How to become more ‘Proactive’.

The most common issue found relating to sales growth:

Having presented many courses on various sales and business-related subjects in a variety of lengths, I have found a few issues that arise that prove common to all my clients.  Perhaps the most important of these is the need for the sales individual or team to become proactive as opposed to reactive in their approach.  In many cases, sales leads are obtained from responses to marketing effort or repeat business.  This is excellent, as it means that the market has seen the value being offered and is keen to purchase.  However, maybe due to new competition, or failing customers, this can result in reduced turnover.  They have recognized that relying on existing clients or responses to marketing can become risky and unpredictable.  Moving to a more proactive approach will help ensure all sales opportunities are found, targeted and won.

What do we mean by ‘proactive’?  How can we be MORE proactive?

Identify two key aspects:

The markets you are serving already, and

The markets you would like to serve.

…or, put it another way….

Your existing or past customers, and

New customers

Simple strategy for being proactive in sales;

1/  Decide the best balance for you of existing customer and new customer business.  You need both!  One for ‘bread and butter’ income; to cover the ‘overheads’ and more, and the other for business growth and future strength.

2/  Revisit existing or previous customers on a regular basis.  Calling is best; sending a newsletter is the minimum contact.  Never miss an opportunity for repeat business or to cross and up-sell.  Lack of such contact allows the competition to ‘move-in’.

3/  Choose your new markets and prospects carefully.  Make sure they are likely to have the need, the money, and that they are likely to appreciate the value you offer.

4/  ‘Seed’ that market; make sure your business is known to them before you make contact, by;

  • identifying likely decision makers and sending them publicity materials, or,
  • using the internet, finding a mutual contact and asking for a referral, or
  • invest in exposure in their trade press or institution website, or,
  • any of the above and more…..

5/  Following number 4 above, any contacting now will be far less cold.  If you have gained a referral, they will be happier to take the call.  If you haven’t, you can at least refer to your article or letter in the publication or website related to their industry.  It doesn’t have to be a ‘cold call’!

This is just one approach you can use to help you find new customers and win new sales.

Being proactive should also include actions to:

–          plan where to target new prospects
–          regularly monitor and review your carefully chosen KPIs to ensure positive progress                and growth
–          ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty
–          prepare responses to possible criticism
–          prepare contingency plans in case the unexpected prevents progress in your chosen                direction

  • There are many advantages to being more proactive, you have;
  • Higher profile with existing customers and new prospects
  • Warmer contacts!
  • The chance to target and win far more business opportunities
  • Greater credibility and respect in the industry or market
  • More resilience against competition
  • More market knowledge, particularly in future trends.

So, don’t wait for them to come to you.  In market downturns, this can be fatal.  Be proactive, ‘go-and-get-it’!

As my late Father used to tell me;  “The door to success is labelled ‘PUSH’.”

Who would make a good CEO?

Who would make a good CEO?

– with thanks to David Joel of Lanson Consultants for his inspiration.

I am happily married with four lovely daughters.

I think any involved parent is a CEO.

I am an equal partner CEO in the parent company.  Two of our branches believed they would be more successful away from the control of the parent company and so we have come to a mutual agreement to separate. The longest established branch has formed a successful joint venture by merging with another to form a separate company, and the other branch has changed markets and moved to develop within a larger concern in London.

–  This has resulted in reduced costs and improved productivity of the parent company and day-to-day running is noticeably less frenetic.

The remaining two branches are still being developed and have interesting prospects for the future.  They have each developed in very different ways addressing widely differing markets; one in entertainment and the other in service industries.  Once each has reached fully profitable status and is attractive enough for a (hopefully) more established concern to take notice, then these too will likely separate from the parent company as ‘going concerns’.  Some support will have to be maintained during the transition phase at least, and possibly longer.   I envisage maintaining a non-portfolio directorship for some time but doubt my influence will be considered valuable by then.

–  The timescale for these changes is difficult to determine.  We are hoping for 5-6 years but suspect it may be considerably longer.

Once the parent company has been ‘asset stripped’ in this way, we hope it will remain a viable concern, able to tick-over at least for a few years.  Returning to full efficiency and optimum profitability may take some time but once achieved then a more bespoke, higher level, occasional consultancy may be the structure adopted.

As for passing the company on to future generations…..

I hope this analogy resonated with some of you. 

Finally, a question to ask yourself; am I being a good CEO or am I simply ‘doing a job’?

©Salient Sales & Training

Let’s get a bit closer…

Communication and Buy-IN; are your customers and prospects fully engaged or merely notified?

I was training a group of 10 delegates a couple of weeks ago.  They were a great bunch, very professional and clearly dedicated to the company. However, like many, they felt that contacts; customers or prospects; were not fully engaged with them.  Their contacts would not respond promptly; weeks would go by with no response to a question, query or quote.  Apparently, some quotes of considerable value were still outstanding and they had assumed that they had not been successful.  Three things immediately sprang to mind:

FOLLOW-UP, ASSUMPTIONS and COMMUNICATION!

Any question, query or quote goes cold very quickly unless reinforced with a follow-up.  They may be short of a single fact or simple clarification.  ‘For a ha’porth of tar, the ship sank’ as they used to say….apparently.

This team had worked hard to offer what they felt the customer needed, but had stopped short of the follow-up.  Looking keen and following up within a small number of days will only give good impressions and emphasise that yours is the company to engage in business.

This level of attention has three key benefits:

  • It shows you’re keen
  • It keeps you up to date with customer intentions
  • It speeds up the sales process

Without effective follow-up, others will step in to take the business.  The ‘personal touch’ will be lost and engagement will transfer to others who express more interest in working with them.

Rule 1 – follow-up, if you don’t, others will.

In each case assumptions have been made.  It could be you are assuming you have little chance or the e business is not due to be placed yet.  Maybe they have assumed that your lack of follow-up means you are less interested in the business.  There are many other common assumptions and whichever side is making them, they are very dangerous and likely to damage your prospects of winning any business.

Rule 2 – never make assumptions; ASK!  Summarise, clarify and confirm every time.

How you generally communicate can make a huge difference to the progress and success of the business you are chasing.  I asked the team of delegates what forms of communication achieved the highest emotional connection or engagement, the most ‘buy-in’ from the customer.  We produced this list in descending order.  I then asked how they would usually communicate and in what proportion.  The results speak for themselves:

Engagement %                  % usage of communication methods

Face to Face                        90                                          5

Skype                                   50                                          5

Phone call                            30                                           5

Letter                                    10                                           5

Email                                     5                                            90

The company relied almost wholly on email, but admitted this was the least effective when wanting to engage with customers or prospects.  Despite the hard work and best of intentions, they had notified instead of engaged.

Rule 3 – if you claim to be a friendly and personable company to work with, don’t rely heavily on email for your communication.  If in doubt, ask them, see them, call them, write to them; why not use two methods, write then call, or visit then write etc?

If your customers matter; and of course they do; work more closely with them to understand their need, to fulfill their need and to win the business.  I am sure this team will now move forward by following up every contact and proposal as they certainly deserve the greater success it will bring.

Is your 1st Impression….2nd best?

It could be YOU!

  •   They might not like the look of you!
  •   Perhaps your opening line closed the conversation
  •   Your enthusiasm has overwhelmed them
  •   Your lack of enthusiasm has disappointed them
  •   Your garlic/coffee/curry breath has caused their spectacles to melt!

All these factors can have a negative result when attempting to sell.  Have you noticed a common theme?  They have little or nothing to do with your product or your sales skills.

In fact, many business opportunities are lost even before any attempt has been made to sell.  This is simply because the seller hasn’t considered their own personal presentation.  Such issues can also play a part in business conducted over the telephone or over the internet.  Here the issue is ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’.  We all know this to be true, but how often do we stop to think how this can apply to us and our business approach?  First impressions are more about how we look, how we act, what we say and what we do.

Emotion has a huge effect on how we regard the people we meet.  The emotion generated can have a positive or negative effect on any business being sought.  Before we have even opened our mouths, the new prospect can have made a subconscious decision not to do business with us!  Are we guilty of self-sabotage without realising it?

It is true; we do business with people we like.  Often, we decide whether we like them or not within just a few seconds of meeting them.  Yes, first impressions are very important.

Next time you want to approach someone whom you think may be a prospective customer, take a moment to consider:

  • Do I look the part?
  • Would a mouth spray help?!
  • Am I prepared to listen before I attempt to sell?
  • Do I have an interesting opening line and elevator pitch?
  • Will my enthusiasm for my business be seen as being keen or aggressive?
  • How can I help them?

……and only then, how can they help me?

Give yourself a chance! Once these questions are answered positively, you stand a good chance of winning their hearts and their business.

ISSM Certificate in Sales & Marketing: find out more

Wanting to sell more?  What’s stopping you?

Do you need to be better at selling?     Institute of Sales and Marketing Management courses provide sales skills and techniques designed to help you sell more, and sell more easily.

Are you good at selling but can’t prove it?   Institute of Sales & Marketing Managers courses will give you that credibility by offering awards, certificates or diplomas in Sales & Marketing.

Salient has teamed up with Green Labyrinth to be able to provide ISMM certificates in Sales & Marketing.  The first course starts on April 20th from 6.00 to 9.00pm and completes on May 15th.shutterstock_143058028 bobble-heads

ISMM courses help you sell more by focussing on the three core aspects of knowledge, skills and attitude

  • Introducing a simple process and a variety of adaptable techniques
  • Providing proven skills and techniques for finding and winning sales
  • Helping you to develop effective sales plans and strategies that enable growth
  • Providing the means to implement and complete plans and gain the rewards
  • Focusing on developing productive relationships and ethical approaches
  • Showing how you can easily overcome barriers and objections and win respect
  • Developing the necessary self-belief and self confidence that allows you to enjoy success in selling

Who would benefit?

  1. Those new to sales
  2. Those needing a ‘refresher’ to maintain, develop and add to existing skills
  3. Sales people needing ‘proof-of-proficiency’ in selling

–          Learning how to sell successfully by relying on field experience can take time and can develop unproductive habits.

–          Learning how to sell using ISMM courses will bring success more quickly, easily, and more frequently.

Courses are flexible; discounts and public funding may be available for eligible delegates.  They are run at Bowman House in Royal Wootton Bassett.

For more details and to book onto the next course starting 20th April, contact: Sarah from Green Labyrinth on 01793 843128 (other dates are available), or email info@greenlabyrinth.co.uk

Alternatively, call Andy at Salient on 01793 843118

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.