Showing posts with label sales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sales. 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.   

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!

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, 10 November 2014

Which Disney Characters Make the Best Salespeople?

Disney characters have always drawn a lot of comparisons with real-life parallels so we decided to ask the question, which Disney characters would make the best salespeople and why? 

Below is the short list of the final contenders for Disney characters with the best sales skills which we admit they did not always used with the best intentions! Whilst it is not exhaustive, we hope that you find it at least mildly entertaining!

1.    Ursula

The terrifying sea witch from Disney’s classic adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Ursula would have probably had made an excellent, if frightening, salesperson. After all, she managed to convince a mermaid to give up her voice, not to mention her fins, in exchange for a dubious shot at getting a prince to fall in love with her. Apart from selling the teenaged mermaid on the notion that she could win the prince’s love, Ursula also managed to convince her that she could do it all without benefit of speech. In an unforgettable musical number, Ursula vamps about her cave, her tentacles flowing, belting out the lyrics “You’ve got your looks, your pretty face” with a knowing smirk. Unsurprisingly, Ariel falls for Ursula’s sales tactics hook, line, and sinker, believing that the impossible could come true purely on the strength of the sea witch’s reputation. Indeed, Ursula begins her sales pitch by treating the mermaid to a macabre proof of her own powers, by a garden of withered souls.

2.    Rafiki


The Lion King is a tale about coming of age and accepting one’s place in society, however frightening or onerous it might be. When the young lion cub, Simba, is forced to flee into exile thanks to the cunning machinations of his Machiavellian uncle, Scar, he is befriended by Timon and Pumba, a pair of lovable outcasts who become his new family. Simba grows up taking his new friends’ philosophy of Hakuna Matata to heart, living his days in a peaceful blur of contentment and freedom from all responsibilities. So when his father’s old advisor Rafiki turns up to convince Simba to return home, he has a tough job ahead of him. Yet, he manages to bring the truculent young lion around by being persistent and playing to Simba’s own interests, in this case, the preservation of his ancestral kingdom. By appealing to the latent feelings of the young lion to get his way, Rafiki beautifully demonstrates the importance of playing to a person’s emotions when trying to make a successful sale.

3.    Scar

Any salesperson knows how important it is to have strong communication skills in order to make a successful sales pitch. And of all the Disney characters ever drawn, Scar, the villainous uncle from The Lion King, certainly draws top honours for his ability to talk others into doing his bidding. From arranging for Simba to amble into the path of a stampede to convincing the hyenas to support his scheme to take control of the pride, Scar always manages to sell his plans successfully to his audience. Indeed, Scar’s rousing rendition of “Be Prepared", when he calls the hyenas to join him in his quest for power, is a perfect example of the character’s highly persuasive communication skills!

4.    Mother Gothel


A high level of confidence in what you believe in is one of the keys to being successful in sales. In the growing catalogue of Disney's characters, Mother Gothel, the evil, insecure witch who imprisons Rapunzel in a tower, manages to keep her adopted daughter a prisoner by selling her on the idea that it would be too dangerous to leave.  Anyone who has ever dealt with a headstrong teenager knows how impossible it can be to keep a determined seventeen-year-old  indoors when they want to be free. However, Mother Gothel is so confident in her assertions that the world outside the tower is too dangerous to explore, that Rapunzel believes her.

Being a successful salesperson essentially comes down to having the right combination of confidence, communication skills, persistence, and a certain amount of nerve!  These Disney characters possess all of these traits in spades and with training, perhaps in the art of consultative selling, achieving win-wins and a large dose of customer service, they may have just fitted into the competitive world of modern selling!


Finally, who do you think should have made it into our list, and why?

Happy selling!

Friday, 21 February 2014

My Dream Premiership Sales Team


I was in the process of making a couple of changes to my Fantasy Football Team the other day and it made me wonder what players would make the best possible sales team.
So, I think it’s only fair that I am the Chairman and the first thing required is to find the best Managing Director to manage my company.
Managing Director/Manager (Brendan Rodgers) – To have an excellent sales force I need an excellent manager. An excellent manager will inspire the rest of the team to be better. He may inherit average salespeople, but over time will nurture, develop and motivate until the entire team is excellent. Brendan has proved in the 2 years he has spent at Liverpool that he has the skills required in an MD, his subtle and successful man management of Luis Suarez, his expert coaching of Jordan Henderson and his nurturing of young talent the likes of Raheem Sterling.
Finance Manager/Goalkeeper (Peter Cech) – I want to know I’m in safe hands when it comes to company finances and by having the ever reliable Chelsea keeper as my Finance Manager I am confident I can let him get on with the job.
HR Manager/Centre Back (Per Mertesacker (VC)) – My HR Manager needs to be a team player, supportive, highly organized and able to communicate effectively. Per has all these skills in abundance. He came close to taking the captains armband but a strong vice-captain he is likely to be.
Sales & Marketing Director/Centre Back (Vincent Kompany ©) – I need my Sales& Marketing Manager to lead my team, he needs to identify opportunities and develop tactics and be able to take the tough decisions when necessary and as Captain of my team Vincent Kompany is the perfect man for the job.
Sales Administrator/Right Back (Seamus Coleman) – A good Sales Administrator will be able to support the Sales Manager and provide assistance to members of the sales team. Coleman shows a constant desire to get forward and support the attack week in week out which lands him the right back slot.
Sales Manager/Midfield Playmaker (David Silva) – My Sales Manager is my key player, the vital minority that produces more than the rest of my sales force, he has the natural talent and flair to get results, Silva oozes class and would raise the games of all around him.
Northern Regional Manager/Centre Midfield (Steven Gerrard) – A strong link between my Sales Director and my field sales team keeping things ticking over. Gerrard has a wealth of experience in the field and can drive the performance and growth of the team.
Southern Regional Manager/Centre Midfield (Yaya Toure) – Another very influential figure within my sales team, Toure is a winner and a charismatic leader in the field and can drive his subordinates forward.
Business Development Manager/Striker (Luis Suarez) – My top performer delivering consistent results well above target, Suarez puts in the extra hours to make things happen and would be a key player within my sales team.
Field Sales Rep/Right Wing Forward (Mesut Ozil) – The primary focus for my Field Sales Reps is to be able to find and create new opportunities and build on current success, Ozil has proven throughout his career he can find the gaps and create chances to close the deal.
Field Sales Rep/Left Wing Forward (Eden Hazard) – I want my Field Sales Reps to be above average with the right attitude and aspirations to be the best, Hazard is all of this and more. He has the skills and attributes to progress far is a future Sales Manager.
Graduate Internal Account Manager/Left Back (Luke Shaw) – The youngster within my team, still learning about the company but showing great potential Shaw is already showing a maturity beyond his years and I see him going through the ranks within the business and becoming a key player.
So here’s my line up as a football team:

Manager –Brendan Rodgers

Goalkeeper – Peter Cech
Right Back – Seamus Coleman
Left Back –Luke Shaw
Centre Back – Vincent Kompany (Captain)
Centre Back – Per Mertesacker (Vice-Captain)
Centre Midfield – Steven Gerrard
Centre Midfield – Yaya Toure
Attacking Midfield – David Silva
Right Wing Forward – Mesut Ozil
Left Wing Forward – Edin Hazard
Centre Forward – Luis Suarez
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and if you’d make any substitutions!

Written by Liam Oakes
Liam is the Candidate Manager at Aaron Wallis and has been with the company for 2 years after having a career with the RAF; Liam has helped hundreds of Sales Professionals secure a new Sales role and ensures that Aaron Wallis runs smoothly.