Showing posts with label Aaron Wallis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aaron Wallis. Show all posts

Friday, 13 November 2015

The Apprentice Week 6 - Non-existent Negotiation

This week saw the 13 remaining candidates told to set up their own DIY business and try to make a profit from basic jobs. This involved the two teams providing quotes for two jobs set up by Lord Sugar, handyman tasks for a football club and a theatre, as well as to try and drum up their own business from flyers and knocking on doors. For sales professionals this episode was particularly interesting as the key to success in the task involved negotiation to try and get the best deals possible, as well as generating business in the first place. Lord Sugar has shown just how much he values sales skills in his future business partner, firing Dan in the first week for his failure to sell. So how did the candidates get on?

Awful Negotiating


Throughout the whole of the episode I’m sure sales professionals across the country were shaking their head with astonishment as to how bad all of the candidates were at trying to secure a good deal. The biggest mistakes made by the teams from a negotiating perspective came when offering a quote for redecorating the dressing rooms for a theatre in London. One of the first rules of negotiation is to know what price you’re offering for a service and to try and stick to it. Team Connectus did not seem convincing at all when initially offering £777 for the refurbishment, only ten seconds later changing their price to £877. Comically, Brett tried to cover up this mistake by suggesting just how good a service they were offering, before mincing his words telling the theatre manager ‘I am an expertise in my field’. Not the most impressive pitch.

Team Versatile had the opportunity to capitalise on the other team’s price mishaps offering an initial £560 for the theatre refurbishment job. Astonishingly, after some of the worst negotiating in the world the team ended up doing the job for only £375! Negotiation is about creating a ‘win-win’ for both parties, not just for price but for the service offering as well. The negotiation led by Richard ended up discounting the price by £200, whilst the service still included the same amount of hours of work to complete. A good strategy may have been to change the service: offer cheaper materials to try and regain some profit margin, or to remove a part of the job to reduce the amount of hours needed to complete the project. In the end the team spent a large amount of their time on this task for not a huge amount of money, a key reason why they lost the task.

Generating Business


Quite often the key to securing a large volume of sales is to manage your time effectively. The balance between prospecting for business and actually securing deals needs to be right, wasting your time on one sales channel can really hinder your efforts. Yet again the candidates were not good business examples, with Team Connectus wasting a whole day on ‘market research’ to try and find out the best areas to clean windows! With only three days to generate sales what a waste of time this was! Somehow Team Versatile seemed to match their dismal efforts by missing the deadline to print fliers, talk about a rookie error… 

If your name isn’t out there it’s going to be very hard to try and gain new business. From both a sales and business perspective this week’s apprentice is not a very good model to follow!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Can Jeremy Corbyn Sell Socialism to Britain?

September 2015 saw old-school left-winger Jeremy Corbyn secure a landslide victory of 59.5% of the vote to win leadership of the Labour Party. The initial outsider of the leadership contest promises to bring a ‘new politics’ to Britain and a real change to the New Labour centrist approach of recent years. Corbyn offers an anti-establishment, anti-austerity alternative to the Conservatives promoting higher taxes for the biggest earners and to put transport and utilities back under state control. Many see the Labour leader as a marmite figure in British politics, a large proportion of people and the media think he’s a nutcase, but equally he has developed an almost cult following from those who see him as a real change to the cliché politician. We pose the question: Is Jeremy a good enough salesman to sell socialism to the British people?

In the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth yesterday, Corbyn stated that he wants the “sunshine of socialism” to beat the “narrow, nasty politics” of David Cameron’s Conservative Party. One of his most controversial policies is to increase the top rate of income tax to something above 50%, with rumours that the tax band could go as high as 75%. Surprisingly and as much of a change this would be, a recent YouGuv poll found that 56% of the public would be in favour of the policy, suggesting that Corbyn’s policies are not as out-of-touch with the British public as many people would argue. On the other hand, for many the Labour Leader is simply unelectable, too radical and too old at 66 to stand a chance in the 2020 election. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the bookies doubt his chances as well, an average of the top betting sites put him at 8/1 to be the next Prime Minister after Cameron.


Corbyn's Sales Skills


Undoubtedly however, there is a certain charisma about Corbyn which will help him win people over to support his socialist cause. For many young people and those that have become disillusioned with previous politicians, he comes across as someone standing up for those in need and a breath of fresh air against the spin in today’s politics. After promising a ‘new politics’ free of personal attacks, the David Cameron ‘pig-gate’ saga can probably be seen as bad timing for the Labour spokesman as previous leaders would surely have loved to get one-up on the current Prime Minister. Whether he can sell socialism to the British public remains to be seen, but I’m sure many business owners would like their sales staff to possess some of the communication qualities the Labour leader has.


I got the opportunity to hear Corbyn speak in Leeds yesterday and as a socialist sceptic I have to admit I was impressed with how convincing he came across! Personally I’m not so sure with the majority of his policies but the young audience I was a part of seemed to be captivated by him. Perhaps sales professionals can learn a few things from the leader of the opposition!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Impact of Technology on the Sales Industry- Social Selling

The development of technology through time has brought many changes to the sales industry. Whether you are looking at the past decade or even longer than that, new inventions will and were always going to change how people sell their products and services. Take the invention of modern transport for example, the car brought the introduction of an outside sales team and a whole new type of sales professional. Every year a new invention changes how salespeople work and how businesses target consumers.  In more recent years however, the biggest change to the sales industry must surely have come from technology focussed around social media. I don’t think anybody can deny that we are now in a digital age, I read online recently that people now spend more time using computer technology than they spend time asleep. The rise of sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook have brought both opportunities and threats for business owners and sales professionals alike, whether you like social media tools or not they deserve to be treated with respect.

The Facts


Here at Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment in 2014 we conducted one of the largest surveys of sales professionals ever commissioned. In relation to how sales professionals use social media for their work, the results were interesting. Our survey of 730 salespeople found that only 42% regularly and proactively use social media for lead generation. When you compare this with another statistic we found, that 47% of the sales professionals surveyed had secured sales from LinkedIn, it suggested that salespeople are missing an opportunity to increase their revenues from social media. You have to question that if social media can be used as a tool and a resource for selling, why are less than half of salespeople not using it regularly? Full details of our 2014 survey can be found here.

Hunters vs Farmers- or even Fisherman?


The old metaphor of farmer and hunter salespeople, where the hunters go out and win new business and the farmers cultivate existing business is becoming outdated in the digital age. We suggest that seeing a sales professional as a fisherman may now be more relevant. A fisherman throws ground bait in, waits for the right moment and then strikes. He needs to strike at the right time, too early or late and someone else gets the fish. The same adage can now be compared to the modern day sales
professional, they have to be looking and waiting in the right places such as LinkedIn to know when their prospects are going to bite, then striking at exactly at the right time. With social media sites it’s possible to monitor prospects to see when they are showing interest in a product or service and that is the time to strike and secure a deal.


Opportunities


In the business-to-consumer industry many sales deals are starting without initial contact from the business who is actually selling the product or service. Businesses are doing their own research online and starting the selling process without you, because of this it’s crucial that your company is visible online and can be found. If you want to have your businesses products or services bought you have to be on the radar in the first place. Further to this, decision makers are reviewing companies or individuals credentials on sites such as LinkedIn before doing business with them, so whether you are reading this from a viewpoint of a sales professional or a business owner it’s vital to keep with the times and the digital age.   

Thursday, 10 September 2015

What Not to Include on Your CV- Funny CV Mistakes

Here at Aaron Wallis we see hundreds of CV’s every day and you’d be surprised some of the mistakes people make when they are applying for jobs. Some of the things that people choose to include can be an instant turn-off to employers and really can be the difference between getting a role and not. Here are common mistakes that people make and some funny examples we’ve seen:

Hobbies and Interests


A lot of our recruitment consultants would say that the place where people most often make mistakes is the hobbies and interests part of a CV. It’s easy to put across the wrong impression to an employer when describing what you do in your spare time. Saying you enjoy time socialising with your friends, playing darts and doing quizzes might sound like an innocent gesture but really it makes you sound like you spend all your time at the pub. Think carefully about what you put! A good tip is to tailor this part of your CV for each role, if the job requires leadership qualities maybe mention that time you were captain of a sports team or something similar.


Too Much Information


Quite often we see examples of where candidates have gone into a little too much detail about previous employment or qualifications. For example employers probably don’t want to see your bad O level results from thirty years ago, if you’ve reached the point in your career where qualifications don’t matter it may be best to leave things like this out! Also if you’ve fallen out with your boss it might be worth leaving this out as a reason for leaving a business, try to put something a bit more constructive.

Funny Things We’ve Seen


  • Listing your degree as a bachelorette degree
  • Unfortunate spelling mistakes- “Throughout my career I have had sex jobs”, “I took a career break in 2003 to renovate my horse”
  • Putting every word in capitals- this reads as if you have just shouted your entire career history at someone!
  • Bizarre email addresses for contact information-  kingoftheworld@googlemail.com
  • Inappropriate photo on your CV- a picture of you having a beer with your friends may actually be a nice photo, but it’s probably not the best thing to put on your application             

Monday, 7 September 2015

Sales Training vs Sales Coaching

Making the decision on whether to have your sales staff trained or coached can be difficult. The correct choice depends on a lot of factors but hopefully this blog will outline some things to think about before investing in an approach.
There is a clear difference between sales training and sales coaching but the two are often confused. The table below outlines how the two approaches to staff development differ:




Sales Coaching


For me, the main difference between coaching and training is who is actually carrying out the development programme. The best sales coaching programmes are often carried out internally, by colleagues who have more experience in sales and your business. This will help your tutees improve their sales skills significantly as well as pick up your business principles more quickly. The knock-on effect of this is that by implementing a process where more experienced staff coach the less experienced, the tutor will be refreshing their skills as well by teaching someone else. Often you only really think about and understand a process when you are trying to teach someone else.

The second thing with coaching as opposed to training is that it is an ongoing process. Regular communication between the tutor and the tutee enables the sales coach to recognise the trainee’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows for the programme to be adapted to fit more around the person being trained, which always makes for a more effective process. I believe that this is the major benefit of coaching over training, as it allows for an understanding of what an employee really needs to learn to succeed in the industry.

Sales Training


Training is often seen as the more expensive approach to staff development as it usually relies on hiring or working with an external agency. Sales training can come in a variety of different forms from motivational speaking to basic selling protocol. This investment is often worthwhile however as the trainer you work with will have expertise and may even be an expert in their field. By following the advice from leaders of the sales industry your staff may pick up some valuable hints or tips which may help them day to day. Training offers more opportunity for higher calibre salespeople compared to coaching, as it is harder to coach a person who is already very experienced in their field. Sending one of your top salespeople to a training event may make an already effective member of staff even more effective. For this reason the decision between coaching and training usually depends on the member of staff you are trying to develop. 

Friday, 28 August 2015

How to Keep Your Sales Staff Motivated

One of the main drivers of business success is retaining top staff, but perhaps even more important than this is keeping your top earners motivated and performing. The difference between a thriving business and a failing business lies with how much revenue your salespeople are bringing in each month, so ensuring they are performing at their best is vital. Keeping your staff ‘on the ball’ and busy is often more difficult than it sounds, so here are some of our thoughts on how best to approach the matter.

Rewarding Performance


A finely tuned and thought out compensation structure is one of the best ways to motivate staff, especially salespeople. Too often businesses are not representing their top performers with incentive structures to really get them going. Having a cap on earnings and bonuses may seem to make initial sense to keep business costs down, but the logic is often flawed. Once one of your employees has reached their limit of earnings what’s in it for them to work hard? Put yourself in their shoes, if you hit your annual salary cap by October you will be inclined to coast along until the start of January, as selfish as this sounds it’s how the human brain is programmed to work. As long as your bonus structure is linked to profit made for the business and not just turnover, the increased salary you pay to an employee will only be rising in relation to money they make for the business. The best way to devise a bonus structure is to form it in such a way that it is a win-win for your employee and for your business.

Secondly, a lot of sales organisations are creating disincentives for staff by rewarding both poorly performing and highly performing salespeople. Giving bonuses to staff who meet the minimum required standard you expect as an employer sends out the wrong message. For example giving pay-outs to staff who achieve less than 50% of their sales goals discourages them from hitting their peaks, and communicates to your top performers that you as a business are satisfied with mediocrity. If you are looking to rejuvenate your sales staff and attract the best talent, a strong compensation structure is probably the best place to start.     

Encourage Competition


Many businesses assume that salespeople are only motivated by money.  This isn’t always true. Everyone enjoys that rush of competing against your colleagues and as an employer if you can encourage a bit of friendly rivalry between your staff your sales revenue is very likely to increase. As sad as it sounds everybody likes to ‘get one up’ on everyone and giving prizes to the best performing staff is a good way to get the best out of everyone. These prizes or rewards do not always have to be financial, an interesting reward scheme at a business I know is that the best performing salesperson for that month receives access to the best parking space at the company. Little things like this can really boost your employees to their top level. 

Written by Andy at Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

How Strong is Your LinkedIn Profile?

LinkedIn is a great tool for individuals and companies alike. The website has exploded since its creation in 2003 and now has more than 70 million members worldwide, growing by over 1 million users a month. For salespeople it allows the development and maintenance of a contact base, as well as providing a marketing platform for businesses to promote their product. Recent research shows that 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers, showing just how important it is to have a strong, visible online presence. But how do you come across on LinkedIn? Is your profile doing you a favour or causing you harm?


Building Your Brand


Whether you have a LinkedIn profile as an individual or a business it’s important to consider how you want your prospects, customers or colleagues to view your profile. Everything you choose to include in your profile matters, and little things can make a big difference in how people perceive you and your account. The first thing to decide when creating a LinkedIn profile is a profile picture for your account, as an individual this will likely be a photo of you, but for a business it will probably be your logo or even a picture of your staff. People often underestimate how important this picture is to your profile, as first impressions really do count and the immediate perception people create of you is heavily influenced by your picture.

For a person profile on LinkedIn it’s a good idea to try and make your picture look as professional as possible. I heard one of our recruitment consultants comment the other day how unprofessional it looks when people are drinking alcohol in their LinkedIn picture, these details can really affect how people view you. Everything from what you are wearing to the background of the picture is worth thinking about. For businesses the usual marketing techniques need to come into play, your picture should correspond to your company branding as it is an extension of your business. With the limited information and media you can include on your profile, it’s important to get things such as pictures right.

The space available underneath your name or a company name should be used carefully as it is often the first thing people read on your profile. Using keywords associated with specific roles or business sectors is a good technique to attract views to your profile, as it is one of the search tools that LinkedIn provides. This space is finite and needs to be thoroughly thought about, the same rules apply as SEO, what terms and words do you expect people to search for?

Networking


For salespeople or even any professional, LinkedIn offers opportunities to expand your career connections in a way that no other social media site can compete with. By keeping in touch with people you know and have worked with your voice will be heard by more people, and in turn what you hear on the ‘grapevine’ will increase. Both for individuals and companies the opportunities that are available to you will increase, for example many people hear about job vacancies through LinkedIn, one of my family members has been approached for his last two roles through the site.

The groups and support networks you can join on the site are valuable areas for discussion. These groups can provide help for when you have difficult questions, but when you help someone else it will raise the profile of your account and increase the number of views it receives. Discussion with industry experts can provide your business with some good advice and potentially help with strategic thinking.

In today’s digital age it’s vital to be a part of LinkedIn as it allows for a new area of competition both for individuals and businesses. Creating a strong profile can help with business success and career development. Follow Aaron Wallis’ LinkedIn profile here.


Monday, 10 August 2015

3 Things to Think About When Training New Sales Hires

The quality of a new employees’ training and induction process is often a key determinant in how effective they are going to be for your business, especially in the first year. It’s important when making a sales hire that your new employee hits the ground running, as most businesses can’t afford to be burdened with poor performance. A survey conducted by Aaron Wallis last year found that 53% of sales people felt that they needed more training for their role, illustrating just how many businesses aren’t getting their training right. The full results of our 2014 ‘The State of Sales’ survey can befound here. Here are a few points to consider when designing or reviewing your training programme:


The Introductions


Creating a friendly environment for a new employee is a key thing to think about when devising an induction process. Positive interaction and relationships between staff is immeasurably valuable as it helps to keep your staff motivated and stress free. When welcoming a new person to your team take time to introduce them individually to each person they will be working with, including the ‘big dogs’ of the business. Too often new staff are not welcomed by the management team of the business, usually due to excuses of managers being ‘too busy’. Ensuring that a new employee is acquainted with everyone from the interns to the directors is a good start to making them feel welcome.  

At this time it might be worth giving them a quick overview of the organisational structure of your business to avoid embarrassing situations. There aren’t many things worse when joining a new business then asking the wrong person for a hand or a minute of their time. For instance a newly appointed entry level sales person would probably want to avoid inadvertently asking a director to help unpack their bags. Mix-ups such as these are easily avoided and go a long way in making sure a new person has the best chances of making a 
good impression.

Keep it Engaging


The most effective training programmes are those that identify with each new employee through customisation. Everything from a person’s previous experience to personality needs to be considered to design the perfect training process. For example a seasoned sales person will require a different training scheme than a graduate position, patronising a new employee with information they already know is never a good start. Try to gauge what a new employee is already competent at before training them, boring them early on can cause them to become disillusioned with the training.

Everyone at some point has experienced ‘death by PowerPoint’, breaking up the training through different mediums and platforms is a good way to keep employees focussed. Training new employees through the same method can prove tedious, and breaking it up by 
increasing the range of activities in the process can help to keep employees motivated.


Get Them up to Speed Quickly  


It’s worth considering which processes and programs that new employees need to know first. By getting new employees up to speed on the basic parts of their role they may be able to perform tasks early on, which can prove useful for your business. Further to this, by allowing new employees to do tasks at the same time as being in the induction process, it breaks up the training and keeps new people to the business engaged.

The Internal Recruitment Division at Parker Bridge report that 1 in 25 employees has walked out of a job within a week, citing a poor induction as their reason for leaving. It's worth trying to get the process right!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

What Are The Best Degrees For The Sales Industry?

Most of the time you don’t actually need a degree to get into the sales industry, as the majority of sales positions are not always looking for graduates. In fact it is very possible to get into sales without experience or a degree, see our recently published blog ‘How to Get Into Sales without Any Experience’. However, a degree will always improve your CV and allow you to get into the sector at a higher entry level, with a potential of a higher salary. Entry level graduate sales positions have an impressive average salary of £23,000, a good reason to get into the sector! Here are the best degrees to help you get a job in the sales industry:

Business Degrees


An obvious point, but if you are looking for a sales job it’s always going to be working for a business! So why not study a business related degree? Business degrees come in a variety of different forms but perhaps the most useful courses to study come from a marketing or management perspective. Marketing degrees will develop your skills in identifying and understanding customers, and management degrees will come in handy if you are looking for a career in managing sales people.


Psychology or Sociology


It’s not always the topics that you directly learn about in your time at University that prepare you for your future career. The Washington Post conducted an interesting study in 2013 that found that only 27% of graduates were in employment that directly linked to their degree. A degree in psychology or sociology will give you some insight into how people think and behave, which can be very helpful when trying to secure sales deals or developing a sales strategy for a business.


Media or Communications


Learning about how organisations communicate and the different channels and streams they use to do it can link directly to sales. Graduate sales positions are more likely to be focussed on developing sales strategies or management of a team, and a degree that develops your knowledge of communications will increase the chances of you landing a job in the industry. This is especially relevant in B2B sales jobs, and has more significance in today’s digital age with the development of the sales sector across the internet and through other technology.


Interestingly, Harrods now offer a specialist sales degree exclusively for their staff they want to develop with the classrooms for studying being above their shop in Knightsbridge! The course lasts two years and is the first retailer that offers an honours degree in sales. Unfortunately this degree is only available for Harrods staff, but illustrates how valuable employers consider degrees! An important thing to remember is that a degree will improve your skills in critical thinking and information management, which is one of the main things employers look for in candidates. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

How to Attract Top Sales Talent to Your Business

For me, the biggest ingredient of business success is a strong and effective workforce. Having talented and effective employees working for you means that your business will prosper and develop, and ultimately make profit. The problem is that every business is looking for the very best employees, so how can you make sure that the best sales people want to work for you?

Be an Attractive Option


At the end of the day someone will only join your business if they believe it’s somewhere they would like to work, and an improvement to the position they are currently in. The role and environment you are offering has to be better than what they are being offered elsewhere. This means offering a better package than your competitors, either financially or in other ways.

Most people would agree that the primary incentive to move to a new role is money. Basic human nature means that we look for the job which will reward us the most, and the most obvious point of gratification comes financially.  For this reason attracting top sales talent requires that you have to offer at very least a competitive market salary, but a package that surpasses your competitors will give you the greatest chance of attracting the top people. A good technique to attract the very best sales candidates is to offer a package weighted towards bonus or commission earnings. Successful sales people will be confident in the belief that they can sell a large amount of a product or service, and will see that a salary structure that rewards hard work will provide the best opportunity for them. This does often mean that you will end up paying an employee more, but if they are bringing deals to your business then the reward will always outweigh the cost.     

However as Jessie J would argue, it’s not always about the money. Another key thing people think about when considering a new job is the environment they will be working in, and what day to day life could look like for them in a new role. The atmosphere and facilities in a new position are a big deal to people, as it’s something they have to deal with every day. For this reason it’s important that your business has everything from clean and tidy offices to an accessible location.

Make Your Vacancy Visible


For people to want to join your business, they have to be aware of who you are, and that there is an opportunity available. This means placing the information about your job role in a place where it can be seen, or on a popular job board. Alternatively you could work with a recruitment agency to search for the top talent, which may be a quicker and more effective solution. The bottom line is that if people are not informed of a vacancy at your business, they are never going to apply to it or contact you.

Secondly the very best talent in the industry want to work for the best and most well-known businesses. Creating a strong brand presence in your business sector will help you attract the strongest candidates as they are more likely to look to you if they are considering leaving a business. Another benefit of this is that if you are headhunting a senior sales person, then it will always help if they are aware of your business and what you do. A combination of an attractive job opportunity and a visible business is the only way to secure the top sales talent.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Recruiting My Dream Football Team

Occasionally it can be a struggle to persuade the right person to join your business, and you have to think of a way to get them on board. With the new football season starting soon I wondered what the best way to recruit my dream football team would be:

Joe Hart- For a lot of people the facilities that their place of work provide are very important when looking for a new job. Things that an employer can provide on a daily basis go a long way, and when looking to employ Joe Hart it’s worth stocking up on your Head and Shoulders shampoo.

Sol Campbell- Many employers would probably agree that giving someone a job title which sounds better than it actually is can be a good way of getting people on board. With someone like Sol Campbell you need to make sure they think they have an important place in the team, even if they don’t. Something like Mayor of the reserves could work.

Ferdinand- Sometimes you have to think a little bit out of the box to get someone into your team. Getting Rio to join you may include a combination of a good supply of snapback hats and an office playing rap music all day.

John Terry- The best way to recruit JT allegedly would be to offer him a deal including as many girls as he would like, or even your word as his boss that you won’t be unhappy if he gets with one of the other players’ wife.  

Sterling- With some people it’s all about the base salary. When recruiting someone like Raheem Sterling it’s important that you offer them a package with a competitive guaranteed income, something like his new £200,000 a week deal at Manchester City would suffice. Let’s just hope he’s not too tired to work.

Delph- Perhaps counterintuitively the best tactic for employing Fabian Delph would be to encourage him to commit his future to his current role. After all he’s only going to do a U-Turn anyway and join your team.

Toure- Usually it’s the little things that employers provide which make a difference for people. To keep Yaya Toure happy it’s imperative you remember his birthday, and provide him with a regular supply of birthday cakes. It’s important that candidates such as Yaya know this before you offer them a position.

Wilshere- Often when recruiting, things included in the salary package that are not just the base salary are important. Recruiting Wilshere would be as easy as offering him a job lot of fags, according to newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Mirror.

Puncheon- Similar to Joe Hart, Jason Puncheon is a man all about the facilities. Keeping your toilets clean and tidy would be a good way to keep Jason happy, as the midfielder was left red faced in a game last year when he didn't have time to make a trip.

Balotelli- One of the biggest things candidates or in this case players seek in a new job is guidance, and career development. When attempting to recruit Mario Balotelli I would ensure that he realises the new skills he could learn in his new position, such as setting off fireworks safely or putting a bib on properly.

Suarez- Support structures need to be in place for employees should they run into difficulty. In this case a dentist may be of use to keep Luis Suarez’s teeth in working order, or even a psychologist for when he loses track of his marbles.

Friday, 17 July 2015

How to Get Into Sales without Any Experience

From reading the papers or watching the television, many people believe that it is near impossible to get into sales without experience. This is simply not true, and there are a variety of ways to get into the industry:


Education


Getting yourself onto the first ‘rung of the ladder’ of the sales industry may seem challenging without relevant experience, but it is less difficult then people would have you believe. Perhaps the biggest alternative to experience on a CV is education or qualifications. Learning about the sales industry makes you a much more attractive candidate to organisations as it increases the likelihood that you will be effective in their vacant position.  This can come in many forms and does not always mean certification or accomplishment from a school or university. Higher education in the form of a degree will of course help you if you are after a graduate sales job, but there are many other alternatives.

Sales training or seminars are run by a variety of different organisations and come in many different forms that can suit you. Courses can vary from short to long term, but all of them will increase your chances of landing a sales job. A lot of this training can be found online and can be completed both cheaply and quickly, the road to your dream job may only be a Google search away! The Institute of Sales & Marketing Management offer apprenticeship NVQ courses, and this may be a good place to start.

An inexpensive way to increase your knowledge of sales and to get to grips with the jargon is to read some books on sales - 'Brilliant Selling' by Jeremy Cassell and Tom Bird is a good start as is 'How to Sell' by Mike le Put and 'e-selling' by Sean McPheat has some great ideas on increasing sales through social networking. Great blogs on sales are Sean's at - http://www.mtdsalestraining.com/mtdblog and Gavin Ingham's at http://www.gaviningham.com/blog

Be Creative with Your CV


When applying for any role, not just sales, it is worth catering your CV to reflect the position you are applying for. A good technique is to look at the person and job specification for the vacancy and try and pick up on some key words or terminology the employer is looking for in a candidate. For example if the person specification mentions teamwork as a key quality required in a candidate, really try to express how much of a team player you are. This can be done all the way through your CV, from previous responsibilities you have held, or even your hobbies and interests: if you have ever played a team sport this is a good example of working in a team!       

Just because your previous job didn’t have a sales focus, it doesn’t mean that the skills you acquired whilst working there are irrelevant. Any previous job that required engaging with customers is worth highlighting on your CV as it shows you have likely developed good communication skills, which is something employers look for in sales roles. More specifically, any experience of engaging with customers over the phone will definitely help if you are applying for a telesales roles.


Apply for the right jobs 


The key to getting into the sales industry is to apply for jobs that suit you. If you are at the beginning of your career applying to trainee sales jobs is probably the best way, and if you are a graduate there are entry level roles catered for you. Further to this, applying for sales jobs in a sector of which you already hold an interest will always increase the chances of you being successful as a candidate. If you have knowledge of a product, you will be far better at selling it, and employers recognise this. For example if you hold an interest in technology, selling computers may be a good fit for you: it will increase the chance of you getting the job, and increase the chance of you being good at the role! 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

How to be a Bad Negotiator- Lessons From Greece

Yesterday, a deal was agreed in principle between the Greek government and the Eurozone leaders for an €86 billion euro bailout package for Greece. Despite a referendum less than 10 days ago giving a clear majority decision from the Greek people to not accept a deal proposed by the IMF and ECB, here we stand today only a few hours away from the agreement being fully completed. This deal includes spending cuts, tax increases and privatisation that the Syriza Greek government had been voted in on the promise half a year ago to prevent. Further to this common opinion is that Greece are about to accept a deal which is worse than which they could have had only two weeks ago. How did Greece end up in this position, and how have they negotiated so badly?

Unreasonable Demands


The first thing we can take away from the Greek saga is to only enter into a negotiation with someone when you think your demands are achievable or realistic, otherwise you will always end up disappointed. Going into a discussion in business or elsewhere is only worthwhile if your demands can actually be met. The clampdown on tax evasion and corruption in Greece has been a long time coming. The country is notoriously bad at supervising tax incomes and preventing fraud, and the Prime Minister’s belief that their countries tax system did not need revisiting is somewhat wide-eyed. Take the example of the Greek island of Zakynthos- ‘The Island of the Blind’:

Zakynthos, the Greek island of 40,000 has a reported rate of blindness 10 times the average rate of blindness for the rest of Europe. This has left many people pondering the question, have the citizens of Zakynthos evolved in a certain way that has left them massively susceptible to being blind? Or could this just be just a ploy to acquire the badly checked and supervised €350 a month disability payments on offer? It would seem the norm to commit benefit fraud on this island, with people from all trades claiming the payment, the Telegraphed recently interviewed a ‘blind’ 35 year old taxi-driver who had been receiving the disability payments at the same time as driving tourists around the island. Thankfully the mayor of the island may be coming to his senses after going on record conceding that “out of the 650 blind people on the island, we estimate that 600 of these are actually not blind”. In today’s world, particularly in developed countries, it should have been obvious to Greece that tax collection needed reform, and it was not worth negotiating otherwise.


Know a Good Deal When You See It


The second thing to learn from how the Greek government approached the talks is to know your ‘walk-away’ point and what you can expect from the negotiations. Greece did not anticipate what the best deal they could hope to get would be, and this has left them in a position where they have had to accept a deal worse than what they could have received two weeks ago.  As a business or as an individual it's useful to think about every possibility from different scenarios of negotiation, and come to a clear decision on at which point you would accept an offer and at which point you would ‘walk away’.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is on the verge of completing a deal with arrangements of
higher spending cuts and tax levels that were offered before the referendum. Further to this a senior EU official put the cost of the last two weeks of disruption at between 25 to 30 billion euros to the Greek economy, perhaps suggesting that it would have been best for the country to take the deal offered two weeks ago.

As a business when trying to reach a deal, you should do your homework on what you can achieve to make sure the conversation is productive, as well as knowing when a deal is right to accept!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Would you rather work for Alan Sugar or Richard Branson?

Lord Sugar and Sir Richard Branson are perhaps some of the UK’s best examples of starting at the bottom and making it to the top. Both from humble backgrounds, Sugar grew up in a council flat in Hackney starting his business from the back of a van, with Branson setting up his first record shop in an old church.  Despite similar beginnings for these two entrepreneurs their management styles struggle to be more contradictory, so the question to be raised is who would you rather work for?

Lord Sugar

Alan Sugar’s credentials cannot be contested, as a billionaire and the 101st richest man in the UK he runs the company Amstrad, and has also owned Tottenham Hotspur in the past. Sugar is an international household name following his success with the television show The Apprentice which averages over 7 million views per episode. Lord Sugar is not without his critics however, the Daily Mail has labelled him a “model of bad management” and even compared his rule by fear approach as similar to Joseph Stalin.

Sugar’s authoritative style is easy to see through The Apprentice, his approach in the boardroom not only makes for good TV but goes viral on social media. The internet is full of Lord Sugar’s greatest put downs, including telling Tre Azam “I have an imaginary remote control in my hand- and you’re on pause”. However, cynically it is easy to wonder whether his persona is all a front for the show, as Sugar has a reputation for being fair and must be doing something right to be granted the title of Lord. It is very hard to judge what Lord Sugar is really like in business of the real world, but if you are someone who prefers working under a ‘tell it how it is’ figure then Sugar may be the boss for you.  

An image of Lord Sugar from The Apprentice.The past winners of The Apprentice have gone on to have mixed success. Series One’s (2005) winner Tim Campbell has hit heights working as a head for a recruitment firm and as an ambassador for London Mayor Boris Johnston. On the other side of the spectrum 2010 winner Stella English quit her role at Lord Sugar’s business Viglen claiming that she was just an “overpaid lackey”. The jury on how good it is to work under Lord Sugar is still out, but having him as your boss may not be as good as it sounds.

Sir Richard Branson

One of the only people who can surpass Lord Sugar’s business achievements is Sir Richard Branson with a net worth of over £3 billion which puts him as the seventh richest person in the UK. Branson started with a single music shop in 1972 and now stands as the owner of Virgin Galactic, Atlantic, Mobile and Hotels respectively. Branson is famed for his laid-back management approach and a nurturing and innovative style, very different from Lord Sugar.  
Picture of Richard Branson and staff at Virgin.

Richard Branson comes across very much as a free-sprit, owning Necker Island which is visited regularly by celebrities for indulgent holidays without the paparazzi, a week’s stay will cost you over £280,000. He also stars in Virgin adverts with Usain Bolt, and has a reputation of charisma.  The business man follows a philosophy of caring for his workers as he argues “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers”.

Branson claims that one of the benefits of working for him is that there is no policy for holidays, ultimately you can have as much time off as you want. Again this is one of those things that probably sounds a lot better than it really is, in reality taking an unlimited holiday will probably not put you in your boss’s good books, and for career driven people the policy will hold no value. Branson himself is even quoted as saying that the policy relies on the assumption that “their absence will not in any way damage the business”.  


There is obviously more to working Lord Sugar and Branson than appears at the surface level, but maybe there are a few questions to ask yourself before picking your dream boss. Could you survive the boardroom? Is working for Branson as fun as it is portrayed? Which boss would further your career more? Let us know your thoughts. 

Written by Andy Boyle at Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, an avid watcher of The Apprentice and an admirer of Sir Richard Branson. All things considered I would prefer to work for Richard Branson, as the opportunity to visit his island would be a great company perk!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

5 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Interviews From Your CV

Sending out numerous applications to employers without response can be disheartening, but it probably has more to do with your CV than you as a candidate. If your CV isn’t up to scratch, then you won’t get calls to interview, so here are 5 of the common errors where people go wrong:


Spelling Mistakes and Grammatical Errors

One of the biggest turn-offs to recruiters are simple mistakes in grammar and spelling. There is no excuse for errors, as it portrays laziness and a lack of focus, meaning your chances of getting to the next stage in the recruitment process drop significantly. Getting another person such as a family member or a friend to proofread it is a good technique, as it can be hard to spot your own errors.


It’s Too Generic

It’s a bad idea to send out the same CV and cover letter to each job vacancy that you apply for. It’s easy for employers to spot a generic application, and they won’t be impressed.  Getting the most out of your CV through personalisation to the role you are applying for is crucial to securing an interview. It’s important to tailor each application to the role that you apply for and highlight the skills, qualifications and experience that are most relevant to the job. Changing your objective or summary to link directly to the vacancy is a good way to grab employers’ attention and engage them.


It’s Not Fit For the Digital Age

Modern technology allows employers and recruiters alike to search through thousands of applications in a click of a button. New software searches through CV’s looking at buzzwords or keywords to find strong candidates. These new developments mean that you need to update your CV to contain the keywords recruiters are looking for, which are often specific to the role. A guide on getting your CV ready for modern technology and identifying the keywords to put in your application can be found in our career tools section, details below.


It’s Too Long

A CV that is three or more pages long is unlikely to get the full attention of a recruiter, people are busy, and they don’t have the time to wade through an essay. Recruiters want a concise, succinct document that is easy to extract information out of. Using bullet points and subheadings is a good tool to break up your CV and make it more readable for employers. Equally your application should not include absolutely everything that you have done, for example your first job at a car garage has little to do with the position of sales representative for a large corporation, so don’t list it!


You Don’t Sell Yourself

Your CV shouldn’t just list your experience, skills and qualifications, but it should also include your accomplishments. When discussing a previous role, don’t just talk about your duties, but talk about what you accomplished in this role too. This gives you the chance to show off your job skills, and it also gives the recruiter a better picture of what you are like in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to go into specifics about things you have achieved in your career, as it is a good way to show that you are the right candidate for the role.

For more advice on getting your CV up to scratch visit our section dedicated to this subject in the career tools section on our website 


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The 3 Main Characteristics Of Successful Sales Professionals – PMA, Hard Work And Process

I’ve spent the last seventeen years meeting circa 200-300 sales people per year and often ask what particular quality, or attribute, they put their success down to.  Of course there have been many, many answers but of these thousands of sales people, they’ve commonly mentioned similar ‘themes’ which I’ve distilled down and summarised as the following three qualities:

Positive Mental Attitude
Hard Work
Process

1. Positive Mental Attitude


Having a positive attitude  is vital in sales. If you don’t believe in your product, and more importantly believe in yourself, then why would any customer want to buy from you? Having a positive attitude  in everything that you do leads to more positive outcomes, and these, in turn, increase your chances of success.

Some people have an ‘ingrained’ positive mental attitude, but others have to work hard to develop this self-belief and to try to see the positive in every situation no matter how tough it may be. 
I used to work with a recruiter who after every cold call rejection said, “thanks very much, you’ve helped me to make it one call closer to my target today." The target client was always puzzled by his response, they questioned his rationale?  His answer was that he knew from his own stats that if he made 50 completely cold calls, he’d get 1 ‘yes’ and that’s all he needed to hit his daily target leading to his weekly target leading to the monthly target. Okay this was a long time ago and selling has somewhat changed, but he was consistently a top-performing sales person out of a team of eighty (and actually his cold call-lead rate was more 1:5 as this approach always intrigued the target clients to want to find out more!).  This approach of seeing a positive in every rejection was, he felt, the key to his success. 

2. Hard Work

Achieving success in any field takes hard work but this is particularly pertinent in sales.  No matter how sales has changed I still firmly believe in the ‘mathematics of sales’, i.e. the more that you put into the top of the pipeline the more return you get at the bottom. 

It always helps to break down the ‘big sales goal’ into manageable weekly, daily and even hourly targets.  Working hard requires discipline and dedication to take the small steps towards your goal every day. Working hard means dedicating a percentage of each day to topping up your pipeline even if it feels it is full to the brim. Working hard is keeping going no matter how many rejections you’ve taken.

In sales, it’s always tempting to ‘call it a day’ and not bother prospecting for the final hour that you should be doing.  However, it's commonly when your back is truly ‘up against the wall’ that you get that break, and everything starts to turn around.  As Seneca once said, and I’ve plagiarised and regularly quote:  ‘Luck is the crossroads between preparation and perspiration’.

3. Process

All great sales professionals work to a sales process, sometimes intuitively.  It’s amazing how many salespeople I’ve met who claim ‘I don’t work to a process – I don’t need something as inflexible to work within’ and so on.  I then ask them to walk me through a recent sale, and it’s typically ‘Seven Steps’ or ‘Needs Creation Selling’.  Perhaps they hadn’t learned it formally, but they were subconsciously following the same path or approach, in every sale that they’d concluded.

These sales processes can be sales strategies, daily plans, a workflow, a formal ‘sales technique’ or even following a CMS path ticking every step along the path as the client is taken through the buying process.

There are many advantages to utilising a sales process, and this could be as simple as learning from successful colleagues, replicating it and adding your own style.  Alternatively, it could be as complicated as formally reviewing the best practitioners in your business, what works-what doesn’t, structuring it against formal models and creating your individual process to follow.  By working a process and being disciplined to consistently use it and to add all data to a system you ensure that none of your sales leads fall through the cracks.

More importantly, however, by using a well-defined sales process, you can ensure that you prioritise and this helps accurately forecast your own performance and move your leads through to closure at a considerably quicker rate. Overall, a sales process makes planning and closing greatly more efficient. With a sales process in place, it’s also easier to measure success, get consistent results and be on top of your forecasting and your KPIs leading to that ‘big target’.

To conclude becoming a successful sales professional takes time, sweat, skill and tenacity. Of course there’s some major generalisations here as there’s no ‘set blueprint for success’ that will work for everyone.  

However, IMHO the three common ‘themes’ required for success are a positive attitude, working to proven processes and hard work/application.  Do you agree?

Rob Scott is a geek about sales and has commissioned the largest ever surveys of UK sales professionals.  Click here for statistics on the UK sales industry.


Monday, 29 December 2014

This New Year I Have Goals not Resolutions. How About You?

With the New Year very much on the horizon it’s common to hear people say, next year I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to travel. I’m going to change jobs. I’m going to save money. Look back on the year that is just about to finish. How many of the resolutions you made the previous year have you been able to accomplish?

Most resolutions end before they even begin and apparently 12th January is when the majority of New Year resolutions have failed.  Here’s the common reasons why New Year’s Resolutions Fail:

1) They’re not specific enough
2) They are made upon or what you feel you should be doing rather than something you truly want to achieve.
3) They’re a whim on the day rather than something truly thought out
4) They’re not written down or communicated to others
5) They’re not reviewed
6) They’re made upon not what you want but either what your friends and family want you to do, i.e. it is impossible to give up smoking unless you truly deep down want to give up smoking
7) They’re unrealistic or unachievable in the time-frame (perhaps they should really be a milestone towards a longer term 3-year, 5-year, 10-year goal)

Specific goal or goals
If you, as an individual, truly want to achieve a certain something you have to set it as a goal – a firm, dedicated goal that is specific and can be easily articulated to others in one simple sentence. You then have to make a firm commitment to achieve it. You have to want it so badly that your subconscious works towards achieving that goal. All successful people set goals so they have a clear picture about what they want. It motivates them to remain focused and to concentrate their resources, knowledge and their energies towards achieving that goal. A few goals rather than a diary full are easier to achieve as it helps you to focus on them better. Additionally, you don’t have to split up your resources and energies into many different directions.

This is a great story from Jim Carey when as jobbing actor, and by all accounts he was living in his car, he wrote a cheque to himself for $10M and gave himself five years to achieve it.  He kept it in his wallet and periodically looked at it he was determined that one day he could honour that cheque.  By regularly visualising he had the focus to network in the firm industry and made it his purpose to be known to every director and every studio to build up his name and credibility. Just under 5 years later he was offered the lead role in ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and cashed in that $10M cheque.  It’s a good story from someone that we can all relate to and if you want to cut out the Oprah guff either side then listen to it from 1:48 to 2:38

Have you created your plan?
If you want to achieve something in the coming year set a goal rather than a resolution. What’s the difference? The difference is that resolution is just an unformulated idea, a desire, a phrase and really nothing more than a wish. A goal on the other hand is a specific target that you can easily communicate, measure and review.  Goals are like affirmations because you probably have a plan A and a plan B in place that will enable you to reach the desired target and if you’re really keen then perhaps a plan C is also formulating in your mind! This means that you not only want to achieve that target but have plans in place that will help you achieve it.

If you’re having some problems thinking of goals here’s a goal setting workbook that is free to download that I wrote back in 2008.  It’s a bit esoteric and if I’m honest a bit long-winded but I hope that there may be some articles here to help formulate your goals for 2015.

Of milestones and deadlines
A goal has deadlines within which to achieve those milestones – the smaller steps on the path to achieving that big goal. Deadlines and milestones are incredibly important. They tell you how far you’ve reached and how well, or not, you are advancing towards what you set out to do. They allow you to pause and reflect on how much more you still have to go before the end of the year. They direct you to change strategy if required to go faster, slower or take a different route. If you are redecorating your house you will often say by Monday I’ll finish painting the walls or by the weekend I will complete the varnishing. You are setting small, achievable goals and working towards them so you finish them by the deadline.

Numbers Work
In order for a resolution to become a goal it must be communicable to those around you so that gives you the focus to achieve the goal. The easiest way to do this is to transfer your goal into numbers.  ‘I’m going to lose weight’ is not enough as it needs to be more specific and date stamped such as ‘by the 23rd March 2015 I will have lost 18 pounds, weight 13 stone and be able to get into 34” trousers.  On New Year’s Eve 2015 I will weigh myself and will be under 13 stone’.   

You may feel that your goal may not be able to transferred into numbers such as ‘I want to be perceived as more professional by my team’ but it can by simply asking (perhaps anonymously) how team members would score you out of ten for professionalism.  Then set a goal that by the 17th June you will ask the same question and aim to be at least two marks out of ten higher than you were in early January.  Here’s some other examples:

New Year’s Resolution
Goal
‘I’m going to run a marathon’
‘I will run five miles per week in January 2015, ten miles per week in February and on the 23rd February I will run ten miles in one session.  On the 24th February I will book myself onto a marathon in early June 2015 and follow a 12 week marathon training programme from 1st March 2015 to achieve this.
‘I want to save more money’
I will save at least £50 per month throughout 2015.  By end of March 2015 I will have £200+ in savings, by end of June £500+ and by New Year’s Eve of 2015 I will have £1,000 in savings.
‘I will spend more time with my kids’
One weekend in two will be solely dedicated time to my kids.  I will research 30 detailed days out which can be changed weather dependent.  I will book in a ‘night out’ every other month with each child.  All of this will be allocated into my electronic diary by 15th January

All made up without really thinking them through but hope that you get the idea?

Review It
Many set big goals at the start of the year and then frankly forget about it.  Instead when you set your goals make entries into your electronic diary to prompt you to review it.  That way you can make refinements and adjustments to ensure that the big goal is met. 

A 58 year old friend of mine (and okay he is a personal trainer) set himself a goal of running 100 miles in 24 hours last December.  We all laughed and said ‘no way’.  The most he’d run prior to this was 26 miles but he dedicated every Saturday to a long training run and I witnessed him on a couple of occasions during his training really, really struggling.  However, he didn’t give up, he stuck to his training plan and in August 2014 he ran 100 miles in 24 hours.  I personally set a goal of running 750 miles in 2014.  I was way ahead of plan until September but by mid-November life had gotten in the way and I realised that I still had 80 miles to go.  I didn’t want to fail (particularly as I’d told so many people about my goal any many regularly asked how I was getting along) so ‘upped my game’ and increased my mileage to ensure the target was met.  If I didn’t have that goal then frankly I wouldn’t have run from September onwards as I wasn’t training for anything and my training from January would be so much harder.  If anyone is interested, and to prove ‘I eat my own dogfood’ my running tally in 2014 is here:

Don’t Keep it To Yourself
You are 8 times more likely to achieve your goals if you tell others. You then feel that you are held to account by them and that gives you the focus to succeed.  And if you’re really resolute that you are going to achieve your goals in 2015 then make them public on Facebook, YouTube or your blog!

So to Conclude – 7 Steps to Achieving Your Goals in 2015
1.    Decide upon your goals for 2015 – visualise yourself achieving them
2.    Transfer your goals into numbers
3.    Write them down in a positive and enthusiastic way that is both inspiring to yourself and easily communicable to others. 
4.    Set milestones throughout the year in your electronic diary (and make a promise to yourself that you will review them).  If resources are needed to help you achieve the goals then get the plan in place to acquire them
5.    Communicate your goals to others – the more publicly the better
6.    Regularly review and make adjustments, if necessary, to stay on track
7.    Take a willpower pill!

Really good luck with your goal setting for 2015 and Have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

NB - I haven’t fully decided just yet on my goals for 2015 but will publish them on this blog on 1st January 2015!