It is all too easy to fall into these traps when selling.  Some of you may well have experienced these already; they will be painfully obvious and clear to you.  However, sometimes you may also be unaware that you have slipped up or missed some opportunities. There are many I could have selected!  Here are five of the most common clangers:

Classic clanger no.1:  can happen at that first contact.  Maybe you have contacted who you think is an ideal prospect, but they turn out to be uninterested or have no need for what you are offering.  This is down to sales & marketing preparation: did you find out enough about them before contacting?  Are you talking to the right person?

Remedy:  If you haven’t already, plan your approach and START asking them questions!

Classic clanger no.2  Perhaps they stop you in mid pitch, to point out that your offer doesn’t match their need.  Did you ask enough questions?  Are you too eager to talk about your product and haven’t taken the time to qualify their need by asking simple questions?

Remedy:  Start asking now!

Classic clanger no.3  Did you make your pitch and then give them time to consider?  If you went back to them over a week later you may find they have gone elsewhere for the product.  Unfortunately, customer memory is very short and someone else can end up benefitting from the sale.

Remedy:  Agree with them the best time for the follow-up.  If you are unsure, call in a couple of days; not necessarily to ask for the business, but to check they are still happy with the offer or if they need more help to decide.

Classic clanger no. 4  You are being pushed on price but you have no more room to manoeuvre.  You’re stuck!  You don’t  have to ‘take a hit or walk away’.

Remedy:  Have a contingency; an extra something you can throw into the mix to move the situation forward.  This could be more product, or a related product, or an extra service; ideally, anything that costs you little, but will be seen as good value by the customer.

Classic clanger no.5  ‘Let me know if and when you are ready to order from us’.  THIS IS NOT A LEGITIMATE CLOSE!  If you leave the deal like this, the most likely outcomes are: they will forget all the good things about doing business with you; they will be persuaded to buy from someone else; they will delay their decision or even the project.

Remedy:  Don’t be afraid to close!  If it’s the wrong time, ask them when. Better still; ask them what more you need to do to win the business, then do it!

These are just some of the classic clangers that are easy to make when selling, and suggestions for how to prevent or remedy them.  As with everything, just a few simple techniques and selling skills can make all the difference when it comes to increasing your success and improving your business ‘conversion rate’.

If you’ve dropped a clanger, or are wondering why you don’t win as much business as you deserve, call Andy at Salient.

ISMM courses now available

Not good at selling? Join our ISMM courses in sales & marketing. 

Good at selling & want to prove it? Join our ISMM courses, starting April.

Salient Sales & Training is proud to announce the opportunity for our clients to join Institute of Sales & Marketing Management courses to achieve an Award, Certificate or Diploma in Sales and Marketing to level 2 or level 3.

Salient has teamed up with Green Labyrinth to provide these courses which will start in April 2015.

For more details please call or email Andy at Salient.



‘It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities’,   Dumbledore to Harry;  J.K. Rowling

I talk to many companies and entrepreneurs about their business development.  Their needs and aspirations are quite varied, but common themes do become apparent.

Most common is the need for more business; to find more customers and win more sales.  This is useful as these two aspects happen to be my areas of expertise!  However, a common confession from business owners and managers is the difficulty they have in making decisions.  Some of these decisions are for strategic issues, such as matching products to markets, or where to obtain funding.  Some decisions are less critical, but still important, such as in selecting a supplier, prioritising daily activities or when to follow-up contacts or proposals.

Demands for decisions can be both internal and external.  All sorts of issues come into play, from time management, influencing skills, decision momentum and balance, to deciding priorities, urgencies and consequences.  No wonder we cannot make up our minds!

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”   
Lewis Carroll

There are some simple techniques and processes that can be applied to every decision, that should make them easier to make, quicker to resolve and ultimately much less stressful.

These can include:

  • Knowing yours and your businesses’ true priorities and being true to these
  • Establishing the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’
  • Considering different processes and techniques; choosing the best way forward
  • Developing a personal decision making process that is straightforward and comfortable
  • Establishing background; involving stakeholders and influencers; managing expectations
  • The ‘laser approach’, versus ‘sheepdog focus’, or even ‘option adoption’ techniques
  • Applying time management skills to ensure indecision does not prevent progress
  • Striking the right balance between the ‘head’ and the ‘heart’ approach
  • Considering Transactional Analysis as a possible option for achieving the best personal outcome
  • Being prepared to decide not to decide, but fixing and keeping to a new decision deadline
  • When logic does not suit; using the ‘approach attributed to Einstein’

Some say that there are no such things as ‘wrong decisions’.  They argue that whichever route we choose is the correct one, based on what we know and how we feel at the time.  This approach has merit as much time, energy and stress is wasted in regretting past decisions.  This forward looking approach can make a big difference to your confidence when you are challenged with more decisions to be made.

Decision making is a fascinating art (and science).  Being comfortable with the process is important in order to maintain the quality of, and satisfaction in the result.

If you want to consider this further for you and your business, Salient is holding a workshop in February called ‘Decision Making – made easier’.  For more details and to book, go to the events page here.


5 GOOD REASONS TO PRACTICE ‘THE FOLLOW-UP’                                                       / ‘FOLLOW-THROUGH’ / ‘FOLLOW-ON’

Whatever you call it, this is one of the most important activities in sales and marketing, in fact, in business as a whole.

Whenever I gain a new customer, among the many things I ask them is how and why they chose me.

This is a common-sense approach that can often elicit huge insight.  From the responses I have received, the main reason I was chosen was that I had actually ‘followed-up’ my proposal or quotation.  Strange as it may seem, there are many businesses that simply don’t bother.  In fact, too often I hear of companies that do not even respond to a request for a quotation!  This is very un-professional to say the least, and wastes good business opportunities.

For example:

Take my recent contract to train a sales team in France.  They had approached four companies; two French and two English.  They did not say how many had responded with a proposal, but apparently, I was the only one to follow-up my quotation!  Needless to say, during the subsequent conversations I was able to match my product to their need and I won the contract.

So, why follow-up and how can it help to make the sale?

Following up……

  1/  Helps to build the personal relationship
  2/  Is an opportunity to learn more about the prospect and build this into your                   approach
  3/  Gives you the chance to make further adjustments to your quotation, making it           even closer to their need, and to differentiate yourself from the competition
  4/  Provides another opportunity to try and arrange to meet up, as the face-to-face           approach generally is far more successful than trying to win business by ‘phone
  5/  Is a chance to open negotiation, aiming to close the deal and win the business

It is wise to try and monitor and manage these follow-ups to ensure that no opportunities are missed.  I use a simple spreadsheet I call my ‘Opportunity Log’.  It lists contacts that I believe should be nurtured and followed up as I have identified potential for:

  • New business
  • Referrals
  • Support for, or supply to my business

How soon should you follow-up?  I would normally say within 2 to 3 days of the initial contact.  If in doubt, ask or suggest.  ‘Can I get back to you about this on…/in a couple of days?’  They are then duty bound to read it, as, when you call or visit, you are likely to be asking questions!

If you’ve left them something to think about, don’t waste the opportunity, follow-up and make sure you win the business.

How to deal with competition

I was asked the other day: ‘How should I deal with competition’? 
It seems that another supplier of this persons services had moved into the area, and, more significantly, into their circles, their network.

The immediate reaction is often to be affronted; ‘I was here first’, or to panic; ‘There’s not enough to go round’.
BUT, as with all things, there are ways of turning this situation on its head; turning a problem into an advantage.  After all, you can’t exactly ask them to go away!

Here’s what to do:
1/  Accept that they are there and have just as much right as you to target local business
2/  Realise that all the work they do to promote their services helps to ‘seed’ the market’ and show more businesses the value of what you do.  They help to create the market.
3/  Look for differentiators – those aspects that make you different from each other; the individual strengths that allow you to say, ‘they do this aspect well, but we specialise in this other area’.
4/  Meet with them, confirm the differentiators and explore the opportunities together.
– They may be targeting companies of different sizes or geographical areas from you.
– They may claim one expertise but not have the resources to provide it.  Can you provide it for them?
– They may be happy to set up a referral agreement whereby they pass to you the business that they are not best suited to provide and vice versa.

This has happened to me on a number of occasions, and each time I have been able to turn the situation to mutual advantage.

So, don’t resent the competition, embrace them!


As many of you know, I am dead against ‘pressure selling’.  There is no need for it.

It is counter-productive in that you may win the order, but you won’t win their loyalty, their referrals, or their repeat business, and pressure-selling probably makes them a bit cross!

It gives Sales a bad name.  I still come across people who are are at least suspicious of sales and sometimes even anti-sales.

To counter this, I used to promote a more hand-holding approach to sales that generated more respect and credibility.  it was more successful, but it was not infallible.  One reason for this was the ‘fence-sitters’.  We have all met them; they are those who know they need what you have to offer, but still dither and appear afraid of investing in their own business.

I now promote what I call ‘Challenging Sales’; nothing like pressure sales, but not totally customer-hugging either.  It offers a diplomatic challenge to prospective customers that can wipe out all their objections.

This is still ethical selling, but it uses techniques in ethical influencing to ensure the best rate of sales conversion.

If you want to know how this can work for you, go-on, don’t sit on the fence; I challenge you to talk to Salient!