Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bribery Act The Implications for Sales

The new revised guidelines from the Government for the Bribery Act 2010 due to come into force in July 2011 have now been issued.

They have satisfied the CBI but alarmed certain ethical campaigners.

Lawyers who advise client companies looking to offer corporate hospitality to their customers suggest suppliers will now need to be very cautious and to think carefully about what they offer, who they offer it to and why they are offering it.

Similarly, buyers who receive corporate hospitality invitations will need to carefully consider the nature of those invites and how they tally with their organisation’s anti-bribery procedures and policies.

An opinion poll conducted by Galup for Transparency International published in December 2010 into the UK's views ( sample of 2,014) of the potential for corruption in the UK produced some interesting numbers.

The full report is due to be published in Summer 2011. There is a clear trend that respondents perceive corruption in the UK as having increased. Despite this , when compared to equivalent surveys in other countries , the UK appears to be less prone to corruption than many other countries, but with some areas of concern about particular institutions.

53.4% believed that corruption levels have increased over the last three years whilst only 2.5% believed corruption had reduced a little or a lot over the last three years. There is a negligible level reported of bribe paying.

Approximately 59% claim they have never been affected by corruption in the UK with a large number of don't knows.

There is a mismatch between respondents' willingness to report corruption and their knowledge where to report it. - 92 & amp;% would like to report it but only 30% would know where to report it.

At the same time, the majority of people either do not trust anybody to fight corruption or does not know who to trust.

Respondents were asked to suggest how corrupt they perceived specific sectors to be. (Using a score of 1= not at all to 5= extremely corrupt.) The ranked sectors according to the % of respondents scoring 4 or 5 were:-

No 1 spot went to political parties got top position at 65.5

No 4. was local government ranked with a score of 47.4

No. 5 was Business with a score of 43.8,
No 6. were 41.3.

The least corrupt were at No 14. NHS, 15. Military and 16. Education System.

Nonetheless the revised guidelines for the Bribery ACT 2010 have been issued. The government does not intend that genuine hospitality of similar business expenditure that is reasonable and proportionate be caught by the Act, so you can continue to provide a bona fide hospitality, promotional or other business expenditure," said the guidelines.

There had been quite a kerfuffle during the first quarter of 2011 over whether corporate hospitality would fall under the act. The CBI now feels the Government has listened to concerns that honest companies could have been unwittingly caught out by poorly-drafted legislation and has clarified a number of important areas.

These include the extent of liability through:- the supply chain, joint ventures, due diligence and corporate hospitality. Parts of the guidance publication “strongly indicate that the government has surrendered to last-minute lobbying by some business groups” TI UK said, “opening up loopholes that could allow dishonest companies to continue paying bribes”.

TI UK have alerted the press to the “loophole” that exempts foreign companies listed on the London Stock Exchange from the rules as one area of serious concern. Ethics campaigners reckon The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has exceeded its brief with this final guidance which undermines the Act and will limit its effectiveness. This seems to contradict the government’s original stated aim of creating a level playing field through the Act’s reach abroad.

Campaigners fear there is now a significant risk that bribery will go unpunished.

The UK's Ministry of Justice has outlined six areas which companies can use to show they have not committed an act of bribery, they are:

1. Proportionality – large organisations may have to make more effort to prevent bribery than small ones.

2. Top Level Commitment – having procedures in place to prevent bribery.

3. Risk Assessment – conducting research into your markets.

4. Due diligence know exactly who you are working with

5. Communication– inform staff and contractors of their responsibilities

6. Monitoring and review– change responsibilities as company evolves Campaigners the guidance for the Act read more like advice on how to evade the Act, than how to develop company procedures that will uphold it.

The changes made to the draft guidance since late last year, depart from international good practice ( OECD) in several areas. Over the next three months I guess we will all need to revise our anti-bribery policies ready for the Act’s implementation on the first of July. ( Probably sensible to seek legal advice)

Minister Ken Clark has suggested that the Serious Fraud Office will take a common-sense approach to enforcement, ensuring it is reasonable and risk-based. It is important that the new ACT avoids creating a culture of fear that could undermine UK competitiveness abroad.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Is your DVP fast and loose ?– 5 selling lessons from winners in Sport in 2011

The Oxford and Cambridge boats jockey for position 10 minutes before the start of the 2011 Xchanging University Boat race.

It does not always pay to back the favourite – even in a two horse race!

So it proved with the Oxford vs Cambridge University Boat race this year. Last year’s winners, Cambridge were 2-1 favourites with some bookmakers to win.

Yet Oxford won by 4 lengths and 14 seconds - a handsome win over the four and quarter mile trip from Putney to Mortlake on London’s river Thames.

Oxford’s coach Ben Bowden has now won 10 of these contests. It’s his 8th for Oxford ( two earlier when he coached Cambridge in the nineties.)

So what did he put this year’s Oxford victory down to?

Well a number of things

There were technical changes for example Bowden changed the set up of the Oxford boat and crew to accommodate “tandem rigging.”

1. FINE - TUNING OUR DVP Usually the oars are alternate in an eight crew boat. Last Saturday the No 4 and 5 positions rowed bow side and this meant the man at the bow had his oar on the same side as the stroke.

I don’t entirely understand the implications of this (not being a rower) but in Selling we all have specialist technical knowledge that needs tweaking and updating from time to time in our Differentiated Value Proposition DVP.- the equivalent of 'tandem rigging'

Other explanations Ben Bowden gave resonate more obviously with those of us in selling and those working within selling teams in particular.

2. MONITORING of current performance. The Oxford crew had a simple mantra. It arose from the analysis of their on-going training sessions. .

They noticed that every time they were” loose” they were fast but every time they’d been tense they were slower.

That's the equivalent in successful selling knowing that it is not just about being industrious but effective in selling that matters. - SELLING SMARTER.

So the Oxford crew went out to the race this year knowing that if they let the pressure get to them they would be tense.

They had to be ‘loose’ and that really paid off in the end. The parallel in selling is the question -

What were our selling drills and models in our selling presentation and in recent ‘wins’ and ‘lost’ business?

What selling drills /processes/ models would help our performance now?

3. PLAN THE WORK – WORK THE PLAN Oxford’s stroke, Simon Hislop, said of rivals Cambridge

“They put up a good fight initially but then we started to inch away. Their start did not scare us. We just consolidated what we were doing. After halfway , it was really enjoyable. We had a big push just the Surrey bend started. "

"Sam, our cox, called a fantastic push, we jacked the race up and took really big chunks out of them. They could not come back from that.

It was how we had planned it."

4. POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE Coach Bowden also said that

"...the seeds of victory had been sown in last year’s defeat."

See an earlier post on winners and losers. Click for Post on “Winners and Losers” scroll down to about half way on the post

“ We didn’t have enough staying power last year so we modified our training and testing to improve on that and it worked."

5. TRAINING and TESTNG are important but also notice he described them as modified

What modifications to our sales skills training do you need?

Refreshment, Reinforcement or Retrain with new skills.

Ben Bowden concluded

"I am delighted how the whole season has worked out."

So here's wishing that your selling season works out successfully like Ben Bowden .

* Quotes sourced from The Independent on Sunday 27th March 2011

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Selling in the winning boat - parallels to the 2011 Oxford vs Cambridge boat race

"I see that Oxford and Cambridge were in the final of the University Boat race again this year!" -Old Joke

Often in a sale it seems to come down to a contest in which only two contenders have a realistic chance of winning - a two horse race. - between the incumbent supplier and the best challenger to the trophy.

So it was with the event which acts a harbinger of springtime for London's Thames - the University Boat race. - Between last year's winner Cambridge and the challenger Oxford. The Boat Race has now become a major international sporting occasion drawing millions of viewers from around the world.

Up to 250,000 spectators crowd the banks of the Thames from Putney to Mortlake to witness the action. Cambridge currently lead the series since 1829 by 80-75.

Cambridge won the 2010 Race. The 157th Boat Race took place on Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 17:00.

This is the 7th consecutive year that Xchanging (Outsourcing Procurement Specialists) has sponsored the Boat Race.
From its humble beginnings as an amateur event 182 years ago, the Boat Race is today one of the most internationally recognised British sporting events with a growing TV audience around the world.

The BBC transmitted The Boat Race live on BBC America, taking this event to more than 68 million American viewers.

The margin between the winning and losing crew is constantly narrowing; these ‘margins’ are not always reflected in the finish line verdict on race day.

They are largely decided by the months of training and preparation put in during the build up to race day.

Both clubs are constantly finding innovative ways to get their boats faster, whether this is down to their physical preparation, their mental training in the build up, or through investment in the latest equipment and highest quality coaching staff - it all counts when finding the vital inches that make the difference between winning and losing.

Training for success is their business. In selling the margin between winning and losing is just as tight. Competing suppliers with similar capabilities are also constantly looking for that elusive element that makes them the winner.

A winning business will plan and prepare as a team. They train and rehearse to ensure they execute with a common objective.

So what are the differences between winners and losers?

WINNERS aim to achieve succes
Losers aim to avoid failure

WINNERS aim for business results Losers aim for personal kudos

WINNERS develop themselves by helping others to succeed Losers criticise others to make themselves feel better

WINNERS talk solutions and take action
Losers talk problems and do nothing

WINNERS work to priorities

Losers never take time for the things they don’t want to do

WINNERS know that failure is deferred success
Losers think success is only deferred failure

WINNERS conquer fear
Losers quit when the going gets tough

Being a WINNER requires a lot of hard work
Losing requires no effort at all.

This kind of positive mental attitude is vital as competitive pressures in selling increase year-on-year, just as it does for the Boat Race crews. This year Oxford won by 4 lengths.

A 'four' out on the Thames practicing . Rowing under Putney Bridge on the morning of the Big Race.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Seeking, Greeting and Meeting - event management sales

Only The Best OTB Models are an event management specialist supplying models for the corporate events industry

I met up with Director Emma Shaybani, to find out more her business.

Emma is a young entrepreneur who got the business bug early.

From the age of fourteen she was organising music events. She worked as a freelance during her time at London College of Communication and studying marketing at Westminster University.

During that time she did some corporate modelling work for a leading mobile phone manufacturer. She got asked " Do you know any other models, we need 5 for such and such an event. .....Then she found that she was being asked to supply more models and saw the business opportunity ......

Researching the market she discovered that there was noticeable client dissatisfaction with models who although glamorous merely seemed to dish out flyers and were unable to answer queries from stand visitors and were unskilled in engaging with stand visitors in conversation.

Many of today's event stands need both "beauty and brains". So she set up OTB Models. Her co-workers include a 21 year old with no less than 8 languages.

In these tight economic times, exhibitors at trade shows want improved return on their marketing investment ( ROMI). This includes better ROMI on engaging corporate models.

Even a modest exhibition stand in London is a serious investment especially for a SME

For a small basic three square metre stand at Earls Court you can be talking about an investment made up as follows.

£4,000 stand space for a three day show

£ 400 for a couple of Chairs and a table

£ 200 If you want electricity for your laptop

£ 600 for three lights for the three days

£ 500 for printing of literature, cards and flyers

£ 230 for insurance

a total of £ 6,530.

Of course you might be able to negotiate on insurance but many of the above are a fixed pricing situation.

If you are going to have say 3 people working the stand each day the costs of the away from the office or in the field this could be £ 9,000 depending how you cost them.

So the cost of not engaging with visitors on stand and merely giving freebies away or dishing out flyers is a poor use of stand investment.

For larger organisations it is not untypical to be spending £150,00 for a 50 square metre stand for three days at the Excel. ROMI rules therefore.
Although Emma finds word of mouth the most powerful way to promote her business. This is followed by networking groups both real and virtual . She does undertake email campaigns but likes them to be focused.

Her approach to prospecting.
" Be courageous and go right to the top (MD or CEO )."

OTB sales process is a straight forward stepped approach.

A typical cycle would progress as follows:

  1. Enquiry registered on website

  2. Telephone Call to make an appointment
  3. First meeting to scope the project, assess the needs of the client in terms of languages needed, product and market information for the team to learn, consider the cultural sensitivities and nationalities. Demo via the website as a visual aid.
  4. The next stage is to put together a quote/ proposal and email that as attachment.

  5. Second meeting to finalise details both terms and conditions but also bespoke uniforms etc.

  6. Sign Off.

    Other buyer's journeys are simply direct bookings captured by email.
    Spreading the word is a key objective for OTB at present. They employ a number of social media approaches such as a corporate twitter page .

    At present Emma prefers using facebook rather than Linked In for her business networking. She is not keen on the Linked In system - "the 'good stuff' is an extra cost"

    Facebook works best for her network at the moment.
    The range of projects that OTB Models have undertaken range from supplying 50 girls for the Solar Awards show at the Dorchester , to two girls at the grand designs show at the NEC, to a "meet and greet" at an airport,

    The wackiest ( so far) was to supply two glamorous models to dress up in gigantic inflatable sumo costumes on an inflatable dojo.
    The models were game for a laugh.
Click for OTB Event Models

Leaders are readers

Emma is currently reading Jim Blythe's "100 Great Marketing Ideas" (2009 published by Marshall Cavendish).

The technology

Her Iphone, Ipad and Blackberry are never far away ready to do the next deal.

EXHIBITIONS- are they worth it?

40 % of the sample in the Buyers survey of salespeople had met with supplier salespeople at an exhibition in the last twelve months.Click for free executive summary of the Buyers Views of salespeople research study

OTB have used a number of campaign management software systems in their work.

However campaign management and follow up are key. Here are two systems that OTB have used.

1. Campaign Monitor offer a complete package for successful email marketing campaigns for themselves and their clients. You can even re brand the interface, create sub-accounts for your clients and let them send their own campaigns.Click for campaign monitor

2. Dotmailer

Permission-based email marketing is a cost-effective and powerful marketing tool.

Dotmailer suggest a good system should comprise of the following
• The professional looking design of the emails you send HTML email is essential to grab and hold interest, maximize response, and maintain your brand presence.
• It needs to be quick and easy to create.
• The delivery of your email marketing campaigns – sender reputation and authentication are critical factors when it comes to making sure the marketing emails you send out, actually reach their targets.
• Detailed reporting and tracking on how your customers respond to your email marketing campaigns is crucial to increasing the success of campaigns. Click for dotmailer

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sales Proposals and leveraging your DVP

Click here to take Salesperson's survey 2011
The focus of this post is EFFECTIVE SELLING PROPOSALS

If you sell a complex product or one that involves the delivery of professional services, writing effective selling proposals can be critical to your success.

Some proposals are written in response to an RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFI (Request for Information).

Client organisations that have gone to the bother of writing RFP's want to receive highly structured proposals, which make it easier for them to compare responses from various bidders.

A fifth of the Buyers Views of Salespeople Survey said they use a Request for Proposal (RFP) protocol to which they invite suppliers to work to in accordance with the stipulations of their process.

For the remaining 80% a formal proposal is often required.

Regrettably some proposals are churned in what appears to be a "Generic Grenades" factory. Standard word processed templates with only cursory modification are lobbed indiscriminately across to the client in the vain hope of success.

"Never mind the quality - feel the width"

These generic grenades also tend to be long, boring, and tedious to read. Often they are produced under the incorrect assumption that quantity of pages outweighs quality of content is what makes a proposal effective.

Question: Is it worth writing a proposal in the first

The single biggest mistake in proposal generation is the lack of proper opportunity qualification.

Suppliers waste incredible amounts of time and resources preparing proposals for poorly qualified opportunities in a knee jerk response to unqualified buyer's requests. These resulting proposals have little chance of achieving sales.

Once you have qualified the opportunity and made a conscious decision that the opportunity warrants the investment of time and resources required to generate a quality proposal, you are ready to write an effective selling proposal.

Proposals today should be be lean, focused, client-specifics and written to sell to anyone that reads them.

How does a written proposal accomplish this?

Through words that motivate and provide compelling reasons that support a buying decision.

This is where selecting the key points from your DVP is so important.

Formal Proposals :
A proposal sets out your offer in terms of its recommendations and costs. It shows how your recommendations meet your client's objectives, and gives details of costs and savings.
It is best presented to your client in person, or the buying group, and continues to sell after you have left.

When is a formal proposal most appropriate?

- When your recommendation is based on information from a variety of sources; it serves as a summary of that information.
- Following an extensive survey of client's needs.
- When your recommendation is a large complex solution. In this case it will help your client understand all the details and implications, and provide a document which justifies the cost.
- When you cannot meet the final decision maker, for example, a board of directors; it can continue to sell in your absence.
- When you are selling to a buying group, or whenever more than one person is involved in the decision making process.
Never use a formal proposal as a prospecting tool. Such a proposal is bound to be a poor one, as well as being a waste of time and money.

The appearance of your proposal should reflect the time and care taken to prepare it.
- Make sure the proposal is logically organised and that the major points are easy to locate
- Make each page visually attractive:
- Do not put too much information on each page
- Have equal width margins of at least 1"
- Have all pages equal in size
- Use pictures and diagrams whenever possible
- Highlight important points
- Use a good quality word processing software/printer/photocopier
Esselte's Leitz Files brand has just launched a great new product in Germany where their quality files can be customised to order. Just think of the effect of a personalised file enclosed with your proposal. What a great first impression! Click for Leitz Create product

- Proof read three times (if possible by different people) to make sure that the proposal is error free
- Put your proposal in a cover which is attractive, personalized, and allows for easy turning of the pages.

Click for Guidelines to Winning Sales Proposals Post

Click for free executive summary of the Buyers Views of salespeople research study

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Winning Sales Proposals

Here are some suggestions to help your Proposals sell.

If you have got one of your recent proposals to hand why not follow through these guidelines along with your proposal and check it through. It will confirm what is best practice and may give you one or two 'new' ideas.

Your Covering email:
- Apply all your normal criteria for an effective email.
Make sure your subject heading is straightforward and clear to anyone ( Decision makers, influencers and PAs) in the Prospects Company to identify
- Refer to your client's agreed objectives gained during the interview stages or survey.
- Give examples of how their key objectives will be met.
- Thank the company and the individual influencers for their help.
- Point out the advantages of acting now and ask for a decision.

( Leitz-create (left) is a new service from Esselte where you can design and personalise their top quality 180 degree lever arch files - scroll down for link. for your proposals this could make great impression on clients )
Title Page:
- Include logos of your own and prospect's company if at all possible.
- Author's name, date, your company's website,address and telephone number.

Contents Page:
- Leave this page until last to make sure of accurate page numbering.

Management Summary:
- State the essence of your case in half a page.
- Expand on the objectives stated in the covering letter.
- Summarise key findings of the interviews/survey.
- Summarise your recommendations.

Click for free executive summary of the Buyers Views of salespeople research study

Agreed Objectives:
- List all the agreed objectives, and concentrate on four or five key objectives.

- Quantify the objectives wherever possible.

Agreed Assumptions and Definitions:( Leitz-create is a new service from Esselte where you can design and personalise their top quality 180 degree lever arch files - scroll down for link)

These ensure that your case is built on a sound and accepted foundation.
Include such items as:-
- Supplies, usage and costs
- Maintenance costs
- Rental, lease or purchase
- Staff costs, including overheads and benefits
- Machine productivity rates
- People productivity rates

Present Method and Work-File:
Present method is a benchmark, and a confirmation that you understand their current situation.
- Avoid giving masses of figures - put them in an appendix if necessary.
- Select the most significant figures and draw the relevant conclusions from them.

Workload Suitable for the Proposed Method:
- Select from your audit survey analysis, work that will be suitable for your proposed method.
- Look for ways in which your equipment can help in other areas, so that you can show greater productivity.

Proposed Method and Work-File:
- Show the whole method and work-file that the customer will be using, and what it will do for them.
- Emphasise the roles of your equipment and services.
State the Advantages and Future Potential:
- Make the advantages specific to your specific client.
- Avoid imprecise or generalised claims.
- Stick to four or five key advantages which relate to the agreed prime objectives.
- Give some idea of the measure of improved performance which could be achieved by the proposed system.
- Match the benefits of your equipment to your client's needs.

(Powis Parker fastback 8X Click for Powis Binding Products)

Cost Benefit Analysis
- Show all agreed and quantified benefits.
- List all benefits that are not quantifiable, but which the client agrees are real.

Implementation Schedule:
- Show actions needed by yourself and the client.
Give details of support - commissioning, training etc.
The first step -the client's authority to proceed.

Recommendations for Action:
- Keep this short;

ask for their authority to proceed, so that they can get the benefits you have described.

- Official quotation
- Sample of analysis
- Rental and service agreements
- Terms and conditions
- Brochures and technical specifications

Click for Leitz-create Germany You'll need to use a translation page as it is a German site. No doubt it will become available Europe wide shortly.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Sell the Sizzle - tempting lessons from the Food Industry over 489 years

We celebrated what many in secular UK call nowadays, Pancake Day last week (Shrove Tuesday).

It helps among other things with the sales of eggs , flour, milk, pancake mixes, real lemons and Unilever’s plastic lemons called Jif.

Their famous“ Don’t forget Jif lemon Day” slogan still has resonance.

Although there are forty days to go until Easter Day, the London shops have loads of Chocolate Easter Eggs already. Bakery departments are selling hot crossed buns which a traditionally eaten on Good Friday. It won’t be long until the traditional fruit cakes-Simnel Cakes with their 11 balls of marzipan topping will appear in shops .

I occasionally feel guilty about buying and eating these products out of season despite the inviting sales pitches ( sizzles) from the shops. Lent is supposedly a season of fasting.

Such was my dilemma last Sunday (– the first in Lent for those who care about such things), when I was walking past a food shop in Villiers street off London’s Strand district.

The aroma of tasty German sausages was just too beguiling -I succumbed.

In the UK selling we often adapt the American sales guru Elmer Wheeler's expression " Sell the sizzle not the steak" from the 1940s. It was one of his five selling principles. So adapting Wheeler for 2011

"Sell the sizzle not the sausage".

This principle just might be the most famous piece of sales advice ever

But what does it mean?

It means we should sell the benefits and deeper benefits of what our offer does and means. This means our sales presentation should appeal to not only both the rational and logical features but also personal and emotional benefits or motivators. This is the foundation of what we call now our Distinctive Value Proposition (DVP).

Wheeler wrote:

“The sizzle has sold more steaks than the cow ever has, although the cow is, of course, mighty important.”

I guess Herman ze German's Florian and Azeda, who sell the tastiest of sausages, may well say ' sell ze sizzle and ze sausage.' Ze pig is mighty important as well!

So I was sold on the sizzle and the sausage last Sunday with just a hint of Lenten guilt added..

(Nearly 500 years ago to the day, a similar dilemma over the eating of tasty sausages occurred in Zurich on the first Sunday in Lent. A minor matter you might suppose yet it led to a religious revolution part of what we call now the Swiss Reformation. see history bit below.)

I bought a delicious bratwurst from their shop "Hermann ze German" whose slogan is “our wurst is ze best”. – a great strap line
The shop opened about 5 months ago and is a partnership of the two entrepreneurs Florian Frey and Azadeh Falakshahi.

They sell Bratwurst, Bockwurst and Leberkasse sausages. The sausages are sourced from the Lörrach district Germany near Basel.

Lörrach is the same market town where Philippe Suchard opened his chocolate factory in 1880. So yummy food comes from the area .

At the moment Azadeh and Florian are waiting for a drinks licence but Florian suggested that once this is granted he will probably offer Rothaus beer - from the state brewery of the Baden area.

Herman ze German's bakery includes delicious "Bretzels" and those buns like Amerikaners, Berliners etc

Their shop is a great place for a quick and tasty German snack if your happe to be in London's Strand district and feel a bit 'peckish'.

Herman ze German, 19 Villiers Street London WC2N 6NE (nearest tube station Embankment)

The history bit.

"On the 9th March 1522 a book printer , Christoph Froschauer invited a number of friends to a meal at his house within the city of Zurich in Switzerland. They sat down and shared two smoked sausages.

Nothing particularly remarkable on the face of it, but this minor orgy of sausage consumption took place on the first Sunday in Lent when the Church specifically forbade the eating of meat. It was therefore a piece of symbolic direct action enacted in defiance of the Church's authority.

Present at the meal was the evangelical preacher Ulrich Zwingli, who despite the fact that he was likely the inspiration behind the whole affair, rather hedged his bets by not actually partaking in the sausage.

Despite this, within a fortnight however he preached a sermon explaining why the eating of sausages during Lent was justified, which soon afterwards in April 1522 appeared in print under the title, Concerning Choice and Liberty respecting Food

It was a sausage that proved to be the rallying-cry for the Swiss Reformation. "

(Source: Prof Diarmid McCullough 'History of Christianity BBC TV Video BBCDVD3132 and Penguin Book ISBN 978-0-713-99869-8 page 616 and elsewhere)


To keep a balance on things food related this week, I shall be celebrating a more Catholic associated foodstuff on March 17th ,St Patrick’s day,namely a pint of the Liffy water – Guinness.

That might go down well with a bratwurst sausage -how is that for a ecumenical gastronomic thought? Better get along to Villiers Street sharpish.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Gossaert’s “Merchant” at the National Gallery – how we might portray ourselves on a LinkedIn profile or 27th March 2011?

I suspect few of us will write the word “Merchant” in the forthcoming UK national census household questionnaire to describe our job on 27th March 2011 .
( The Office of National Statistics ONS questions include Q.34 What is (was) your full and specific job title?.Q35 Briefly describe what you do (did) in your main job. Q37 At your workplace, what is (was) the main activity of your employer or business?)Likewise when we set up our profile on a blog site or social media sites such as Linked In - 'merchant' is unlikely to be the word we would use to describe ourselves

Yet a merchant is simply a businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others, in order to earn a profit. I guess that is what most salespeople do.

The word merchant is still used in financial services world e.g. on line credit systems.

We may notice it in a restaurant when after we have inputted our payment and gratuity into the hand held machine we read the instruction “HAND BACK TO MERCHANT” to give back the device to the waiter or waitress.
We also are aware of the high net worth scapegoats called merchant bankers who are currently being villified by the envious media.

In London at the moment there are posters on the sides of the city's red buses and in the tube (underground) train stations depicting a merchant. The posters are promoting an exhibition at the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square of the work of the Flemish artist Jan Gossaert.

The poster selling the show to the public ( ticket entry £10 ) is of the portrait on loan from the National Gallery of Art collection Washington DC.

The souvenir postcards you can buy of the picture state “Portrait of a merchant”.

The audio commentary £4 hire at the show refers to him as a” nobleman”.

Some scholars think this may one Jan Jacobsz Snoek. The original portrait is thought to have been painted in around 1530.

This oil painting is to be found in one of the rooms in the show concentrating on portraits that Gossaert painted.

Clearly the subject is a man of business.

This is not the typical portrait of an aristocrat or a 'new rich' showing off their huge house, their beautiful wife at their side or the view of their vast estate in the background .

Nor is it like a photograph portrait on a autobiography cover( dust jacket) of a successful man of business in a suit – like Lord Sugar with a purple tie on the cover of his bestselling book WYSIWYG -( other business biogs. are also available as the BBC might say) .

Nor is it a portrait of a business man supporting a charity like 'Dragon' Theo Paphitis, endorsing the Red Nose Charity day on posters in office stationers Ryman's.

We all display portraits of ourselves nowadays in one form or another. Usually we depict our face and shoulders perhaps on our linked In page or Facebook entry but seldom is the photograph surrounded by the tools of our trade - such as our laptop, IPad and smart phone.

However perhaps this portrait by Gossaert would be of today in one respect.

Our new passport photos in the UK stipulate the kind of facial expression the merchant has.

This merchant is not smiling.

He has a cool and rather quizzical expression.

We see this 16th century business celebrity surrounded by the tools of his trade.

Objects of his office include

A sand blotter to dry ink ,


weight scales


pen holders,

a notebook

pens ,paper and ink .

There is even a stick of red sealing wax – to deter people from ‘hacking’ into communication. Security as now was an issue even then.

We even see the forerunner of an “in and out tray” or filing system.

Two sets of papers are hung above his head.

On the left are marked miscellaneous letters and to the right miscellaneous memos or minutes. (Rather better organised than my Outlook files!)

One other portrait in this section section of this exhibition caught my eye.

It is from the National Gallery’s own collection .

It is of an elderly couple painted around 1520 and was bought on our behalf in 1900.

The ‘blurb’ to the right of the picture on the gallery wall explained that the badge on the man’s hat was depicts mercury and fortuna -the gods of trade and prosperity and suggest the man was or had been a merchant.

It is clearly worn as a badge of honour.

He is proud to be or to have been a salesperson.

There is much else to wonder at in the exhibition. The amazing skills of Gossaert's detailed depictions with a paintbrush are a wonder.

I was relieved to hear from the audio guide that despite Gossaert’s remarkable attention to detail in his painting- his own very human life was described by someone at the time as:-

“ …disorderly and disorganized…”

perhaps that is why the merchant is looking so cool and quizzical.

Click for what’s on at the National Gallery, London
The show runs to 30th May 2011

Saturday, 12 March 2011

UK Selling needs the WOW factor

The 100th World Women's day was celebrated on March 8th 2011.

In London the celebrations culminated in a three day WOW festival on the south bank of the Thames over last weekend.

A set of stalls were set up in the foyer of the Festival Hall around the Clore ballroom.
Discussion groups and shows were held in the Clore Ballroom, Western Roof Pavilion, the St Paul's Roof and Weston Pavilions, the Purcell Room .

There was a great atmosphere of empowerment , intelligence and passion in the air.

Although some progress has been made in the campaign for equal rights for women there is still along way to go in many human endeavours including the world of business and selling.

Here are some stark statistics from's little book of big debate starters:

    • 30,000 women in the UK lose their jobs each year because of pregnancy

    • Women perform 60% of the work's work, produce 50% of the food, earn 10% of the income and 1% of the property.

    • 96% of executive directors of the UK's top companies are men.

    • The pay gap between men and women in UK is the largest in Europe at 15.5%

    • There are currently 45,000 women in the UK taking equal pay claims to court.

      The EQUALS coalition is a partnership of charities and organisations that believe men and women are equals and that women should have equal rights, equal opportunities and equal representation in politics, education, health, employment, family life and media and culture.

    • The EQUALS coalition is using this centenary year to renew the call for an equal world. They'll be asking the questions that women have been asking for hundreds of years even more loudly than ever in an effort to prompt a debate about what inequality looks like today.

They want to ask everyone around the world, what might being treated as equals, equal?
They are inviting men and women to reflect on the incredible progress women have made in women's rights, and discuss the inequalities that still exist, share experiences and ideas with people across the globe, and take action to tip the gender balance for women and girls.

"Women's rights have come an awfully long way since 1911" - but have Equals asks have they come far enough?

In the UK, it's easy to feel as if the fight for equality has been won, but at the current rate of progress, it will take 200 years to achieve an equal number of women in UK parliament, and 73 years to achieve equal numbers on FTSE 100 boards.

Click for We Are Equals

      There were a number of charities and campaigning organisations present at the exhibition. Here is a small selection of the stalls I visited to find out more about their work.

    • Click for Women for Women International

      Set up in 1993 Women for Women International is dedicated solely to helping women who have lost everything due to war and conflict and have nowhere else to turn.
    • Their leaflet entitled " I am the new definition of a businesswoman" - states that donations given to them gives women the opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty and changes their lives for ever. In today's wars the leaflet explains 90% of causalities are civilians, 75% of which are women and children. In spite of this tens of thousands of women in Afghanistan,Bosnia & Herzegovina, Congo, Iraq,Kosovo, Nigeria, and Sudan are lifting themselves out of poverty by using their skills in the local economy and becoming small business entrepreneurs.

      Click for The Women's Library online
      The Women's Library is a cultural centre housing the most extensive collection of women's history in the UK.

They run exhibitions and events in addition to the Reading Room Service.

The Women's Library has an extensive Printed Collections Catalogue, including books, pamphlets, periodicals and videos which are catalogued and are available to search online.

Click for Plan UK's Because I am a girl campaign

Because I am a Girl is a campaign organised by Plan UK, one of the largest children’s charities in the world.

They focus on helping girls and boys in 48 of the poorest countries realise their rights and break the cycle of poverty.

They have no religious affiliations and their aim is to enable families, communities and governments in the poorest countries to make lasting improvements to the lives of their children.

They work together with children and their wider communities to help identify and implement practical, sustainable and effective solutions to poverty. Their projects also aim to address gender discrimination and give equal opportunities to girls.

In summary they state that Investing in girls is key to breaking the cycle of poverty – it’s the right thing to do and it’s the smart thing to do.

Click for Dress for Success

Dress for Success Worldwide is an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women located in 110 cities The professional clothing, employment retention programmes and ongoing support that they provide their clients symbolize their credo in every woman's ability to be self-sufficient and successful in her career.

Dress for Success depends on a team of qualified, passionate and dedicated individuals, organizations and companies, each of whom plays an indispensable role in their success.

The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Dress for Success serves clients by referral only, and women must have an interview scheduled before receiving clothing. Our clients come to us from a continually expanding and diverse group of non-profit and government agencies including homeless shelters, immigration services, job training programs, educational institutions and domestic violence shelters, among many other organizations.
More than 3,000 organizations throughout the world send women to Dress for Success

Dress for Success relies on the financial contributions, in-kind donations and volunteer efforts of individuals and companies around the world who are committed to helping women take charge of their lives.

On a lighter note:

Many years ago a friend of mine in the Executive Recruitment world won the Daily Mail business woman of the year award. I asked her at that time was it harder for a woman to succeed in Business in the UK than a man.

She replied " Yes women have to be twice as good as the average man in business to progress but luckily the standard is not very high!!!"

Nonetheless the playing field must be levelled and glass ceilings must be smashed.

Sales preparation and research meets breakfast opportunity

Quite what founder of Duerr's, the preserve maker, one Fred Duerr, would make of their current PR story "the perfect way to eat toast and marmalade" from the company he founded in 1891 one cannot know.

From the Duerr website Fred's story is told. He had just started to work as a grocery commission agent .

Fred was amongst other things a salesman.

In 1881, Fred met 'honest’ John Butterworth, the buyer from the Heywood Co-operative Society, who was experiencing difficulty obtaining jams of high quality.

The buyer had heard of the jams Fred's wife Mary made, and asked if Fred would consider supplying his society. From that chance meeting the family business was born of this family business is told.

Initially the jams were made by his wife Mary. The website has her signature at the foot of each page.

The company also packs and markets Ocean Spray cranberry sauce and jelly products in the UK and also packs own-label products for UK retailers

In a research study by the University of Chester ( England) the vexed problem of the perfect toast and marmalade has been studied.

Commissioned by Duerr the research team have produced a formula to produce perfect toast and marmalade .

It turns out that not only 'vengeance' but 'toast and marmalade' "is a dish best served cold.

Prof. Christopher Smith of the Manchester Food research centre discovered that endorphins are released in the brain when marmalade is eaten on cold toast.

Perfection in toast and marmalade has a formula;-

B Temp.... x .... Td .... x .... WD .... x ..... WM....
........... T m .... x.... Md .... x... BT

BTemp = 130C
Td = 10 minutes after toasting at a temperature of 220C for 1min
WD ( butter weight) = 7.1g
WM (marmalade weight) = 11.2g
Tm (butter thickness) = 1mm
Md ( marmalade thickness) = 2mm
BT (bread thickness) = 9mm

People who prefer thicker or thinner bread should take heed of the golden ratio established by the study, where the thickness of the bread, spread and` marmalade is determined by the ratio
9:1:2 (BT:Tm:Md)

Brief history of marmalade

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "marmalade" appeared in English language in 1480, borrowed from French marmelade which, in turn, came from the Portuguese marmelada.
In 1524, Henry VIII received a "box of marmalade" from Mr. Hull of Exeter.

As it was in a box, this was likely to have been marmelada, a quince paste from Portugal , still made and sold in southern Europe.

Its Portuguese origins from marmalado can be detected in the remarks in letters to Lord Lisle, from William Grett, 12 May 1534,

"I have sent to your lordship a box of marmalado, and
another unto my good lady your wife"

and from Richard Lee, 14 December 1536,

"He most heartily thanketh her Ladyship for her marmalado".

The current use of "marmalade" in the English language to refer to citrus fruits was made in the 17th century, when citrus first began to be plentiful enough in England for the usage to become common .

To get you pepped up Today's selling why not be inspired by Fred Duerr's story as you enjoy your morning toast and marmalade whether on hot or cold toast.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Courting clients - business etiquette, courtesy, handshakes and business cards.

A Mug's Game ?

Sales of commemorative mugs are doing a brisk trade at the moment at the souvenir and gift shops.

Even in this day and age those invited to the wedding will be 'mugging up' on the equivalent of courtly behaviours.

It got me thinking how many words we use in selling have the root of court word.

We court clients.
We observe courtesies.
Some sales people still make courtesy calls.

Extending Courtesy is a behaviour that is expected by buyers even if it is not universally reciprocated.

For those attending the royal wedding there are other questions perhaps.

What is appropriate dress? What are the behaviours expected in such circumstances? How should one address X or Y?

For those in the public eye , 'a faux part' could be most damaging to their image even their career. They might well feel the need to seek advice from a source such as Debrett. or even Wikipedia which explains how one should address the prince to millions who will probably never need to.

( Interestingly Debrett's declare they are the modern authority on all matters of etiquette, social occasions, people of distinction and fine style'. Their website’s congratulations to the couple refers to Kate Middleton rather than Catherine. - puts me in my place! )

Similarly if Salespeople believe that "the customer is (their) King or Queen , Prince or Princess)" questions of behaviour or ‘what is the right way to…?’, are part of a salesperson’s everyday life. Some companies even issue booklets on the topic.

What are correct ways to behave in today's commercial interactions ?

Business etiquette and netiquettte have social conventions which have become increasingly important.

These rules are often echoed throughout industry or economy.

The Debrett website has a section on mobile etiquette that maybe both sellers and buyers might find interesting!

The handshake is initiated when the two hands touch, immediately.

Handshaking is commonly done upon meeting, greeting, parting, offering congratulations, expressing gratitude, or completing an agreement.

Pressing the Flesh - " let's shake on it".

( Basalt Stela from Comagne. It depicts one of the first records of handshaking. King Antiochus I c 69-30 BCE greeting the God Verethragna-Heraklas Arcs. The stela was found in a village in the 1900s where it was being used as an Oil press which explains the hole through the middle - 1t BC Samsat, Turkey. - Photo taken in the British Museum)

In sporting contests or other competitive activities, a handshake is a sign of good sportsmanship.

Its purpose is to convey trust, balance, and equality. So it is in the business meeting

Unless health issues or local culture dictate otherwise a handshake should always be made using bare hands.

Shaking hands is considered the standard greeting in business situations.

It is considered poor taste to show dominance with too strong a handshake; conversely, too weak a handshake (sometimes referred to as a "limp fish" or "dead fish" handshake) could also considered unseemly due to people perceiving it as a sign of weakness .

Business cards are cards bearing business information about a company or individual.

They are shared during formal introductions as a convenience and a memory aid.

A business card typically includes the giver's name, company affiliation (usually with a logo) and contact information such as street addresses, telephone number(s), fax number, e-mail addresses and website.

Traditionally many cards were simple black text on white stock; today a professional business card will sometimes include one or more aspects of striking visual design.

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

Friday, 4 March 2011

Confex 2011 Au revoir Earls Court

Confex 2011 Final thoughts .

Here are few more comments and reflections on this year's show.

The organisers next year have decided to move to ExCel centre from Earls Court

Despite all its modern architecture I am not sure whether ExCel has quite the presence of Earls Court yet.

As I ascended the steps into Earls Court I did feel part of a wonderful pedigree of exhibition excellence. There is a grandeur about the place like a proper cinema in Leicester square rather than a shopping mall multiplex 50 seater - but maybe that is where the Conference Exhibition world is headed.

Excel is a good facility although location and access is still a challenge but it is just like other centres like Birmingham's NEC or Germany's Essen and Hanover - bit soul less.

The water feature of the Marina at Earls Court has a certain class about it as well.

As I walked around the stands that are positioned around the marina I felt like I was at Cannes with all its glitz and buzz at the film festival. (see video clip below)

One such stand was Saville Audio Visual , the UK's premier experts in all things Audio visual.

Saville's comprehensive offering has earned its place at the top of the market.
(Photo of Mike John of Saville Audio Visual)

If you're planning an event, the experience, resources and passion of Saville’s conference team will transform your presentation into a memorable piece of Business Theatre.

I have had the privilege to both run sessions for Savilles but also experience their offering.

From stage sets, projection and lighting to sound, voting systems and computer graphics, they'll tailor a package to sharpen your image, excite your audience .
Click for Saville Audio Visual

The waterfall at the marina in Earls Court Exhibition centre.

It was a pleasure to be stopped in my tracks by the maestro of all crowd stoppers (and pleasers) Andrew Smith.

Andrew's amazing craft draws in the crowds.

At Confex 2011 he was weaving his balloon magic to Events Insurance Services whose policies underwritten by AXA. EIS cover One Off events, Weddings, Prize winning indemnity for corporate and charity events, Exhibitors. You can get quotes and buy on line at Click for Events Insurance

This service is important to the conference world but attracting people initially onto the stand to consider their services is a challenge. This is where Andrew's skills come into play. Not only does he attract attention but engages with the visitors and directs them to the appropriate EIS specialist.
Click for Andrew Smith CROWDSTOPPERS

Andrew has been a Sales Professional for many years in all kinds business. He went on a TACK International Sales training Course years ago and "still uses its philosophies". You We I. It was my honour to give Andrew a new TACK keyring with that powerful selling message.

I came by Routemaster Bus to Confex 2011 Earls Court- thanks to De Vere Conferences and left on a motor bike thanks to an Events Insurance business- what an amazing time!

See you at the Excel centre next year!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Confex 2011 Exhibition Logistics, Location and something Special

Confex 2011 at Earls Court was organised into three sections Location, Logistics and Something Special
Exhibitors within Location were premier destinations and venues from the UK and around the world.
The range and breadth of destinations was tremendous.This area clearly appealed to visitors seeking a setting for various sorts of event whether a meeting or full blown corporate day out.
Visitors were be able to browse in the 'suk' of the Logistics area to source products and services from the leading suppliers in the events industry for indoor and outdoor events. Buyers looking for stand designers, production, promotional products, audio-visual and lighting, event technology providers, flooring, graphics and furniture hire and event insurance providers benefited greatly from this section of Confex 2011- it was the ultimate one stop shop for all things 'logistics' for exhibitions/conferences.
Something Special
Something Special was home to a number of inspiring features . It was very popular for those looking for that 'something a bit little bit different'

I met up with a number of interesting exhibitors. Firstly I stopped by to catch up with Simon Percival of Eagle's flight.

Eagle’s Flight is in the development and delivery of practical training programs for the global business community.

Through the use of experiential learning, they assist organizations of all sizes in gaining a competitive edge by significantly strengthening their workforce.

Founded in 1988, their offerings include skill-based programme development, conference training events and substantial leadership initiatives.

A few years ago I experienced one of their learning games as a delegate. It was fun to do and drew out some great learning actions.

Their offering includes themes like “Movies and Moguls”,” Gold of the desert Kings”, “Redline Racing” and “Rattlesnake Canyon”. Their game/projeccts tackle on going training issues such as Team Development, Sales Training, Productivity, Leadership, Culture Change, Communication , Vision and Catalyst for Change.
Click for Eagle’s Flight

Nimlok have been delivering exhibition stand solutions for 40 years. Nimlok work closely with their clients to help identify their exhibition stands requirements and ensure these fit well with their overall marketing objectives.

Their in-house exhibition stand design team develop a concept that meets the client’s specific brief, brand and budget. Nimlok create exhibition stand solutions for a custom modular exhibition stand, portable display, pop-up or banner display stand and whether for a conference, meeting or outdoor event. Click for Nimlok display stands

They guide their clients to think about what on wants to achieve from the exhibition or event. E.g.: a) Lead generation b) Appointment making c) PR coverage d) Brand awareness e) Market research f) Networking g) New product/Service to launch

They get their clients to consider who they intend to attract to your exhibition stand, how your competitors are positioned and likely to be doing, how your company is perceived in your industry how to measure your objectives to show a real return on your marketing investment ROMI

Stefan Buss , Regional Business Manager Stefan has a great blog by the way

Stefan using his Ipad to best effect at the stand

Eizabeth McShane Events Coordinator of Quizdom UK Ltd
Click for Qwizdom

Qwizdom is a market leading provider of Audience Response Systems, Electronic Voting Systems or Audience Clickers)

Using advanced Radio Frequency technology, Qwizdom’s handheld remotes and interactive writing tablet are designed to engage your audience in the boardroom, the classroom or for staff training.

The advantage of polling your audience in the middle of a meeting for their input, and then instantly viewing a graph of the results is becoming increasingly popular.
Elizabeth explained that you can combine your PowerPoint presentation with the interaction of instant feedback.