Thursday, 23 February 2012

Anti-business snobbery and the 's' word

The famous snobbery sketch from the Frost report “ I look down on him” written by Marty Feldman and John Law still resonates with us today.

A snob is someone who believes that some people are inherently inferior to them for any one of a variety of reasons, whether real or supposed such as in intellect, wealth, education, ancestry, taste, beauty, nationality, etc. I guess most of us are snobby at some time.

Often, the form of snobbery reflects the snob's personal attributes.

For example, a common snobbery of the rich might be the belief that wealth is either the cause or result of superiority, or both.
 Snobbery also has a cousin  namely ‘reverse snobbery’ where a person is overly proud of being one of /or sympathetic to the common people, and who denigrates or shuns those of superior ability, education, social standing, etc.
Prime Minister David Cameron (himself subjected by some  with reverse snobbery due to his privileged upbringing and private education) used the snobbery word in an interesting way today in a speech to Business in the Community.

"...The snobbery that says business has no inherent moral worth like the state does, that it isn't really to be trusted, that it should stay out of social concerns and stick to making the money that pays the taxes. "

"Frankly I am sick of this anti-business snobbery."

British people have always been snobby about Selling as well.

Despite the fact that there are thousands of people in the UK who sell, they prefer not describe themselves as ‘salespeople’ – Take a look at the role/title on many salespeople’s  business  card and  as likely as not  will be no mention of the ‘Sales’ word.

In the third sector -Charity salespeople are called Fundraisers, in Private Banking salespeople are Portfolio Managers -for conventional professions like private medicine, accountancy  and the law  there are not  such vulgar  things like selling prices to be charged  but fees to be charged etc.- perhaps in still in guineas!! 
Yet apart from technology, an article last year in the Economist pointed out that the three most successful industries of the past 50 years have been finance, pharmaceuticals and energy. Selling has had its part in all of these as well as Technology..
 “…Look at the way those sectors are portrayed in films and in TV dramas and the same attitudes prevail. Financiers are unthinking brutes, whose obsession with numbers is a form of autism. Multinational drug companies are vast conspiracies selling products with fat margins and hiding their deadly side-effects. Energy companies are despoiling the planet….”

So far as the Prime Minister's ‘inherent moral worth’  phrase of Business , the State or Selling,- much moral worth  surely comes from the individuals themselves rather than their trade sector or profession. So if the cap fits......

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Social media to improve your Selling

Last week  was London's Social Media Week 2012, you can catch up on the highlights on

So social media is on my mind at the moment also prompted by an email yesterday from Mike Davis at TACK UK with the results of a poll conducted on LinkedIn:

How much time do you spend engaging on social media for work ?- poll on LinkedIn

So  this poll suggests over 80% of people polled spend a minimum of  an hour a day on social media. But what is the return on investment of such time?

In Marketing Week  February 16th 2012 there was a great article on benchmarking social media. It featured the Chartered Institute of Marketing CIM research study of 900 marketers.

Three quarters of the sample said they would spend more money  in 2012 on social media compared with 2011.

Yet the survey also shows that most marketers doubt the effectiveness of campaigns they run on social networks. There is still a lot of learning to do it seems.

Headline numbers from the survey were
  1. 31% of businesses reckon that social media can help their business grow.
  2. 45% of marketers believe social media can help add value to brand reputation
  3. Under 10% of marketers believe they have optimised skills for social media.
  4. One in five businesses believe that social business can help their business grow.

Across the four main social media platforms- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube the CIM survey suggests that return on investment is a key concern.
Of the four Facebook, came out with 16%  of businesses seeing a return on their investment. Twitter  and LinkedIn with 15%, and 9% YouTube.

But many of the sample are not seeing such results.

Nearly a quarter say their activity on Twitter was not all effective in 2011, a third said the same for Facebook, 37% for LinkedIn and 44% for YouTube.


Marketers and Salespeople it seems, may be good at building their own list of contacts but few seem to be making the most of their brands' LinkedIn accounts, despite the network having 150 million members worldwide.

Only about a quarter of the survey update their group pages regularly with only 14% providing information on them weekly or more frequently.

"The best way to use Linked In is in a business to business context. People generally follow two or three brands in their sector, so there is an opportunity to here to build  up advocates" says LinkedIn's Josh Graff.

Adobe's Social Analytics launched in November 2012 helps measure the effect of platforms like Facebook ( monitoring 'likes') on a customer's buying decision.

Of course the key is, as columnist and Prof. Mark Ritson says "marketers should be asking themselves what the objective of the campaign is "

  • Is it awareness building?
  • Lead conversion?
  • Sales?

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is your current benchmark achieved and your goal compared with traditional platforms.

As in conventional Selling and Marketing so in Social media  - "Telling isn't selling" or those who prefer Stephen Covey " First , seek to understand"
A TNS study showed that 61% of consumers do not want to engage with brands via social media. So this suggests that our role should be to LISTEN to what is going on in social media.

Of course consumers may well like your brand but whether they are engaged with it is a different matter.

One way of calculating this is to add up all the 'likes', 'shares' and ' comments' on a brand's update over a defined period of time, and divide that by the number of 'fans'.

Many boards consider social media statistics as 'fluffy metrics' .

30% 'strongly disagree'  that their management understands why they are investing in Facebook, 28% say the same for Twitter, 27% for Twitter and 22% for LinkedIn.

Key data from the CIM's  Social Media Benchmarking Study
Adding value to reputation/profile
Supporting other aspects of campaign

Regular communication/engagement with current customers
Competitor Intelligence

Generating enquiries

Market research and intelligence
Prospecting for new customers

Smaller social sites of interest:

 Nimble combines social media with  Customer relationship Management (CRM) keeping user's email, calendar and business networks in one place.

When a business user contacts someone , it shows all previous communication, plus what the other person is doing on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. 

The personal version is free and the Business version is currently $15 per month per user

PeerIndex measures someone's social influence, based on their activity and following on social media sites, which presents a score out of 100. Influential people can be given rewards by brands. Brands can use it to identify influencers or 'opinion leaders'.

Related Links:

4 Essentials for using social media

Mobile marketing and Social media

Selling and Social Media

Friday, 17 February 2012

Croydon Chamber of Commerce - Managing Sales Opportunities

Whatever the business, the sales operation is always crucial - everything else depends on it.

But in tough economic times, effective selling is both more challenging and even more important. The need to search for new accounts, win against determined competition and develop more business ever present.
Members attending the 16th February 2012 meeting at Jurys Inn, Croydon came from a wide range of businesses including Tax Advice, Trade supply of washroom and cleaning products, Translation and Interpretation services, Conferences and Events and Professional Employment Support Services

Through an interactive approach “Managing Sales workshop” the group met on Thursday 16th February. The purpose  of the morning  workshop was to help members manage and build their sales.

The 'behind the scenes' team from the Chamber in the form of Events executive Becky Williams and membership co-ordinator Keely Dench were tremendously helpful and supportive in the hosting and room set up .

Having set up once by 7.45 a.m., it appeared we had been given the wrong room. So Becky and Iqbal changed it all over in record time ! I was most appreciative.

Opening the meeting General Manager of Croydon Chamber, Matthew Sims, stressed the importance of Sales at the present moment. Matthew is responsible for all operational matters at Croydon Chamber of Commerce. Matthew has played a key role in developing the marketing, communications and events strategies over the last six years.

Iqbal Kanji thanked Matthew for his introduction and the opportunity that the chamber had given TACK to share some of its thoughts on current Sales practise. He opened the session briefly with a quick overview of TACK International.

Hugh Alford then introduced the topics of the morning's agenda and facilitated the session.

•How to sell to your customers the way they like to buy

•'What customers like and dislike about sales people

•The importance (or not) of price in the final decision

•How to build and retain customer loyalty

•What part can social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube) play in B2B markets?

•What makes an effective Sales Manager?

Fintan O'Toole from The HR Department, Iqbal from TACK International ,
Asif Afzal and Ben lewis
 from Kwintessential

Team's flipchart of ideas to build loyalty to their brand

Kelly Hawkins-Farr from Fairfield Halls Conference Centre, Aidan Roberson from AlveryAlvery Business Tax
 and Darell Munt from Rowland Brothers International building their "Bank of Trust"

The session involved discussions and reactions to data from Tack Research  into Buyers views of salespeople and Sales leadership survey.

The session finished  at 11.30 a.m. but all the members stayed over to carry on their discussions and benefit from the opportunities to network in a way that the Croydon Chamber of Commerce has been a catalyst for, for over one hundred years.

Related Links and Contacts

Interested in joining Croydon Chamber of Commerce?

Want to learn more about how Croydon Chamber of Commerce can deliver business opportunities?

Thalia White, Membership Sales Executive works with all those businesses interested in joining Croydon Chamber’s growing membership. Whatever your question, Thalia will be able to answer it. Contact Thalia today to discuss how you can benefit from membership with Croydon Chamber of Commerce.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Kisses on the bottom - A good degree is not enough -Positive Mental attitude is back in vogue.

Paul McCartney’s album, “Kisses on the Bottom”  was released on the 7thof February This is his 16thSolo album. It has met with critical acclaim. It was given 4 stars by the Daily Mirror “This sweetly conceived tenderly sung collection of classics such as Paper Moon and Ac-Cen-Tchu-Ate The Positive ( track 7) is his finest album in years.”

The chorus line in Harold Arlen 1944 song with Johnny Mercer’s lyric’s “Accentuate the positive” goes

...You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between..
In 1998, a specialist in Strengths Psychology, Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. (1924-2003), along with Tom Rath and a team of scientists at Gallup, created the online StrengthsFinder assessment.

In 2004, the assessment's name was formally changed to Clifton Strengthsfinder in honour of its chief designer. Based on a 40-year study of human strengths, Gallup created a language of the 34 most common talents and developed the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to help people discover and describe these talents. From the book there is an access code to go on-line and complete the questionnaire and print out your report.

"Hide not your talents.
They for use were made.
What's a sundial in the shade?"
-- Benjamin Franklin

Gallup brought out a version specifically for Strengths-Based-Selling
After discovering their talents through the StrengthsFinder assessment, readers will learn to use their strengths in every step of the sales process, including how to:
· measure cold calling success, and improve contact and conversation rates
· determine when to walk away from the wrong customer
· become a partner to customers, not just a vendor
· improve negotiating and closing strategies
· make the most of the honeymoon period with a new customer
· turn satisfied customers into engaged customers
I went on line for Strengthfinder 2.0 some time ago and have found the method very helpful. It 'revealed' my natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving. It suggested that I should focus on time practising these 'talents', developing my skills and building my knowledge base. It gave a useful set of ideas for action and an action plan template.
Clifton Strengthfinder 2.0 states, Hugh Alford's top 5 themes are
Input, Adaptability,Developer, Connectedness and Restorative

Another popular tool is CAPP’s Realise 2 which identifies 60 strengths according to three axis model ( dimensions) energy, performance and use.
The data from CAPP’s completed questionnaire is used to identify where candidates strengths lie across four categories  
1. Their realised strengths,
2. Their unrealised strengths,
3. Their learned behaviours
4. and their weaknesses.
Ernst and Young ( E &Y) were reported in the London Evening Standard Tuesday 14th February 2012, to look for relationship development and problem solving as key attributes that they look for in their graduate trainees.
Those finally selected also demonstrate determination and resilience and are able to work hard and thrive in difficult situations.
E & Y need to know that their trainees are going to be able to cope if they are sent halfway across the world to work on a client project.
Coincidentally the attributes they look for in their trainees who may not be seen in the conventional sense as salespeople are key to the selling profession.
E & Y released the results of a survey of 1,000 students where it was attitude that was valued by E & Y more than a good degree. The survey of over 1000 UK students was devised by the Centre of Applied Positive Psychology CAPP and tested for employability skills.
Ernst & Young – Capp designed, developed and delivered  a capability for building strengths-based graduate recruitment across the business, including the development of Realise2 Lite as a graduate attraction tool.
Ernst & Young is a major graduate recruiter in the UK, and as one of the ‘Big Four’ professional services firms, is recognised as being a top place to work for many graduates. Notwithstanding this natural attraction of candidates to the firm.
To continue to attract the most talented and motivated people to join them, their graduate recruitment offering  has to be fresh and appealing for the emerging Generation Y of graduate talent. ( E and Y 's slogan is Quality in everything we do)
E& Y ‘s head of graduate recruitment stated that they interview over 3,000 bright graduates each year but only 25% have the all-round skills set that they recruit for.
 CAPP developed Realise2 Lite, a bespoke version of Realise2 that was tailored specifically to assess the 16 strengths required by Ernst & Young in their graduates.
Graduates who complete Realise2 Lite (it  costs less than £20) then  automatically receive a short feedback report detailing their Realised and Unrealised Strengths. They can then use this self-insight to improve their employability and to help them in their own career development decisions, through having a greater insight, awareness and language to talk about their strengths.
CAPP however stress that their Realise2 Lite is not used as part of any selection process for Ernst & Young, but purely as an attraction marketing tool.
But the top five skill sets were:-
· Pride in their work
· Problem solving
· Being true to themselves
· Building relationships
· And having a sense of humour
The five weakest were
· Resilience
· Time optimisation
· Showing courage overcoming their fears
· Taking risks
· Making themselves the centre of attention
“ a good degree from a respected university no longer guarantees students a job”
says E & Y's Stephen Isherwood.
Although 83% of students interviewed were confident about achieving their career aspirations, Stephen warned graduates against becoming complacent.
Students need to stay focused on what they are good at and develop their experience around these core areas, rather than trying to cover all bases. This in turn will help to build confidence in their abilities and improve their levels of resilience,’ warned Alex Linley, the director of CAPP.
CAPP’s Student completions which are in excess of 1,000 per month for Realise2 Lite, with over 18,000 students having completed the tool in the first 18 months since it was launched
There has been significant website and social media traffic through the graduate recruitment portal, driven by referral and recommendation of the various strengths activities, including Realise2 Lite
Differentiated student engagement at campus events through the strengths focus of Ernst & Young’s graduate recruitment campaigns is supported through Realise2 Lite
Differentiated employer brand and graduate attraction has been achieved, through positioning Ernst & Young as a graduate employer where you will be recruited for your strengths
Reaise 2  provides enhanced graduate employability through providing all graduates who complete the tool with increased insight and self-awareness of their strengths, together with a language of strengths that they can use on their CV and at interview.

Further reading

Strengths Based Selling
Authors: Tony Rutigliano and Brian Brim
Gallup Press: 2011
 220 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59562-048-4

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Early Shopping mall, memorable pricing - Hungerford market

Last weekend I visited the ruins of the old castle of Farleigh Hungerford, in Somerset - an atmospheric place. Thanks to an English Heritage audio guide -the History of the Hungerford family is told through its stones. Sir Thomas Hungerford ( d.1397) was the first recorded speaker of Parliament.
Lady tower, Farleigh Hungerford Castle , Somerset

A significant slice of British history can be learnt through the ups and downs of this family who played roles in the Wars of the Roses, The Reformation  and Civil War. The castle is well worth a visit.  Farleigh Hungerford castle
Rare Medieval Wall painting in the Chapel at Farleigh Hungerford Castle
 of St George sleighing the dragon

 The Hungerford name got me thinking.

Some of my favourite views of London  are gained from the two pedestrian bridges that straddle the railway bridge from Charing Cross, London across the Thames. Hungerford bridge is named after the Hungerford Family but why?.
 I discover, yet again, that

 the world of Selling is never that far away

- for there was a market – Hungerford market  -that stood on the north bank of the Thames near Charing Cross on London’s Strand from about 1680.

The First market on the site was an early kind of shopping mall - The 'Westfield' of its time.

Sir Edward Hungerford obtained permission to hold a market on the site for three days a week. Hungerford Inn was subdivided into shops, and, with a covered piazza,  and formed the market.
By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the old market was  was rebuilt in 1831 to 1833 in an Italianate style to a design by Charles Fowler, also architect of Covent Garden Market.

Nelson with snow - top of Nelson's column , Trafalgar Square
The building partners Thomas Grissell and Samuel Morton Peto, who also built Nelson's Column, the Reform Club, and the Lyceum Theatre, constructed the  second Hungerford market building.

Under one roof were three large quadrangles, with shops on each side. The market sold food of all sorts - mainly fish, but also fruit, vegetables, and meat - with a landing stage on the north bank of the River Thames, by Hungerford Steps.
The Watergate steps of York House - Duke of Buckingham just down from where the Hungerford steps would have been. A reminder that before the Thames embankment the river Thames flood would have been higher

An example of the dangers of too broad a product offering

The market did not specialise in one sector, and found itself unable to compete with the other markets, such as Billingsgate Market, and Covent Garden Market nearby.

The same year, Swiss-Italian entrepreneur Carlo Gatti opened a stand at the market in 1851, selling pastries and ice cream.

 A portion of ice cream was sold for one penny served in a shell, perhaps the origin of

“the penny lick.”
This was perhaps the first time that ice cream was made available to the paying general public.

Hungerford Bridge

View of The River Thames, London's embankment - Hungerford Bridge in background

Should you be walking over Hungerford bridge to the South bank for a concert, play or film , or be crossing northwards from Waterloo towards the the Embankment - spare a thought for the name  commemorated in Hungerford Bridge and its association with selling in this historic part of London.
Pedestrian walkway of Hungerford Bridge  ( East side) towards Embankment on the north side
You can still buy an ice cream in the area, but you'll  have to shell out somewhat more than a penny  !

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Force field Analysis in Professional Selling

Force Field Analysis (FFA) is a method for understanding problem situations and planning corrective actions.

It presents a framework for looking at the factors (forces) that influence a situation, originally social situations. It looks at forces that are either driving movement toward an objective (helping forces) or blocking movement toward that goal (hindering forces).

Developed by Kurt Lewin 1890-1947 , FFA has  been used for a number of organizational development, process management, and change management for many years.

It is a very useful tool for businesses with complex sales processes where the sales operation feels confronted with many obstacles preventing them from getting to where they want to be.
The FFA technique analyses a sales problem as being in equilibrium – the result of various opposing forces.
Moving to a more desirable state of affairs (desired situation) can only be achieved by adjusting the equilibrium, moving it and stabilising it in the new position.

To move the equilibrium, you must alter the forces - add more driving forces and reduce the restraining ones.

How can Sales use it?

a) ‘IS’ situation: Choose a concrete sales problem situation (e.g. non achievement of target X) and write the description of this situation under ‘IS’ on the left of the board.

The stages in theory
Stage 1 The equilibrium IS on the left hand side and TO BE on the right hand side

Stage 2 Identify which forces are pushing towards and pushing against
Stage 3 Consider which of the hindering forces are cancelled or eliminated by the driving forces

b)         ‘TO BE’ situation: Carefully describe the desired state. What would your sales team wish the desired situation to look like and write the description to the right under ‘To Be’ vision

c)         Identify the forces operating in your sales operation's force field. List the forces which are pushing towards the desired situation (left) and those pushing away from it (right).

d)         Examine the forces and apply a weighting to each of them through group consensus

e)         Consider the strategies for moving the equilibrium

  Add more Driving Forces

  Reduce Restraining or Hindering Forces

f)          Select several important restraining forces and brainstorm plans to reduce them.

g)         Propose some new driving forces and discuss Implementation Plan

h )         Implement Action Plans

Plan how to stabilise the Force Field once the desired state has been reached

  Indicate WHAT needs to happen, WHO will be doing it, and BY WHEN it will be done.

                         Optionally, a sales manager or trainer can add HOW to do but ideally  sales teams should be empowered to find the solution themselves  and action it.

Force field Analysis in practise at a training session

Monday, 6 February 2012

Easy lies the head that wears the Crown ?– Long to reign over us 60th Anniversary of the Qeen's Accession

Today 6th February 2012 depending on how you look at it —  was the 60th anniversary of the death of the Last Emperor of India, or the Accession to the Throne of Queen Elizabeth II.

The British monarchy has to be one of the best known brands in the world. A Royal coat of Arms ' by appointment  to…is proudly displayed by many companies on their products and services.
Such endorsement helps sales in all kinds of products.
Her message to the nation given out at midnight today read
“I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support  and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over  these years.”
(Prince Philip is patron of The Institute of Sales & Marketing Management ISMM the foremost professional body for salespeople in the UK)

“..In this special year , as I dedicate anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness , friendship and neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign”

There were ceremonial gun salutes held in London.
At Hyde Park were fired 41 rounds — 21 for Her Majesty and 20 because it is a Royal Park. The salute was fired by The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery at 12 noon .

Royal Salute "FIRE"

The King's Troop depart

Off back to barracks go the band

An hour later at 1pm, the Honourable Artillery Company fired 62 rounds at the Tower of London — 21 for Her Majesty, 20 because it is a Royal Fortress and another 21 for the City of London.

The Salute took place on the riverside, and because it is quite a narrow space, I was able to get up close

Yeoman in "Beefeater" uniform outside the Tower of London

Below Tower Bridge

They depart with a final salute