Thursday, 26 April 2012

HRD 2012 at London's Olympia Learning on Demand and developing your sales talent.

Today’s HR Function specialists have a role somewhat akin to those stage acts of plate spinning.

The plates they spin include Employment Law, Learning and Development, Change Management, Coaching and Mentoring, Discipline and Grievances, Corporate Strategy, Recruitment, Absence, Age Discrimination, Redundancy, Talent Management, Performance Management, Diversity and Equality, Strategic HR, Management Development, Terms and Conditions of Employment, Maternity and Parental Rights to name just the most obvious.

So it is not surprising that their professional body the CIPD has a show with the size and scope of HRD 2012 this year held at London’s   Olympia. I am writing this blog just outside the hall for Day two of the exhibition and conference.

Released alongside the show yesterday April 25th,  was the CIPD Cornerstone survey
(Learning-talent-development survey) reveals that traditional methods of workplace learning are considered amongst the least effective ways to “up-skill” employees – but still dominate many L&D programmes.

When asked to choose the most effective ways of delivering training, just 16 % of learning and talent development professionals opted for “formal education courses”, and the same number for “coaching by external practitioners”. Only 11 % pointed to “e-learning”.

Yet despite doubts about its effectiveness,

less than a fifth (17 %) of the report’s respondents plan to reduce their reliance on “classroom and trainer-led instruction” over the next two years.

When asked what methods are most likely to work, most learning and development professionals pointed towards training that is integrated into the normal course of their jobs.

 Half of respondents (52 %) responded that “in-house development programmes” were amongst the most effective ways of delivering training, while almost as many (46 %) cited “coaching by line managers”.

Two-fifths (39%) pointed towards “on-the-job training”.

Other insights from the report include

• A third of public sector organisations anticipate greater use of e-learning across the organisation over the next two years, compared with a fifth of other organisations.

• Fewer organisations than last year report they undertake talent management activities. In two-fifths of organisations, talent management activities cover all or most employees, but most focus on high-potential employees and senior managers.

• Two-fifths of organisations report that innovation and creativity are critical to their organisation and that everyone is involved.

• Half of organisations report that their economic circumstances have declined in the past twelve months, rising to three-quarters in the public sector.

• The median annual training budget per employee was £276, less than last year’s figure of £350. The median number of training hours employees receive per year was 24, again a reduction on last year.

Of course these figures were not specifically on Sales managers and salespeople but one suspects that equivalent trends would be prevalent in the relevant sectors.

So  the main reason for people visiting HRD 2012 is looking for ways to improve organisational performance. This year’s show is organised in streams in Learning and Talent development, technology for learning, coaching and OD, Leadership and Development.
Looking on the website for the show on offer are areas dedicated to coaching or talent or get an update across all areas of learning and organisation development.

 The sessions are presented to take into account different formats and find a learning style that suits the visitor.

 It is an opportunity to gain practical tips and advice to improve individual and organisational performance.

 Both at the conference proper and the exhibition there are talk and pitches HR and business leaders, who are experts in their chosen fields

There are openings to work through your business issues in practical workshops with like-minded peers.

 One aspect I find helpful about the HRD show is one is able  to benchmark ones existing approaches to learning and organisation development.

It is also great to share experiences with leading organisations who are tackling the same challenges as I encounter.

From a personal networking viewpoint It is a place to make new contacts, network with your peers, and re-acquaint with old friends and colleagues.

 One can look at the latest products and services in learning and organisation development at the free exhibition.

I will definitely be going to see the NEW Technology in the Learning Zone for the latest developments in technology-enabled learning.

Well I better stop blogging get into the show- the doors will be opening shortly.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Shakespeare sells

A marathon of Shakespeare's plays
 to be performed in 37 languages

Today the Blog is dedicated to England’s greatest playwright. April 23rd is William Shakespeare’s birthday. I am running a marketing course back at Radcliffe House, Warwick Conferences, Coventry.

So I am celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday in the county of Shakespeare’s birth, Warwickshire.

Yesterday Sunday 22nd April London witnessed two marathons. One was the more conventional running variety namely The London Marathon.

London Marathon 2012 - photo taken
 from Blackfriars Bridge, North bank side

Shakespeare's Globe , on London''s South Bank,
 open to the Public for free for Sonnet Sunday

The other marathon in  London has weeks to go. It is has been started at the Globe Theatre with ‘Sonnet Sunday’ . Shakespeare’s Globe on the south bank was open free to the public for the day include the museum.

Model of  the Globe Theatre in the museum of Shakespeare's Globe

An Australian Actress
 performs a sonnet in English

During the period I was there, I heard sonnets spoken in Japanese, Romanian, Flemish, Welsh Hungarian and English ( well beautiful Aussie ‘strein’ to be more accurate by a beautiful Australian).

She performed the Sonnet using the full area of the stage engaging
 the audience in the 'groundlings and
 the seated areas of the tiers, the master of ceremonies looks on

Even though I did not understand the non-English versions I was taken away by the passionate performance of the young actors delivering the Sonnets. The music and rhythm of Shakespeare crosses languages. The translations still seemed to have the music and rhythm of Shakespearean English. The actors and actresses love of the words transmitted to all in the open air theatre space by actors through body language, eye contact.
bathed in Spring sunshine visitors to the Shakespeare's Globe listen to a sonnet

It was fun to be amongst the ‘groundlings’ standing , looking up at the actors and watching their performance.
The event was also the launch day of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre putting on all 37 plays in 37 languages a veritable marathon of drama.

A Shakespeare sonnet in Hungarian on the stage of Shakespeare's Globe, London
part of Sonnet Sunday at the Globe

What has this to do with Selling?

Well it’s to do with WORDS. As professional salespeople we not only have to be first class listeners and questioners but also we need to know about words and how they are expressed.

Although there were not salespeople in our postindustrial revolutionary sense in Shakespeare’s time, there were folk who sold things as part of the job.

There were:

 Factor Persons who made business transactions for another person (sort of agent) , Haberdashers who sold men's clothing. Salters who sold salt or salts meat, fish, and other food. Silversmith  who made, repairs, and sold items of silver. Vintners who made and sold wine. Other sales types included the Tranter Peddler who sold their wares from a horse-drawn cart .                                                                                                 
Maybe the closest to most playwright’s stereotype of a field sales person in Shakespearean England at the time the Peddler - an Itinerant  seller of merchandise. The Peddler stove no doubt  to try and be ‘well liked’ as  Arthur Miller’s Willie Lomax in  Miller’s twentieth Century play ‘Death of a salesman’ .

Yet of course we engage with Shakespeare not particularly because of the rank or status  of the characters, or the times they  are set  but what he reveals about human nature.

Human has not changed much over time. his observations are timeless.

Being both aware and knowledgeable  of human nature both our and our clients helps us enormously in our work. - Shakespeare sells.

In your are in London over the next few weeks why not go to a play  at Shakespeare's Globe and enjoy the universal appeal of Shakespeare in whatever language.

Globe to Globe at Shakespeare's Globe

 a  quote to finish in English
"And Since This Business So Fair is Done, Let Us Not Leave Till All Our Own Be Won."

Henry IV, Part I

Saturday, 21 April 2012

SMEs Sales Masterclass with Islington's Entrepreneurs Cobden's successors

On the morning of Friday 20th April, I found myself at Mornington Crescent Tube station on my way to run a workshop for the Islington Chamber of Commerce at the co-working space for start-ups, entrepreneurs and freelancers the Metro Lab in Crowndale Road .

Opposite the tube station is a statue to one Robert Cobden ( 1804- 1865) who is probably best remembered as a campaigning politician associated the repeal of the infamous Corn laws.
Richard Cobden  ( 1804-1865)

Pedestal of the Cobden statue

Cobden in his early life was as an entrepreneur.
By fifteen years old he was a salesman (commercial traveller) in the cotton trade. By 1828 he had formed a partnership with two other young men to start a company selling calico prints in London.
The business was an immediate success. By 1842 Cobden and his partners had turned an original £1,000 investment into £80,000.
Following his experiences of travel across Europe and North Africa he published a book in 1835 . In it he warned that in the future Britain would find it difficult to compete with the emerging economic power of America. Cobden's book also advocated a policy of free trade, low taxation, reduced military spending and an improvement in our system of education.
Uncanny how so many of those types of  issues of two hundred years ago are still with us!
What has all this to do with Selling?

Walking down Crowndale Road towards Metro lab, I wondered what 21st century ‘Cobdens’ I might meet at the  Islington Chamber of Commerce event.

In our group at the Metro lab were entrepreneurs from the tutoring world, handmade natural body care remedies, party organising, bridal shop, a tax and accounts specialist, owner of a children’s educational toys and books business, two of ' interns' from the Islington Chamber on secondment from their business studies courses at London Metropolitan University plus a couple of colleagues form the TACK International , Colin Hurst and Iqbal Kanji.

The title of the session was "Managing Sales for small businesses" .Using the data from the Buyers’ views of Suppliers survey we had a lively interactive morning from 9 .30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m..
Debbie and Julia completing a survey on social Media in the Sales Process

Iqbal Kanji, TACK International operates the command master pebble ( white pebble)
for the response poll.

Using the Pebble voting system we gathered views on Sales strategy with regards to protecting existing Customer business, expanding sales through growth of existing Customer base and vitally the developing of new business.

We have been using Interactive Education's Pebble response system for a while now.

We find it helps to engage, motivate and empower each delegate immediately in a session. This is particularly important when, as in the case of  this ‘taster session’, we have just 3 hours from start to finish to get the work done.

The introduction of the system early on also works  as an excellent ice-breaker.

From a trainer’s point of view the Pebble system quickly confirms delegate understanding of key concepts  and helps create instant interactive learning atmosphere  in an enjoyable environment.

 Iqbal and I  were able to gather  opinions and present the results instantly and this all promotes group discussion and delegate engagement.

The more we work with the system the more we will leverage the data captured to both analyse and report on the information it renders.
Through a survey using Pebble's Genee World Classcomm software our group considered the various pricing strategies relevant to their businesses  and the impact and use of social media at both the strategic and tactical application levels

Julia and Inessa with Richard listening in on the discussions
Alana raises a point on how the 'long tail' has changed
so many business models and Anthony listens in
Key points of the " Managing Sales" agenda covered:-
  1. How to sell to your customers the way they like to buy
  2. What customers like and dislike about sales people
  3. The importance (or not) of price in the final decision
  4. How to build and retain customer loyalty
  5. What part can social media play in B2B markets?
  6. What makes an effective Salesperson ?
The Group in discussion on how trust is earned and
 loyalty developed in managing sales

Back from break time ( left to right) Adriana (Islington Chamber of Commerce
 and London Metropolitan University), Alana, Anthony (resuming his seat),
Sophie( Islington Chamber / London Metropolitan University)  and Hugh Alford TACK International

(Back row standing left to right delegates) Debbie, Julia, Inessa,
Iqbal, Hugh  Alford (Speaker-Tack International), Colin
seated right to left  Richard, Jacalyn, Adriana, Alana ,Anthony
and Sophie at  Islington Chamber of Commerce's
" SMEs Sales Masterclass"  April 20th 2012
held at the Metro Lab,

Leaving the Metro Lab I returned to Mornington Crescent tube station. It was lunchtime so I popped into No 1 Camden High Street The Lyttleton Arms opposite the tube station and had a great pint of Purity Brewing's UPU beer.

Supping my pint I looked out of the window towards the Cobden statue and pondered on a quote of his - still pertinent on Friday April 20th 2012- and beyond.

"The progress of freedom depends more upon the maintenance of peace, the spread of commerce, and the diffusion of education, than upon the labours of cabinets and foreign offices."

 Richard Cobden 1804-1865

Related links

Croydon Chamber of Commerce - managing sales

Metrolab Ltd

Metrolab is a co-working space for start-ups, entrepreneurs and freelancers. We provide support for individuals and business and a physical space for permanent residents and drop-in members. Our services range from:- Call Answering, Service/Registered Business Address, Mailing Address, Mail Forwarding, Personal Assistance Services, Desk space, Event/Conference Room Hire, Private Office Hire, Training & Courses, Document services, Accountancy services.

The British Chambers of Commerce - are the ultimate business network- and have for over 150 years been promoting British Business. Their mission is to make the chamber network an essential part of growing business; they do do this by sharing opportunities, knowledge and expertise.

Islington Chamber of Commerce is one of 52 accredited chambers across the country representing over 100.000 business across the country

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Selling the word - London Book Fair. 2012

Selling the word

This week has had to be the 'week of the book' in London.

Now in its 41st year, The London Book Fair  ( LBF)  took up its three day residence at the Earls  Court  Exhibition halls 1 and 2 .
 The LBF continues to be the global market  and leading business-to-business exhibition for rights negotiation and the sales and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels.
With over 400 seminars and events, 1,500 international exhibiting companies and 24,500 publishing professionals, The London Book Fair covers the vast spectrum of the publishing industry.

For sure some big deals were being discussed and negotiated in Earls Court but the biggest 'deal of the week' for a single book (not much bigger than a pocket sized 'A to Z ' of the city) was the £9 million  ($14)  book deal secured by the Society of Jesus = Jesuits ( British Province) with the British Library over  in Bloomsbury WC1.
The book concerned is the Cuthbert St John’s gospel – Europe’s oldest book made in the seventh century in north of England.
The £9 million book has been digitised and will by freely available on the library’s digitised manuscripts.

Book selling continued at the LBF nonetheless . This year's show has focused on the book business in China.

The show posters had this attractive word collage of a fan

For all the universal use of English as a world business
 language the message at the top of  this stand is well made

view of show stands  at LBF 2012

It was great to view the stands of companies I have run programmes or from whom had sent delegates on public course I had run e.g. Elsevier, LexisNexis, Computer Bookshops...
view of Stands at LBF 2012
An arch to invite visitors onto this stand

The people in the Book World are an interesting group. I guess if you like reading,it follows you like print and words and learning stuff.

So among the hard bargaining and sales presentations there was time for education .

I met some very nice people at the various mini talks particularly at the Author Zone.

Not just all about commerce.

Below are a series photos of models depicting the early days of block printing in China from a central exhibition in Earls Court 2 of the London Book Fair 2012.

A copy of the Chinese version of Diamond Sūtra , was on show.

The Diamond Sutra was found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in the early 20th century and dated back to 868, is, in the words of the British Library, "the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book ( equivalent to 11 May 868)

This is some 587 years before the Gutenberg Bible. !! 
A copy of the Diamond Sutra unrolled to
 its sixteen foot length
 with the print blocks to the right
 It begins " Thus I have heard..." ( at the far end of this photo)

Because the Diamond Sūtra can be read in 40-50 minutes, it is often memorised and chanted in Buddhist monasteries
One thing is for sure in Selling.... is change and impermanence

A list of vivid metaphors for impermanence in the Diamond Sutra appears in a popular four-line verse at the end of the sūtra . A strange resonance for those in selling perhaps.
All conditioned phenomena
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, or shadows;
Like drops of dew, or flashes of lightning;
Thusly should they be contemplated.
So it is  perhaps with Sales targets, product exclusivity, USPs, market share...... also!

Beginning of the Diamond Sutra with drawing
of the Budha with its printing block below


To quote the opening line of St Cuthbert Gospel mentioned at the start of this post- In principio erat verbum  tr.In the beginning was the word-   with all its fullness of meaning that phrase involves ,a definition of selling  comes to mind :

 'persuasive communication against resistance'

- the book whether in its print or digital incarnation is surely such a persuasive communicator.

Related Links:

Digital Economy Publishing
London Book Fair 2013 will be held on Monday 15th - Wednesday 17th April and will return to Earls Court, London
The market focus for LBF 2013 will be Turkey

Friday, 13 April 2012

Lopping for better Sales Growth - Sales Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air

The sounds of the invasion from abroad of  cuculus canorus ( cuckoos ) are with us.

 Across the UK  from mid March  people alert us that have have heard the first cuckoos of Spring. 

In London ,Spring is announced in the streets and avenues by a matching mechanical call -the chain saws of the tree surgeons .

High up in the trees of London can be spotted ,often  in the Protective Clothing of the genus 'Andreas Stihlius'  with their signature plumage of orange ,cream and black,those intrepid tree surgeons lopping away.

As leaders in the Forestry equipment and Landscape maintenance industry Stihl's high performing trade  Stihl products and domestic brands Viking are used not just in the countryside but also in the city.
A Tree Surgeon Tree lopping in Ladbroke Grove London April 12th 2012 scroll down for movie clip

Tree lopping is the process of trimming various sections of a tree. The lopping may involve clearing away branches or limbs, or even shortening trunks. It is done to regenerate growth. The superfluous  or dead wood is removed . It is sort of  arboreal hair cut.

So what has this lopping business to do with Selling?

  • Is there any dead wood amongst the trees in your Sales Avenue that needs lopping ?

  • Where is the active growth to be found in your accounts ?

  •  How tidy is your data base ?

Perhaps It's time to get up  high into your selling trees and do some lopping don't forget the safety ropes etc. This sales lopping like its real life counterpart is risky.

You can start with  some of these calculations.
My total number of existing accounts is _______accounts.

I need to visit face to face ____ existing accounts on a weekly basis.

I need to visit face to face ____ existing accounts on a fortnightly basis

I need to visit face to face ____existing accounts on a monthly basis

I need to visit face to face ___ existing accounts on a quarterly basis

I need to visit face to face ____ existing accounts on a half yearly basis

My total face to face call to existing accounts per year
needs to be ____ calls.

The number of calls for new business/prospecting is my total annual calls – my calls to existing customers.
Therefore my prospecting calls per year are ____ calls

High up amongst the trees in London's Ladboke Grove Area a tree surgeon at work.
By undertaking such calculations you can see what is feasible to lop in your sales tree avenue. You might realise that to make target you may need to increase your daily face to face call rate.

You may need to reduce the number of calls to existing customers in order to make time for prospecting to meet your new business target.

Whatever such calculations show you, they will lead you into a pragmatic mindset of how you can and will meet your target rather than live a selling life of 'reactive body blows' and 'windfalls' and being weighed down by dead wood.
If you feel that you would like to increase the number of calls in a day, analyse how you spend your time in a day out in the field.

Two tree surgeons  (One with Yellow Jacket , other Blue helmet higher up to right hand side ) at work in Ladbroke Grove, London  2012
*Where does the time goes when out in the field?

Travelling 38%
Administration 12%
Waiting 7%
Breaks 6%
Non business related chat 11%
Selling time 28%

* Time Well Spent Survey 2006
What parts of your selling trees need lopping?

Here are some simple and practical ideas to make best use of your time out amongst your selling trees. Ways that could reduce travelling timeprune your administration lessen the 'chat gap'make better use of 'lost time' in waiting etc.
Sales Tree Lopping -Time Saving/ Self Management tips
  • Is a face to face meeting necessary ? Would email, phone call , audio conference call do it better ?

  • Is your car the best means of transport ? Cheap air flight , rail, tube , bus or cab ?

  • Route Planning- Grouping Calls is better time management

  • For cities and towns work in towards the centre in the afternoon and out of the centre in the morning i.e. against the ‘rush hour’ flow

  • Fill up the petrol tank in the evening. Save you time driving 180 degrees in the wrong direction to the 24 hours garage ( gas station)

  • Listen to the radio traffic reports and make a note of reports relevant to your day
Local Radio :BBC LBC79.3 FM 

  • Consider investing in satellite navigation ( sat nav.E.gTomTom, Garmin etc)

  • Have some coins for parking meters

  • Ask customer’s advice about local parking

  • Politely refuse the offer of coffee at the end of a meeting - hot tea /coffee takes ten minutes to drink- it steals  your time.

Tree lopping video clip in Ladbroke Grove , London 2012

  • Use waiting time for quick time fillers, seeking out information on company e.g. their in house magazine.

  • Have a meeting agenda planned - perhaps even written out.

  • Pack your brief case/samples etc. the night before. No wasted time first thing in the morning hunting round for stuff. Also you will get a better night's sleep

  • Consider overnight stays for those customers furthest from your home base.

  •  Clean up your CRM, Data Bases and Records.  Eradicate duplications
 -The following 'lopping' questions should be like the insistence 'chime ' of the cuckoo clock.
Right now ask yourself these CUCKOO questions

  • Is what you are doing helping to protect your business?  Cuckoo !
  • Is it helping to expand your business ? Cuckoo !
  • Is it helping you to  develop new business ? Cuckoo !

 If none of these STOP doing it. Lop It !

Cuckoo Clock chimes ten o'clock
Related links

Stihl :

New Catalogue  for 2012 from Stihl and Viking -Time for a spot of Spring Grooming
Stihl's branding story

Matters Cuckoo

The recent decline of the cuckoo has made them a Red List species.more information on Cuckoos RSPB site is good.

Some cuckoos have their own travel blog !  I joke not.

 You can follow Clement , Martin, Lyster, Kapser and Chris in their migration across Africa and Spain.