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

By | entrepreneurs, marketing, sales tips, Uncategorized | 2 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

Are you keeping it REAL?

By | customers, entrepreneurs, Gallery, Training, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Are you keeping it real?

Today I read a post on Facebook asking people to list one thing that they were really proud to have achieved in 2016. There were some super replies – things like:

I got married

I made a profit in my first year of business

I donated a big chunk of money to charity

I moved house

Now if it had been the end of 2015 I would have been very proud to have posted that I had won a competition (Enterprise Enfield Start up Business of the Year 2015). But that was last year. What had I achieved in 2016 that was so amazing?

To begin with, I really struggled – I wanted to post some outstanding achievement. I came up with lots of smaller achievements, but nothing that really rocked. Nothing I wanted to shout about. Yes, everything was supporting my overall plan, but I wanted to show that I too had done something exceptional.

Then, whilst disentangling my children from a fight (it is the Christmas holidays after all!) I realised that I had actually achieved something truly noteworthy. For the last 4 years I have been raising my two children by myself with precious little support from their absent father. I had kept them alive, fed, housed, educated, entertained and loved them, hopefully training them about how to be decent human beings and giving them the best childhood I can, whilst setting up and running a business. What could be more real (and more important) than that?

So my amazing achievement is not going to win me an award, make the newspapers or get me into The Times Rich List, but it is the most real thing I could possibly do and you know what? I am proud of myself.

Have a wonderful 2017 everyone – and if the going gets tough, just remind yourself to keep it real. I shall.

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. 

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 nowClick Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

If you or your team is looking to grow your sales, let’s chat. Whether or not we decide to work together, I am confident I can offer you some strategies that will help you grow your sales in no time. Here is a link to my email. Drop me a line and let’s see what we can do:  Send a message

Start 2017 with a huge bang! I am running a workshop on planning for Sales Success in 2017. Early bird discounts if you book now! Click here for more information: Plan for Sales Success in 2017

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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The surprisingly effective sales question you are probably not asking

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

Some things you learn through training. Some things you learn through actual real life experience. The question I am about to share with you is an example of the latter.

As a sales rookie, I went on loads of training courses which undoubtedly helped me go on to have a successful sales career. However, it is true that you don’t really start to learn the best lessons until you are interacting with real life customers in all their glorious variety! Although I have since come across training which suggests using this question, it is one I stumbled upon by accident and, realising how powerful it was, I still try to incorporate it into as many discussions with customers as possible.

So what is this question? Well it might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but the question is simply this. When you get an enquiry from someone about working with your company, ask them:

“Why are you interested in working with us?”

or, a slight variation of this is when they ask about using a particular service (or indeed buying a product):

“Why are you interested in [insert name of product or service]?”

See – very simple isn’t it?

So why is this such a good question? Well I started using it because I wanted to make sure that prospective delegates were signing up for the right course. There is lots of competition in the training world, as well as a whole raft of different courses offered at different levels with varying objectives and for a wide variety of people. So, I began asking this question to make sure that organisations and individuals signed up to the correct programme that best met their needs.

This is important for several reasons:

  1. Clients often think they know what they want but, after gentle probing sometimes reveal that actually something else is driving them. If I can find out what, I can offer the best possible solution
  2. Business is really not just about taking the money. It can be hard sometimes to question someone who is on the verge of buying, but you have to think long term. Good advice now may yield better results in the future than just the cost of one lost sale. You should be thinking in terms of a lifetime of customer loyalty and you won’t achieve that if you don’t give the best advice you can.
  3. If I get an enrolment and a client comes on the wrong course, they won’t get the maximum results from it, may end up being bored or detached because the content is not relevant and of course, will leave not having achieved their objectives.
  4. This has a knock-on effect within the rest of the class because it changes the group dynamic negatively.
  5. An unhappy delegate will go away without that all-important ‘Wow’ factor, which is so vital. Their feedback won’t be as good and they won’t give referrals as willingly, because the course didn’t meet their needs
  6. Because the overall group wasn’t as engaged, then again, overall feedback is less good with similar results to point 3.
  7. Over time, my brand gets eroded and that is bad for business
  8. The dissatisfied client goes away and has to spend even more money going somewhere else for an alternative solution.

I will admit it’s not always plain sailing. I have had customers visibly surprised when I ask them about why they want to go ahead; after all, in their minds, it felt a bit like I was hesitating to work with them. However, when I explain that I just want to find out what their objectives are, to make sure the course is right for them, then without fail, they understand what I am up to.

Which brings me onto another reason why this line of questioning can be so powerful. By asking why a customer wants to use you (or your service), what will you get? Oh you get something wonderful! You get a list of reasons why they want to buy from you. Pause for a moment and think about that. They actually tell you WHY they want to use you! How fantastic is that? As a salesperson, that has got to be the Holy Grail of selling surely!

It is a super-effective way of making sure you align completely with what customers want. Or indeed, if you can’t help them, you can now save everybody’s time and tell them so – ideally with a recommendation of an alternative supplier.

I not only love the simplicity of this line of questioning, I love the powerful and immediate way it engages with the customer and you get to understand what really motivates them. So much in selling is understanding customers’ needs and to do this effectively, you need to ask powerful and probing questions. So in my book, this is one of the best.

I would urge you to try this question and please let me know how you get on and what results you experience.

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

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

 

Why I love Sales Objections and you should too!

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

Why I love Sales Objections and you should too.

As a sales trainer, one of the things that I get asked about probably more than any other (with the possible exception of how to close better) is overcoming objections.

There is something about an objection that can strike genuine fear into the hearts of salespeople – particularly if they are less experienced – but it really shouldn’t be like that.

Now, I do accept that part of the mindset of being in sales is that thrill you get from moving a prospect on towards becoming an actual paying customer (yes, you’ve guessed it, when I was in direct sales, I was a ‘hunter’!), but what if sales isn’t your natural world and you find elements of it a real struggle? If that is you, then here are some practical things you should consider, which will hopefully change your perspective a little bit – or maybe even a lot.

  1. You can prepare for objections in advance. It is likely that most customers will broadly be worried about similar things, so do your homework, make a list of possible objections and work out what you can say to overcome them.
  2. Make sure you have lots of reviews, testimonials and case studies from happy customers. If a potential customer objects to something specific, it can be very powerful to say “Well my customer AAA had a similar concern, so we did BBB and the results were CCC.”
  3. Don’t rush to answer objections with tons of facts. It can be a lot more powerful to ask probing questions instead, such as “why is that important to you?” or “tell me a bit more about your concerns”. By encouraging potential customers to explain in more depth, you may find that the objection they stated was actually secondary to something else, which is fantastic, because now you can address the genuine objection.
  4. It might sound strange, but when a customer gives an objection, it can often mean that they are very close to buying. An objection means that they are considering using your product or service and are just checking that everything fits properly. If they have a genuine concern, then it makes sense to air it and make sure that it is not a deal-breaker.
  5. Some customers can just throw in an objection to put you off – so getting an objection can sometimes have absolutely no bearing on whether or not they are going to buy from you. Just as in life, customers come in a whole range of personalities!
  6. Once you have dealt with an objection, it is useful to ask a follow up question (known as a confirmation question), such as “has that answered your concerns?” or “is there anything else you would like to know?” By doing this, you find out whether you have dealt with their objection to their satisfaction and it allows you to move onto the next stage of the sale. After all, if you don’t deal with their objection properly, then there probably won’t be a next stage of the sale!

I hope these simple strategies will help you worry less about getting objections. Instead, acknowledge that objections are simply part of the sales process and can be a great way of cementing that sale.

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

 

Is your sales focus wrong?

By | entrepreneurs, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Is your sales focus wrong? 

Most people, when they find out I am a sales trainer, ask, perfectly reasonably, about getting help with skills like closing, overcoming objections or improving conversion rates.

But actually, although these are important, so many people forget (or perhaps don’t realise the importance of) the basics. What do I mean by basics? Well, the stuff that you need to sort out before you even come close to speaking with a customer. The thing is, if you get these basics right, then it makes the whole sales process so much simpler, because you are doing the right things in the right order. You can keep closing ’till the cows come home, but if the customer isn’t interested because you haven’t done the right things at the beginning, you are very unlikely to get the sale.

Let’s have a look at what I mean. Here are some examples:

Belief in your product or service – Without a genuine belief that what you are selling is good, how can you possibly expect others to believe in it enough to part with their cold hard cash? We all have a built in ability to spot when we are being deceived and customers will sense even the slightest lack of confidence on your part – even if they cannot tangibly identify what it is. So make sure you love what you are selling.

Know who your ideal customers are – the chances are that there is a particular group or niche who are the ideal customers for your product or service. If you don’t know who they are, then you will probably waste a lot of time trying to sell to the wrong people.

Know the benefits inside out – if you just list a whole load of features about what you are selling, then you are going to speak a lot, bore your customers senseless and not be very effective at selling. Instead, take time to work out the tangible benefits of every single feature. An old trick to do this is to think of a feature and then say “so what?”. Your answer is the benefit or benefits.

Provide Proof – customers won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you, so make sure you have stories (ideally written down) of how you have delighted previous customers.  Whilst simple testimonials are better than nothing, the ideal type of proof is where you can show how you made a tangible change and helped customers either overcome a problem or achieve an objective.

Keep good customer records – there are loads of amazing CRM systems out there, but none are any good if you don’t actually use them. Even a simple filing card system is OK if it works for you, but you have to use something. Otherwise how will you store customer contact details, notes about conversations, diarise meetings, or manage your sales funnel?

Of course it is good to have an overall knowledge of the skills and techniques which will help you to sell, but if you spend a bit of time making sure these basic things are in place, then selling will be both more pleasurable and more effective.

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

Why the best way to sell is …er…not to sell

By | entrepreneurs, sales tips, Uncategorized | No Comments

Why the best way to sell is …er…not to sell

Time and time again when I am running my training courses, particularly those that focus on basic sales techniques, delegates express their worry that they don’t want to be pushy or too ‘salesy’. This is for a variety of reasons (aggressive telephone selling, the cliche of the smarmy salesman, people not giving up when there is no interest or desire), but actually they don’t need to be like this anyway.

Most customers are fairly sophisticated and know when they are being ‘sold’ to. I’m the same – the  minute I get a phone call from someone who asks “How are you today?” then I know immediately what they are up to and I zone out. I can’t help it. And I am sure you’re the same.

Fortunately, that does leave an opening for the rest of us who are not employed in telesales.

Selling has changed a lot in the last few years – it’s all about relationships now. So if you are not that great at being pushy, guess what? YOUR TIME HAS COME!!!!

Now that doesn’t mean learning some sales techniques won’t help you – it definitely will (otherwise I wouldn’t be in business) but there are lots of things that you can do as a person, a human being, a helper, a solver of problems that will enable you to close a lot more business than you are right now. Check out this list:

  1. Listen – ask questions, then shut up and let your customer talk. The more they talk, the more you will learn about what is important to them.
  2. Keep in touch – try lots of different ways – telephone, email, letter, social media, face to face. Keep it varied
  3. Be human – don’t treat prospects like potential money and nothing else. Behind every decision is a real human being with real human desires, problems, worries and concerns.
  4. Try and be different from everyone else. When was the last time you sent a customer a hand written note, a ‘thank you’ card, tagged them on an interesting social media article or made an effort to find out about their hobbies and what they do in their spare time? It’s not an accident that a lot of business takes place on a golf course.
  5. Help other people first and without expecting anything in return. If you recommend, refer or give a testimonial, particularly if it is unsolicited, then people remember you and will return the favour if they can.
  6. Only do something you feel passionate about. People can sense if you don’t truly believe in what you are doing, so make sure you absolutely LOVE IT or they will sense that you’re not the real deal.

So be yourself, get out there a bit more and help people. What could be better?

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