Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Marketing Live 2011 at London's Olympia -a 2 Day Masters in Practical Marketing

Like at the ancient palace of Knossos ( Labyrinth) Crete, with its 1,300 rooms, visitors entering the Marketing Live 2011 exhibition via a multi-coloured bull run are drawn into the centre of this modern day ' bullring ' within the Grand hall at London’s Olympia Exhibition centre in order to visit the 400+ stands on show.

As in the people depicted on the famous frescoes of Knossos most visitors to the show were young or seemingly ageless adults, with few elders present!

The most famous fresco from Knossos is the 'Toreador Fresco'. It was painted around 1550–1450 BCE. It depicts an athlete grasping the bull by its horns and vaulting over the animal's back.

The bull whose horns modern marketers have to grab today is the respect of CEOs.

One of the recent running debates in Marketing Week magazine has been

“Are marketers too innumerate to lead a company?!”

As with many other business professions such as Professional Selling, Professional Procurement, HRD, Learning and Development, Marketing goes through periods of self-doubt and victim status from time to time.

Currently they feel unloved and undervalued by the board or ‘C’ suite level.

Despite one hundred years of the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) and its great work in qualifications etc. - further progress is still to be made it seems, to build the marketing profession’s self-esteem (beyond itself as many non marketers perhaps somewhat unfairly perceive them) in their self serving promotion and headlining industry award ceremonies.

Boards want :
  • hard data numbers,
  • accurate forecasting and
  • return of investment metrics.

Waffle about brand values and equity rather than results such as revenue, EBITA (earnings before interest taxes and amortisation expenses) and market value are nearer to what CEOs are looking for.

Mark Choueke, editor of Marketing Week magazine, opening up the Marketing Live 2011 show.

Mark pointed out it had been tough last year for Marketing. Tough externally- tough on consumers- tough on you guys ( the audience at the centre stage 1st session)

A report recently claimed that 73% of CEOs thought Marketing professionals lacked credibility. There was a feeling in the survey that marketers focused too much on latest trends such as Social Media when such trends it appears to them generate more business for the company.

Last year’s report from the CIM and Deloitte showed 49% of companies are not using a customer or marketing measure to inform decision making at board room level. Much is due to how Marketing presents what it measures to the board in a meaningful way for the 'C' level to take and make its decisions..

To see how the Marketing industry is grabbing this particular bull by the horns I visited the Marketing live 2011 show.

Marketing Week magazine claims its show( according to the pull out section of this week’s issue ) ,is be a two day master class in brand management rather than aimless promenade from stand to stand.
Paul MacDonald , Portfolio Director of Centaur media organisers of Marketing Week live 2011.

This year’s show is split between four sections.

1. Data marketing show featured technologies to improve business performance,
2. In-store Show presented cost effective solutions to improve in-store sales,
3. Insight show offered better understanding of consumer behaviour and business performance improvement
and 4.the on-line section offered help to visiting marketers in making sense of and leveraging digital marketing.

I've just attended a brilliant presentation by Syl Saller of Diageo which I will write up shortly on the blog.

The Hall is buzzing crammed with 21st Century Theseus learning to slay 'minoterean' CEOs' belief of their "innumerate" marketers!!!

If you are in London over today or tomorrow 29th June come along. It's a blast

Sunday, 26 June 2011

SMEs selling to Public sector- UK Government listens via Social media

According to an 'Urban' Dictionary on the web, ‘smeaze’ is a combination of sleaze and smut.

Fortunately the colloquial pronunciation of SMEs currently being used by Government officials that sounds so similar is not such a combination. (SME stands for Small ,Medium Sized Enterprises)

Six months ago, Prime Minister David Cameron and Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office (MCO) announced reforms designed to further open-up the public sector marketplace to suppliers.

'Today, we are announcing big changes to the way government does business.

By that, I mean what I say: literally, the way it does business. The contracts it signs, the goods and services it purchases - and the way it purchases them. We need to make the system much more open, more competitive and transparent.It's about making our country less wasteful and more accountable.

It's about opening up opportunities to new, small organisations as well as the old, big ones.

It's about being more dynamic, in our economy, and in our public services.' 11th February 2011

The UK coalition government is putting considerable faith in growth derived by the private sector to pull the country out of its recession.

The Crown Commercial representative for Small Medium Enterprise( SMEs) Cabinet Office Stephen Allott addressed this year’s Public procurement Show 2011. (Pictured below speaking at the Guardian's Public Procurement Show 2011 in June)

SMEs now have a voice at the top table of Downing Street and Prime Minister Cameron’s ear.

( Indeed David Cameron wrote an inspiring letter to the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management for their BESMA awards ceremony. See link below)

The Government has set a target to public procurement of 25% of spending with SMEs.

A strategic dialogue is being developed between Government and SMEs. Through the No 10 Downing Street website they collected a vast number of responses to a request from small businesses on problems they encounter with Public Procurement.

Part of Mr Allott’s speech covered the “ Supplier Feedback Service” part of the Cabinet Office based in Norwich.

Also he reminded us that there are still the conduits of communication of our democracy through writing to our Member of parliament, the relevant Minister and Officials in Government.

As well as inbound feedback , Stephen Allott is engaging with Trade Associations as well as outbound conversations – talking to the market place.

'Buyer Days' have become part of No 10’s commitment with their Product Surgeries held by the seven main procurement divisions of central government e.g. “ Surgery Lite” and " Innovation Launch Pads such those held in Birmingham.

From April-July last year 351 submission have been heard from SMEs on ways Government could save the country money. More Launchpad Dragons’ Den styled surgeries are planned for the future.

SMEs can be more flexible than their bigger competitors, often quicker to react and can offer better pricing.

In Public Procurement they may still favour bigger suppliers for a number of reasons including;-
 Risk aversion
 Sales coverage of bigger sales team
 Inertia of incumbency
 Reduction in Procurement capacity- less time for ‘shopping’
 Loss of technical capacity

One fact raised by Stephen Allott at the Public Procurement Show 2011 did surprise me. He emphasised how Social media is being used at the core of Government. On the no 10 Twitter site they received 1 ½ million replies.SMEs suggested the following remedies to UK Government to attract more SME bids .

1. More dialogue with procurement 80%
2. Less paperwork 80%
3. Supply documents at a later stage 74%
4. More free tender information 66%
5. Use of shortlist 58%
6. More time for tender submissions 50%
7. Bidder training 47%
8. Smaller contracts 47%
9. Use of framework contracts 44%!/number10gov
( The official twitter channel for the Prime Minister's Office based at 10 Downing Street)

One of the ideas being seriously considered from these 'buyer open days' for SMEs included a proposal for a website for job seekers to find work increasing the likelihood of re-employment by 50%.

The EU have a definition for SMEs – companies with

Less than 10 employees with turnover less than € 2 million
10-49 employees with a turnover of between € 10 million
50-249 employees with a turnover of less than € 50 million

They must be autonomous and a subsidiary of a non EU parent company.

Much of Stephen Allott's presentation drew from the September 2010 report from the consultancy GAK ( 110 pages) “Evaluation of SMEs access. ( scroll down for link to get the pdf of this report) The UK did not always compare well to other members of the EU in terms of public sector contract value to SMEs.

The reasons of course are not totally straightforward since the type of buyer, the things purchased and tendering procedures including EMAT (Economically Most Advantageous Tender ) criteria could be seen to be biased towards the big players in UK public tenders. Stephen Allott suggested ways to improve the way public procurement could work with SMEs as well how Public Procurement could allow more SMEs to compete for such work.

SMEs have a contribution to Public Procurement in many ways.

To sum up Stephen Allott stressed that there is value to be had with SMEs. SMEs are an access into innovation and SMEs contribute to employment since 60% of the country's job creation comes from them.

Related Links:

Prime Minister, David Cameron's letter to the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management's BESMA awards dinner within the blog post on this link.

Other useful links on Selling to Public Sector ( Official Government and independent sites)
Contracts Finder Site – Find live opportunities to tender to Public Sector


Cabinet Office

Servicedesk to Cabinet office

Innovation Launch Pad

Example of one ministry site with guides for selling into it.
Suppliers guide for selling to HM Customs and Revenue

For SMEs and HM Revenue and Customs

IT business watchdog style site
Campaign4Change site ( IT and Public Sector)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Selling to the NHS- How Sales Champions keep improving their skills

Sporting champions and Champions in Selling have been much on my mind this week .

Rory Mcilroy's fantastic victory in the U.S. Open over last weekend and the first week of Wimbledon Tennis Championships fortnight got me into Champion mindset mode.

Just in the last two days I have had the privilege to work with a great group of sales champions from Dansac UK.
I met a young lady ( quite possible a sales champion of the future from Romania who was both nervous and excited about attending her very first sales course within the renowned Marriott Group in London.
Lastly I had a inspiring conversation with a Birmingham Cab driver whose courteous but focused hunger for increasing his corporate business with his executive car company uplifted me -even though by all rights I should have exhausted after a running a very intensive programme.

I was so inspired by the fantastic result of Rory Mcilroy at the US Open, What fantastic mental toughness that young star has. After his disastrous capitulation just a few weeks before at the Masters where an overnight lead of four stokes on the last day of the Masters disappeared he just learnt from his mistakes and moved on. He is a super example for professional salespeople to emulate in their striving to be champions of the Selling greens.

(Signage for DHL's Corporate Golf Day at the Marriott Forest of Arden Country Club and Hotel)

We all need our heroes and its nice to adopt new heroes as well.

Much of the real sales life is working a process which can become a set on unconscious routines which if we are not careful makes us become a bit stale and we can lose our sparkle.

Reading autobiographies of sporting stars can inspire us. The stories of the likes of Andre Agassi in tennis, Bobby Charlton in Soccer, Lance Armstrong in Cycling show us what focus and hard work and particularly how to tackle the disappointments and failures on the way to becoming a champion.

I have just come back from a great trip up in the Midlands at the Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel. I have not been to the hotel for a few years .

From a trainer’s view point Marriott are top draw and top dollar. Comfortable bedrooms , great dining and they understand what trainers need in terms of support and decent sized rooms. The Forest of Arden is a beautiful setting. The lush greenery of the Aylesford and Arden Courses with attendant ducks and deer make for a superb setting.

. Whilst I was there were two Corporate Golf Days. One day was for the Courier and logistics Specialists DHL and the other for Comet that was a combined fundraiser for Cancer Research campaign.

Despite the numbers on the corporate golf days, the group I was working with, DANSAC, was well looked after by the Marriott Team despite all the other guests.

( Tee No. 1 of both the Arden and Aylesford courses)

We did not have time for Golf but we still had a lot of fun refreshing our professional selling skills. Dansac are market leaders in top quality ileostomy products offering products not only of the highest quality from a clinical perspective but also in designing a product for ostomists that is comfortable and discreet.

Selling anything into the NHS is particularly challenging for suppliers and procurement at the moment as a result of Government Cutbacks and increased drive for value for money. Both Acute services and NHS Trusts have to strive for cost savings targets arising from the Public Accounts Committee ( PAC) on the procurement of consumables of 10% of their consumables expenditure, by amalgamating small orders into larger, less frequent ones, rationalising and standardising product choices and striking committed volume deals across multiple trusts.

So the Dansac Sales team and I were working on revising and refreshing the offers of their differentiated value proposition in this very individual market sector.

We set about examining ways to keep the conversations with the NHS business directed.
We set about understanding how champions maintain the winning mentality. The recent success of McIlroy acted as a great catalyst. We developed a deeper appreciation of which skill sets needed refreshing both from an individual and team standpoint.We examined and developed how to keep the Dansac story fresh for both ourselves and clinical and procurement sectors within the NHS.We considered how we should be support clients within the NHS in this period of change.

(Jill explains how she goes about dealing with a particularly challenging objection.)

( The team take note and Listen to Jill's wise words and advice)

We used a number of ways of learning from visualisation, metaphor and creative thinking to fundamental marketing strategy, brand extension and management to business development and sales skills appropriate to the special needs of the public sector and particularly the NHS.

This was an intensive skills workshop for an experienced sales team. They were up for plenty of stretching both mentally and physically.

(Hands on training- preparing for the mini- role plays)

So far as the detail of what we covered, debated and 'strategised' clearly industrial confidentiality requires me to give readers of this blog no detail.

Only to say the Dansac team have been sharpening their selling tools which will give their competition something to think about!

(Team Dansac UK - even Aleksandr Orlov( Meerkat to the stars gets in on the act as well!))

The Dansac team have a great open hearted enthusiasm for their business. They worked hard and played hard. We learned together in creative ways and had a lot of fun doing it. - as you can see-

(Leo and Debbie in full skill practice flow sharing particular business challenges)

A number of members of the Dansac team had travelled some distances to take part in this Sales Refresher Workshop. One had just come back from a European Trade /Clinical Conference in Bologna Italy another came down from Dundee, Scotland to join the team colleagues. Some have serve in the industry nearly 20 years others had been just four weeks with Dansac so the totality of Sales wisdom in the room was immense.
( Mr Appeal posing for a photograph!)
Other realted links

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Tender M.E.A.T - Challenging Tenders and Supplier Relationship Managment SRM.

As is so common at today’s business exhibitions , along with the conventional lecture halls for the main talks there were open workshops held in open sided presentation ‘theatres’ without walls.
My heart always goes out to those speakers who have to present in such spaces with all the noise and visual distractions that accompany such areas. Holding an audience’s attention is very hard in such circumstances. The plasma screen television sets are usually too small to project any but the simplest of visuals for audiences to read save the front two or three rows of the bear-pit.

Yet two workshops I did enjoy were one in the legal theatre and one in the Procurement Skills Workshop space.

The current financial climate and the October 2010 Spending review have meant central and local government and the broader public sector are having to deliver more with less. There has been an increase in legal challenges from private sector bidders ( the sales side) anxious to win work. So the reduction of procurement spending is more laden with risk than ever for the procurement side.

On the Tuesday of the show one of the sell outs with 'standing room only' at the back- four rows deep was for Ceri Delemore a Partner in the law firm Geldards.
The teasing title of her talk was “ Up for the challenge? How to make (your) tenders challenge proof.”
The EU rules on tenders have put an extra burden on Procurement Managers in the public sector so attending such a talk could prove useful for the Sales side ( Bidders) to learn from as well to understand these rules from a buyer's perspective.

Of course Ceri admitted from the outset that you can’t make a tender challenge proof but she was going to offer the sell out crowd some pointers.
The topic is important as challenged tenders cause a great deal of extra work as the process has to be done all over again.
Ceri highlighted the most common errors that can lead to challenges- prevention being better than cure.
• Get the Contract notice wrong and…
• Contract criteria and weighting must be ‘reasonable’ ( Permissible) if not…
• Not treating bidders equally…
• Failure to notify or incorrectly notify…
• Making post award amendments of substantial or material nature…

Ceri’s suggested that scoping parameters is a stage not to be rushed. Pr-planning and particularly testing were key. For example he recommended that a set of dummy scores be run to test out scoring matrices.

She reminded the audience of the MEAT acronym Most Economic Advantageous Tender

To the question of the issues with criteria and measure of assessment her views were clear


She also warned those procurement mangers present not to mix up the selection ( The What) and awarding ( How)stage.

She also strongly advised that a good audit trail throughout the whole process was essential.

Unsuccessful bidders must be notified given their scores and reasons for the choice of the award winner. Although an oral briefing is OK for an experience panel Ceri’s advice was a debrief in writing given at the be earliest possible stage.
Be vigilant on any post contract award changes. Material changes will often ‘invite’ a challenge. Ceri said that often this problem could have been covered if such areas had been included in the scoping document.

Her talk also covered the importance of taking up of references. She suggested that too often references are not taken up.

One point she made on Evaluation of Bidders at their presentation met with a lot nods from the audience when she said that too often ‘slick presentations’ win over content.
Ceri suggested that you could mark the presentation so long as you make it clear in advance what you are marking.
The next workshop attended was one of Stephen Ashcroft’s marathon 8 sessions over the two days of the show for Brian Farrington Procurement Consultants. The 121 clinic I chose to experience was Supplier Relationship Management SRM.

Stephen opened his session with a question “ Who is responsible for SRM – Is it Procurement or the Client Bidder?

He suggested that the Adversarial Approach was no longer acceptable.
In the age of the EU regulated environment the escalation procedure was expensive and costly in time. He referred to the stages of litigation, Mediation, Arbitration and Negotiation.

(Stephen taking questions after his talk)
SRM was best suited to the post award activity.
Stephen then took he audience through his four sector Spend /Business Impact matrix .
For those salespeople who do key account work you would recognise the approach. Stephen for sectors were Operational, Tactical Alliance and Strategic.

Stephen’s slides can be accessed on this link

Procurement Law Consultancy-support-Dispute resolution-Training

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The decline and fall of “Just in Time” JIT The Selling implications. Day Two of the Public Procurement Show 2011 at London’s Excel.

Approaching Hall S6 for the second day of the Public Procurement Show at London's Excel centre visitors were greeted by sign outside the shuttered entrance pleading for SILENCE. Was this a government Health warning to not challenge the Privatisation of Procurement, a gagging injunction place by the legal team of a premier footballer or a sign form a closed public library to be remodelled for another purpose.

Well no. it is exam season and the Halls N7 and N8 were being used by the ACCA for accountancy examinations. Indeed I had noticed that the Boulevard of the Excel was populated by hoards of young folk cramming the last bits of information for their exams. The folks on the ACCA registration desk told me that on some days as many as 4,000 candidates sit for exams.

Day two opened with a practitioner’s view from David Noble Chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and supply CIPS.
David’s scene setter was two tables from OECD figures of countries ranked by GDP. The first was for 2010 where the UK was ranked No 5 but our country’ position estimated for 2050 was no.9. Ahead of the UK were China, USA, India, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia….
( David Noble (left) preparing for the start of his presentation )
David went on to outline the new hard globalisation where there is a ‘WAR for TALENT’. By the time today’s graduate’s reach 38 years they will have had 13 jobs. The West is aging and the east has a shortage of skills.
Gone are the days of Purchasing strategy of 3 years. Today it is not uncommon for strategies to be reviewed every 3-6 months.

This has led to dilemma for Leaders:
How should leaders develop their organisations that are in continuous transformation.
How to embrace a change from a vertical hierarchical approach to a virtual one. David suggested Google as an example where the middle management roles have been pretty well exclusively been outsourced.
How to meet the challenge of the involvement of business analysts and stakeholders in the operation including an input to Procurement.
How to satisfy the ‘entitled’ generation Y ‘s expectation of the environment and workplace.

The conventional Supply Chain models of yesterday. Now of increasing importance to standard delivery and cost control Procurement must expand its worldview to include Risk management, Downstream issues, Regionalised approaches and react quicker.
It is forecasted that 65% of R&D will be outsourced and 80 % of engineered services and product design.

The supply chain is being contracted. Labour is a diminishing fraction of cost there is a globalisation levelling of wages.
David mentioned how just in time purchasing ethos has been found wanting when natural disaster such as the Japanese earthquakes at the beginning of the year.
• 90% of specialist resin came from a single source in japan now lost.
• Similarly a specialist metallic car paint factory.
• 70 % of Ipod batteries.
• We are moving back from Just in Time to Just in Case!
Procurement used to concentrate on delivery and cost working for the right time, Place and Quality of products and services.

Now that purchasing is under the spotlight from European Legislation and the points mentioned above the skills sets of the modern Procurement Professional requires them to be capable and skilled with an understanding of the market and category management and particularly post purchasing professionalism. The profession David Noble emphasised, will be needing to attract the best talent for a professional increasingly to be both aware of and contributing to Strategic awareness and represented at the top table.

In his discussion with other CEOs and Professional Institutes he discovered that only accountant institute membership was growing e.g. CIMA and ACCA which did not surprise the audience in Hall S6 when they looked across to the ranks of desks in N7 and N8 across the boulevard working on their examination papers.

(Evidence of David's statement about the growing army of accountants about to qualify!)

David provocatively summed up on areas where Procurement Profession had to improve:
• Procurement are in the firing line and more visible than ever.
• Commissioning is essentially another word for Strategic Procurement – a peculiarly UK take!
• Stakeholder management is a particularly weak area.
• The Victim status of the procurement profession – selling the profession to the country, Government right down to School level.
Opportunities are the development of a ‘Licence to operate’ underpinned by CIPS as the benchmark of global best practice – where CIPS will act as gatekeeper. CIPS biggest growth is outside the UK.
Shortly to be launched is a tie up with Cranfield on a Master programme. The Old days of Purchasing and Supply are being superseded by a Multi discipline profession with skills in Marketing and Finance.

Asking Will Beatie , head of Business Development at CIPS about which courses he would suggest those on the selling side should consider in the CIPS Training Portfolio , Will suggested looking at the suite of Negotiation Courses CIPS run. CIPS run 5 different negotiation courses

Other related links to Selling implications from changes in the Procurement World

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

“Going forward” and “covering off points”- the drive for better procurement in Central Government and beyond.

In his keynote address for the opening of the Public Procurement Show at London’s Excel Centre , Martin Chown, director of business services of Buying Solutions gave an update of his team’s role and achievements over the last year.

The slice of the pie chart projected with some difficulty -due to the stubbornly unresponsive slide changer - showed Procurement representing £236 billion, some 30% of Public Spending.

A hefty £66 billion is Central Government.Director of business services at Buying Solutions Martin Chown

It is clear that Procurement has to be tackled and reduced. To make this happen much has to be learned from the Private sector and much listening has to be given to those who have to implement Government and EU directives and their stakeholders.

Short term wins have been through Demand Management Reduction, Price Savings and Efficiency gained in areas such a fleet where better utilisation has helped gains as much as Price % reduction.

The total Central Government spend has reduced from £13 to £10 billion.

Not for the only time of the talks I attended at the show, The Green Report was raised as a rude awakening of public sector procurement’s shortcomings but Mr Chown pleaded that things were already improving.

The Green review had positive points to make as Mr Chown emphasised such as Energy and Fleet but he also stated much improvement was required in areas such ICT, Travel and Print.
Mr Chown stressed the importance of executive buy-in from the top from Cabinet Officer Minister, Francis Maude and the appointment of the first cross-Government CPO, John Collington. Government policies were driving improvements in Processes, People, Technologies and Results.

• More spend with SMEs
• Meaningful transparency
• Reduction in sourcing and time
• A higher % of trained and qualified staff
• Deployment and operation of enabling technology
In Mr Chown’s greyhound-like paced presentation, there was much ‘covering off of points’ and ‘Going forward’ a verbal habit that I think was revealed a symptomatic need to drive change in the world of Public Procurement which like an ocean tanker takes some time to change direction for a more profitable course.

Results to date had rendered spending controls of £1 billion so far

• The Launch of Contract Finder had produced 1400 contracts so far( scroll down for link)
• Consultancy spend had been reduced by 55%
• Travel was down by 32%
• And Office supplies by 35%

• The MCO initiative led to renegotiation with top suppliers and some £ 800 million has been saved.

For the future (“Going forward” for the nth time!) Mr Chown summed up his key factors:-

• Lean and efficient structures and processes

• Top level Buying and support
• Transparency

• Centralisation and aggregation of spend

• Effective use of technology

And finally most importantly engaged and motivated people supported by better Processes, Training and Technology.

(Les Johnson's sculpture at the foot of the west entrance of the Excel - " Landed" A metaphor for Public Procurement ? It has always been "the people" who embrace change that make a difference. Either they get their hands 'dirty' or they administer the change. Maybe some do both!)

Martin Chown took some questions-in the answers of which he expanded the point about Contract Finder that of the 1400 contracts of £10k + of which 440 went to SME. When challenged whether the Government’s 25% SME value target was just a dream for headlining- Mr Chown robustly denied this.

Contracts were seen as good but Framework Agreement were coming under the microscope only if they did not cover
• Price
• Performance Matrices
• Value for Money

The Good Framework Agreements already, he emphasised, did so. There was still a long way to go on the journey and currently the focus was on Value and Pricing rather than efficiency.

( Buying decision changes from 12 months ago Buyers Views of Supplier Salespeople Survey scroll down for link for free executive summary of study)

From the Sales’ perspective all those in bidding and supplying public sector need to get close to the undoubted changes going on in Public Procurement. Those suppliers who are relying on the influencing power of their favoured stakeholders will be found wanting if they don’t build relationships in the growing power of Procurement management.

The changes occurring within Mr Chown’s current area of focus will be spilling over and sprayed across many other public sector areas beyond the confines of Central Government.

Click for free executive summary of Procurement's Views of salespeople research study

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Guardian's Public Procurement Show 2011 The Excel Centre, London. A 'must visit' for suppliers to public sector also!

Before suppliers consider selling to the public sector they should research what markets are open to then and decide if they can meet the needs of those target markets. They need to be able to:
• Compete with other firms
• Complete contracts on time and to the required standards
• Have a sound financial and commercial reputation
• Be able to familiarise themselves with Government purchasing procedures
• Offer value for money

Selling into the public sector also requires to get into the mind-set of those charged with responsibility for influencing, making and taking decisions in the public.

"What is currently keeping public sector buyers ( Procurement) awake at night ?"

Well perhaps some clues to the answers to this question can be drawn from the titles of the legal tent sessions at this year’s Public Procurement show at London’s Excel Exhibition Centre.

1. How can commissioners evaluate the ability of low tender bidders to fulfil the contract and how can they safely reject low bids without becoming embroiled in legal action?

2. How you can generate revenue through innovative charging and trading structures, thus freeing up resource to focus on other services.

3. How far does this protect future shared services projects from falling foul of procurement law?

4. To what extent can public authorities discriminate in favour of small businesses or voluntary organisations when running a procurement exercise?

5. Where does the need for transparency come into conflict with commercial confidentiality?

6. How can public bodies ensure that they don't fall foul of procedure rules and time limits and what are the consequences if they do?

For anyone selling to the Public sector it could prove useful to find out the feelings , thoughts and opinions around these issues.
( 40% 0f Buyers met Suppliers at exhibitions in the last 12 months. Click for free executive summary of the Buyers Views of salespeople research study)

If nothing else it will stop the supplier “tell selling” and help them to give the Buyer a damned good listening to , first!

In the private sector it is not often suppliers can challenge a lost bid with any effect. Suppliers can ask but private buyers are seldom forthcoming or at best are vague.

( The long 'shed' that is the Excel Centre on quayside of the Royal Victoria Dock in London's renewed East End)

Things are a little different in the Public arena where challenges are allowed by the rules.

Public procurement has to be seen to be fair and their processes transparent.

If the rules are broken re-tendering has to take place which is expensive to all concerned.

One session at the legal tent has its learning points as:

How to make tenders challenge proof
- includes

• Pointers when drafting Office of the Journal of the European Union (OJEU) advertisements.
• The need to publish all measures of assessment.
• How to provide reasons for a decision to disappointed bidders.
• What are 'reasonable' criteria?
• How to ensure equality of treatment between bidders
• How to amend a contract without making a 'material change' which would spark a re-tender.
This could be very useful for suppliers to attend.

The exhibition runs from Tuesday14th June to Wednesday 15th

Other Guardian related Links

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

6 touch points for Non Sales to press - Everybody's in Sales - or should be

Last Tuesday was one of those rare occasions when TACK International UK was running three different public programmes out of the same location.

Nowadays the paths of the trainers in the TACK community seldom cross except at Conferences.

My colleagues Philip Stanley, Myself and Leo Lourdes were all running Sales programmes of one description or other at De Vere’s West One centre in Portland Place, London opposite the BBC’s Broadcasting House.

The programme I was running was a Sales for non sales programme.

The need for such a programme is due to the least utilised resource of all in businesses. It is the wasted potential of every employee to sell for the company.

Until a Six Sigma-like philosophy is genuinely applied to Sales and Marketing to seek out these wasted opportunities and the huge cost of missed moments of opportunities for their businesses - they will continue to go in effect “ unaudited”.

In addition to a company’s sales force, every employee in the organisation directly or indirectly "sells" to its customers either positively or negatively in one some form or other.

Yet the question is I guess is “Do they recognize the importance of their contribution?”
(Brainstorming exercise from the KAYAK programme) to identify those Moments of Opportunity ( MOO!))

By effectively focusing everyone in the organisation on the craft of selling and servicing the customer, employees can learn how to increase company revenue and profitability.

Two questions should be considered regularly by management when analysing the current levels of selling potential waste.

1. What have you done to maximize employee effectiveness in interacting with your customers?
2. What more can be done?

Everyone should know how to sell, regardless of whether they are in a sales role or not.

In the current climate it is vital that all communication with customers achieves maximum return and client satisfaction.

So an understanding of the sales function and its process along with core skills for retaining customers through excellent service and intelligent questioning should be part of everybody’s daily work role.

So who are these “non Sales” sellers?

They are often those who do not feel totally comfortable in selling situations and need to maximise chances of getting more successful outcomes. Some even feel that they are not sure that they in a sense ‘should’ sell as that role is sales department’s responsibility.
They may be found in roles such as:-

Technical specialists who have risen through their specialist expertise, now required to sell, but lack the skill, motivation or mind-set to sell.
Account developers who need to bridge the gap between ‘trusted advisor’ and sales professional
Operational staff who have frequent client contact and need better skills to scope and advance potential business opportunities
Managers in the business with an extended new role around client-facing activities who lack sales confidence
‘C’ suite or board directors and partners who need to inspire and influence people internally and externally, who recognise that technical or specialist knowledge is not enough.
Newly qualified Graduates without sales skills experience.

The roles of the group I was working with at West One last Tuesday ranged from Purchasing in the Printed Circuit Board world, Business Support manager in a Training Company, an Apprentice who just successfully completed a four year programme in Galvanised Steel Security fencing business to a Sales Executive in the Funeral services industry.
Firstly we considered the breadth of all those moments of opportunities ( MOO) open to businesses.
These were identified as those touch points with customers which are made in face to face discussions, telephone discussions, emails, letters and casual meeting.

Here are six touch points to consider
1. Making a sale then seeking “Who else should we be speaking to/in contact with?
2. Creating an opening - acting as company ambassadors.
3. Generating a ‘cold’ enquiry - ever curious + ' a nose for a pound'
4. Maintaining customer loyalty against competition Protecting, Expanding and developing the business.
5. Creating and leaving a positive impression of your company which one person might mention to someone who does not know you - the "After you've gone" impression.
6. Obtain information which could benefit your business

Once we had mapped those moments of opportunity for our own specific businesses we then examined what was required to be customer focused – making good first impressions, building rapport and using the customer’s name.

All these are simple and effective ways to make the customer feel important and to create a personal bond.

We then considered the importance of winning a customer’s attention and maintaining their attention.
Then we refreshed our skills in questioning , listening and how we use our bodies in language.
(Sarah multi-tasking both 'playing' a 'hard-work' customer to Steve's questions and noting the types of questions he was asking!)

(Photo below - Alister and Dawn practicing their questioning skills during a KAYAK programme. Note Dawn's classy I pad with special pink cover!)

Following this exercise we then looked at those points in customer interaction where victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat namely – handling and answering objections, resistance and complaints. Price, Bad past experience, resistance to change, ‘don’t fix it if it’s not broke’, loyalty etc.

Finally and most critically we thought through what daily checks we need to undertake to ensure that we keep in touch and inform customers what will happen. This of course applies to people inside your company as well as to the customer.

In effect we should all regularly ask ourselves the question:-

“What have YOU Sold today?”

For details of TACK’s Sales for non Sales programme

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sales Prospecting and getting appointments - Laying seige to brickwalls

In my inbox last Friday afternoon I got this request from a delegate from a course I ran three months ago in Coventry, England.
Friday 3rd June 2011 14:58

Good afternoon Hugh,

I am having trouble dealing with a number of large xxxxx xxxxxx companies, they are huge multiple site/country/continent businesses, every time I contact them I get the receptionists suggesting that I send out an email to their "supplier@" email address for fill in the enquiries portal......this leads to dead ends and does not enable me to speak to the xxxx procurement teams etc....

How can I get past this "brick wall", how can I get to speak to the relevant procurement departments?

Many in sales share Jason's challenge today. As competition increases, and clients and prospects become busier and busier, the challenge of getting in front of the right people at the right time becomes greater and greater.
So we must become more skilled and more professional at making appointments and obtaining interviews with both new prospects and existing clients.

The principles are basically the same for both categories. But the application of those principles will differ according to whether you are making a first prospecting contact or a repeat call.

There are two main methods available to you:

Cold calling

Other methods like email, advertisement returns and direct mail can be used either to obtain leads or to prepare the ground for you, but any of these has to be supplemented by one of the two main methods.

The basic sequence

This is the same whichever method you are using ( face to face or phoning) and is very similar to the sequence of an actual sales presentation:

Clarify your objective(s): the primary one must be to get to meet the person, but secondary ones could be to obtain information or referrals. Who is the person with authority and need for your product or service?

Sometimes receptionists, as Jason has experienced, can be unwilling to give out names and email addresses. So further work on research , planning and objective setting may be required.

Finding the names:( some suggestions you might care to try)

If your target is a large firm or group as mentioned in Jason's email you may find it useful to consult a directory like Kompass which has details of members of the CBI with information on the business and the names of the Directors on the board ( Why not start at the top? Nothing ventured -nothing gained!). Reference sections of Public Libraries hold hard copies of Kompass or you may prefer to access it on-line.

- The Business Search Engine for the UK
Other directories or databases such as Companies House

, or the business directories like Jordan's, Dun & Bradstreet etc.

Another great subscription resource is Thomson

Their Business Search PRO helps if you are looking for up-to-the-minute business data for a direct mail or telesales campaign, email addresses and campaign execution without worrying about spam or even a fully automated direct mail through the post.

Thomson offer the latest data, updated weekly, via this online marketing-leading business database. With over two million business listings and you can select on a wide range of criteria, download your selection in Microsoft Excel format and use the Campaign Manager system for telemarketing.

Business Search PRO could be the solution to identify and prospect to your potential new customers.

Another service from the Thomson stables is their New Connections record :
Selections can be made from any combination of the Thomson Local directory areas or you can purchase the full UK national file.

Each month, the data Thomson receives is never older than three months ensuring subscribers receive the most current and fresh data available.
• Company name
• Business classification
• Address including full verified postcode
• Telephone Number - excluding telephone numbers on the TPS register
• Fax Number (where available) - excluding fax numbers on the FPS register
Contact name and job title of Senior Decision Maker (SDM)
• Contact name and job title of Last Verified Contact (LVC)

• Premises Type
• Number of employees
• Date of moving into property
• Website address (where available)
• Established date of the business

Thomson's Fastest Growing company business data service is another option which supplies data such as:-

• Company name
• (Thomson Local verified)
• Company name
• (Companies House)
• Business type
• (Thomson Local classification)
• Business address
• SIC code
• Turnover growth %
• Turnover (£)
• Pre-tax profit (£)
• Year end
• Last accounts date
• Number of employees
• Premise type
• Holding company
• Main telephone number
• URL address
• (up to maximum of 10) Contact :Beverley Bond - Telephone Account Director

Another useful source of contact names can be the in-house magazines and email newsletters that the big groups use to keep their employees and sometimes suppliers in the communication loop.

You could always try Googling for the name by entering the title and the name of the company e.g. "Procurement Director + xxxxxx International Ltd". The Internet has made people more visible. You might find the name that way.

Another approach could be an approach via LinkedIn the business social media network. a "People Search" will quickly find the right person at the company and determine who you know in common for a warm Introduction. If this isn’t possible, you also have the option to reach out directly via an InMail.

Reading an article on partner sites to LinkedIn (such as Business Week, CIO) you can immediately see how your network can help you get access to that company to discuss an opportunity using "Company Insider". By clicking on the icon you can see who you’re connected to at LinkedIn.
You might consider using search to find relevant contacts who have had past experience in a similar type of situation and ask for advice or a consulting arrangement to provide the needed perspective you are after.
You could also use LinkedIn's Company Pages to get deeper information on who works at the company, their background, and other key statistics.

Viewing your counterpart’s profile can help bridge the gap by providing mutual contacts, background, recommendations, etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special considerations

• PAs and contact's coworkers: they must be your friends and allies not your adversaries; be polite and never ‘talk down’ to or patronise them; always introduce yourself with first name and surname and be careful about the use of their first names (if in doubt, don’t); ask for their help; smile (even when on the phone); be friendly but don’t waste their time; ask them for information; if they ask for further details before they will put you through, keep it short and simple and politely repeat your request.

• Receptionists: exactly as for PAs and the contact's coworkers but when cold calling be patient and do not rush them; offer to speak directly to your prospect on the receptionist’s phone if preferred; be confident but not aggressive.

• Literature: emailing pdfs, mailing or leaving literature is seldom effective by itself; it can even be counter productive because it gives a prospect a reason for not seeing you personally; always be prepared to explain why it is not a substitute; have ‘mini literature’ which you can send if necessary which will simply whet the client’s appetite; if you have to send full literature then use it as a reason for calling back for a personal appointment.

Business cards: try to avoid giving them to receptionists straightaway, as a snap (negative) judgement may be made by a prospect if your card is read over the phone or presented ‘cold’.

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

TACK International run a special Appointment making course

If you have a sales challenge 'brickwall' or problem like Jason's above that you would like some ideas of how to solve, why not post it in a comment box to this post below.

- The Business Search Engine for the UK

Friday, 3 June 2011

At Work UK Government Art Collection at Whitechapel Gallery - Does art help you sell or buy better?

In face to face meetings with clients professional salespeople need to have their radar on all the time to pick up 'tells' of the environment they visit whether in a reception area , offices or meeting rooms- even the warehouse, post room etc.. It gives us information about the culture of the organisation, the personality of the buyer and may even indicate their priorities.

Of course such decorations on a Buyer's desk are the 'image' they wish to portray to the outside world but this is useful information nonetheless.

Photographs on the buyer's desk often display their literal creativity - photos of their spouse and they myriad of progeny ( children), or their hobby - sports etc. Many have a creative screen saver or even a decorative mouse mat.

In the wealthy finance world - merchant banks and the like might well have an original art piece on their office walls or in reception. It tells us perhaps a little more about the client's culture, personality . motivation, priorities possibly even their sense of humour. Such art may even act , when appropriate, as an ice breaker to opening conversations.
(Lowry's 1946 Lancashire Fair :Good Friday , Daisy Nook was selected for No 10 Downing street by both former Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher from the current show at the Whitechapel Gallery)

Likewise a buyer's radar will pick up on our screen saver desktop on our laptop when we present - it is all part of our appearance.

Sometimes we may enter offices with no decoration at all.

"Clean desk" policies rule , the banning of personal waste paper baskets in one of the nation's big four accountancy firms tell us of the current management style in vogue from their swanky HQ on the Thames embankment to all their regional offices through the kingdom- all useful information.

Bare walls, the dearth of plants in a work environment perhaps might also indicate the prevailing management culture.
If there is any visual art it may be the graphic art of the company's advertising or those corporate motivation poster asking not for what the company can do for you but what you can do for your company ( a JFK culture!)- maybe suggesting past morale problems if not present ones!

Just think of the stark set of Lord Sugar's board room on the BBC Apprentice programme - itself reminiscent of the painting "When did you last see your father ?" by WF Yeames which shows a Royalist family who have been captured by the enemy. The boy is being questioned about the whereabouts of his father by a panel of Parliamentarians some in their puritan hats. An allegory for a sales beauty parade perhaps?! ( This painting I think is in a collection in Liverpool)
(Current exhibition currently at Whitechapel Gallery will be on tour around the country.)
Whether one likes the art or not it is interesting what the good and the great select from the UK Government's art Collection (GAC). This is a super initiative by Director of the Collection Penny Johnson and her team and the Whitechapel Art Gallery. All photos of the works in Gallery 7 were taken with the permission of the Gallery - thanks to Elisabeth Flanagan - Media Relations Manager. Scroll down for Gallery's website. You can also view the GAC on line see below)

"At Work" is a selection from UK embassies and government departments now on public display at the Whitechapel gallery that showcases the diverse nature of the Collection, its 400 locations and function. Embassies would display their art to impress or intimidate visitors.

This exhibition is supported Hiscox whose city offices I have visited has an amazing collection of art many of the investments are kept in safe keeping on behalf of clients. They also advertise their insurance service on TV.

Of the 27 or so works of Art on show in Gallery 7 my favourite was Derek Boshier’s 1962 contribution to British Pop Art, "I Wonder What My Heroes Think of the Space Race" – previously installed at the British Embassy in Moscow is very thought provoking.( seek out Buddy Holly!)

The exhibition is curated by the Government Art Collection in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery. One of the selectors was Lord Mandelson. What pictures did he as the minister for the country's buyers and sellers choose to have on his office walls?
(Two of the choices of Former Secretary of State for Department of Trade and Industry and later secretary of State for Business now Lord Mandelson - Rysbrack's bronze 1743of Sir Peter Paul Rubens - and the portrait of Elisabeth the first c 1585-95 by an unknown British artist on the back wall.)

Just under ten years ago Arts & Business released the results of a MORI commissioned survey. The research investigated attitudes towards the Art's and their effect on the working behaviours among business leaders and the general public.

53% of the workers surveyed felt that if their employer were to provide opportunities to enjoy artistic activities they would be motivated in their work.

95% of business owners surveyed said they felt that motivation is 'essential' or 'very important' in directly driving company performance.
(Geritt von Hornthorst Frederick V King of Bohemia and Elisabeth Queen of Bohemia ( daughter of King James 1st (VI))

A survey carried out by ICM and Art & Business found that 73% of employees wanted more art in the workplace, claiming it made them feel more 'motivated' and 'inspired.'

In the 1960's TV series Police 5 a forerunner of BBC's "Crimewatch" appealed for the help of the public to solve crimes often for stolen artworks as it happened. The host Shaw Taylor's catchphrase was "keep 'em peeled".
As sales professionals we may not be solving crimes but sensing the buyer's environment vigilantly adds to the information gained from our questioning and listening skills.
If you want to practice your 'sensing' skills why not visit the exhibition to try and guess which Minister of State , Ambassador or top echelon Civil Servant selected which work of art. I was surprised which were selected by the Chief of the Intelligence Service!
As a reward for your visit to the Whitechapel Art Gallery, there is a top rate tea room with proper tea pots and loose tea rather than tea bags which deputy prime minister Nick Clegg might also approve of- since one of his favourites in the GAC is David Tindle's Tea ( Picnic on Hampstaed heath - thermos and cup and picnic rug 1970-71.