Accelerating Business Growth

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How do I start a sales presentation?

Sales TrainingThis week I offer a guest blog from Mike Kingston FInstSMM. Mike is an accomplished
Sales & Marketing Trainer, Speaker. He delivers training and coaching on proven, highly effective sales strategies, skills and tactics.

“How do I start a sales presentation?”

Whenever sales people ask me this question during my sales seminars, I tell them this.

Perhaps what is more important is to consider what questions are in the customer’s mind at the beginning of a meeting. Prospective customers won’t consider what you have to offer until you satisfy three subconscious questions. If you don’t deal with these questions at the very beginning, they’ll spend the whole meeting trying to find the answers and won’t really engage with what you say. Here are the customer’s three subconscious questions.

1. Do I like you as a person?

No one likes doing business with a salesperson they don’t like. Smile and call the customer by their name, Mr/Mrs Jones to start and, only when appropriate, by their first name. Also demonstrate that you are there to talk about them, not to give a product/service dump.

I always start a meeting by commenting on something interesting about the customer. Have they just secured a big contract, won an award or launched a new product? (Research the company and relevant news items on the internet). Start by saying, “I noticed that you have recently…” If you need guidance, read Dale Carnegie’s book (the new version) ‘How to win friends and influence people in the digital age’. You’ll soon get the idea. Best sales training book ever. Should be compulsory reading for all sales people.

Also use sincere praise. Everyone likes to be praised for what they have achieved. Don’t overdo this or you might be seen as insincere. For example, if a production manager tells you that she has increased output by a substantial amount then praise her with words like; “That’s quite an achievement in today’s business climate. How were you able to make such a large improvement?” They’ll love you for it and want to extend the conversation and deepen the relationship.

2. Are you a credible supplier I can trust?

Have you delivered similar solutions for others? Name drop other customers with what you’ve helped them achieve. Justify taking up their time – how you can be of value to this person and their company – how can they also expect to gain. Show interest in the things that are important to them, like reducing their costs, increasing their efficiency, safeguarding their markets etc.

3. Do you understand my business?

A salesperson must demonstrate that he understands the customer’s business and aspirations (in relation to what is being sold). This is in addition to product or service knowledge, though that is less important.

If you understand the customer’s business you’ll know what’s strategically important to them. If you don’t understand, you have little to offer except your product/service which buyers really aren’t that interested in. (They want to know what it will do for them!)

Here’s an example:
The best approach is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Imagine you’re selling an executive coffee/tea vending unit to chief executives for use in their own office. How would you conduct the meeting? What’s important to them?

What do they want from you, the sales person?

1. Someone they can talk to easily and who they like personally.

2. Relevant product benefits; who else bought this vending unit and what did they say about it. Impress me. Make me confident in my purchase.

3. Someone who clearly understands their needs:
– Beverages served quickly at a temperature that can be drunk immediately.
No waiting for drinks means shorter meetings, something every busy chief
executive wants.
– To release their secretary from drinks duty, to do more important work.
– A real coffee taste that my visitors are certain to enjoy every time.

I wouldn’t mind a cup myself!
Good luck

Thanks Mike for this wonderful insight into how to construct a sales presentation.

Motivating sales people to enhance productivity

Sales Management Practices

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of needing to boost their sales in order to emerge ready for battle after the economic downfall. But taking on the management role of the sale force is a tall order and requires special touches and technique. Sales people in particular need specialist support. Why? Because great sales people are optimistic, very good persuaders, visionaries of the bigger picture and very team orientated. But they feel rejection acutely and being on the outside they can feel isolated.

Business CoPilot Sales Mentoring

The best salespeople are also big into problem solving and driving to deliver the best results, their attitude is positive, powerful and authoritative. These traits and qualities make them so good at sales can also cause issues and problems for management as they can come across as impulsive, unrealistic in their expectations, disorganised and lack attention to detail.

Depending on what type of person is overseeing the sales function it can be very stressful. For instance if that person is methodical, analytical or process orientated they will may get easily frustrated in the day to day running of the department. The two personality types will clash unless both sides can learn to appreciate what each side brings to the table.

Here are my 4 top tips when managing sales people:

1. No Rules – Salespeople absolutely love freedom and don’t generally like abiding by rules, compliance does not work for these people at all! The better you are able to remove obstacles for them to sell, the better the results they will get and the faster the targets will be reached. Telling them what to do will only spark their creativity on overcoming rules and that is where there focus will be!

2. Coach Them Not “Manage” Them – Becoming a coach means asking them and not telling them what to do, this is very important as this also coincides with rule making. Let them own the solution to whatever obstacle it is, for example when you have an issue ask them to put themselves in your shoes and let them come up with their own solution to the problem. They will need support in implementing their solution and staying on the task, but even the way that is managed can be negotiated

3. Cut the Admin – If you find you have some salespeople who are amazing at selling but not so much on drafting reports, then let them sell and figure out a way of capturing the details. Get them some admin help on that area and let them so what they do best!

4. Reward Their Efforts – For many salespeople I have found that money is not the driving force behind their sales, it is the respect they gain from reaching targets, it is achieving those results that makes them sell really hard, so recognising them and giving them that “pat on the back” will work very well in their favour and will increase their productivity.

These are my 4 tips to enhancing sales force productivity. If you are managing a team of your own then try following them and see what results it produces, I can guarantee an increase in sales.

Author: Sophie works in the HR department and has done for a little over 10 years, she has also helped out in the workforce management industry where she got some experience in sales management, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and Sophie will get back to you. Or email her here



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

The 360 Degree Feedback Method

Our first guest blog is from Sophie Eagan of 360 Appraisal

“Feedback in business is not something new, many companies use customer feedback to improve areas of their company, they have done this for many years! The 360 degree feedback method is slightly different. The multi-rater feedback system was used by 90% of fortune 500 companies in 2003, this figure has risen and is now considered to be a highly effective performance tool.

Appraisal 360

Image Credits

How It Works

360 Degree feedback is a tool which evaluates feedback from workers (employees), superiors, customers and subordinates. These are also confidential surveys and nobody will be able to see each other’s score or answers/feedback. The surveys are then given back to management after they have been completed, the results then get tallied up and a results sheet is produced. The workers can then see from the results where they need to set goals and self-improvement goals, this gives them great feedback from all perspectives, this also means they can use this to improve their career and set higher targets and goals where they need to improve.

How Is The Feedback Used?

When completed and done properly, the 360 degree feedback method can be used for a personal development tool. The feedback gives people ample opportunity to improve in certain areas and progress in their career, feedback gives the recipient insight on how others in the workplace perceive them and how they can improve on that.

What A 360 Degree Feedback Measures

  • Behaviors and competencies
  • Feedback on how other staff perceive that particular employee
  • Addresses skills such as listening, goal-setting and also planning
  • Teamwork, character and leadership qualities

What A 360 Feedback Does NOT Assess

  • Not a way to measure employee performance objectives
  • Not a way to find out whether employee is meeting basic job objectives
  • Is not focussed on specific job skills
  • Does not measure attendance, sales quotas etc.

Is This For You?

Personally, I believe every company with many employees should give the 360 degree method a try. It will not only benefit the company and build more trust but will also give you an indication of what is going on inside your business. If you want the best out of your staff this is one way to go about doing that, as they see their progress as it is stands they can improve themselves a lot quicker and correct areas they are weaker in. 360 degree feedback is a proven scientific system that is backed by many of the big boys in HR. How about giving it a go? Any comments or questions please feel free to ask below, I welcome them.

Author: Sophie has worked in HR for the best part of her life since leaving school; she is a strong believer in the 360 degree method and believes every company should give it a try. If you would like to contact Sophie, you can do so by visiting her Google+.

What’s the hard part of your business?

What is the hard part of the business?

Seth GodinSeth Godin asks the question – “What is the hardest part of your business”. Seth has launched an online marketing programme in which he poses a whole series of questions.

He cites an energy drink and suggest that getting shelf space is the hardest part. As a coach and sales mentor the hard part is getting in front of the right people. If I can do that then I can guarantee success.

After all I can deliver a business plan, or a strategy plan. I can show the sales cycle and mentor the sales teams to maximise their skill sets. But if I cannot get in front of the right people then I am sunk.

For an author the hard part might be persuading a publisher to take it on, or getting them to stock it. For a solicitor it might be to be found for a legal skill other than conveyancing. I don’t know the answer to that one, but this I do know. If we can sort out the hardest of all the questions that our business throws up, then we are 99% there.

If you have any advice, comments or thoughts, do let me know


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.


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.

The Screwed Up letters – The Sales Prevention Officer – Part 2

The Screwed Up letters – The Sales Prevention Officer – Part 2

Exchange of correspondence from a senior Sales Prevention Officer to a junior.

My dear Remora,

You seem to be settling in to your new role. Well done.

I note what you say in your last letter about guiding your client’s thinking and taking care that they see and read a good deal of quasi scientific psycho-babble about the science of making a purchase. But are you being a trifle naïve? Remember your role in this. It’s in your job title – Junior Sales Prevention Officer.

You seem to be saying that people make purchasing decisions based on logic or reason. And they should. That is what we have worked hard to make them think that. They think that if they do the right sort of analysis, accumulate the data, synthesise it and then use their logic appropriately, a sound purchasing decision will be made.

The reality is so far from that truth. They buy on emotions. They buy to feel better. It’s that simple. They use what they think are their higher faculties in making buying decisions, but deep down inside they just want to feel good after saying “Yes, we will buy that one”. If they don’t feel good it undermines their confidence for making the next purchase. We in Sales Prevention have a phrase for it – post purchase cognitive dissonance! Your job is to ensure their feelings about the purchase are downbeat thus over riding the logical decision making that would make them place the order.

Sales Prevention is easy if you obey the simple rule. Don’t build a relationship.

I recall an incident a few years back where I intervened to prevent a significant purchase. Their buying team had done due diligence on us and our competitors. They found that our after sales service was significantly better than the competition. Logically they should have gone with us. What could I do to stop them buying? Simple. I ensured no relationship bonds were created. I ensured that all correspondence with the prospective client lacked any relationship building qualities. It was impersonal, formal, cold, and brusque. We communicated effectively that winning their business made no difference to us whatever. Every step along the sales process was limited to the legal minimum or we just did not communicate. We delayed our response to questions. We ensured that they could not talk to us directly, citing internal meetings as being sufficient excuse not to take their calls. Eventually they got the message and bought from a competitor that excelled at building strong relationships. It was a lucky escape for us. I cannot imagine our Operations Manager reaction to here pristine manufacturing site being tarnished by actually making things.

So how might you Remora, as a Junior Sales Prevention Officer prevent or delay the decision-making process? Remember, you are there to fuddle the customer. They want relationships, so give them cold hard logic. Whatever else you do, make sure their emotional bonds with your company are weak, and that they feel bad when having dealings with your organisation. If all else fails, think about your own name – Remora. It means hindrance. Use that at every part of the sales prevention process.


The Screwed Up letters – The Sales Prevention Officer – Part 1

Exchange of correspondence from a senior Sales Prevention Officer to a junior.

My dear Remora,

Greetings! It is a pleasure to welcome you to your new role as Junior Sales Prevention Officer.

You will be pleased to know that you were placed first from 100’s of applicants. Sales prevention is not for everyone. It demands tenacity, endeavour and commitment. In our organisation we take sales prevention seriously and have a dedicated Sales Prevention department. You are a small but vital cog in that well-oiled machine. Our long term survival depends on your ability to prevent sales.

Why we need to have a sales prevention department.

It’s all about long term sustainability. Our mantra is this – what got us here will keep us here. It is all about stability you see my dear Remora. Growth is an illusion. It is based on an assumption. You know what “Assumption” means? It means you make an Ass of U and sumption. And growth is such an over rated concept. Our vision is to stem the tide of innovation and creativity so that we can focus instead on being the best at what we were.

I am writing to help you to thrive in your new Sales Prevention role. My role is coach and mentor, a guide to help you develop.  Here are a few things that might help. It is worth looking first at our aims. They are:

  1. Team well-being. To prevent new sales that might impact the motivation of the firm. Do all you can to safeguard the emotional and physical well-being of the team by reducing undue activities caused by generating new sales. Senior management has a responsibility to ensure that all the staff members are not unduly stressed. Preventing sales is one way of achieving this lofty goal.
  2. Resource utilisation. We must prevent the over use of resources as that incurs further investment that in turn drives down profits. By holding back new business and sales we will ensure that we extend the life of the existing resources thus driving up profit.
  3. Customer retention. If we take on new business, our existing customers will feel ignored. That must not happen. The Client Life Time Value of an existing client is significant. Don’t threaten this by bringing on new customers.
  4. Reputation. Our customers know where they stand with us. New customers are hard to please. If they complain, our reputation is at risk. By avoiding bringing in new business we can reduce that risk.
  5. Metrics and KPIs. We know what we need to measure and how to interpret the runes. Our manual systems are perfectly up to the job, so long as we don’t take on any new business. It would create pandemonium in the sales office if we were to consider updating to a modern CRM system.

That should clarify what we do and why. You will initially be assigned responsibility for incoming sales prevention activity. You are the gate keeper. Repel them at every opportunity.

Bon chance Remora, I look forward to hearing of your successes. Write often, but please do not use that Email facility you seem so keen on. A well-crafted hand written letter is a sign of a well ordered and unhurried mind. I will write again soon to guide you in your new role.

Based on the Screwtape letters by C. S. Lewis.

PS If you want to learn more about Sales Prevention, call me on 0117 317 8147 or email me at . Happy to discuss where Sales Prevention is rearing its head in your business.

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



Small changes can make a huge impact – why golf balls like me.

IExecutive coaching and sales mentoring bristol don’t play golf much. My time is too precious to spend hunting for balls in the undergrowth.

But when it goes well …. The point is it so very rarely does go well. Golf is hard. Don’t let anyone kid you that it is a simple game. It takes a lifetime to master and few can make that sort of sacrifice.

It does however offer some useful insights into life. Small changes can have a significant impact.

A few years back I was so fed up with spanking it off line that I decided to go to see a golf pro. I arrived, seriously underwhelmed. He was reading the latest golf magazine, leaning nonchalantly on the counter, smug in the knowledge that he would be pocketing some shillings from me.

He asked me what the problem was, made me pay him £30, then said “Transfer your weight to your left foot.”

“But you haven’t see me hit a ball yet.” I said. “Don’t need to” he replied “99 times out of a hundred moving the weight to your left foot will solve the problem. So off you go to the golf range and try it, then come back and tell me how well it went.”

I went off, did as he suggested and the ball flew straight as an arrow. I hit loads of balls, hit them till my arms ached. It was such a good feeling to see them go straight.

Just that small almost imperceptible change made all the difference.

Insight – The pro had the knowledge and the appropriate means of communicating it to me. I did as he said. Things changed dramatically. Money changed hands.

Have you ever experienced a small change that had a significant impact? Let us know.


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