Saturday, 31 March 2012

Digital Day with Business Biscotti - Social Media and Selling

D-Day ( Digtal Day) 
and the world of social media and selling.

Business Biscotti's "Digital Day" 29th March 2012 was hosted by  Graham  and Sue Reeves at the Grovefield House Hotel , Burnham.

The weather was very kind to all who attended this brilliant networking event of entrepreneurs from the Berkshire and Bucks area.

Business Biscotti know how to put on an engaging  business networking event which is not only commercially relevant, but  provides insightful help to members  being both a profitable and a FUN EXPERIENCE!
 Grovefield House Hotel, Burnham
 with the tulip borders of the THc little garden
 Thames Hospicecare venue for
 Business Biscotti's  March 2012 Digital Day

Refreshments  for the day were provided by the Grovefield House hotel .

 The buffet lunch was delicious - especially the poached salmon and new spuds ( potatoes) which we were allowed to take out onto the patio  and enjoy 'al fresco'  soaking up some spring sunshine and taking pleasure from the spring flowers  and early tree blossom in the garden.

'Doing lunch' is a traditional way to network and the facilities of the Grovefield House make  a convivial space for business discussions.
Brilliant March sunshine illuminates the  sponsors' banners for Business  Biscotti's Digital Day March 2012
Sponsors for the day included Symantec, Barclays, BMG, the Head Partnership. CAM foundation 1and 1, TACK International and venue provider Grovefield House Hotel.

Topic titles included " Our Digital journey",Social media Engagement is not enough" "Symantec and your business", "Acquiring New Customers + Prospects using Digital Channels", " Launch and Grow your business On line" and "Emerging Trends in Digital Marketing".

The afternoon provided workshops on " Cloud Security - what does that mean to your business?", "Must Know Legal Issues for E-commerce entrepreneurs", Social Media in the Sales Process, " Social Media- making the pieces fit", " Limit your losses from cardholder not present transactions", " Social Media + 101 Hot tips" and "The power of video in Promoting your business" "Doing Business on the move - The Benefits of mobile Technology in Business"

Additionally there was Catherine's photographic studio on hand to help biscottiers update their photos for digital profiles for web sites, biographies and social media.
Reception desk with prepared badges with Sarah's beautiful
 and clear calligraphy -a  really personal touch

Mrs Biscotti (aka Sue Reeves) of Business Biscotti   opens Business Biscotti's Digital Day

Sue is the Marketing Director of Business Biscotti and gave us a ' heads up' on the day and brief overview of Business biscotti and explained the reason for the  Digital day arose from the flood of requests from the membership- known as 'biscottiers'. Sue then introduced  the Mayor.

The Worshipful, the Mayor of Slough,
councillor Sukhjit Dhaliwal. ,
 herself a business woman, welcomes  fellow Biscottiers

First speaker was Amanda Gee from BMG Group.

Amanda Gee  Managing Director of
  BMG( Berkshire Media Group)

Amanda Gee set the scene for the story of the Digital Journey that BMG have undertaken. In such a traditional business as local newspapers she talked us through a time line for the Slough Observer (founded in 1882) through the changes oft he 20th century and  into our time.

From the first  local 'newspaper' the Oxford Gazette in 1665 the newspaper industry had not changed that much for three hundred years. Amanda then explained how technology changes from Hot Metal presses to the Digital revolution had transformed the business..
In 1997 The Slough Observer introduced it's first on line product "This is"   This pioneering entry into digital predated Ebay ,Google , You Tube, facebook and most high street on line retailers.

She mentioned that there was much debate at the time about whether  digital might might take business from the then core business of print.

Even up to 2006 BMG were not monetising their on-line products. then matter changed. Eddie Embleton continued with the BMG digital story.
Eddie set about redevelop the BMG site. From weekly updates  the on line version moved to a daily news provider. The former method of returning to the office or phoning in reports moved to  creating content  that could be uploaded from anywhere no longer restricted to the news desk.
This moved the circulation figures from under 30,000  for Slough ,Reading  and Bracknell a month   to  105,000.
The  Key  was demonstrate  not only how to do drive  on-line  the revenue  but how it would do it better.
Jobsite partnered with them – Job Seekers best experience – recruiters local audience in print and on line and on a huge website and job boards – reaching over 6 million job seekers BMG have 100,000 CVs
To illustrate brand extensions Eddie mentioned  a new on line product  Family Notices –  where friends and families can leave messages. Such has been the growth of new products on-line for BMG that the group are now displaying  ½ million pages per month.
Digital business for the paper  year on year currently 40%  with More digital products than paper.

Margaret gave us some candid home truths about digital
Next speaker was Margaret Adams. Margaret outline 5 steps to Digital Success.


Margaret surmised whether the Culprits for the time wasted on social media was the fault of

Facebook  LinkedIn  You Tube Word press Pinterest  and google +. They may be part of the journey but they are not the destination.

Margaret’s 5 steps journey covered  

 1.Drive people to website and into your sales funnel

2. Self selection   capture your visitors’ details

Build  a relation ( it’s  social media) put lots of information on facebook ,  and good advice tweets / Visitors want to  sample, test and buy.

3. Build it all up by offering free guidance such as  how-to  and know-how material

Run webinars and demystify your product

4. Offer great service that doesn’t ignore stupid or gauche questions but make contact and offer help. However true RTFM and TPIITC might be a customer needs help and service.

5 Measure ROI

Return on engagement  -followers

Return on participation

Return on involvement dialogue that are taken off line

Return on attention got

Return on trust earnt

Cautionary insights on Backing up your digital assets
  from Barnaby Woods of Symantec Cloud

  Barnbay Woods  of Symantec Backup exec symantec

Some stark statistics on lack of digital back up from Barnaby Woods of Symantec

There was a small exhibition area next to the main seminar room . Businesses that caught my eye include the website  creators 1 and 1.  They are are a web host provider.

1 and 1 

Leslie Bunder , Sachin Gupta and Neil Hodson of 1 +;1 presented
 and exhibited at the Business Biscotti "Digital Day"

Symantec's Alister Johnson and Miranda Allen
 at the Symantec Cloud stand

The day had added sparkle with entertainment in the exhibition space and  at the chill down drinks outside in the warm evening sunshine  on the patio at the back of the hotel. Magician  Ian Gray  and Silhouette Artist Charles Burns worked the crowd.

The cutting edge from Silhouette artist and Businessman
Charles Burns - The Roving Artist

(left)Graham Reeves ( Mr Biscotti)
 Hugh Alford ( aka 'Fruits of Success with Hugh' blogger)

If you find the likes of  the cavernous O2, Excel centre, NEC etc rather sterile, soulless and overwhelming  environments to network within,  try a Business Biscotti event - they host  a great event.

 There are 92 Groups now in 31 counties.

22,000 people visited a Business Biscotti  event last year, 2-3 million monthly ( 30,000 unique visitors per month, average time on 9.3 minutes per   visit with average pages viewed per visit)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Selling Sounds of a winner - The importance of Pitch in conveying Strength, Trust and Competance

A voice that conveys competence, strength and trust is  a useful asset for any sales professional.
 In the 2012 Oscar winning film with Meryl Streep 'The Iron Lady' ,it covered a part of the former PM’s story where she took lessons in voice control in order to lower her speaking pitch to establish more gravitas.

  Unlike the film, in real life Margaret Thatcher received voice coaching from a woman not a man. Kate Fleming  coached actors like Lawrence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen. She also worked on Mrs Thatcher's voice over a period of four years 1972-1975 before Mrs Thacher became PM.
Poster of 'The Iron Lady' Film
There are quite a few parallels of leadership -especially political leadership- to selling.

Those who put themselves up for election do one of the most courageous closes in selling.  Essentially   asking "Vote for me" is pretty much the same as asking for the order.
Policies and manifestos are the equivalent of their Differentiated Value proposition but how they deliver their messages is important as well.

People buy people and similarly voters buy a voice it appears.
A study into voice pitch by  Klofstad, Anderson and Peters  from Miami and Duke universities has been recently published . It  gives some more robust scientific data  about the persuasive power of a lower  voice pitch. The conclusion of the paper reads
“ …our findings challenge existing theories of human behaviour, which assert that attitudes, such as partisanship and ideology are the primary force behind vote choice. Thus, while social participation and political decision-making are viewed as higher level cognitive functions—the kind of thinking that sets us aside from other animals—our results clearly demonstrate that these behaviours cannot be understood in isolation from biological influences.”

Pitch influences perception of leaders C. A. Klofstad et al.

The study involved testing the judgement of listeners to altered pitched version of 
 ‘I urge you to vote for me this November’
by female and male speakers.

People appear to prefer lower voices when voting

The study appears to demonstrate that humans prefer leaders with lower-pitched voices, whether they are male or female. Consequently, male and female political candidates with lower pitched voices may be more likely to win elected offices. ( The political equivalent of winning the account in selling)
As a consequence, the researchers also observe that notwithstanding countries that use gender quotas , women are vastly under-represented in leadership positions across the globe.

" While gender discrimination is an obvious cause of the under-representation of women as leaders, our results suggest that biological differences between the sexes, and the study's responses to those differences, could potentially be an additional factor to consider." ( I am not sure what gender discrimination studies have been undertaken in the Sales / buying arena - but certain trade sectors seem under represented e.g. Engineering)
 Left: Election experiment results. Proportion of votes cast for the lower-pitched version of male and female voices.
 A value of 0.50 represents no discernible preference for either higher- or lower-pitched voices.
Male (white bar) and female (grey bar) listeners voted for the lower-pitched male and female voices more frequently ( Pitch influences perception of leaders C. A. Klofstad et al.)

Because women, on average, have higher pitched voices than men, and because higher-pitched female voices are judged to be weaker, less competent and less trustworthy ( from this study), the characteristics of this vocal signal could help explain why women are less likely to hold leadership roles than men.

 At the very least, voice pitch is a physical characteristic that does not counterbalance social norms that foster gender inequality.

 A test of this hypothesis  the  researchers postulate would be to assess which sex fares better in a forced-choice election experiment when subjects are asked to choose between male and female voices with the same, and different, voice pitches.

Voters  ( like Buyers? ) vote on impressions
 The researchers  results add to the growing evidence that vote choices can be made based on ‘thin’ impressionistic judgements . They also add evidence to the literature showing that human behaviour is influenced by voice qualities in domains other than physical conflict and mating. ( which I guess includes selling, We certainly feel in selling the truth' that you don't get a chance to make a first impression)
 As more and more selling is communicated through pitches via the microphone of telephone, mobiles and Web Pitches this research area has pertinence for our profession of selling.

Of course a low voice pitch alone will not always be the whole story in successfully capturing votes.
Great brand : Jacobs Crackers
First produced in 1885
 Remember comedian Joe Pasqualie was voted King of the Jungle 6th December 2004?
 I guess the bush trucker trials etc. put his strength, competence and trustworthiness to the test for the  watching public's vote in  ITV's " I'm a celebrity -Get me out of here"

Jacob's Crackers apart from being delicious always bring a smile to my face now!

Related Links
Sounds like a winner: voice pitch influences perception of leadership capacity in both men and women Miami and Duke University Klofstad, Anderson and Peters

BBC Article by Daniel Boettcher 14th March 2012

 Importance of voice pitch tone and pausing University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research Study
Pitching over the web

Monday, 26 March 2012

Your Nutshell Sell -introductions when selling solutions

Philip Stanley - TACK International
Back at Scarman House today, Warwick Conferences in Coventry to run a TACK PRO-PAYBACK Selling 3 day programme with my colleague Philip Stanley. Wonderful  spread of businesses represented.
Most of the delegates  are a little nervous about introductions and standing up and introducing themselves so Phillip and I get them to interview each other and let the interviewer describe the colleague they interviewed.

Stand Up and be counted:

As  they their career as salespeople progresses they know that they will  often  be expected to introduce ourselves to prospects, at networking events, at presentations, pitches and even further training courses.

Because we reckon we know how to speak and  have had an education we often think we are ' bright ' enough and the words will come to mind. to blag an introduction. 

Well for many of us the right words don't come that easily 

If you have a shy personality this initial introduction can feel like a torture. Indeed the expression ' has the cat got your tongue?'  derives from the cat o nine tails flog that the Royal Navy used to discipline sailors. Apparently the sailors had to to even make his own cat o nine tails from rope. It was thrown away after punishment.)
Hugh Alford - TACK International

Well we can avoid the cat getting our tongue by PREPARING.
There is a phrase in English often used to by clients to communicate to us a plea for brevity it goes

" In a nutshell....." 

Enclosing key communication in a nutshell has a long history.

(The Dalriadic King of Scots used to issue new laws in a Nutshell from Kilmartin Priory, Argyll in 465 BC. The shell protected the delicate parchment inside.)

The client wants to crack our shell to obtain the nut.  Our shell case must be sufficiently attractive and inviting. Maybe we have a wonderful selection of Bowl overflowing with Solution Nuts to offer our client  with easy to  open pistachios through  easy crackable walnuts , almonds and hazelnuts through to the more challenging Brazil nuts ( OK Pistachios and Brazil are not strictly nuts in the biological sense but you get the point)  . 

Our nutshell sell has a lot to do with an inviting shell case.

1. Ensure you nut casing is not made of unnecessary negatives
In his super book " Drop the Pink Elephant" by Bill MCFarlane the author points out how we often we include in our conversation unnecessary negatives in our conversation

e.g. "I'm not really in Sales ....

" I don't really sell......

" I am not really trying to sell you anything....

so often means of course the above mean the opposite - They mean actually  I AM IN SELLING"

2. Don't  over hype your nutshell casing

If we are not in denial the case of our nut shell can be overhyped.

The new series of the Apprentice clocked in 6 million viewers last Wednesday night to see some their hyped introductions . Of course this showed is contrived  TV entertainment but the sixteen candidates reveal their business philosophies and personal shell cases to be captured on the trailers to the programme.

"I am a master puppeteer - I pull all the strings"

"I am the blonde Assasin..".

"I am like a shark right at the top of the food chain."

Are such  statements indicators of who might win the £250,000 Lord sugar wants to invest watch this space? They sound more like old school elevator pitches.

Notice how  many of the participants in the new series of the Apprentice feel are asked to introduce themselves to Lord Sugar. 

First impressions do count.  You also that you will be expected to do these short introduction prospects, at networking events, at presentations, pitches and even training courses so why not prepare your your nutshell sell.

Here is a process guide that you will find helpful:-

For example when prospecting  Prepare your thought around these 8  points to give your nutshell focus.
1 Focus your nutshell sell around the person within the prospect who is most likely to suffer from the problem you can solve, and who is likely to initiate the buying decision process. You can describe the role by title (“Finance Director”) or function (“Head of Finance”)

2 Your Ideal Prospect is the sort of organisation you would like to do business with. Your focus may need to reflect demographic, structural, behavioural or environmental considerations. Keep it simple

3 Focus on the most valuable problem that your solution can solve for them. This could be a current pain point, an as-yet unmet goal, or an opportunity that they are trying to exploit - what keeps them awake at night

4  Use the product or service name of your solution

5 What category of solution does your offering fit into? You must use a category the prospect would recognise

6 What is the most important business benefit they will derive from using your solution - the primary motivation for buying?

7 What would your prospect consider to be the most likely alternative approach (this could be a competitor, or it might just as likely be an in house solution, etc.) to solving the problem?

8 Identify the one thing - preferably something that is highly relevant to the prospect, that you do particularly well, and which would be hard for anyone else to copy or claim - that sets you apart from all the other options available to the prospect

 A template to crack your nutshell sell ( using the 8 points about insert the appropriate words)
In a nutshell ….
1.       "We work with...
2.       In...
3.       Who are trying to...
4.       Our...
5.       Is a....
6.       That  enables them to...
7.       Unlike...
8.       Which sets us apart ..."

Shakespeare’s Hamlet declares, "O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count my selfe a King of infinite space."
The Dalriadic King of Scots used to issue new laws in a Nutshell from Kilmartin Priory, Argyll in 465 BC. The shell protected the delicate parchment inside.

Related links

Drop the  pink elephant by Bil McCalren  ISBN 1-84112-479-6 PUBLISHERS A CAPSTONE

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Solution Selling Summer Time SDST

British Summer time in UK is upon us. Our clocks went forward on Sunday 24th.
Since the 1980s, all parts of western and central Europe have co-ordinated the date and the time of their clock changes.

 Once again the issue about adopting SDST  (Single Double Summer Time) is raised in the media.

Views from Businesses in London were researched some while back by GLA Economics who published in October 2010.

Do you believe that such a change would be beneficial to your business?

Yes                                                     36%

No                                                       8%

Sundial designed by David Harber  on Putney High Street London
 March 24th 2011 No hours hand to put forward the Gnomon is "correct" for BST from Today
It would make no difference               51%

Don’t know                                          5%

Total                                                100%

For companies dealing with clients abroad, moving in line with other European countries has obvious benefits.
 The report done by the Greater London Authority said changing the clocks would provide 40% more business time overlap with the continent for businesses in the City and enable people to attend morning meetings in Europe without staying overnight. This also applies to many businesses outside London as well.
It would also provide more working time in the morning for trading with Asian markets
But pushing the UK an hour eastwards would narrow the opportunity to speak to companies in the US, especially the West Coast, which would be nine or 10 hours behind the UK.
Much of Scotland's trade is also with Europe and is worth £15bn to the Scottish economy annually.. The time difference reduces efficiency for companies.
These Summer time changes on standard dates throughout the EU mean Britain and Ireland constantly remain an hour behind most of Central Europe
Whether it is exports or imports that are the focus, or whether it is goods trade or services, the UK’s main trading partner is Europe and not the US or Japan or China. Multinational companies commonly have a European hub, an Asian hub and a US hub. Typically the European Head Office is responsible for the European regional offices and not for Asian or US offices. If the European Head Office is in London, it is therefore much more important for its working day to overlap with the rest of Europe than with Asia or North America.
If the UK moved to SDST (Single Double Summer Time) then the overlap with Asia in the morning would increase while that with North America in the afternoon would diminish (the opening of the New York stock exchange would move to 3pm London time).
This also affects business travel. UK businessmen make 8-9 times more business trips to Europe than to North America.24 A move to SDST would help business travel and communications with European partners, customers and suppliers and could therefore boost trade.

On a lighter note-Springtime is well underway in London

 Londoners have been enjoying sunny weather and all the sundials have been working. Some photos of Holland Park in central London

"Annunciation"  2000 sculpture in Holland Park
  Monday 25th is Lady Day the feast of the Annunciation

The large sundial at Holland Park with its Tortoises 2012

Peacock resting before displaying see next photo  (March  2012)

Peacock displaying in Holland Park March  2012
Daffodils in the woods in Holland Park 2012

Formal box garden Holland House in background 2012

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Budget 2012 Selling Opportunities for Solution Selling Rapport Building Questions

Budget 2012 – How will it affect your Clients?  ASK THEM!

Word cloud of the 2012 Budget from the DirectGov Website Budget 2012 from which you can download the chancellor's speech and detailed docments from HM Treasury website. A visual representation of the Chancellor's 2012 Budget speech. The size of each word reflects how often it was used

Sometimes Delegates tell me they can find it hard to just talk with clients as a Trusted adviser or on a financial/general business level rather than the comfort zone of their technical solutions of their products and services.
The period  of a few days after the Budget give us opportunities to learn more about client's business in general by asking what their views, opinions, attitudes, feelings, needs , wants and disappointments the announcements of the budget. and give our clients a really good listening to! 
Here are four areas from which you could draw out one or two questions to get talking at a business level with Clients on Budget 2012.

1. Personal 
2. Business 
3. Duties
4. Funding


e.g. Take an area of possible relevance to your client 
 “Tell Me  what effect will  PPPPPPPP  have on you/your staff/ your business/your clients/distributors/agents  ?”

      Personal Allowance raised from £8,105 to £9,205 (i.e. £1,100 at 20% or £220 per annum)

      Child benefit tapered off when someone earns over £50,000 gone by £60,000.

      Age allowances to be brought into line with above over time. (i.e. pensioners get less advantages – it’s simplified!)

      Top rate reduced to 45%.

      General anti-avoidance rule to be introduced. (Could catch out clever avoidance schemes)

      Pension age to keep pace with life expectancy.

      Single tier pension for all future pensioners set at around £140 based on contributions.

      Housing stamp duty to be 7% on houses over £2M and 15% if bought through a company.


e.g. So long as you deem it appropriate take an area of possible relevance to your client

  “Tell Me  what effect will  BBBBBBBBB have on you/your staff/ your business/your clients/distributors/agents  ?”

      UK Growth forecasts up from 0.7% to 0.8%

      Eurozone growth forecasts reduced from 0.5% to -0.3%

      UK inflation forecast to drop from 2.8% this year to 1.9% next year.

      Extra funding for construction companies to build new homes.

      Corporation tax down from 25% to 24% with a target of 22% by 2014.

o   (Note Ireland is 15% and a number of large companies have relocated their HQs there to pay their rates taking huge revenue out of the UK economy.  Some have started to drift back recently.)

o   NB Bank levy increased so that they do not benefit from above.

      Enhanced depreciation (capital allowances) for new enterprise zones in Scotland and Wales.

      Consultation on simplified system for taxing companies with revenues below £77k.

      Tax relief for video games, animation and top end TV production sectors.

      Considering enterprise loans to help young people start business (on top of their Uni Loans!)

      Sunday trading laws relaxed for 8 weeks over Olympics starting  July 22nd

      Tax changes to boost oil and gas extraction in North Sea and West of Shetland.


e.g. Take an area of possible relevance to your client  

“Tell Me  what effect will  DDDDDDDD  have on you/your staff/ your business/your clients/distributors/agents  ?”

      Alcohol unchanged but tobacco products up by 5% over inflation.

      New duty on gaming machines at 20% but low 5% rate on low prize machines.

      Vehicle tax to rise by inflation but frozen for Hauliers.

      Fuel duty plans unchanged – above inflation rises will return if oil price falls below $70 per barrel.

Funding for

e.g. Take an area of possible relevance to your client

 “Tell Me  what effect will  FFFFFFFF have on you/your staff/ your business/your clients/distributors/agents  ?”

      Rail links around Manchester area.
      High Broadband speeds in top 10 cities.
      London and South East Air links (Report to be published this summer.

Related Links

Financial training for Sales Professionals

Financial training for non Financial Managers