Saturday, 30 October 2010

Kew Gardens, London. - Late Autumn Colours

Kew works around the world to conserve plant diversity and the variety of life on Earth.

2010 is the International Year of Biodeversity

Follow the latst news from Kew


Seagulls visiting Kew

No , it is one photo not clever cropping.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Five ways of Getting Client attention - Are you selling like a one club golfer ?

Former Business secretary Lord Peter Mandelson as an aside while promoting a new documentary about his life, got a sound bite quote into the media this week about the coalition government on its spending review.

He said “They are in danger of becoming one club golfers, concentrating on reduction of the deficit".

Golfing metaphors are often quoted in sales training also.

" You drive for show, you putt for doe"
Gary Player's
" The more I practice the luckier I get"

I am no golfer myself but I doubt there is really such a thing as a "one club golfer". Assuredly though one of the differences between amateur and professional golfers is the better selection and use of the full set of clubs in the bag.

A typical bag may contain 1,3 and 5 woods, 3,4,5,6,,9, plus a pitching wedge and sand wedge for the bunkers/sand traps and a putter.
The maximum number of clubs you can take with you in a competition is 14.
Rather than 'one club golfers', professional Jon Darby at Rickmansworth Golf Club told me that beginners often misuse the irons by hitting the ball about the same distance which ever iron is selected.
They don't exploit the different angles that the different irons offer the player.

Click for Rickmansworth Golf Club.

A great first opening shot off the first tee that goes 'straight down the middle' puts pressure on your competition as in golf.

So here are four methods to help you with your opening sales shot. They can be adapted for avariety of selling situations whether face to face, phone, email discourses or even Linked In comment ‘threads’.

1 Factual opening shot: State an interesting fact which relates to either your client contact personally or their business.; the fact will usually relate to your product/ service either directly or indirectly.

e.g. “ One of the main worries today for people approaching retirement is what inflation will do to their pensions”

2. Question Opening shot : ask a question which is relevant to your client’s business and also the purpose of your call.

e.g. “ What are the main concerns you encounter I making sure your exported components arrive safely and undamaged?”

3. Reference opening Shot: build confidence and interest by referring to the experience and satisfaction of another client.

e.g. “ Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and RBCK Borough now use our services exclusively and I feel sure that you will want to consider with regard to the current spending review whether you too can benefit from our service. Let me tell you about it”

4. Visual aid opening shot: involve as many of your client’s senses as possible by using , sales literature,
or PowerPoint slide, Working demonstration model, Video, Samples etc

e.g. “ you can from this electronic panel, it is designed for a simple , one touch operation, which means that you have less room for operator error.”

5. The Link Opening shot: ( for follow up and repeat calls): link this call back to a previous conversation or encounter with the client by summarising where you left off last time.

e.g. “ When we met at the exhibition at the Ricoh Arena I promised to give some thought to the particular problem you mentioned and now I believe I have the solution.”N.B. Even in professional golf you can run the risk of carrying too many clubs at the start. A few years in the Open championship of 2001, Champion golfer, Ian Woosnam had two penalty points taken off him for carrying a bag with fifteen clubs by mistake.

So as with selling, a good opening shot that gets us on our way to our hard won successes , it is worth checking your bag before the call that you have the suitable number of opening methods in reserve without over filling your sales bag.

 Related Links

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The new i newspaper - i, i , i like you very much !

One of the best pieces of advice I was given by my first sales manager Stan Hall, was to buy and read a daily newspaper.

This daily discipline helped me keep abreast of the news and enabled me to engage with what as a young salesperson I feared most of all ,namely,engaging in small talk with clients as part of building conversational rapport.

Even if one did not have the time to read the whole paper, Stan advised me to read the front and back pages namely the headline news and sports' pages.

That layout of front and back news has been set for years. It still pretty much holds true for the product of the first new newspaper for a long time. The i.

The i claims to be the paper for today.

i is all you need.

Editor-in-chief Simon Kelner sees the new 'paper's role is to guide its readership through a world overloaded with information.

One of innovations they have introduced is an illustrated blocked contents format - a matrix.

This offers an easy and quick way to navigate around the main news stories in order to get what one really needs to know at a glance.

The business matrix is the quickest 'catch' on what are the day's main business stories.

They are written in easy to read blocks of a headline and 50 word blocks.

The launch edition's Business Matrix covered:-

People, Leisure, Banking, Tax, Engineering, Retail, Accountacy and Publishing.

The usual Market indices plus rates for euro/pound, dollar/pound, dollar/ euro and Gold price and Oil price.

When you get back home the matrix scheme recurs throughout the paper in the sports' section as well as a useful TV guide .

The "TV personal selector" organised by genre from ...American Crime to shows

For 20p the i is a good buy.

Engaging Social media ?

Do you have customers who are a fan of your brand on Facebook?

Do such advocates use Twitter to communicate their thoughts about your brand?

In Marketing Week 21/10/10 the results of the TBCH /MAP Customer Engagement study of 1,300 respondents was reviewed.

Customer engagement matters.
TBCH says it drives financial benefits for brands - an increase of 1% in engagement can render increase in profitability of 3%.

Some 66% of respondents in their latest study who marked a brand “favourite” will :

• Give positive word of mouth support to the brand
• Most probably buy more
• Likely to persuade a friend or member of the family to the brand

( although 3 is below average for its 'worry-free' relationship score, it is above average in terms of customers showing their support for the brand)

The consumer marketing world has long been into developing brand advocates but as we heard at the 2010 ISMM Successful Selling event (21st October 2010) last week the B2B world is taking up the development of advocates along with the trusted adviser style of selling.

Only 4% of the respondents use social media to show support for the brand by becoming a fan on Facebook or a follower of Twitter.

As in B2B studies a hefty of consumers would like their brands to listen and act on what customers say.

This number, to surprise of the study’s sponsor, was higher than customer demand for the brand to sell their product at the cheapest price.

Similarly deals and loyalty schemes were not rated as highly as just wanting the basic things done correctly.

Good relationship marketing (aka selling) has always been about

• Understanding the customer
• Listening to them
• Using the insights gained from the above

Customers are less concerned about brands that make them feel:-

"Clever", "Loved", "Stylish", "Up to the minute"," Empowered", "Stylish", "Excited"

The report states that M & S and Waitrose make their customers feel most respected.

Virgin and O2 are best at achieving a worry free relationship

For those in B2B perhaps there are lessons to be learned from these brands to transfer to our own sales offerings.

Of the three things Buyers said we could do better in the current environment in the Buyers views of salespeople Survey 2010

    • 37% said listening
    • Be more time sensitive and respond quicker
    • Better research and Preparation

Click for free summary of the TACK Buyers' Views Research 2010 research.

After all the brouhaha over the Gap new/old logo issue, the pundits are split as to whether it was a stroke of genius in the use of crowd sourcing or a mistake
TBCH survey shows is that despite the rise in use of social media, many suppliers and brands have much to work on to use it well in terms of customer engagement.

What is maybe not so surprising is customers’ engagement and the way they express their needs and wants are not so different whether the relationship with the brand is conducted via virtual channels or conventional communications.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Where will the UK's future demand come from?

The CBI attracted the big political guns to their conference this year. The Prime Minister , the leader of the Opposition spoke at the main show and the Deputy Prime minister at the dinner in the evening in addition to the usual Bankers, Multinational Oil Corporations and Industrial CEOs etc.

Promising to create "a new economic dynamism", David Cameron said: "There are three parts to the coalition government's plan.

"First, using all available policy levers to create the right framework for enterprise and business investment.

"Second, using our resources to get behind those industries where Britain enjoys competitive advantages.

"Third, using our power and muscle to make it easier for new companies and innovations to flourish."

Mr Cameron announced the UK's first national infrastructure plan, saying he would to "unlock" £200bn private and public sector investment to pay for it.

The Prime Minister and Government have their own stretching selling challenge as they must sell their spending review as not only necessary to avert the country's economic disaster but also to enable the country's future prosperity.

Whilst the CBI members are considering how best to develop their growth strategy we in Selling will need to think how we can contribute to the campaign for growth. We should be able to make a positve contribution in each ssector of the classic Ansoff Growth matrix below:-

.......................................Existing Products..........................New Products
Existing Markets..........Market .Penetration.........................Product .Development..........................................e.g. Expansion..................................e.g. NPD

New Markets...............Market Development.........................Diversification........................................e.g. Export............................................e.g. Acquisition.....................................................................................................Joint Venture......................................................................................................Mergers

There has been some positive evidence of growth namely the 380,000 new jobs created in the private sectorin the second quarter of this year. The CBI has predicted that export growth will be 3.5% this year and this is forecasted to rise to 6.4% next year.

One of the voices of Business I hope will be listened to by Government will be that of the Selling profession.
After all it will be the sales professionals of the UK who will play a vital part the engine of growth from the private sector that the Prime Minister and his coalition government are be pinning their hopes and the country's hope upon.

Maybe the Prime Minister , Deputy or Business Minister Vince Cable will share their vision with the ISMM membership one day but they will likely have to travel a little further away than the couple of miles from No 10 and the "Westminster village" to the Grosvenor House Hotel as they did for the CBI Conference if they come to speak to UK's Selling Community!

It might be nice if they could send a video message of encouragement or even link up for a web conference.

Anyone care to comment?

Strangely the banner at the top of the web page for the 2010 conference had a quote from Gordon Brown on 25th October 2010.
"Since I saw you last year you have shown great resilience, great determination and great enterprise."
I guess in some ways it does not matter which Prime Minister says it, so long as they mean it.

Perhaps the CBI will update the banner for next year's charabanc!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Successful Selling 2010: A Body Talker, a Coach, a Motivator ,and a Real Moonwalker - the afternoon presentations

Either side of the three course lunch in the restaurant, ISMM delegates to Successful Selling 2010 were given the opportunity to attend two interactive workshops.

Delegates had to move from the main theatre out into the open air and then ascend the stairs into another part of the impressive Ricoh complex.

The first workshop I attended was a lively session on Body language and Body talk which was facilitated by Richard Newman.

Richard shared with us part of his story of how he got into the body language training world. He told us of an experience as a young man when he travelled abroad to teach a group of Buddhist monks English.

When he arrived on the first day he realised that they had no English whatsoever. So his teaching all had to start with gesture alone. Within months they were learning English and he had learnt some ‘Nepali’. It got him to realise how much humans communicate to each other through body language.

Richard had us on our feet jumping in the air to find our most centred stance.
He showed us that our eyes override what we hear. Apparently the optic nerve is really just an extension of the brain. It is 25 times thicker than a typical nerve.

We tried out varieties of different handshakes and reflected on how they felt and what interpretation we gave to receiving such contact.

Richard explained the importance of congruency in our body posture, voice and speech. To illustrate this he explained how unsteady legs were
“our fatal distraction”.
( I confess I was attracted to Richard's Company Stand - or was I fatally distracted ? I was not standing still for sure!!)

Standing still gives us gravitas. He illustrated this by telling us that whenever James Bond in the movies says his name “My name’s Bond, James Bond…” the actor acts the out the line with absolutely stillness.( Richard standing still after his presentation)

He emphasised the importance of posture and how it creates a physical presence. He demonstrated how a centred stance adds gravitas to what we might say in a sales conversation and how off centered-ness looked as if we signalling subconsciously that we were a ‘pushover’.

It got me thinking how when we describe someone as a ‘pushover’ it originates from how we read a person’s body language. Just like phrases such as ‘keeping in touch' or making an ‘impression’ thinking back to our exercise on reflecting on handshakes - many phrases have an origin in our first language- body talk. Maybe I am bi-lingual after all! Click for link for UK Bodytalk

The second workshop I attended was the coaching workshop run by Olivia Stefanino. Coaching and its application to Selling can produce some amazing results in increased turnover if Olivia’s client case history are anything to go by.

Interestingly Olivia made a connection of the power of the mind and expression of mood through words that can change your mind set.

She showed how one can change one’s mood state through simple word exercises.

She contrasted a repetition of two different speaking/vocal drills.

First she got a volunteer to do a negative mantra ( “ I am weak, I am worthless and I am useless”) repeated five times ( She promised he would not be left in this state!) This was then contrasted this with a positive mantra
" I am Strong, I am powerful and I am magnificent".
The change of state was palpable.

So I think I understand now why war cries work and fuel our courage and why the All Blacks ( New Zealand) rugby team chant the Hakka before the start of the rugger match.

Olivia said that it takes 30 days to change a habit.

She asked us to pick up an elastic band from the pile on each of the group’s tables. We were then to put the elastic band on our wrist. She asked us to think of a habit we would like to change. Each time we do the behaviour we wish to change we should ping the band.

(I am giving it a go. I will report on a later post what progress I have made.)

She then asked us to complete a diagnostic questionnaire of 20 questions which were to be scored from 1-10. The results then were plotted on the 20 spokes of the wheel answer sheet.

By joining the dots our own personal wheels they were jagged rather than uniform smooth rimmed circle. My wheel was more lie a cog-wheel.

The variances provided plenty of areas for analysis and where coaching could be used to help. Click for link for Be your own guru

Regrettably our time with Olivia was up and so we had to return to the main theatre for the final two presentations of the conference.

Firstly we were treated to one of the most entertaining, fast paced and energy fuelled speakers on motivation I have ever experienced.

Steve Head centred his presentation on the importance of Positive Reinforcement. His session was crammed full of funny stories and real life experiences from his family life and business experience.

As a Sales professional and as a national level sports coach in squash as well as a parent such experiences have proven to be a rich source of material for him.

Of all the speakers using the stage on the day, he worked the full width of the stage. His performance skills included clowning skills and comedic timing worthy of Lee Evans but with Geordie lilt.

Self-motivation and the investigation of success is a worthy and important endeavour for all sales managers and salespeople.

He had a key point to underline. Current selling today often treats sales as purely a process of steps but that has never been enough.

He related a sales process that he had been exposed to years ago pointing out how similar various sales processes are. He playfully shared with us I.D.E.A.L.

I ntroduction yourself
D etermine customer needs and Wants
E xplain how your offer will hep
A sk for the business
L eave

Not exactly rocket science. ( That was to come later with Charlie Duke)

Click for link for Steve Head

Motivation is a recipe made up of skills , desire and practice. In his introduction in the brochure for the conference he gave a recipe of motivation ingredients which are one cupful of self belief, 3 oz of clarity and 4 kg of building on strengths.

When I read that in the brochure I immediately zoomed in on the 'mistake' of mixing imperial and metric dimensions. Typical negative nit-picking by me. So much for my positive reinforcement. Thanks for sucker punching me again Steve!)
He quoted Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘ Outliers’ on high performing people where Gladwell discovered that top artists and sports people had practiced their skill for 10,000 hours before they were aged 20.

Just in case we all think this self-help motivation stuff is a modern phenomenon he quoted from Samuel Smiles book “Self Help” 1859 (Steve signing his book " How to avoid a near life experience " for a delegate)

“It is not eminent talent that is required to ensure success in any pursuit, so much as purpose – not merely the power to achieve but the will to labour energetically and perseveringly”.

As Steve got us rolling around with laughter during his session, the lyrics of that song “Accentuate the positive” was going on in my mind and inner voice.
The classic Johnny Mercer song performed by Bing Crosby and others puts it
You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
Steve Head does not mess with ‘Mr. In-Between’.
With his captivating accent from the Boys from ” Auf Wiedersehn Pet”, he seeks out not the” black stuff” but as he would put it the “good stuff”.

Deservedly, Steve got a standing ovation.

The conference finished with the presentation by an American who has worked in the Beer Distribution business, in the recruitment business as the US Air force’s head recruiter and has walked on the moon.

Despite being a member of that very exclusive club he said he had never been recognised in public for example at the airport.
In our time of tawdry celebrity and world wide Media fuelled fame that comes as a bit of a surprise. Charlie Duke most assuredly has the X factor.
Charles Duke gave a captivating account of the Apollo programme.

As he came on stage Charlie gave us all a salute. An interesting early body language signal. He said it was an honour to speak to us.

Actually all our inner voices were saying 'No Charlie it is our honour to have you speak to us.'

Many presenters and trainers have ‘used’ the story of Apollo from John F Kennedy’s speech as the vision statement of the project to the achievement of the mission as a training metaphor.

But to have a real space man, someone who has walked on the moon was a colossal privilege to hear his true witness.

I thank the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management for giving me this opportunity.

What relevance had the Apollo missions to selling ?

Charlie Duke reminded us how many new materials, medicines, and new technologies were developed by the project. They rendered the world a remarkable return on investment.
Mr Duke got us to ponder how technology has progressed. The memory chip of the average Blackberry has 100,000 times the memory of the computer on the Apollo.

He talked us through the meticulous planning and preparation. The flight plans, he told us, were written out minute by minute. He illustrated his talk with videos for which he was both the cameraman for and the star of the movies.

There was the serious work of the scientific geological sample collection and other experiments but also the sheer joy of seeing guys jumping and running on the moon and playing with gravity.

I thought back to Richard Newman’s talk on body language and gravitas. Now I was listening to a man who had experienced weightlessness and some of the most severe G forces mankind has ever experienced.

Charles Duke reminded us that all human endeavours whether a sale or achieving the Apollo project to walk on the moon and get back safely depend on teamwork.

Over 400,000 people contributed to the project. Duke said it was important to him to meet and thank the lady who sewed on the zipper on his spacesuit. – Not done properly and he would have died.

Perhaps such genuine humility would not hurt today's salespeople adopt when they feel tempted to claim a sale as if it was just entirely down to their efforts.

When was the last time you and I thanked the equivalent to the lady who sews the zipper on our Sales spacesuit?

Thank you Charlie Duke and thank you ISMM. thank you fellow delegates for a memorable day at the Ricoh arena, Coventry.

Successful Selling 2010 - Aristotle and Socrates - the later morning sessions

After the coffee break the ISMM audience at the Ricoh Arena , Coventry were treated to two presentations. The first was on the changing face of Sales and the other on Closing more sales in the new economy.

Marc Jantzen from Blu Sky centred his presentation on how the importance of Honesty, Integrity and Authenticity has become even more important post the banking crisis and the pre election Parliament expenses scandal.
From a research study 85% of which were salespeople Marc revealed results of questions put to them both responding in their selling mode and buying mode.

77% of the survey placed honesty as No.1 with their buying hat on
Yet as salespeople
40% admitted to exaggerating their product/service offering.
72% said they had compromised on honesty.

Click for link for Blue Sky

In terms of selling attributes Marc highlighted that pushiness was deemed bad practice. In terms of helping the audience to identify this in the field he put forward the concept of
sensory acuity
This considered both one should manifest the right approach and timing to ask for decisions.

61% considered Price as the reason for losing business and unfulfilled differentiation of the offer.

Marc snappily condensed this into a buyer’s mind saying
“you are not worth it and make it easier for me.”
This was not surprising but no less important to emphasise.

As a way to counteract the pushy culture some sales "old school" methods methods advance, Marc then turned our attention to building more customer advocates. He defined product advocates as those customers who score 9-10 on a net promoter score NPS to where would you score the supplier if asked to recommend their product to a friend.

NPS has been used in the consumer field for some years and is increasingly being applied to the B2B world.

Balancing the content of his presentation with his research findings Marc left us with two models to ponder upon regarding persuasive communication.
One based on the Ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle of some 2,300 years ago. He illustrated this model with a slide showing three overlapping circles.

He then related this in a Sales context. Ethos: represented the client’s interest at heart, Pathos : the communication skill of empathy and finally Logos; the logical rational conventional cost/benefit approach.

Finally he ended with a motivational model of people needs.
Love & Correction
Variety & Uncertainty
Security and Certainty

One of the most memorable parts of his presentation was the consequences of adverse advocacy. It concerned a singer, David Caroll, who posted a song ridiculing the poor service an airline had given him when they allegedly damaged his guitar and refused to deal with his complaint.

The video clip on You tube received 6 hits on day one but grew virally to be viewed by some 40 million people. The power of word of bad mouth!

The headline act up to lunch was Robin Fielder.

I remember attending one of Robin’s “Close that sale” seminars some twenty five years ago.
Fielder can still cut the mustard.
Robin started with the point that in tough times where clients are more cautious, increasingly risk averse and the challenge of multiple buyers and influencers in the decision process we need to keep our Selling axe regularly sharpened.

He pin pointed that one of the differences in today’s selling is that clients want trusted advisers. Selling now as opposed say twenty years ago has to be a much more collaborative process. Consultant works with Partner rather than conventional adversarial models of the past.

He summed up this particular point:

“ Nowadays Clients make their decisions when we are not there” – after we’ve gone.
Using the visualizer, he drew three box to depict the three scales of buyer and the ways the selling approach needs to be adapted
1. The Lowest box represents Buyers, User and Purchasers who are influenced by basic cost benefit proposition.
2. The Middle Box represents those buyers with identified or underlying problems where a solution sale is a more appropriate approach
3. The Top box represented the board. Its directors or as the Americans describe the ‘C’ suite. Their motivations are quite different. They are accountable to stakeholders and measured by them. Selling to this level requires Return on Investment ROI propositions.
ROI selling requires answers to questions to how large scale of ROI, how fast speed of ROI and how sure the risk of ROI.

Robin reminded his audience of some sales fundamentals relevant to today. The power of “1”,the importance of keying into the client’s mind set and some tried and tested closing techniques.

His model for the day was
a) Be a trusted adviser
b) Listen beyond your product
c) Customers want to deal with the specialist –the best Knowledge
d) Quantify as much as you can “ Numbers spoken Here”
e) Make multiple contacts (more)
f) Ask great questions.
g) Broaden the gap of the differentiation you offer
h) Put in the crackle - Enthusiasm

To round up the morning of the conference he told the story of the Ancient Greek ( Classical education is back it seems!) Socrates half drowning a student to teach him what a search for knowledge requires - total commitment.
Robin Fielder has Emeritus status in the Sales training world and he sent us “crackling” to smaller scale workshops before a good lunch in a dining room with a great view of the beautiful Coventry Football Club pitch.

Just in case you think Robin Fielder is one of the seniors of sales training world I passed a stand going to lunch promoting a motivation event at the LG Arena at Birmingham’s NEC complex on January 15th 2011 when the Sales Guru Zig Ziggler aged 84 will be addressing the audience from Dallas, Texas

Click for link for The Ticket Success Bureau

10% member discount for ISMM members Code GMGB77
The next post in this series will cover the afternoon sessions of the ISMM Successful Selling 2010

Successful Selling 2010 ISMM Conference

I had a brilliant and inspirational day at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry hosted by the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management on Thursday 21st of October.

The halls were buzzing with a wonderful array of professional salespeople who still have a thirst for learning and sharing new things.

It is a day to seize the opportunity, to take stock and re-learn. It acts as a catalyst to action some of those fundamental skills that have been on the back burner and need to be brought to the fore in these tough economic times.

The conference is a great forum to network and meet old friends and make new ones.

A brief welcome from ISMM President began the proceedings. Eric Peacock used a slide of data from the Office of National Statistics showing how the 'sine curve' of UK’s growth is on the ascendancy.

He announced that the ISMM’s regional forums have been increased by 50% next year.

He emphasised to the audience that salespeople were responsible for £3 trillion of sales.

It was pertinent to point this out. So often economic pundits talk so blithely about the country’s sales or GDP and omit to mention that there are salespeople across the nation and beyond working hard to produce those numbers.

Sales don’t arise out of thin air. Nothing happens in business without Sales – and the salespeople who derive them.
Click for link for ISMM

Master of ceremonies for Successful Selling 2010 was the amusing and motivational Jim Steele of Meta Lucid Ltd, who immediately engaged the audience with his delivery.

Jim had a delightfully sceptical take on psychometric questionnaires. He introduced the conference to an 8 second psychometric using images of a square, triangle, circle and a ‘Z’. We were asked by Jim to select one.

I selected the ‘Z’ which if I was to explain what the selection said about me might violate the moral rules of Blogs! Of course Jim’s four image 8 second psychometric test was a spoof- I hope!!!!

He was the first of many speakers to return us to a theme which was very popular years ago but is making a comeback. It used to be called PMA – positive mental attitude.

Click for link for Meta Lucid

Now PMA is revitalised with the language and examples from the worlds of sports psychology and parenthood. Jim Steele took the parenthood route and the behaviour lessons learnt when dealing with young kids. He related engagingly how the parent teaches as well as the child teaches the parent.

This analogy helped to show how we salespeople can change our thinking, behaviour and influencing skills in our work to gives us 'the edge' to win.

Next to the stage came CEO of Sage UK and Ireland
Paul Stobart
who is an accomplished speaker and businessman. Recruiting/selecting the right people, training the right skills, job match and enrichment and support make for the development of a good team into a great team according to Paul.

Paul told a fascinating story about South West Airlines. Prospective pilots as part of the selection process are interviewed by Check-In personnel in order to establish suitability of the “right fit” to the company. Paul also quoted some advice given to him
" At final interview NEVER LOOK AT THE CV, HIRE FOR FIT"

Paul then drew a simple but most effective diagram to explain the difference between leadership and management. His “speedometer” diagram was hand drawn on a visualizer ( a CCTV camera whose pictures were projected on the main screen). This device is the ‘phoenix from the ashes’ of the overhead projector screen.

It brings a personal touch and live feel to the shrink wrapped perfection of PowerPoint slides. Integrated as it was with PowerPoint presentations it was most effective.

Paul then covered areas such as authenticity, appreciation and communication which he cleverly illustrated with his former life experiences whilst doing national service in Rhodesia as a young man and life as a former Merchant banker with Hill Samuel.

Paul is a modern leader prepared to share and teach what he has learned. In practicing what he preaches I found his talk very authentic – a word he defines as “ being your strengths and self-disclosed weaknesses.”Click for link for Sage

It is a good lesson for all salespeople to adopt as the country’s premier leaders of change.

In the next blog I will report on Marc Jantzen’s presentation on the “Changing face of Sales” and Robin Fielder’s on “Closing more business in the new economy.”

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Brands & Logos - minding the Gap but don't fix it if it's not broken

A lot of pundits have been crowing over the short life of around a week where a new logo for GAP was launched and withdrawn after an on-line onslaught. They returned to the 20 year old logo.

I guess it shows the power of social media campaigns and how consumers have more control over the brand than just a few years ago.

Brand identity is a tricky one to play with when you are an established brand such as GAP.

When Buyers were asked in the Buyers' views survey 2010 ( B2B sector)what it was about the Suppliers' offering of their last significant purchase that they liked the following elements were cited:-

Track record and past experience 34%

Company Buzz and social proof from other people talking about it fewer than 5%

Company Reputation Case Studies 38%

Recommendation / Referral 12%

Approved Supplier Status 7%

Brand 16%

Click for free summary of the TACK Buyers' Views Research 2010 research.
If you do want to freshen up your logo design it is probably best to do it in gradual steps.

A brand is a name or symbol which is used to identify the products/services/identity of a specific firm.

Strong brand names can enhance the image of the parent company and strengthen the consumer acceptance of new products introduced under the same name.

The brand name provides implicit assurance that the quality will remain unchanged over time. Brands make buying decisions easier for customers. They ensure that buyers can repeat orders of products they prefer - evidence of brand loyalty.

Brand images also help to differentiate from the competition. Consequently, price comparisons become less critical in consumer decisions and other differences enter into the evaluation process.

The UK's biggest brands today have kept things familiar and seemingly unchanging. Messing about with fonts is generally something they avoid.

HSBC's identity has been little changed since the group's formation of 1991.

Shell's logo has stayed pretty much the same since the young Marcus Samuel picked up a shell on a beach holiday in 1839
(Fossil Scallop Shells gift from Shell to Festival Hall 2007 from France c. 18 million years old)

Mark Ritson in Marketing Week 14th October suggests that "one has lost the branding plot and mistaken the peripheral and unimportant elements of identity for the real and very crucial strategic elements of brand strategy."

Years ago when I worked at Beecham Products on the soft drinks side, I remember they had an archive library of sample bottles ( Lucozade does have a certain colour!) from each subtle alteration of the logo and lettering.

These were days long before social media but Beecham were aware how customers were loyal to their brands.

Today's generation X and Y might be surprised how the energy / sports drink they know as Lucozade used to be sold in one litre bottles wrapped in crackly yellow cellophane and given to patients in hospital as a pick me up. That brand change involved a massive advertising campaign and endorsement by the Olympic decathlon Gold medalist star Daley Thompson.

I wonder if that rebranding exercise would have gone so smoothly if twitter,on-line forums and crowdsourcing campaigns of today had been around then.

"…Come taste and try before you buy…." "Sampling" - SELLING LIKE HOT CAKES

Selling direct to the public might be a playful game for contestants in BBC TV’s The Apprentice but it is a serious business for young entrepreneurs in the real world.

Last weekend there were a set of market stalls set outside London’s Royal Festival Hall as part of the three day Cheese and Wine Festival.

The first stand that caught my eye was a cake stall – the connection with cheese being cheesecakes - .

The business Sweet Tooth Factory is a relatively new enterprise set up by baker and artisan cake maker Kaelie Akaraskul who originally studied furniture design but has turned her hobby into a business.

From a home based start-up, the business is growing. The next stages of searching for premises and expansion are underway.
The business is doing well. The products are selling like hot cakes (even if the cheesecakes are cold !)

It got me thinking about that selling expression “Selling like hot cakes”. Traditional songs like "hot crossed buns" for those special buns for Good Friday suggest a long heritage to such sales pitches, but according to the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson

"Hot cakes cooked in bear grease or pork lard were popular from earliest times in America. First made of cornmeal, the griddle cakes or pancakes were of course best when served piping hot and were often sold at church benefits, fairs, and other functions. So popular were they that by the beginning of the 19th century 'to sell like hot cakes' was a familiar expression for anything that sold very quickly effortlessly, and in quantity."

I doubt bear grease and pork lard are used much in cake making today but as the photo shows most of Kaelie’s products had sold out on the Saturday evening. Despite the selctions she had prepared for the Sunday, Kaelie reckoned that she had to get back baking through the night for the third and last day of the festival.
Running such a business is hard work after a whole day on her feet working the stall- what super drive, energy and enthusiasm.

Another stall doing brisk business at the festival was Lovely Bubbly. Director Mike Amann has a business in Champagnes. He imports from the smaller houses and his stall was part education part sale. For £12 you could sample four different champagnes and then have a glass of your favourite from the selection.

Mike’s passion and knowledge of wines began early. His career took him into the Civil Engineering world but his passion for wine never left him and is now his business. Product was flying off the shelves by Saturday evening the sampling had stopped and he was just focusing on orders.

Along with other food stalls of cheeses , sausages and breads there was a marquee where demonstrations and lectures were being conducted on subjects as wide as wines to cheese making. All seats were taken andpeople were standing at the back five rows deep.

*The selling “Cries of London” have not changed so much after 330 years and even before.
Hark! How the cries in every street
Make the lanes and allies ring:
With their goods and ware, both nice and rare,
All in a pleasant lofty strain;
Come buy my gudgeons fine and new.
Old cloaths to change for earthen ware,
Come taste and try before you buy.
Here's dainty poplin pears.
Diddle diddle diddle dumplins, ho!
With walnuts nice and brown
Let none despise the merry, merry cries
Of famous London town.
The Cries of London, c. 1680