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biggest threats to your business

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

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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.

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Is your sales focus wrong?

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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

sales training - don't say you are the best

Don’t tell customers you are ‘The Best’

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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

50p the cost of great customer service

Why Outstanding Customer Service Doesn’t have to be Complicated

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Why Outstanding Customer Service Doesn’t have to be Complicated (or expensive)

This morning I had an almost flat tyre.  Not an actual puncture, but something I noticed last night and forgot to deal with.

I was on the school run, so I had to make sure the children were dropped off on time, then I gently drove the car to the nearest petrol station and parked up by the air machine. Then I realised – I had been on the school run, so all I had was keys and my phone.  No money. I needed 50p.

I did the regulatory scrabble under the seats, in the nooks and crannies and glove compartment and came up with ….36p. Not enough.

Faced with the choice of driving home and possibly damaging the tyre, or throwing myself on the mercy of the staff at the petrol station, I chose the latter.

“Excuse me, I need your help – I’ve got a flat tyre and I’ve only got 36p. Is it possible…….?”

I never got the chance to finish. The man behind the counter walked off, grabbed something and plopped a 50 pence coin into my hand.

I started to thank him and promised to call by later. He just waved me away and smiled.

Now, I am sure he is a kind man who just wanted to help a fellow human being, but he actually did so much more than that – through his simple act of kindness he made a potentially complicated day suddenly simple and helped a rather frazzled mother on the school run calm down instantly.

Longer term though, he will be the winner. Of course he will get his 50p back. But he will get much more. Because of my gratitude and the fact that I will remember that feeling of panic which he diffused, I will use his petrol station again. In fact, I will probably make a point of using it even more. So he will sell me petrol, the children will ensure we buy sweets and drinks, I will definitely use the car wash and it is likely that we will make various spur of the moment purchases, just as everyone does.

He will reap far more than 50p. Maybe knows it, maybe he doesn’t, but if he treats all his customers like me, I have a feeling he will have a very successful business.

So, if you are in Edmonton, London, go to the Jet Garage at 134 Hertford Road. There! Now he’s got a referral too!

See how that 50p has grown?

Happy Selling!

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Historical lady saying no

Have you ever talked yourself out of a sale?

By | customers, entrepreneurs, marketing, negotiation, sales tips, Training | No Comments

Have you ever talked yourself out of a sale

(and what should you have done differently?)

It is important to understand when to talk and when to stop. When we are being sold ‘to’ none of us likes to be with someone who talks constantly; it is irritating and it can make us feel resentful because it is taking up our time. This is especially true if we have already made our mind up to buy.

When you are the one doing the selling, you should also be aware that not every customer needs to know everything about your product or service – all they really need to know is whether it will solve their problem or meet their objective and how. Anything else is just clutter and can put the sale at risk. Read More

Annoying sales issues

7 Things that we all hate about selling

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5 star tadpole training7 things that we all hate about selling

1. Cancelled meetings

Especially when they ‘forget’ to tell you and you’ve physically travelled to the venue before you find out. Also annoying when you have done tons of preparation and they no longer want to see you.

2. Being stereotyped as a pushy charlatan

This image persists, yet nearly every salesperson I know is a thoroughly decent (normal) human being. In fact, the people who are best at sales are usually highly focused on helping clients. They are some of the kindest and most empathetic people out there, but everyone else thinks salespeople are a cross between Attila the Hun and Gordon Gekko.

3. Being nice to people who you don’t like, but who have the power to approve the sale

You get to deal with all sorts in sales and so by the law of averages, you are going to come across a few you don’t like. However, if their money is good and they are a good fit, you must still deal with them and try and make it look like a pleasure.

4. Shaking on it then they change their mind

You do the work, you agree terms, everyone is happy so you shake hands (or get verbal agreement, or whatever your standard is for the thing you do). Then, you get that call (and often they just leave a message) saying they no longer want to go ahead or they have changed their mind. Can you get back to them to talk about it? Of course not. The draw bridge has gone up. Leading me on to ….

5. Not returning calls

When they are interested or want your help or advice, clients will talk to you. In fact, they may call you at all sorts of strange times. However, when they have other things on their mind, or when you just need a bit of feedback to move the sale forward, what happens? Yup – suddenly it’s impossible to get through. Messages go unanswered, colleagues can’t say when your contact will be available and you hit a brick wall. You know what’s coming next don’t you?

6. Answer machines

I prefer speaking to actual people. I suppose we all do – but now everyone has an answer machine, somewhere between 50% and 85% of calls go straight to voicemail. Do you ring once, twice, 5 times, 10 times? And at what point do you turn into a Stalker? And then there are the messages left on your own phone that you miss, then 3 days later you just decide to check, only to discover that something urgent needed to be dealt with yesterday.

7. Asking for a discount

I blame car boot sales for this. It’s acceptable to ask for a discount when someone is selling their leftover and unwanted things from their home, but actually it’s not OK to ask for a discount when you are discussing a high quality, well crafted, bespoke product or service that is probably priced fairly for the market place. Yet still prospects do this. Even if, as the person selling, you have done everything right; showed the value of what you offer and demonstrated how many of the prospects needs and objectives you solve, you can pretty much guarantee that, before you get the sale, you will be asked if you can drop the price.

So, if you’ve been in sales for more than 5 minutes, I’m sure you recognise a lot of these. Fortunately, nothing comes even close to that feeling you get when you smash that target!

Happy selling!

Janet Efere is an award-winning sales trainer based in Enfield, North London

man looking for his marketing money.

You had better be getting inbound right…..or you’re throwing your marketing money away

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Inbound – how good are they in your company?

Whether you are a one-man band, or a multinational organisation, you will inevitably be spending a chunk of your budget on marketing and promotion. The idea of course, is that you will encourage sales, or at the very least, leads and enquiries. So what you do with these leads is critical.

I do a lot of work with companies who have a front line sales/customer service team and, despite pouring loads of resources and effort into generating interest, suddenly seem to lose the plot a bit when it comes to responding to the leads that marketing generates.

Let me tell you what I mean.

These are just 4 of the things I see frequently when inbound calls are not handled properly:

No proper introduction

Have you ever rung up a company to be greeted with just ‘hello’? It doesn’t inspire confidence. After all, have you got the right phone number? As a potential customer it makes you feel uneasy and slightly wrong-footed. So use this SIMPLE formula every time – it’s clean, professional and straightforward:

• Good Morning/afternoon

• Name of company

• Your name

• How can I help?

So for me, this would be: “Good Morning, Tadpole Training, Janet speaking, how may I help?”

Don’t ask the person’s name

What is one of the easiest ways to build rapport? Yes, use a person’s name. How do you get their name? You simply ask: “Who am I speaking with please?”

Don’t get a contact number

I used to head up business development at an international college. We got enquiries all the time from overseas and often, the line was dreadful and conversations vanished. If we lost an enquiry, that could mean that £6,000 in fees had potentially just evaporated. So we developed a simple strategy to ALWAYS get the phone number as soon as we had the person’s name. Try this:

“[their name], just in case we get cut off, what’s the best contact number for you?” 

It is simple and people then understand why you are asking. 

Don’t find out the source of the enquiry

Remember that we are talking about your marketing money here. Often inbound staff don’t ask how people get to the stage of picking up the phone to enquire. You need to know how they found out about you. Apart from anything else, you need to understand which of your marketing pounds are pulling in the punters (spend more if required) and which are not (get rid, reduce or change).

This simple question will not only tell you how they heard about you, but it also gives you the opportunity to position yourself as a trusted company to work with:

“Who recommended you to us?” [wait for answer]

Whatever they say, then respond with:

“The reason I ask is that most of our business comes to us from personal recommendation.”

And before you worry that ‘most’ of your business does not come from personal recommendation, simply adapt the wording to ‘a lot’ or ‘X%’, whatever is authentic and accurate for you.

So there you have it, some simple tips to get your inbound team answering the phone more effectively and making sure they have the most important details of every single call. 

Happy Selling!

If you would like more information about how we can help you transform your sales team, please contact Janet on 07748 994 334 or email jefere@tadpoletraining.com

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It’s not MAN anymore – it’s FAN

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I’m subsituting MAN for FAN because it’s time to move with the times!

Those of you in sales will be very familiar with the acronym MAN as standing for:

Money

Authority

Need

(in other words, a simple way of identifying the best person to have a sales conversation with). So, it’s simple and it works, but of course the thing is, it’s MAN (i.e. not WOMAN or female or whatever you want to call it).

I’m sure it isn’t a deliberate thing, but there are undertones of ‘You’ve got to be a man to make the decision’. Now if you’re an [actual] man reading this, you might be thinking ‘what’s the fuss all about – it’s just an acronym?’ So, to all the women out there in sales, I bet there are a few of you who wish there was, well, just a better acronym.

Well my lovely clients on in a recent training session nailed it.

We had a conversation about MAN and they came up with ‘FAN’ ! It’s so simple:

Finance

Authority

Need

So obvious, so brilliant. So guess what I’m going to be using from now on!

Janet trains sales teams and provides one to one sales coaching to business owners who have got a bit stuck with their sales. For information about how to work with Janet, book a discovery call here


teenage boy good at sales

13 years old knows how to cold call better than me?

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He’s 13 years old, so obviously he knows how to cold call better than me!

OK – It’s Hallowe’en and I’m doing Trick or Treating with my 2 children and their 9 year old cousin. Clear instructions are issued:

  • Only go to the houses with pumpkins or decorations outside

  • Be polite

  • Don’t be too scary (he’s a good kid, but at 13 my son towers above many of the householders)

So off we go. Instructions are followed, sweets are collected, everyone is happy.

After a while, we meet with another cousin, the same age as my son. His loot is so impressive he has nearly filled a rucksack. We join forces and continue. His strategy, however, is different from ours. Read More