Saturday, 25 September 2010

The critical role of non-sales

Selling is too important to be left to salespeople. The customer's engagement doesn't stop with the order placed with a salesperson. Indeed it could be argued that the Customer's expeience has only just begun with the supplier. The business development engine must be kept running.
(Large engine at the Science Museum , South Kensington , London.)

Most customer encounters must be developed for more sales and long-term account relationship.

Like stages of compression and expansion of the piston of an engine momentum must be maintained. In petrol engines the ‘Otto cycle’ has four stokes (1).intake, (2 ) compression, combustion (power), and (4) exhaust strokes of the cycle and similarly momentum must not be lost for the business dvelopemnt cycle.

A prospective customer’s perception of trust and credibility similarly fluctuates throughout the Customer Relationship Cycle. Such a cycle typically begins with the customer’s “intaking” (1) of the sales person’s initial approach . During this phase, the customer maybe initially unconvinced of both the salesperson and the product or service being sold.

The salesperson then establishes trust by understanding the customer’s needs (2) combustion and demonstrating the value of the proposed solution (3 ) expansion. The highest communications cost to your company. The customer then chooses your company and the deal is closed. Your customer acquisition costs decrease .This is the highest point of customer interest! The customer is excited and expectant.

Typically, the salesperson moves on to the next opportunity leaving the relationship in the hands of service and support. Customer acquisition costs stabilize, but at this very point, the customer can feel abandoned, the relationship plummets and the customer relationship is broken. It is equivalent to the (4) exhaust stroke petering out and the engine stalling. There are many roles in businesses which do not describe themselves as a sales function yet do have a soft selling responsibility because the role entails such activities as providing customer service and support, managing client relationships , marketing to customers or maybe Installing and servicing systems.

Yet what would it mean to your company if all non-sales front-line employees in these roles could find new business for your organisation ?

1. Your company could generate more repeat business and deeper customer loyalty.
2. Your company could increase its sales force without adding to the field sales headcount 3. A previously considered cost centre becomes a profit centre and adds value to the business.

On-going business development from these key non-sales front-line staff is critical for protecting and expanding customer relationships. Your customers will feel at less risk when they trust not only the salesperson but also your entire organization as a trained back up non - sales team team is perceived. The development of Brand loyalty and the perception of long-term value begins sooner and account revenue will be maximized.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Will Digital Marketing extract its own digit? Ad Tech 2010 Olympia

It’s hard work learning from the Digital Marketing Industry for those of us on the outside even if you attend Ad tech 2010 exhibition at Olympia.

Listening to digital marketers maunder on is akin to driving on the M1 late at night during the winter with the radio on to prevent one dropping off. You grimly want to get to your destination ( the end of their spiel) but you have 4 hours to travel. You are tired and it is as if your thumb is in your bum and your brain is in neutral!

GMOOT syndrome victims like me ( Get me out of those lectures) were encouraged to ask questions, challenge big business and to get our head round the latest marketing innovations of DM.

We were advised by Christopher Asselin, Conference and Marketing Director and Anthony Hall Event Manager to ask stupid questions and persevere. Chance to get a word in edge ways would have been a fine thing!

The free lectures so much the part of the shows of this kind were rather reminiscent of school assemblies of years ago where the teacher talked at the audience. They seemed chained to some of the PowerPoint slides. The experience was like dragging a feather through treacle.

There were many excellent messengers ( and masseurs) even if their personal presentations and media of their messages were dull dull dull from what purports to be the showcase by Marketing experts.

Holding a hand held microphone like an erstwhile Bingo Caller, head buried and reading off PC screen PowerPoint slides with little eye contact to the audience is let’s face it a turn off.

Unless of course your kicks are the freak acts on the X factor, Britain’s Got Talent or rubber necking car accident victims.

A crowded show of two days packed with subject matter specialists, from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres attracted a good number of fellow visitors.
We had purveyors of all sorts of services drawn from On line gaming, online retail, mobile marketing Customer engagement, Lead traffic generation, Sales Generation and mongers of more exotic and sensual services such as massage services and even a London Docklands Children’s charity Richard House.

Small Plasma Screens of diameter barely suitable for a small domestic lounge let alone a professional business show for an audience of 50 were pretty feeble. I guess only the front three rows could read the words on the slides. I observed a lot of wandering heads and some slumped postures dropping off to sleep although pretending they were tweeting!

I also found the roped in pens rather reminiscent of an indoor agricultural show.- a touch creepy. I doubt the exhibitors would have passed an audit for cruelty to animals.
Many of the exhibition stands looked cheap, tired and samey. This was surprising uncreative for a profession which claims cutting edge creativity set to take over the offline world of reality and present a new world of change.
This show is in its sixth year so these are hardly early days in the life cycle of the industry which still sees its primary selling style to be that of a missionary. Perhaps they nonetheless think are educating the ignorant souls of the unwashed like me.
The show was crowded but I am not sure it was that genuinely busy in the sense of doing business. It is seemed to be more like some adolescent end of year fashion show with Diploma students gossiping among themselves occasionally deigning to present their wares in a cock sure manner to those of us patient enough to be served by them.
There were lots of monologues going on but precious little listening.
Not all was lost
Refreshingly upstairs in the Gallery all was not lost. Google had a series of Google Ads Factory tour lectures which were more professionally presented with more readable screens and more intelligent engagement.
Well I will be waiting for the follow up calls from the exhibitors.

I wonder how many will pick up the phone and how many will hide behind the virtual world sending me an email and think they are selling?

Digital Marketing making an exhibition of itself at Ad Tech London show 2010 22nd September

“Gas Rings – Sentry Guards – Bored Pimps – the out to Lunch mob”

I suspect the UK’s most recent VIP visitor; Benedict XIV might discern that humility and sacrificial service are not virtues valued by the Digital Marketing community currently.
One expects the Pope might well include in his adversarial world of ‘aggressive secularism’ the buccaneer community of Digital Marketing.

Digital Marketing, if the Ad Tech 2010 show is anything like a representative showcase is now in it sixth year, is a brash environment of necktie-less young men and some tawdry young ladies employed as ‘eye candy’ to pull in the punters.
The exhibitors appear to see it as their mission to proclaim the answers to their own questions which if you are lucky are congruent with what a visitor may be seeking to understand.

‘Telling is selling’ appears to be many of the Ad Tech 2010 London exhibition exhibitors’ mantra.
Most representing their companies on the stands seem to view professional selling as a role below them.
Indeed the pre exhibition Marketing Cow Quiz quiz for the ad Tech show stereotypes visitors into knights, dunces, gurus and wannabees and the like.
A dunce the Ad Tech Show quiz defines (and I quote) as someone low on their career ladder who is destined to ‘end up in sales’.
Well as derogatory as that view is of selling, it did all too accurately describe the majority of people working on the exhibition stands that I encountered on Wednesday of the Ad Tech show at Olympia.
Many stood in enclosed ‘gas rings’ talking amongst themselves ignoring any visitor to their stand, or stood like a guard preventing entrance to their stand with their arms folded in a “They shall not pass” pose or some even sat down eating at the stand or drinking coffee with backs turned and body language exuding the message “ do not disturb -we are at lunch”.

Professional Modern Selling is unknown to them apparently.
When they dared to engage with an enquirer on their stand their primary motive was to scan your bar code on your lanyard visitor label or grab your business card. Listening to or asking visitors intelligent questions was, in the main lacking.
How well focused their subsequent offerings in emails and phone follow up to me will be I know not. I suspect I will receive some poorly prepared approaches and many will quite possibly be a waste of both our times.
Their elevator pitches were drawn from the same slops’ bucket of buzz words which they seem to think sound faintly business like but come over as mere marketing froth to most ears.
They all had their ‘platforms and architectures’ which enabled them to ‘leverage content and client web page real estate’ both ‘visibly and transparently’ by ‘deploying’ a variety of ‘tools’ which could ‘monetise solutions’. (Please pass the sick bag!)

There were one or two recognisably professional organisations and they stood out head and shoulders above the rubbish.

I suspect this remnant worked hard to earn good genuine leads from the show. The majority though, were dreadful.
Some investment in training would not go amiss to next year’s exhibitors and the reputation of the Ad Tech show.
If the digital world has genuinely revolutionised marketing why do they bother to pitch their wares in such an amateur way in a conventional and costly exhibition space such as London Olympia?

Modern selling is surely about ‘heart speaking unto heart’ – digital marketing is still an outpost of grunting Neanderthal barbarians, it seems.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Self Confidence : Book Review

Title of Book: Self Confidence

Subtitle : The remarkable truth of why a small change can make a big difference
Author : Paul McGee
Publisher : Capstone
ISBN 978-1-906-46582-7


Genre: Dip In Reference or cover-to-cover read
Style: Self Motivation and the Attitude of Gratitude (scroll down to short book review)
Contents page: Clear and straightforward
Index: Acceptable 3 full pages of book of 234 pages
Flick through eye appeal: Excellent . Fiona Griffiths (illustrator) catches your eye and help you navigate round to the pearls of wisdom Pull McGee proffers
Time out breather Stops : Plenty they are called pit stops with a TV’s Top Gear “ The Stig like” figure
Golden Nuggets : On every page though some are very uncomfortably honest!
Topic Summary: Personal Stuff to ponder upon and take action And lovely ‘in a nutshell’ summaries
War Stories: Great stories movingly told
Illustration: see ‘Flick through appeal above
Quotes: Home truths are illustrated with a cartoon of a megaphone with caption

Short review:
Salespeople must have confidence in what they sell but the first sell any salesperson makes is in their own head.

When they look into that mirror in the morning is that face somebody they would wish to buy from?

Although not specifically a sales book Paul McGee’s new book could act as a sales manager for those field sales people who work remotely and seldom see a sales manager except for the annual appraisal (all too common these days) but could do with some motivation pep.

“Tough love” is something many readers may find difficult to take but Paul McGee does it in such a genuine and persuasive way.

He will be known to many as the S.U.M.O. man. His sobriquet “Shut Up and Move On” is a key to his philosophy.

If there was a Business Book equivalent of the Booker Prize Paul McGee’s “Self Confidence” would be in the list of finalists for this year.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Title of Book: How to sell -

How to sell
Sub title : Selling anything to anyone
Author: Jo Owen
Publisher Prentice Hall – Pearson 2010
ISBN 978-0-273-73127-4

Good Page Turner ***

Genre: Dip In Reference

Style: Author’s Legacy in selling- well written (scroll down for book review)
Contents page: Clear well laid out
Index: Comprehensive 8 pages for 252 pages
Flick through and eye appeal: Rather bland not a picture book.
“Time out breather” Stops: None really , but checklist questions for best practice suggestions make suitable points to think and reflect.
Golden Nuggets: Good number of nuggets. It has all been said before but needs retelling by this champion practitioner.
Topic Summaries: Chapter ends are adequate but a bit worthy. They would satisfy a school teacher, critic of sermons or I suspect an editor.
War Stories: A lot. I found them engaging but gen X and Y readers might not relate so well to them.
Illustration: Cartoons don’t relate well to text. Font and graphics lay out rather like a school workbook. Flow chart, box diagrams are thin and weedy compared to the print font.
Quotes: Good and relevant

Short Review:
Well written guide by a former P &G graduate who progressed to being a ‘partner jockey’ at the Andersen Consulting ( Accenture) stable. Mr Owen has been in the riding seat of several different organisations. -Plenty of personal stories from his selling experience. Prepared to admit where he has failed in his selling career, tells us what he learnt from the experience and what the reader can learn from his mistakes.
There are some interesting insights into Public Sector / Government selling which many sales books don’t cover. He also shares selling experience at the international level.
Refreshingly returns selling to a craft of rational process and emotional engagement. His acronym model PASSION is well explained . It has “Ronseal” appeal - it does what it says on the tin.
Excellent chapter on bids and tenders which many sales book of its type to their shame omit.
Handy dust jacket leafed covers which act as bookmarks.
Quite expensive paperback at £12.99 even with a Buy One Get one half price offer sticker.

The Jelly Effect - Book review

Title of Book The Jelly Effect

Sub title : How to make you communication stick
Author: Andy Bounds
Publisher : Capstone revised and reprinted 2010 (2007)
ISBN: 978-0-857-08046-2

**** Unputdownable

Genre: Dip In Reference ( scroll down for short book review)
Style: Dip in , return to read.
Contents page: Barely adequate
Index: Sufficient 4 ½ pages for 234 pages
Flick through eye appeal: Top notch
“Time out” breather Stops: Loads
Golden Nuggets: Coffee & Fish but you need to read the book to appreciate this.
Topic Summaries : Clear and ‘simples’ as Aleksander the Meerkat might say.
War Stories: Not too many. More of a coach speaking to you and motivating you than a player living off past victories
Illustration: Great illustrations relevant to the copy
Quotes: Not too many but very well selected

Short reveiw:

I picked this book up at Leeds Railway station returning from a funeral in Skipton , Yorkshire. I was feeling sad naturally enough reflecting on the deceased’s life who happened to have been a salesman I had known for 27 years.

I started to read Andy’s book and was so absorbed that I was halfway through The Jelly Effect by the time the train got into Kings Cross station, London some 2 hours later.

The Jelly Effect is ‘unputdownable’ and breaks the mould of conventional sales books.

Andy Bones opening chapter on Networking is excellent. Worth re-reading several times.

This is a modern book written by someone still doing it rather than laying down his business life’s legacy in print for the profession. His fresh and original take on communication is engaging. My late friend would have liked the book too.

I found Andy’s mnemonics JOLT , RITES playful and helpful. Some readers may not like this approach.

Well worth the £ 8.99

N.B. Don’t be put off by the gimmicky orange cover!