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sales training - don't say you are the best

Don’t tell customers you are ‘The Best’

By | marketing, sales tips, Training | No Comments

Why I’m not going to tell you I’m the best

Today I got pitched at by an over-enthusiastic insurance sales person. Although I’m not in the market for insurance, the salesperson in me loves to listen to other people’s sales calls because, well, they are fascinating! Anyway, this chap did his pitch and I said I wasn’t interested (so far so normal) and then he asked me ‘Why?’ Now that’s a great sales question – even it he wasn’t doing it in quite the right place. Anyway, I replied that I was happy with my current provider. He then did someone wrong – he proceeded to tell me that his Read More

sales training USP

Why you will get gobbled up by the big fishes if you don’t nail your USP

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Why you will get gobbled up by the big fishes if you don’t nail your USP

USP stands for Unique Selling Point. USPs are the benefits or features that set your product or service apart from similar things which are offered by your competitors. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have something which is completely new or unique then knowing your USPs becomes less critical (although that opens up a whole different range of problems, which I am not going to tackle here!), but most of us are not that fortunate. Examples of USPs could be:

  • Ethically sourced
  • Quality of ingredients/components
  • Easy payments
  • Smaller versions available
  • Extra functions
  • Better after sales service
  • Good location
  • Free delivery
  • You (especially if you are a sole trader, as you are the ‘face’ of your business)
  • Extensive experience in the sector
  • Highly trained staff
  • No quibble money back guarantee

You will also notice that your USPs might change from time to time. It is really important to keep up to date with what your competitors are doing, because the chances are they will be watching you and might adopt some of your best USPs, (in which case they are no longer unique!) or it may be that you come up with something else new and better that you should tell customers about.

If your product or service is something that has wide appeal to many people, this might, on the face of it seem ideal. However, in reality, this can actually make it more difficult to sell it because it can be very expensive to try and market to lots of people. You will also be competing against huge brands with enormous marketing budgets in what is known as The Mass Market. These are the big fishes I was talking about and, yes, they absolutely will gobble you up if you cannot differentiate your product or service from them.

Instead, a lot of smaller businesses have more success with identifying a particular niche into which they can focus their efforts. A niche is a small segment of customers, for example a clothes store selling to petite women or a food store focussing on vegan food. By identifying this niche and then focussing your marketing money and effort into it, you will be become a specialist and people who need that particular thing will seek you out. But even within your niche, there will be competitors, so you still need to know your USPs. This is something I cover in detail on my course “I’m not a Salesperson”

For example, I know that some of the USPs of Tadpole Training include:

  • Award-winning trainer (me)
  • Teaches sales in a non-pushy and non-salesy way
  • Has extensive practical experience of running a growing a business
  • Can create bespoke training courses to fit your requirements request more information

If you have never sat down and thought about your USPs before, take 5 minutes to work them out now. Make sure you include them in your marketing materials and remember them when you are talking to customers, because you never know when that particular USP will make the difference that leads to a new sale. Best of luck!

If you want more training on USPs or any general sales skills, get more information here

If you just want some simple sales tips right now, download Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips

 

What’s happening to LinkedIn & what should I do?

By | entrepreneurs, marketing, sales tips, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

So what is happening to LinkedIn?

If you don’t know why I am asking, it’s because you probably haven’t had your LinkedIn page updated to the new layout yet. Believe me, once it’s changed, you will really notice.

I was sitting with a client last week looking through her LinkedIn profile and we were really struggling. The layout had changed and we couldn’t find some really basic things that used to be really obvious. For example: Read More

Why my worst training was really one of my best

By | customers, marketing, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

As a sales trainer, I am used to delivering training in a variety of different venues and I am also used to dealing with the unexpected. However, a few years before I set up Tadpole Training, I was working as Head of Business Development in a private college. I was part of a team sent to Nigeria to deliver training to the procurement division of a state government (a bit like a local authority in the UK). Without doubt, this became one of the most challenging training sessions I ever delivered. I’m sure a good screen writer could turn this into a great episode of a sit-com, but I promise you everything here is true.

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Do you know the single biggest threat to your business right now?

By | entrepreneurs, marketing, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Do you know the biggest threat to your business right now?

Well, if you don’t you should. I speak as someone who has experienced what happens when an 18 year old established business gets wiped out pretty much overnight, due to a change in Government policy. And for anyone in Britain, 3 simple words: “British Home Stores”. Do I have your attention now?

Whilst every business is different, I would urge you to use some simple management tools – a favourite of mine is the good old SWOT Analysis – in order to give yourself an objective overview of what is going on in your business right now. Depending on the size and sophistication of your outfit, you may want to use other management tools or industry experts, but whatever you do, choose something and get yourself prepared.

So here, in no particular order, are some of the biggest threats that could be facing you and your precious business:

Long Term Sickness or Injury – in many small businesses, one person is the key to everything. If this person couldn’t work because they were ill or injured (or even dies), then how would the business replace them – would there be funds available, or would the revenues dry up completely because everything revolves around that person? If you haven’t, then you should consider taking out Key Person Insurance, which will provide you with financial security should the worst happen.

Not managing your Sales Pipeline – many small business owners are not sales experts (they are experts in their core business after all) and once the sales start to come in, it can bring a false sense of security that things will always go on this way. However, it is a fact of life that customers leave (they find someone else, they relocate, they close, they don’t need you any more). So how would you cope if your biggest or most profitable customers suddenly left? You need to have a constant pipeline of potential new customers to replace the inevitable losses that always occur.

Lack of Planning – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” goes the saying. But if the last time you had a proper strategic business plan was when you started, then the chances are that your business is just drifting along. So do you regularly schedule time in for planning? Do you have a 6 month, 12 month or 5 year plan? Do you have an exit strategy? When is the last time you did some strategic planning? If you want to know more about how, read about how to do a SWOT Analysis here Without a plan, how can you possibly put in place the steps you need to take to achieve your goals? Too many small business owners get bogged down in the daily detail without taking the time to look at the big picture and then, when something significant happens, they are not prepared.

Not spending enough resource on sales and marketing – by resource I mean both time and money. In today’s world you can’t just stick up a poster advertising your business and watch the money roll in. You need to experiment and work out which types of promotion work for you and which are most cost effective. Many people think marketing is about promoting your business, but that is just part of it – you need to make sure your product and prices are competitive and that you offer something that people actually want. How do you make it and get it to the customer? Do you have testimonials, processes and procedures to make the buying process smooth? And do you have someone with enough sales skills to turn potential customers into actual paying clients? If this all seems too intimidating, then get expert help and hire someone who can do it for you.

Cash flow crisis – bad debts can often become a major issue for small businesses. Lack of capital to reinvest in your business can destroy it over the longer term, but if it has no liquidity at all, your business can be shut down instantly. So do you have terms and conditions that clearly state your payment terms? Are you good at chasing outstanding payments? Do you insist on deposits or payment up front and do you make credit checks on new customers? It might seem like a lot of hassle, but it is nothing like as painful as buying stock up front, fulfilling an order and then never getting the money.

There are, without doubt, many more threats to business than those I have discussed here. I would welcome your thoughts on what you believe are the biggest challenges small businesses face in the UK at the moment.

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.

Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

Are you SWOT-ing enough?

By | entrepreneurs, marketing, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

That’s not bad grammar by the way – the eagle-eyed amongst you will realise I am referring to that wonderful tool The SWOT Analysis.

Although I predominantly deal with sales issues, when I am working one to one with a client, I like to take it back to basics so, along with reviewing their vision, mission and values, I do a SWOT with them. There is a good reason for this – many small business owners get so bogged down in the day to day they end up working “in” the business instead of “on” the business. In other words, they are failing to plan and implement strategically. That’s really important to address, because if I am putting together a bespoke sales training solution for someone, it’s a complete waste of everybody’s time if I end up doing something which is at best “not quite right” or at worst completely wrong for their corporate direction or which doesn’t match their values.

So I thought it would be a useful exercise to revisit SWOT and, for those of you who haven’t come across it before, explain why it is such a fabulous business tool.

The objective of a SWOT Analysis is to help you develop a strong business strategy. It makes sure that you have considered all of your business’s strengths and weaknesses and also the opportunities and threats from the wider world.

So Strengths and Weaknesses are internal and Opportunities and Threats are external to the business.

What you need to do is critically appraise where your business is and fill out a chart which should look something like this:

SWOT Analysis - tadpole training

You don’t need to be particularly detailed, in fact it’s best to approach this as a sort of brain storm – put down things as you think of them and tidy them up later. If you have a team, it can also be a good idea to get them involved too – not only will they contribute things you might not have thought of, but if you do later decide to implement something and they have had input, you are likely to get much more buy-in because they have a feeling of ownership.

Once you have completed all of these sections, you will have a very clear snapshot of exactly where your business is right now and then you can go through it again and prioritise according to the highest and lowest priority in each section.

When you have finished, you can use the information to develop long and short term strategies to drive your business forward. You should aim to capitalise on the strengths and opportunities and either minimise or avoid the weaknesses and threats.

Finally, none of this is any good unless you actually implement what you have created, so make sure you include any actions in your overall strategic plan. It is also a good idea to regularly revisit your SWOT as things will change. I tend to do it every quarter, but do what works for you.

If you have any questions about how you can use SWOT Analysis to help develop your strategic sales and marketing plan, then please drop me a line.

Happy selling!

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.

Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

 

Don’t sell the Sausage, sell the Sizzle!

By | entrepreneurs, marketing, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Have you heard that phrase before – “Don’t sell the sausage, sell the sizzle”?

If you think about it, a sausage is just sliced up dead pig. Not very appealing is it? But when you start to think about the smell, the taste and the look of a wonderful succulent sausage, then suddenly it becomes much more desirable.

The phrase originated from a well known salesman called Elmer Wheeler in the 1920s, (although he referred to steak not sausages). See a clip of him here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW6HmQ1QVMw[/embed]

His point is simple – don’t sell the features of your product (sliced up dead pig) but sell the benefits (smells wonderful, tastes wonderful, satisfies your hunger). Think about it, what are these major brands really selling (hint; it is not the product!)

Wonderbra (it’s not bras)
Lamborghini (it’s not a car)
Nike (it’s not trainers)

If you answered something along the lines of:

Wonderbra – sex appeal
Lamborghini – wealth and status
Nike – a way of keeping fit

Then you are on the right lines.

That is because customers don’t really care about the features of the things they buy – customers want to know the benefits (or what they will get). So next time you are trying to persuade someone to buy from you, don’t talk to them about slices of dead pig, tell them all about the sizzle!

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.
Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

sales training - sales funnel

Do you use a sales funnel?

By | entrepreneurs, marketing, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Do you use a sales funnel?colourful tunnel
Do you even know what a sales funnel is? Perhaps you have heard the term ‘sales pipeline’ – well they are pretty much the same thing.

In my view, they are one of the most effective tools you can use to help you win more sales and the good news is that you don’t need a complicated system – a piece of paper, pen and some post-its are really all you require. So let’s have a look at what a sales funnel is and how to use it:

Look at the diagram below. The top of the funnel is wide and, a bit like a sausage machine, this is where you feed in all your potential customers. As you go down through the funnel, your potential customers drop out the side (not interested, no money, something changes) and eventually you are left with a smaller number at the bottom who convert into actual paying customers.

Let’s look at the stages, starting at the top:

Tadpole Training Sales funnel done at MBN

SUSPECTS
This can be pretty much anyone – at this stage you haven’t had any contact with them and you may only know their name or the name of the company.

PROSPECTS
This is where you start to interact with your potential customers. Perhaps they have visited your website, shop, or seen a leaflet. You may have had a conversation with them and know a bit more information. When a potential customer is in the prospect stage, you really want to find out as much as possible about them so that they can move down into the next stage, which is:

LEADS
These people or companies have a genuine need for your product or service. Perhaps they have asked for a quote, or have indicated that they want to go ahead and buy. They may not be ready to buy now, but within this category you can then subdivide them into ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ leads, depending on how close they are to making a decision.

CUSTOMERS
Customers can be defined as anyone who has either actually paid you or committed to purchase from you. Once you have got someone to convert to a customer, you should ensure you maintain high levels of service as these are far more likely to use you again than anyone else.

Final note. I use post-it notes because they can be instantly moved around the funnel as you lose them or develop them through the stages. The best tools are simple to use and this is a perfect example. Good funnelling!

 

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.
Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips