Wednesday, 26 September 2012

3 ways to Improve your chances of winning Sales

In the Tack Buyers views of salespeople 2012 - Selling in a VUCA world , 89% of Buyers had looked for new suppliers a 10% lift since 2010. 

 Whether prospective new suppliers are able to offer a sufficiently persuasive alternative is more debatable .

What are the chances of winning new business ?

 In a post published on the HBR blog in July 2012 by Steven W Martin , he shared some research he had undertaken on 1,000 bids to analyse at what point of time decisions were made by buyers in the bidding process.

30% had decided the winner before the selection process began

45% had made their mind up by half way through the process

Only 25% decided at the end of the process

Therefore, if you are not clearly in the lead at the half way stage of the sales process, the likelihood is that you are going to lose
In almost every case Martin observes, the decision wasn't even close between the top two choices.

Even though customers had made up their minds, they still demanded all the other salespeople to jump through a series of hoops for nothing, wasting their valuable time, resources, and mental and emotional energy.

The main point from the above  ? There is little point training your sales teams on how and why prospective customers make their buying decision if your training isn't based upon direct rsearch with decision makers about won and lost business and what they feel about salespeople. Hence why the Buyers' Views of Salespeople has been a work in progress the last fourteen years.

Three ways to improve the team to win more.

1. Sharing success stories about key wins especially when explained using examples  will help the entire sales team  understand and learn from them.
Click here for tips on elevator pitches
2. In your sales training include role play exercises on everything from your elevator pitch and cold calls to the corporate presentation and negotiation.

2. Best practise .Consider asking your top salespeople to be interviewed in a panel-type setting about their sales philosophy, client interactive categorisation strategy ( see below), and where they win and lose. This can be  followed by a robust audience question and answer session.

Client interaction Categorisation is a method of segmenting customer interactions based upon prospective customers' roles within the organization, their speciality (technical, financial or operational), their political power,  and how they process information.

Client Interacton Categorisation
The purpose of such categorsation strategy is to produce a predictive framework that helps salespeople anticipate client behaviour.

Since the salesperson has a deeper insight about customer behaviour based upon past interactions, (s)he is able to conduct more persuasive sales calls.

 This strategy also serves as a communication methodology to educate and prepare the support team members (pre-sales engineers, consultants, and sales managers) who may attend the sales call with the salesperson.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Plebs, Yahoos and Muppets Andrew Mitchell , Jonathan Swift ,Greg Smith and William Shakespeare


Careless talk  can cost Sales, damage reputations , upset stakeholders and lose customers .
The word 'Pleb' is a case in point at the moment in the UK.

The Chief Whip bicycles to work
 in London as do more Londoners
 click here
The Gates at No 10 have become  almost as iconic
 as the black front door
 An extract from the police log of the incident in which the bicycling Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell abused police officers at the gates of No 10 Downing Street reads

.....There were several members of public present as is the norm opposite the pedestrian gate and as we neared it, Mr MITCHELL said: "Best you learn your f------ don’t run this f------ government...You’re f------ plebs." The members of public looked visibly shocked and I was somewhat taken aback by the language used and the view expressed by a senior government official. I cannot say if this statement was aimed at me individually, or the officers present or the police service ...."

 A piece by Ben Milne in  BBC Magazine section of their website carried an article  asked “ who uses the word pleb nowadays?"

The post ended  Last year, a government agency released a newsletter highlighting the problem of what it described as People Lacking Everyday Basic Skills. “

The description was dropped, when people spotted it could have become an acronym

People Lacking Everyday Basic Skills.  OUCH!!!

T'was ever so !  

Jonathan Swift  in Gulliver Travels of 1726 described Yahoos as being filthy and with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings far too closely for the liking of protagonist Lemuel Gulliver.

The Yahoos are primitive creatures obsessed with "pretty stones" they find by digging in mud, thus representing the distasteful materialism and ignorant elitism Swift encountered in Britain.  Some might argue they still exist.

Hence the term "yahoo" came to mean "a crude, brutish or obscenely coarse person”

Yet today to describe another as a Yahoo   to somebody unfamiliar with the word being used in a derogatory sense, they might search for its meaning on Google and would only identify the use as an insult on entry No 5 after the four above claimed by “Yahoo – the world’s most visited home page”!
Before we in business get to smug about the shortcomings of politicians' careless talk and their mindset , such vocabulary can risk our undoing. For example:-

Should Goldman Sachs have bewared "the ides of March 2012" ?

( Strictly the 15th March not the 14th.... but hey)

Do you remember that article in the New York Times by Greg Smith, the disgruntled former employee of Goldman Sachs, back in March this year ?
Apparently it struck a nerve and three million were on line within 24 hours.
In the March 14 opinion piece  “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” Smith announced that he had decided to leave the firm after 12 years because the culture had become “toxic and destructive.”
Employees were alleged by Greg Smith as callous about “ripping their clients off” and Smith had seen five managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets” .
Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, intends to release Greg  Smith’s book on October 22.
 It plans to print 150,000 hardcover copies in the first run, according to Jimmy Franco, Grand Central’s publicity director.
One expects the bank's spokespeople will be already exercising a PR damage limitation exercise and challenging both Mr Greg’s importance whilst at the bank ( "a mid-level derivatives salesman " - is that a  'pleb' in banking speak ?) and the accuracy of his memoir. 

I wonder how they will handle the 'muppets' allegation.

Will  the memoir "  Why I left Goldman Sachs" be as damaging to Goldman Sachs as a policeman's notebook to the UK Coalition Government ? Lets not be too quick to judge.

Shakespeare’s  play  "Julius Caesar" Mark Anthony's famous speech to the plebs  in Act 3 Scene 2 concludes:

“….O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,

 And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

 My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,

 And I must pause till it come back to me.”

Marlon Brando as Mark Anthony  Click here for clip Black and White movie but magnificent .

Related Links

Andrew Mitchell, the Tory MP and former cabinet minister at the centre of the “Plebgate row” lost his high court libel trial on November 27th 2014

The Daily Telegraph published the full the 442-word police log of the incident in which the Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell abused police officers.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Nick Clegg eats his words and is made to sing them - Selling the Sorry word is hard

To err is human.
 All of us in selling make mistakes from time to time. We say things we regret and make promises to clients with the best of intentions and then......
 So learning to apologise both for our individual mistakes and  (where appropriate) on behalf of our team, is important if we are to earn and sustain the trust of our customers.
It is also critical what our choice of words are, and how they are conveyed .
Our words maybe not as scrutinised as the politicians manifesto, but because their mistakes are covered in the media perhaps we can learn from their communication successes and failures.
In our selling work we may never be  so exposed as Liberal Party Leader Nick Clegg has been in the last few days but I guess we can learn from political leaders about their use of words to their customers ( from party members to the voters) - whether we think they do so effectively or ineffectively.
 The Deputy leader of the Coalition Government  not only had to 'eat his words' ( on the student tuition fees pre- election pledge) but has been 'made' to sing his words by the You Tube community and  with a record riding high in the download music charts.

"Of course people are going to sneer, mock and say it is not good enough. I just genuinely thought what we did was wrong and I should apologise for it.I just hope that reasonable people - whether they have heard it to music or not - will think OK, fair enough, he's come clean"      
Interview with The Independent Newspaper

 Nick Clegg's Sorry Song by the Poke and Alec Ross
Of course the dilemma of when , how or whether to apologise is not just wrestled with here by politicians in Europe.
In the current US Presidential campaign Mitt Romney has criticised President Barack Obama's apology

"I think it is a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values," Romney said of the statement issued by the embassy in Cairo that condemned the anti-Islam video that fomented protests outside the compound”

Frank Luntz the pollster / communications specialist and adviser on political campaigns is worth reading. He analyses how words are received by voters.
Frank Luntz  Eleven key phrases 2011

Frank Luntz has eleven phrases that he states matter most in business, politics, the media and culture.

Here are his selection of phrases plus his explanation of their power. They are American examples but I think the principle translates well enough for UK.

Sales Directors / managers could substitute 'voters' with 'sales force' and Salespeople could replace 'voters' with 'customers' and equally adopt and adapt these phrases in their work.
’Imagine’ is still the most powerful word in the English language because it is inspiring, motivating, and has a unique definition for each person.
’No excuses. Of all the messages used by America’s business and political elite, no phrase better conveys accountability, responsibility and transparency.

’I get it.’ This explains not only a complete understanding of the situation but also a willingness to solve or resolve the situation. It’s short, sweet and effective.
’If you remember only one thing…’ is the surest way to guarantee that voters will remember the one point that matters most to you. This is essential in complicated situations like the upcoming debt ceiling vote.
’Uncompromising integrity.’ Of all the 'truth' words, none is as powerful as ‘integrity,’ but in today’s cynical environment, even that’s not enough. People also need to feel that your integrity is absolute. ( Is this what Nick Clegg is addressing ?)
’The simple truth’ comes straight from billionaire businessman Steve Wynn, and it sets the context for a straightforward discussion that might otherwise be confusing or contentious.
’Believe in better’ comes from BSkyB, the satellite television provider owned in part by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire. Of all the corporate mission statements of the Fortune 100, ‘believe in better’ is the second-most popular — and it applies to politics as well.

’Real-time.’ This is not a pitch for Bill Maher. Many Americans were furious that they couldn’t get the details of the health-care legislation in a timely fashion. ‘Real-time’ communicates receiving information at the speed of life.
’You decide.’ No, this is not paying homage to Fox News. The lesson of 2010 is that Americans want control of their lives back and they don’t want Washington or Wall Street making their decisions for them.
’You deserve.’ This comes from DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and it was first employed by him in his highly praised 2006 SOTU response. It tells voters exactly what they should expect from their politicians and their government.

 ‘Let’s get to work’ was employed by Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) in his successful campaign. No other end-of-speech rallying cry is more motivational to voters.

As the speeches during the UK Political party season this autumn are broadcast, it might be interesting to see how many of the above are used in the Party Conferences in Brighton , Manchester and Birmingham.

And subsequent Sales Conferences for that matter !

Some books worth reading around the subject of "words and communication"

Words that work                 Frank Luntz              Hyperion       ISBN  1-4013-0308-0
It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear           2007  

Drop the Pink Elephant    Bill McFarlan                Capstone       ISBN 1-84112-479-6

21 steps to personal communication heaven     2003

Unspeak                               Steven Poole            Little Brown    ISBN 0-316-73100-5

Mode of speech that persuades by stealth         2006

Related links

 Click for post on effective use of your voice in business presentations

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Mind your selling language

Double Olympic Gold medalist Mo Farah
 struck up his famous Mo-bot pose with two telephones
 joining traders at global bokerage BGC in raising money
 in memory of 9/11 victims last week
Today those of us in Selling have more channels to communicate through than ever before.

 However many of us have fewer and fewer business meetings with buyers that are done face to face.

The phone is the predominant whether using landline or mobile.

Yet how many of us consider how best to communicate on the phone. Do we even consider what words work best on the phone?

Just consider for a moment how professional braodcasters have different approaches on radio as opposed to TV.

 For example the approaches by BBC Sports Live Radio and Channel 4  TV on this summer's Paralympics were quite different.  Clare Balding and Ade Adepitan had the advantage of graphics of the Lexi decoder to explain the 20 classifications.

 The BBC Radio 5 live  broacasters however Shelagh Fogerty, John Inverdale and Russell Fuller  had to explain the classifications more descriptively.

So it is with phoning a client. There is no visual so you need different vocabulary and technique.

Day 10 of the series  '5-a-day to go' Selling tips

Medals do hang on trees !

       46.       Polish up your telephone technique

       47.       Set aside time  to do research on existing and potential customers
         Click here for 3 key levels of research

Medals on the trees in Leicester Square
 during London 2012 Olympics

      48.       Plan my territory

            Click here for examples of territory and resource planning

       49.       Find out more about my customers and their organisations

Google search

Use Adword Key Word tools  Click here for link to Google Adwords

       50.   Identify other contacts within customer organisations

Ask the question " Who else should I be seing?" more often.

2012 London Design Festival Selling benchmarks

Scientists may invent technologies, manufacturers may make products, engineers may make them function but  it is designers who combine awareness of these aspects and turn a concept into something that appeals to both emotional and rational triggers - something that is  desirable, viable, commercially successful and adds value to clients.

It is then Selling’s job to communicate the design offering to clients, customers etc.

So it is useful for Salespeople to learn a little more of the world of design.

A superb opportunity to get better informed about design comes around each September with the London Festival of Design - now in its 10th year.
Photo from beneath the  porch canopy
 of road cones at the V and A skywards at London Festival of Design 2012

Working in a commercial environment designers can’t simply follow their creative impulses. Much like the Selling process designers have to ask themselves questions like

a)      Is the product really wanted?

b)      How is it different from everything else on the market?

c)       Does it fulfil a need?

d)      Will it cost too much to manufacture?
Emphasis on the customer makes design a formidable weapon for any business. Companies have often designed their way out of failure by creating a product that serves the customer's needs better than its competitors.
 Arguably design delivered the operating-system market to Microsoft, rescued Apple Computer and made Sony and electronics giant.

The heart of this year's Design Festival is at the Victoria and Albert  ( the V and A) Museum in South Kensington, London.

The main entrance to the Museum has canopy of plastic spines made up of road cones like the coat of some giant porcupine.

In the courtyard of the V and A are a series of newly designed benches.

Designers don't just produce concepts - their designs have to have commercial relevance.

To 'sell' a bench a designer does not stop at the concept of the product's form. Functional description of the design is not sufficient either. The design needs to be communicated the design by appealing to a personalised focus.

The designer's Form, Function and Focus are equivalent to  Selling's  feature, benefit and personalised benefit.

Using different materials, the exhibition shows how different designers have 're-designed' the humble bench for a public space.
The benches are both beautiful as well as functional which I guess is what design is all about and an inspiration to good selling.

aesthetic form of ceramic plates -
bench on display at the V and A courtyard

function:  bench of Ceramic plates by Al_A

form : Giant Cork Trotter

function: Bench made of cork

Pe de Porco (Pig foot) by Fernando Brizio is made from cork.  The cork forests are known for their black pigs who feed on the acorns. Amorim Cork Composites provide the Cork Oak Composite of this work.

The bench was also comfortable and warm to the touch - and fun.

Function :Bench made from Corian (DuPont)

'Plinth' by Sam Hedt anf Kim uses Dupont's Corian is a blend of Aluminium TriHydrate and pure acrylic polymer ( PolyMethyl Meth Acrylate)

The material is available in 70 colours and can  shaped into virtually any design. It joins seamlessly  It is sleek, strong, hygienic and easy to care for.


function :Bench made from cocrete

'Hitch' by Jasper Morrison is made from concrete. Lowinfo Concrete was the material used here.

The Festival closes on 23rd September
Related links to London Festival of Design
 Work starts on New Home of  Design Museum from 2015 Click here

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Conran's Capsule new Design Museum site starts work

During this year's London Design Festival , the start of building work on the new Design Museum was officially celebrated.

In his speech to mark the start of work on the Design Museum's new home fro 2015, Sir Terence Conran urged the government to better appreciate the importance of design.

"We must start to make things again," he said. "Excellent, intelligent design improves quality of life."

The worshipful, the Mayor of  Kensington and Chelsea
Councillor Christopher Buckmaster and
 Sir Terence Conran
founder of the Design Museum at the ceremony

The capsule is marked: to be opened in 2112 and contains:-

• Structural Engineer, Cecil Balmond: European Union flag, one euro coin, 2p stamp, USB containing images of jazz and blues album covers including John Coltrane and Bing Crosby.
• Paul Smith: Isle of Man, London 2012 Olympic stamps designed by Paul Smith.
• Designer, Restauranter, Retailer Terence Conran: iPhone 4s, tin of anchovies, bottle of burgundy.
• Deyan Sudjic (director of the museum): London 2012 Olympic torch designed by Barber Osgerby, Team GB cycling helmet, a Badoiiing game (2012 winner of the museum's design competition for 13- to 16-year-olds).
•  Fashion DesignerMargaret Howell: image of Battersea power station.
• Zaha Hadid: model of MAXXI museum in Rome, designed by Hadid; book by Patrik Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, col.1: A New Framework for Architecture.
•  Architect John Pawson: 1949 Wish Bone Chair (miniature model) for Hans J Wegner for Carl Hansen and Son. 
 Click for video clip of capsule burial ceremony
 being buried 18th september 2012
as work starts on the new home for the Design Museum

• Product engineer Kenneth Grange: cylinder Line coffee pot designed by Arne Jacobsen
• Designer Marc Newson: Lockheed Lounge (miniature model) designed by Marc Newson.
  • Designer Thomas Heatherwick and Ingo Maurer: standard light bulb.
• The mayor of London: artists' tube maps designed by Tracey Emin.
• Fashion Designer Vivienne Westwood:Vivienne Westwood London fashion week 2012 memorabilia

The former Commonwealth Institute building on Kensington High Street

Monday, 17 September 2012

Biking to the Office and Working from Home One day

What keeps London Office workers happy at work ?

Apparently to a piece in last Friday's London Evening Standard, it’s one day a week working from home, a reliable Tube (underground rail) , a decent sandwich bar and pleasant rest rooms.

The commercial property specialists DeVono Property have just published a survey of 1,000 office workers in London. Among many interesting facts, it revealed what office workers want from their company’s office facilities. 

Over half the survey said they would choose having a gym or gym access as a perk or benefit beyond a games room or even a cafeteria.


Video clip on You Tube
47.5% said they would consider cycling to work if there was access to changing facilities and bike storage.

Working remotely from Home

On a course I was running in July this year for a major retail high street bank, the delegates told me about the working from home 'practise days ‘ that their bank were conducting ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics.

It seemed a little strange to me as a self-employed worker that rehearsal was necessary. However, I guess for organisations as large as a bank they need to test their computer systems etc.

Many Londoners have worked flexibly from home during the 2012 Games this summer.
 Home working

Q: “How many days per working week would you choose to work remotely from home?”
It appears that office workers really enjoy the interaction and buzz of being in an office.

What are your views about working from home? Please leave a comment - Thanks

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sales management and personal accountability of elite Sport Coaches

The stories and successes of the sports stars from the summer of sport  2012 will not only inspire a future generation of elite sportspeople but will motivate many in other fields of endeavour - including sales.

Sales training programmes and sales conferences will no doubt abound in the next few years with photos , video clips and quotes from the Summer of Sport 2012.  Targets and forecasts will similarly be set. These sporting analogies will be used to spur on salespeople and sales teams.

Supporting the sports stars are of course the array of psychologists, nutritionists, physiotherapists and coaches.

Today’s salespeople similarly need their role models and heroes. They also need to build up their support network of gurus, mentors and coaches.

Those Sales Directors and Managers who see their job (or part of their job) equivalent to a head coach might well look to the example of head trainers in sports.

My Sketch of Charles van Commonee turned
 out to look more like Buddy Holly
 who was another Charles ( Charles Hardin Holley)
"That'll be the day"
But I wonder how many would live out the level of personal accountability that Charles Van Commenee has recently exhibited at Athletics UK.

Taking up his post as head trainer for Athletics UK  UKA just three years ago , Mr Commenee set a target for the team of at least 8 medals including 1 gold.

The team fell two short of the target. Yet the team achieved FOUR Gold medals !

Despite the wonderful achievements of Jessica Ellis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah, Commenee viewed these superb feats as a distraction to the underlying disappointments in track and field.

How many Sales directors, Sales managers and Sales trainers would behave similarly ?

Having observed many sales conferences it is more likely they would bask in the centre stage kudos of the Gold medals of their star sales champions presenting them with awards and trophies rather than feel they that should resign for the lack of overall podium places of the whole sales team.

Immediately after the Olympics, Van Commenee is reported to have said it was ‘weird’ that people still wanted him to stay at  UK Athletics after his athletes  missed  the target and agreed he would be undermined  by his previous pledge if he stayed in post.

“… I have worked hard to implement accountability as it is vital to the culture of elite sport, and this has been absolutely central to what we have achieved.

Whilst I have been thankful for the kind comments and wishes, I believe my decision has the interests of British Athletics at its  heart in sustaining this culture.

I am happy the future is looking promising with the talent that is about to break through now. But it needs the new energy and approach by the new leadership team through to 2017. ”

Cass Business School ran an ad campaign during the 2012 Olympics implying Business Management was perhaps even tougher than competitive sport.

Is  personal accountability in business management as rigorous as it seems for elite sports coaching?

I wonder how many Directors , Sales Managers or Sales Trainers  would live their accountability mantras to the extent Mr Commenee has ?

 I am not sure I have!       Have you?!

Related Links

 Click here for /Management Essentials Course