biologically improbable. However when he came to a conclusion of his fulmination he summarised (ever the professional salesman) as follows:- “In Personnel you see people when they join, when they have a grievance and when they leave. If you really find people so interesting just think what you’ve experienced this last week with me “ Then with the detailed recall of a Formula 1 racing car driver describing every bend and chicane of every lap of a Grand prix he went through each call of the week we had just done without referring to notes. This was a feat since call we had visited a lot of stores. He described the enormous variety of people we had met; some kind, some generous, some funny and yes some downright foul people. He concluded “If you like people you should give selling a go. Each day is different and the pay is good if you work hard.” He was right. Had I not met him I would probably never have considered sales as a career. “So how did you get into selling?”

Monday, 19 October 2009

Audio Conferencing Tips for Sellers and Buyers some advantages and 4 don'ts

Audio Conferencing Tips for Sellers and Buyers

- some Dos and 4 Don’ts

Conference calls have the power to reduce the cost and frequency of travel, and permit buyer and seller to make best use of their time.
If you're interested in using audio conferencing for your sales call, here are a few tips to help you succeed

Be certain that your call participants know
a) when the call is going to happen,
b) where to dial in.

Prepare an agenda of what your meeting objectives are. These should be distributed via e-mail before the meeting. Don’t forget to send out all important conference call information in advance, such as the dial-in number PIN numbers and passwords.
Start on time and lead the introductions with a roll call, which should include each conference call participant's name, job title, and location. This makes sure that everyone is present before you begin.
Remind participants in your conference call to identify themselves before speaking.
(Because there is no visual contact on the phone and it can be hard to identify the speaker by voice alone announcing who is speaking avoids this confusion.)

4 Things to avoid during the conference call

  1. Don't interrupt -- Since there aren’t any visual cues during an audio conference call, participants should wait until the last speaker is finished before speaking. The host may need to redirect the focus of the call if the conference call's conversation goes ‘walkabout’.

  2. Avoid distracting activities -- Conference call participants need to be aware that a speakerphone picks up typing on the keyboard, paper shuffling, pencil tapping, and chair squeaks.

  3. Don't put the call on hold -- If a conference call is placed on hold, "hold" music will begin and distract the entire meeting, or another person can pick up the held call, which will further interrupt the meeting and jostle everyone's focus. Winding up your conference call
    Let no one linger
    When the call is ready to end, the host needs to clearly state that the meeting has concluded and thank all for their participation.
  4. Don't forget to write up your meeting minutes / follow up notes and distribute them promptly.

Monday, 12 October 2009

7 steps approach to appointments on the phone

I find this works well in my own work. Give it a try.

1. Refine your objective(s): Likely as not you want to get to meet the person, but if you can’t get that you could obtain information or elicit referrals.

2. Prepare: remind yourself of the questions and benefits you will use according to how the situation develops, and how you will answer the most likely put-off’s or objections. Go over the information you already have about the person/organisation; ensure you have your diary and other materials to hand.

3. Be polite and respectful but sound confident: use your prospect’s name immediately and ensure you get it right.
Give your first name and surname; never sound apologetic for interrupting but thank your prospect for speaking to you if he/she has done so at an inconvenient time.

4. Obtain their attention quickly: use a question, a referral, a previous request to “contact me again”, a factual statement or some other ‘attention getter’ as soon as possible; and don’t waste time.

5. Make the benefits of a meeting clear: motivate your prospect to want to meet you by giving a persuasive reason for doing so; but remember that at this stage you are selling the interview and not your product/service.

6. Answer objections and avoid any rebuttal politely but firmly: always appreciate your client’s point of view; never argue; emphasise that the meeting can be brief; explain why a personal meeting is necessary in your client’s interests; don’t be led into making your actual presentation by phone (unless this is appropriate).

7. Close on your objective: ask for the appointment directly, with or without one of the back-up closing techniques (e.g. offer alternative times/dates); be as flexible as necessary in terms of when/where; resort to a secondary objective only if you completely fail in your primary one.

Any tips , refinements or advice you would add to this approach ?

Related Links

3 key levels of Sales Research

5 ways of gaining a client’s attention

 3 Parts to your Differentiated Value Propositions)

5 of the most common objections and how to handle them

 7 effective closes)