Category: Sales training (page 1 of 2)

Death of Account Management by Andy Preston

In this insightful article, Andy Preston from Manchester highlights the pitfalls of trying to run an account management strategy. He argues that they are now dead in the water. There is a new paradigm with new roles to generate sales and new business. He cites the three key roles within the new sales department, set out below.

The key point for me is the understanding that it takes different types of people to run these different roles. If you understand the role, then you will find the right people to fill them. Good luck…

1) The first one is ‘New Business’. This is where the individual brings in new, fresh business from prospects that don’t currently spend money with you. Using a variety of prospecting methods, the ‘warmest’ this role gets is trying to win back a lost (or lapsed) customer. Otherwise it’s all about bring it in from scratch!

2) The second role is ‘Account Development’. The main function of this role is about bringing in more business from existing accounts – i.e people who are ALREADY spending money with you. This role is about getting those clients to spend more – whether that’s increasing order value or order frequency, taking business off your competition that may be active in those accounts, or finding new ‘buying points’ in those accounts (and getting them to spend with you), that’s the focus of the Account Development role.

In other words, it’s like having a ‘New Business’ focus within your existing accounts, and therefore requires a different skillset to the ‘new business’ role, and most definitely a different skill-set to the old ‘Account Management’ role!

3) The third role is what he refers to as ‘Account Servicing’ or ‘Customer Service’ – in effect the focus of this role is to keep the customer spending with you, deal with any complains, problems or queries, and ‘service’ their account.

Here is the link to Andy Preston and Death of Account Management

How not to be found – the junior sales prevention officer fails again – Part 3

This is part 3 of a dialogue between a senior sales prevention officer and a junior seeking to learn the ropes. Sales prevention is ubiquitous. It can lurk in the back ground or be found right at the customer interface.

If you have an example of sales prevention do let me know. Now, on with the story.

Remora!

What do you mean they found your company on the internet! How did you allow that to happen? As a Junior Sales Prevention Officer did you not realise that prospective clients would be looking for your company using the internet? Your excuse that “Only those under 18 years of age would use the internet.” is way out of date. It is THE way to be found. You have been lax in your duties and you may need to rethink your future.

Everyone knows that Awareness is the first part of the buying process. When clients become aware that they have a problem, they start to search for possible solutions. Being hard to find is where you should have focused your energies. I accept that it was easy for me in the past. We ensured we remained hidden by not subscribing to any form of advertising, avoiding any relationship with the press and refusing to subscribe to directories. I did this by informing the Board that our investment funds would be better spent on making further enhancements to the product. A better product would surely attract more customers I argued. They bought it hook, line and sinker. We had so many product enhancement projects underway that the Board do not have the time to look at the languishing sales figures.

With the age of social media however I do accept that your job is harder. But not impossible. Start with the website as that is where most potential customers would go to find you. Imagine a site that allowed the customer to enter the site and then be unable to find what they are looking for. Make navigation or search really difficult, that is the goal. Moving on. It doesn’t have to be too technical. Start with a really slow download speed by using the cheapest server and low tech or free website package. Ensure the navigation bar is poorly worded and links to the wrong pages. Post updates very rarely and ensure that it the site is littered with spelling errors. Done well then they will bounce right off the site. A job well done.

You then cite SEO as being the bain of your existence. It is unless you understand that SEO is Search Engine Obfuscation. Here is how you prevent yourself being found online. Start by using search terms that have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with what your customer might type into a search engine. Litter the content of your pages with worthless drivel. Use jargon that obscures what you do. Jumble the text around and pack the words in tightly by assuming that the last thing clients want to see is any white space on the site. Avoid punctuation. And most importantly do not seek to craft any form of narrative that might suggest passion or emotional engagement with what you do. Design is for wimps. Branding is for cows. Just words, no images to brighten up the site or videos to ensure they have something to engage with.

Do not help the client by writing about the benefits they may receive from working with you. Just list the features of your offering. That way Google will rank your page as not relevant to your prospective customers and you will wallow on page 15 or 16. You will never be found. That should be your goal. Personally, I set a target that I will never appear higher than page 20. It works for me. It is so much quieter here once the machines sit idle when the incoming orders cease. I can really think creatively about preventing sales and earn my crust.

So my dear Remora, think about ways to hide and not be found. Google is smart but you are smarter. They use spiders and robots whereas you have the god given gift of articulate thought. Sales prevention requires the use of top level thinking if you are to succeed.

Coach, Consultant, Mentor, Advisor – what’s the difference?

How to choose the best coach for you.

How to get the best support to help you to resolve your dilemma.

Executive coaching and sales mentoring BristolA question we are often posed here at the Business CoPilot. But the question is usually posed in a slightly different way. It’s usually more subtle.

“What can you do for me?” or  “How can you help me?” might be the way the question is framed, but the underlying question is actually something like this.

“I am not sure what I want and am equally unsure how you can help. The terms coach, consultant, mentor, advisor don’t help clarify the situation for me. What can I do to resolve this uncertainty?”

Given that you have a specific problem, here is my take on the differences between these terms.

  • Coach – helps you to do it for yourself
  • Consultant – does it for you
  • Mentor –  shows you how to do it, as they have done it before
  • Advisor – gives you advice specific to the problem

Imagine then you have a specific problem with say improving sales.

As a coach I would help you to define the problem, work with you to develop possible solutions that work for you, help you to decide which solution you want to take and then work with you to make it happen. It doesn’t really matter that I have sales experience (which I have), it is more important that I have coaching experience.

As a consultant I would work with you to determine the problem, define a solution and then implement all or part of the solution.

As a mentor I would help you to define the problem, then using my experience in managing complex sales teams, I would suggest ways ahead, obstacles that would be faced and how to get around them.

As a sales advisor, I would offer advice as to how to go about solving the dilemma but would not get involved with the implementation.

So long as the problem is about sales these answers above are relevant. But not in all situations. If the problem was about the impact on the balance sheet of a certain course of action, or about the best way of implementing a tax efficient benefits package, I could coach but not act in any other capacity.

The answer to the question then might be something like this. The it being the problem.

“I want to sort it out myself with some support.” – you need a coach.

“I want to get someone else to sort it out but want it to be right.” – you need a consultant.

“I want to be shown how to do it by someone who has been there before.” – you need a mentor.

“I want to understand what is required to sort it and will do the rest myself.” – you need an advisor.

Hope that helps. What is your take on it?

Click here to go back to read more on executive coaching and sales mentoring in Bristol

 

 

Brand loyalty – mistakes that are frequently made

Here below is a synopsis of an excellent blog post by Randy Bowden. He argues that most business owners miss the point when it comes to building brand loyalty

“Customers want a business they can come back to again and again for the things they need, that they feel comfortable purchasing those items, knowing they are getting the right items. It is, however, easy to make mistakes when building brand loyalty that may haunt a business the rest of its days.

1. Forgetting What The Customer Wants

It is important to keep what the customer wants in mind as a business owner builds loyalty. Business owners need the loyalty to go deeper below the surface.

2. All Hype, No Substance

It is easy to think about customers are object you are trying to attract them and forget they are people. So, avoid making claims about the business without the substance to back it up.

3. All Sell

One of the worst things a business can do when building brand loyalty is focusing on the next sale. It is like being bombarded by telemarketers. No customer likes that.

4. No Engagement

Engagement can simply mean a conversation or acknowledgement that the business heard their words and will take the appropriate action. The strong emotions, such as humour, connects them to your brand and encourages loyalty.

5. Poor Customer Service

No matter how well you do everything else, how those behind the counter treat the customer is still one of the best ways to build customer loyalty. So, never forget that your brand extends beyond the physical.”

As the saying goes, there is no second chance to make first impression. Working hard on ensuring that the client or customer has a smooth path through the purchase is probably the best way to build brand loyalty.

Jettison the ballast and soar!

“I haven’t got the time, Rob!”.

“In your dreams, Rob”.

“When am I supposed to do this? I am working 10 hour days”

What would your response be if you had to increase your workload by 20%. Would you tut and go back to the day job? Would you reflect longingly at what life would look like if you could increase the time at work? Or would you do the following?

The Ditch List – jettison the ballast

Business coaching Bristol Bath and South WestWrite down on a set of Post It notes everything you spend your time on. Get it all down first, we will work on it later. Then add in the non-work commitments.

Once you have emptied your brain, take a break and enjoy a hot beverage or glass of wine because now comes the hard bit. Put all the notes in a long vertical line, the most important things you spend your time on at the top and the lesser items at the bottom. You can do the next bit weekly or monthly, it is up to you. But what you need to do is to calculate how much time you spend on each activity.

Add up the time per task as you go down the list until you reach 80% of the time you want to work. Anything below that should be outsourced, discontinued or delegated. Be ruthless!.

Why do this exercise?

Because you need a minimum of 20% of your working time to run the business. That’s right at least 20% or one day per week of quality time to ensure the business vision, goals and objectives are being met. All too frequently we find as business coaches that senior business leaders spend too long on non essential tasks to the detriment of their business.

So what would you jettison if you had the time?

Strategic Sales Management

Strategic sales management is the management task of designing, implementing and measuring the organisations sales capability. It covers a myriad of aspects of business including customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, customer retention and managing the interlock with the marketing process.

What I have found is that many organisations, large or small,do well in many areas of sales such as developing a customer pathway, managing the clients expectations and doing what they think needs to be done to generate customer loyalty.

But where most seem to fall down is in not having the deep understanding of their clients needs and wants. They don’t have in place the relationships with their customers with their equivalent senior management team, their peers or subordinates that generates that deep understanding of what makes them tick. Perhaps it is understandable as it takes time and a level of skill to generate the information and an efficient CRM process to store it.

But if it is done well, then these deeper and stronger relationship bonds will add real value in developing increased sales opportunities and in times of need when things go pop.

Get to know your customers, record the information and use it and see the benefits flow over time. What do you think?

Strategic Sales Management = understand your audience

Pinch points in the sales process

Getting the customer to buy is tough. There are so many opportunities along the sales pathway for them to opt out. Why make it harder than it needs be?

Business Coaching BristolWhen the customer engages with the organisation they in effect “touch” them. They become touch points. So when the customer phones to place the order that is a touch point. Or when the customer goes on line to check the stock availability or to determine delivery costs, these are touch points. Each touch point with the customer can become a pinch point.

A few months back I was doing some strategic sales management consulting with a firm in London. They sold technical products that required detailed order taking over the phone. The pinch point was with the incoming tele-sales staff. Neither spoke English well enough to understand the complexities of the customers needs. I could hear the frustrations of the callers trying to explain what their issues were so they could place the order.

I spoke with the Sales Manager who shrugged his shoulders and said that “they did get a lot of complaints about it”. 

We can lower the numbers who opt out at each stage by looking closely at what the customer is being asked to do and ensuring it is as complex as necessary and as simple as possible. By doing so we will increase the conversion rates that in turn enhances the margins downstream.

Social media in a B2B setting doesn’t work

Social media - is there any point?Let me clarify. B2B is business to business where one firm is looking to sell to another firm. B2C is business to consumer where the firm is seeking to engage with a consumer directly.

Social media is any on line promotional platform whereby firms seek to engage with other firms via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc.

The goal in social media is to engage more with the personality than with products or services. It’s all about personal branding, ego and demonstrating who you are and not what you do or the benefit that you offer.

Social media in a B2B setting does not work

Why? Because businesses buy products or services. They are not interested in personality, personal branding or ego. They just want to buy a solution to a problem, to scratch their itch. They seek solutions by looking for the closest thing they can to a solution and then fine tune it when they have a few options. But they certainly wont be buying based on an on line personality.

Only the very smallest firms might buy through social media connections, and one could argue that is more a B2C transaction as they are in essence buying for themselves and not as an officer of the company.

4psSo my view is that if you want to sell to established businesses, focus more promoting what you do in terms that your audience understands. Make it clear what you are selling, the benefit the users get from using you and the process that you will use to make it happen.

Any thoughts?

 

When to speak – and when to listen

There are plenty of tales out there of sales pitches which for one reason or another, completely bombed. This one from the Harvard Business Review is one such example.

So, what can we learn from it? A quick summary of the situation: a consultant was referred to a potential client. The referrer gave him plenty of background – he felt prepared. The meeting was unexpectedly reduced to 20 minutes. The potential client complimented the consultant on a recent book, boosting his confidence and encouraging him to cut to the chase. The consultant explained what his approach would be and presented his view of the situation.

At first glance, it might not be clear whether this meeting went well or not. However, the consultant didn’t win the work, and the potential client was not impressed. But why?

Knowing when to speak and when to listen is key.

The consultant felt that he had a good grasp on the situation and could appropriately treat the problem. The potential client was not looking for an approximation of possible treatment, but to be listened to and understood, fully. The pitch was centred around “here’s what I can do for you”, rather than “what do you need?”

“I was listening to gather enough information so I could make a case to Dan that I could solve his problem. In other words, I was listening simply to empower my speaking.”

At Business CoPilot, we live by the mantra “treatment without diagnosis is malpractice”. It’s a saying which, had the consultant known it, might have prevented him from failing in the meeting. His was a botched diagnosis, coloured by what he wanted to gain from the meeting, and how he wanted to be perceived. He made no attempts to listen and react to the potential client, or to see things from his point of view.

“What would I do differently next time? I would sit in the chair I was offered and listen to Dan tell his story. Then I would ask him a number of questions to make sure I could see the situation with his eyes, analyze it from his point of view, and feel his emotions.”

And that is exactly what you get from a 1-to-1 with Business CoPilot.

Contact us now if you would like to start the diagnostic process. Call 0117 317 8147 or email alexh@businesscopilot.co.uk.

Five steps to a marvellous marketing strategy

To doSo, you’ve written your business plan and you can’t wait to put it into practice. Excellent! I’m excited to see how it goes.

But wait – where’s the marketing strategy? There’s no mention of your customer, or how you will reach them. Why not?

I may be misrepresenting you, (and if so, I’m sorry!) but the fact is that many businesses of all sizes underestimate the value of a marketing and don’t include it in their plans.

Failing to include a detailed, achievable marketing plan from the beginning can mean that marketing becomes a reactionary (and therefore inconsistent) process rather than a clear strategy (which is what really works).

GrowthAccelerator suggested these five tips for creating a solid marketing foundation which will weather the changes inevitable in a fast-growing business.

1)      Embrace it and commit to it.

Deciding what you’re going to do is the easy bit. It’s putting it into practice which takes time, dedication and effort, but it is also this which makes it work and brings you the benefits (basically, more customers).

2)      Link it with your key business growth drivers.

Marketing isn’t separate to business, it’s a valuable part of it and should be treated accordingly. Make sure it’s integrated with the business plan, using the same concepts and key drivers as you do for processes, finance and business strategy.

3)      Make it achievable and measurable

It can be easy to talk about grand plans for marketing, and find that they are more difficult than you expected. Think about how much time and manpower you can allocate to marketing, and be realistic. Measuring your outcomes is key to finding out what works best, and calculating your marketing ROI.

4)      Assign responsibility and ensure accountability

Make sure those responsible for the marketing strategy know what is expected from them, and review regularly to ensure accountability.

5)      Review, revise and improve

Looking back to step 3, the value of making a target measurable is using those measurements to improve what you’re doing. If something doesn’t seem to be working, don’t always discount it, as some tasks need time to build and gather momentum. Most important is identifying what has worked, then sustaining and improving on those factors. Include marketing in all review meetings, to ensure it is discussed alongside and as part of the key business drivers.

You can read the original article here.

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