STEERING THROUGH CHOPPY SEAS

STEERING THROUGH CHOPPY SEAS

  • There are some people out there who just simply do not get what you are doing in business.
  • There are those out there who will show interest in your products, services, and in you, but they will then drop from the radar and not respond to any of your approaches.
  • There are those those who insist you drop the price or they will go elsewhere.
  • There are those who use you to put pressure on their present supplier and, in reality, have no intention of buying from you.

“If you have been affected in any way by the content of the above four statements……”

Seriously, there are many reasons that people will NOT place business with you, all of which can be overcome with careful application of recognised skills and techniques.

HOWEVER, political developments have added another issue to this list.  We are to leave the EU.  What comes next?  No-one really knows, and because no-one knows, many businesses will cut back on their spending, buying only the ‘necessities’.  If you do not sell their ‘necessities’, you are less likely, even unlikely to sell to them.

PROSPECTING AND SECURING NEW OPPORTUNITIES ARE LIKELY TO BECOME MORE DIFFICULT during the coming months.

More difficult, but not impossible.  Certainly, we will need to work smarter and have plans which are carefully constructed, timed and focused.  We will need contingency plans now more than ever, as we plough on into the political unknown.

To make sales; to make MORE sales in a difficult market requires new strategies, extra skills and techniques, contingencies, but most of all, it needs careful planning.

I have planned for this!  I have a coaching programme called ‘2020 Vision for Business’ (what else?!)  In this, we will work on sales and marketing plans, strategies and contingencies, taking sales to the next level and ‘scaling-up’ your business; to be the best while others may flounder.

Whether or not you book on the programme, you will need plans and contingencies for growing your business next year.  Don’t leave your success to chance.

Plan and prepare now, to grow your business, despite political and market forces.

Deal or No Deal

Whether you like or loathe the man, and there seems to be little middle ground Boris has always had a very focussed approach to Brexit.  He has a plan and a strategy, rightly or wrongly.

Comparing this withe Sales Process, and there are many prarallels, he is attempting to obtain the best deal for the UK from the EU.

In every sale, the backstop; the very last option has to be a no-deal.  In other words, ‘I am prepared to walk away and neither of us benefits from this relationship’.  But to make that a useful negotiating tool, it must be an option available to you.  If you are not prepared to walk away, no matter how much you want the deal, then the opposition will use this to their great advantage and to your disadvantage.

If they know that you are not allowed the option to walk away, the ‘no-deal’, then they will find it much easier to impose their needs and wishes over yours.  It gives you a weak position from which to negotiate because they know that in the end, you will have to accept a deal that favours their needs.

Unfortunately, parliament do not understand this, or, they feel that the risk of ending up with no deal is too great.  So, Boris’s hands were tied.

This point is similar to that discussed in my blog of March 2019 where the delegate was not allowed to walk away without the order.  Here as well, his negotiating power was weakened and the customer had, and played the advantage.

This is not an easy line to follow.  It may result in bluff and counter-bluff and a cool head is needed.  However, simply believing that you have the power to walk away from the deal (even if you have no real intention to do so) may be enough to help strengthen your position.

Make sure they believe you have the choice, and then secure a better deal.

Three essentials needed by those selling into technical markets

Three essentials needed by those selling into technical markets:

1/ Technical knowledge

2/ Training/Coaching in Technical Sales

3/ Motivation & self-belief

Why is technical sales training and coaching so essential?

Managers will notice a lack of confidence in those new to technical sales, and sometimes even in those who have been selling in technical markets for some time.

Lack of confidence results in reduced motivation. Less motivated salespeople will under-perform.  Under-performance limits success, reducing self-belief, and so confidence dips further.  This results in reduced productivity and profitability.

Likewise, the converse is true.  Help in the form of training and coaching in technical knowledge and selling skills for technical markets will boost confidence, motivate and ensure more and faster success.

I remember clearly the time when I was a new sales engineer.  I knew that my technical knowledge was good, but not yet complete.  My confidence in selling was very low, likewise my self-belief that I was any good at selling (although I never let on!).  Clearly, my bosses had seen more in me than I had; they had more belief and confidence that I would be successful.  If I had thought of this I may have grown more quickly in the job.

A little sales training was offered and taken, but this was very general and did not address the specific issues met when selling in technical markets.  My technical knowledge was built on the job with frequent returns to the engineering lab for help and advice.  Mostly, I learned on the job.

The perceived wisdom is that for any new salesperson it would take at least a year, possibly two to become cost effective and profitable.

What if you could reduce that ‘delayed profitability’ significantly?  What if it took just a few months rather than a year or two?  Wouldn’t that result in more profitable sales, and faster?

Reducing the delay by nine months to a year would make a substantial difference to the number and value of the sales achieved.  What extra value would that be?  An extra 20 or 30% of sales from that person?  It could be more.  Put a value on that percentage.  Would it not make sense to invest a little now to reap faster and larger turnover?

They say that the average time that a good salesperson stays with one company is no more than 2-3 years.  Without training or coaching, the time when experience starts to make them profitable can be 18 months to 2 years.  They may just have become profitable to you when they decide to move on.  With good, tailored training, you could extend that profitable time by up to a year.  Now THAT IS worth the investment!

Motivation, self-belief and self-confidence come from experience and from support.  Experience takes time, but support in the form of training and coaching makes a significant difference by shortening personal development and bringing forward success.

Training and coaching result in more knowledge, skills and confidence.  And hence more sales.

Why wait?!

How to overcome Brexit Blues and how the Salient ‘Plan B’ showed the way forward.

It has to be said, I am sorry, but it does have to be said.

Brexit has made a difference and will make further differences to business.

Things are changing and there are more changes to come.

But, I am not one of the doom-mongers as I believe it offers us interesting and useful opportunities.  I say ‘offers’ as it is up to us whether we take those opportunities or sit back and just hope.

Whatever happens there will be change, and we need to be prepared as best we can.  But prepared for what?  I believe there are four indisputable facts:

  • Brexit will happen!
  • Markets will change
  • There will be greater focus on domestic markets
  • We will find ourselves competing with more UK companies as larger providers seek to replace off-shore business.

This is what happened to Salient in the last 18 months:

  • Five larger prospects, (£1M turnover+), were reasonably secure in my sales pipeline.
  • As the Brexit vote loomed, happened, and shocked the markets, these five companies retreated, not wishing to ‘spend money when the market was so unpredictable.’
  • My cash-flow forecast dropped considerably!
  • I initiated my contingency, my Plan B, and targeted the smaller businesses that tend to ‘get on with it’ no matter what the market is doing.
  • I had to replace one large opportunity with ten smaller ones.
  • It was successful, and I have now progressed to Plan C where I develop the new smaller company market, while attracting new larger opportunities.

But what of the larger companies?  What will they do in this Brexit uncertainty?

I believe they will do very much as I did and look to smaller domestic markets to fill the gap in their turnover.

In other words, those who rely on domestic markets for the majority of their turnover will start to find more competition from larger suppliers.

There is another side to this.  Those seeking your products or services are less likely to look off-shore for suppliers as these are likely to become more costly.  Therefore, they will actively seek domestic suppliers. It could be you, if you are ready!  Another point is that if they previously sourced from larger companies, they are likely to spend more than your present customers.

To summarise, this could mean for your business:

  • New domestic markets are likely to open up
  • Competition will increase for home-grown opportunities.
  • The new opportunities have different expectations and spending levels

Are you ready?

Is your sales team and/or your sales process the best it can be?

Your sales effort needs to be at its best; sharp; focussed; forward-thinking.

Don’t miss the boat. 

If you fail to address this, others will get there first and will win the lion’s share of the new opportunities.

If you are successful in this, your business growth could be double what you would anticipate for 2018.

If you would like to discuss your experiences of this, please be in touch; call or email Andy

WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

 

‘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.