Sales

Bring the light in the dark of winter

shane-lowry-claret jug.jpg

Energising ourselves and our customers in the darkest time of the year

This week in the golfing world, we saw Shane Lowry win The Open in Northern Ireland. This is one of the most prestigious and important golf tournaments in the calendar year. Lowry, from the Republic of Ireland was cheered and celebrated by the locals as he maintained his lead during shocking weather while his rivals capitulated in the high winds, rain, and generally miserable conditions.

Lowry managed to regulate his own emotions under the pressure, keep things simple, and execute during the terrible weather. It was a great achievement. And, in an era of ultra-professionalism, it was this beer drinking, happy-go-lucky, family man that was able to become the Champion Golfer of the Year.

The twittersphere has gone mad on this story in golf circles. This little clip said it all (warning: explicit language!)

 The imagery of Rory Mclroy (the Northern Irishman, who was playing on his home course during The Open, but failed miserably) is seen waking up early, hitting the gym, and practicing like mad. This is contrasted to Lowry celebrating with a pint in a pub. It’s good for a giggle, but in my world,  there is a noticeable lesson here.

Lowry celebrating his win in the pub with his mates and a bunch of locals. Fun isn't dead in professional sport, but is it dead in our professional setting?

Lowry celebrating his win in the pub with his mates and a bunch of locals. Fun isn't dead in professional sport, but is it dead in our professional setting?

In the winter months it is tough to keep energy levels up. It is even tougher to keep our customers and teams engaged.

A recent study suggested that six out of 10 of us suffer from lowered moods and motivation in the winter months. Being able to keep our energy up, and that of our customers is critical as this effects business results. I have personally found that appointment cancellations almost double during the winter months.

Shane Lowry certainly does the work. There is no way he could compete in the ultra-competitive world of Professional Golf if he didn’t. But he also has fun. He brings sunshine into the room. He has a positive energy and a humility about him. And, most of all, he doesn’t take the job or himself too seriously. Often, this attitude can be mistaken for not caring. But, if we can keep things light, while doing the work, we will boost the mood, motivation, and engagement of those around us.

Strengthen Branding or get left behind

How quickly is the retail landscape changing? It seems that everyone is telling us that change has never been quicker. I am not sure how true this, but the one indisputable fact is that change is upon us. This change comes in the form of international business crossing boarders both on-line, and now in our shopping strips and malls. So with this cycle of powerful retailers hitting our Aussie shores, what is the number one defence that local retails can initiate?

To answer this question, I took inspiration from a recent trip to LA – the home of extremes. There are big gas guzzling monster trucks driving alongside eco-warrior electric cars. There is the extreme luxury and wealth of the Hollywood and Beverley Hills Celebs living next to droves of homeless in the adjacent streets. But, amongst all of this I noticed one clear distinction. The culture of service among the successful retailers wherever my wife and I dined and shopped.

From a customer point of view, it starts with the overall end-to-end branding experience that you receive. A strong identity that connects the product to the people, to the location, and the entire experience. An example of this was when we visited a super-healthy café near Venice Beach. LA is the birth place of the Superfood phenomenon, and I was blown away by their execution. Calm and rejuvenation were a part of the dialogue, but they went deeper than this. Their purpose was to engage the consumer with the art of connection. They used some creative ways to instill this branding like the naming of items of the menu – but they took it further. The WIFI connection password was iamconnected. To add to this our server took our order and left us with an exchange I will never forget:

Waiter: “Thank you for your order. Would you like to know today’s question?”

Me: “Yere, sure, why not…”

Waiter: “What is your mission?”

Before we could react, he was on his way to file our order and get on with serving the other customers. We looked at each other. Thought. Looked at each other again. Smiled. And then, something great happened. We started talking about the question. What he meant by it. What our mission was. What our mission for the day was. What our overall mission was.

Our actual mission is irrelevant so I won’t bore you with the discussion that ensued. The genius is that this café was all about health, and connecting with yourself and others. In asking this question, we were immediately engaged in a thought provoking and fun way. From a branding point of view, I was left extremely excited. Brilliant! Simply brilliant!!! The overall experience was aligned and faultless. The delivery was spot-on. The effect was memorable.

Now, this sort of thing can sound gimmicky, but when all aspects of your customer experience are aligned, you move from gimmicks to something else – strength. Having brand alignment in the customer experience across all aspects of your business adds up to a very strong brand presence. You become memorable, and your customers become advocates. This results in real business growth.

It is on this trip that it struck me! All of the strong brands in Australia (small and big), and all of the internationals coming to our shores all have strength in end-to-end branding. A strong Brand Image. A Brand Experience. As business leaders, we need to be ultra-critical of every aspect of our customer-touch points. Are they aligned? Do our staff understand them? Do our staff know how to deliver them? Are there any weaknesses along our customer service chain? Does our on-line match our off-line? Do we stand out? Are we using the best language?

In driving this brand strength, it is vitally important to also make sure we deliver on our brand and product promise. Another key question to ask is: are we style over substance? There is nothing worse than having a beautifully presented space and brand, but then the end result is a poor-quality product or poor perceived value (by the way, we experienced this many times in LA also – I question if these businesses will still be around by the time we return). In an age of Insta and photo filtering and infographics, the aesthetic of our branding is so important, but copy-and-paste the latest trend at your peril. If it does not match the overall goal or mission of your business and your people, then it may do more harm than good to your business.

I feel that in the coming years we are going to see large international monster companies come to our shores and successfully navigate the tough Australian market (unlike those that failed previously, i.e. Hollister, Starbucks, and more recently Topshop). The local business that takes their end-to-end branding to a memorable and sophisticated level will be the ones that stand up and push forward in the new Australian business environment, no matter how quickly change is occurring in the landscape.

How to bust through your Natural Settling Point

We all know what Einstein said about the definition of insanity. And, retail businesses it is very common for people to remain at the same size or same level of profitability year-in-year-out. Every year brings with it similar ebbs and flows, as well as similar results.

This is what I have phrased The Natural Settling Point (NSP).

Here is the formula:

Location + Skills + Personality + Loyal Follower + Default Activities = NSP

 

There is a lot to digest in this formula, and hopefully it is clear to see how many variables there are to play with to pull yourself and your business out of the NSP you may currently be in. There is no need to pick each aspect apart, but this formula does hint at what to do to bust through your current settling point. Some tried and tested options are listed below.

 

1. UPSKILL YOURSELF (AND YOUR TEAM)

Plan a self-development activity every 6 months for each person in the team starting with yourself. It may be as simple as reading a book on a topic that will help you implement a new initiative. Or you could attend an evening or one-day seminar. A weekend conference. Maybe enrol in an online training course. Or, maybe you are ready to go for something bigger like a certificate course. Whatever you choose to do, the name of the game is to pick the topic carefully and be sure to set a trackable goal off the back of the education you have received. This will ensure that the training pays for itself (many times over hopefully) and encourages positive change in the business. The same rules apply to team members.

 

2. SCRUTINISE THE USUAL MARKETING

Is your marketing working? Really? Maybe they are… or maybe they need to be re-energised, or revamped, or maybe they need a major overhaul. One of the most common reasons retail business owners do not do meaningful marketing promotions is that they feel it is a waste of time and money. It is very common for people to give up before they have started, and revert back to old school methods, and activities which end up being quite ineffectual. At the very least, calculate the costs and sales from all of the past activities and if they are performing poorly, then stop doing them all together. No activity is better than bad activity – it costs less time, less money, and less heartache (none of which are going spare for most of us).

 

3. A LITTLE FROM EVERYONE ADDS UP TO A LOT

If you have a small team, say its yourself and two others, and each of you increased your own sales, or average spend by 10%, that would add up to a big dent in sales results. If it was achieved over a full year, then the NSP would be smashed to bits. Let’s look at it another way. What if the weakest sales day of the week was focused on to make it a little stronger, or a product or product range was focused on to gain extra sales? In a salon business I worked with, the retail sales were hovering at approximately $50 per week. There were reasons for this, but it was quite weak. We set up a plan including an incentive, education from the Sales Rep, and weekly performance tracking by the manager on product sales. If the team achieved their incentive 80% of the time, we would generate over $500 in sales a week, and over a 14 week period (which was the remainder of the calendar year at the time), this would bring in an extra $6300. A big impact from a very small change, which the team ended up achieving. It also showed us how much money the business was “leaving on the table” so to speak. What is the little change you can make in your business that would add up to a lot?

 

4. GET A BIT WEIRD

This one makes everyone really nervous! I know, I get nervous myself, and for good reason. It is scary as hell! Its scary because there is all types of risk – financial, or even reputational. Sometimes, we’ve got to be open to doing something a little crazy. Make a concerted effort to try a different approach, or have some fun with a topic or an event. Only by taking some risks can we find unique and brilliantly interesting ways to move our business forward. Because there is risk involved in this, it is important to mitigate the risks by doing lots of research, only trialling things before committing to longer terms, and pledging low resources to an activity initially. Go for it, but there is no need to take huge leaps of faith packed with high levels of risk!!!

 

5. WHATEVER YOU DO, GO ALL IN!

Small half-baked initiatives and actions need to be banished. If we are truly going to leave the NSP behind once and for all, then doing many things in a mediocre way will need to be completely cut out. New Year’s Eve is not the only time to make a stand and commit to new beginnings. We can decide to do this today. Commit to a structure and work within it every day. Aim to be consistent before everything else. If you lead an activity 100%, you have a very good chance of getting the team to follow.

To wrap this up, it is wise to choose only one of these actions to implement at a time. Trying to do too much will probably land you back inside the NSP. Also, no matter what you do, there will be ups and downs, so be willing to adapt. Tweaking and adjusting as we go is not always easy, but will often be necessary.

The one guarantee is that that NSP is distinct in all of our businesses, and if we can recognise it there is a good chance that it can be left behind with some new and exciting activities.

5 Tips to Pull Customers in with Visual Merchandising

The common perception is that visual merchandising (VM) is about making your products and your store look nice, but I assure you that there is a lot more to it than this. It is healthy to view your VM as a hub that links directly to all of your other main business departments. These usually include Stock Control, Marketing, Customer Service, Human Resources & Professional Development, Housekeeping, and of course Sales. Understanding that VM directly links with other functions within your business starts to open up new levels of creativity for you while making it easier to justify further resources on your VM and in-store animation.

VM is also a key way to pull customers over the threshold into your store and assist you to deliver a high customer service level with resulting sales increases. Here are my top five tips to bring this to fruition:

1. Promotional Displays

Visualise your store as you walk in the main entrance, and ask yourself what the first thing is that your eyes are drawn to? In retail, we want the first attention grabber in our store to be the promotional product or range of the week/month/season. It is critical that we have an engaging promotional display front-and-centre as a shopper enter our space. This not only creates interest for a shopper to stop walking and turn into your store, but it also excites the shopper – no matter if they are new to the store or a returning customer. The golden rules are to use a New Product, a Seasonal Product, a Topical Product, or a Hero Product from your range. To ensure freshness change this display regularly. This promotional display should also link to the display in your window.

2. Prime Shelf Real Estate

There are Hot and Cold Zones in our stores, with a Hot Zone representing an area of high foot traffic. You may know why people gravitate to this area, or it may be a mystery. Either way, be sure to recognise your Hot Zone, and the shelving units within this zone. This zone is generally the first-place shoppers will look and want to browse after they have enjoyed your promotional display at the entrance of your store. You may designate a shelf at eye level, or an entire bay as your Prime Shelf Real Estate. Whatever amount of space that you choose, be sure to fill it with product that matches your promotional display mentioned above. The key to this is to make it is clear that people can shop from this area. I say this as a promotional display can often be left by shoppers as they do not feel that they are allowed to shop from this area. By using the sequence of your window display, that matches your promotional display, that matches your Shelf Prime Real Estate, we have now built a slick easy to use path-to-purchase.

3. Pricing

The way that we communicate individualised pricing is a critical part of VM. Pricing needs to visually be aligned with our branding, be sized appropriately to the products, and be easy and clear to understand. Depending on your type of retail you may use hanging tags, pricing stickers, branded labels, or shelf talkers. Whatever the pricing display is that you use be sure to take a good deal of care with careful attention to detail. Make sure pricing labels are consistent throughout the store, and to make pricing easy to read and easy to find. Let’s face it, the first question most consumers have is “how much is it?”

Premium Retail will usually not display prices, and certain retail will have pricing on lists or in menus, but no matter what pricing is relevant for your business be sure that it is brand aligned and that it is correct! There is nothing worse than getting pricing wrong and costing your business money, credibility, and resulting in a negative customer experience.

4. Negative Space

In large discount retailers and super markets, you will see products jammed in and stacked as high as possible. This signals to the consumer that the products are of a low value. In a majority of retail environments, we want to increase the value proposition of our products using VM. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use Negative Space. Negative Space is the use of gaps, or space between products. This is a clever technique that draws a shopper’s eyes to the individual products allowing the shopper to browse without working so hard while creating more interest in the shopper’s mind. Negative Space also signals to the consumer that the products are important enough to command such a generous use of space. This is where the perceived value of a product is enhanced. This technique in your layout will enhance your overall branding, and will be noticeable from the exterior of the store as consumers look in through the entrance. It can also be used in window displays.

5. Clean All Day, Every Day

This is my favourite as it is so so important. No matter how much a consumer is paying for an individual product, if it is not clean then it is not attractive to buy. The retail environment out there is ultra-competitive, so if a store is not clean and tidy, then the consumer will simply go somewhere else. Cleanliness underpins all of your VM. You may have the latest technology, the biggest screens, the flashiest lights, or the most on trend animation, but if your window and shelves are dusty, sticky, grimy, or dirty in anyway then your whole VM is undermined. My golden rules are that we clean at the beginning and end of every day, and then throughout the day constantly. Other than education and product knowledge, re-stocking the shelves and cleaning is the number one task that we all need to commit to when we have down time in-store. It is critical that everyone in the store team is contributing to this too, and that there are no exemptions. It is a team game with sales to be lost if someone is excusing themselves from cleaning. Keeping your store and products clean can be made harder if your store has an Open-Door Policy (ie. Your front doors are left wide open during trading hours). This is always a great best practice as it invites customers into your space (take that as an extra free tip!) but it will encourage dust to accumulate quicker so be aware of this in regard to directing your team to clean.

Starting Out? 5 ways to build a client base using the Freebie Exchange

You may be a school leaver. You may be a cubicle-escapee. You may be starting the very post-trend “side hustle”, or a freelancing venture. Whatever your situation, it’s all very exciting with a large element of fear and anxiety. Recently I heard an interview with a business owner who’s venture is turning over in excess of $60m a year, and another that has over 20 000 users. Independently they both admitted that in the face of these achievements they still had times of doubt, and “weren’t sure if this thing was going to work”. There is no doubt – business is tough, and holds up a mirror to our fears. No matter how well we are doing, there are always dry spells and doubters ready to give their unwelcomed opinions at many-a-turn. So, what about when we are starting out. How do we break through and start gaining traction with no track record? You could use the Freebie Exchange – it will leave you with more than what you think.

The Freebie Exchange

What!?! You want me to give stuff away!?! At the most vulnerable time in my business, with no resources and no income you want me to just hand over my blood, sweat, and tears!?!

Yes. Yes, I do. And, I’ll show you how you will be getting extraordinary value out of the Freebie Exchange, and much much more value than the test clients you will be engaging with.

The key here is that this is an exchange. Every transaction is an exchange. For an exchange to be successful, both parties must gain good value. The value for the consumer in this case is obvious. They will receive a free product (or service) which meets their needs. But what about for you? The value for you is actually multi-tiered. Here are your 5 ways to use the Freebie Exchange to catapult your business forward from the starting blocks:

  1. Pick the right customers. You will pick a limited amount of people which can vary in number depending on the nature of your business, but 10 is a good solid number to use for most small businesses. It is all about the quality of these 10 that is critical. They must fit into the description of your perfect customer. That means they share the same values as you, they have a need that suits your product to the letter, and they are a pleasure to deal with. Please don’t underestimate the value of this last point – servicing the right clientele will heavily influence the profile of your future clientele and it will be a big influencer on your happiness and health within your business down the line.
  2. You will gain feedback which will help you make the product better. These initial customers will need to provide you with key feedback. Consider these people your test bunnies. They will help you smooth out the product design, delivery, effectiveness, and you may end up doing some drastic changes to your product after going through this process. Then you will be ready to launch to the masses with confidence that you have your product spot on.
  3. You will gain research that will help you with your marketing. During the feedback process with these initial customers you will gain insights into the customer expectations, needs, experience, and overall perspective. The insight will be invaluable. There will be certain phrases and comments from these test bunnies that will end up being pure gold. This is where inspiration strikes and game changers appear.
  4. Word of mouth. Yere, yere, all businesses rely on word of mouth. I know this one… Well, the one thing that annoys me about business owners that say they get most of their clients from word of mouth is that they hardly do anything to accelerate the rate of client acquisition through this avenue. Your initial clients are getting the freebie. One of the exchanges is that if they are happy with what they get out of the product, they must tell the world about it. This could be a casual thing, but I highly recommend that you set up a link, or a coupon, or an offer that is easy for the test client to distribute to everyone they know that could benefit from your product. On top of this, be sure to let the test client know the market value of your product, and that they are in line for further freebies based on how many clients you gain through their recommendations.
  5. Re-sell through reciprocation. It is the worst kept secret in small business. Give value and attention to someone (without having a desperate air about your offer!) and they will feel indebted to you. So much so, that when you re-sell to them at the market price, there is a part of them that will buy because they feel that they owe you their loyalty. And, if they have gained good results through using your product, then why shouldn’t they? I have test clients of my own, that to this day are on-going loyal users of my service because we have built a great relationship, and they gain great results from my service. This is the ultimate reward from the Freebie exchange, and speaks volumes of what you’re doing and how you are delivering.

A key addition to this, is that you can discount instead of giving your product away whole. I mean, there is no harm in gaining a few bucks from your test clients… is there? Well, usually there is not, but be very careful to ensure your product is not devalued. A one-off freebie can instill value in a product more than a discount. Either way, it comes back to point number one – pick your test clients carefully. And be sure to communicate your offer and expectations to them clearly and specifically. Once you have agreement, you are on your way to building your empire.

5 Tips to Turn Customer Complaints into Business Assets

Some people can be horrible to deal with. You are trying to be helpful, respectful, and patient but the more you try to appease them the more unpleasant they become. I once had a customer literally shout and chastise me over a staff incident for about an hour until she wore herself out and finally accepted my offer that I would investigate the incident and pass it onto senior management to be dealt with. I can see her face now, and it sends me to an energy draining place that leaves me deflated and beaten up. Have you experienced something like this?

Customer satisfaction is becoming harder and harder and to deliver. The contemporary customer has never been so empowered and informed, while the competitive climate of almost all industries has also elevated. Add in the time poor nature of many clientele, and it is pressure cooker that occasionally boils over and leaves us on the receiving end of some harsh critiques to put it politely. In my experience, this comes with the territory of running a business, no matter what your industry is. There are a few practical ways to turn such negative exchanges into a positive. Here are my top tips:

  1. Diffuse. Anger, irritation, sadness, despair… these are all strong emotions, and no matter how right or wrong you are, there is no talking to someone when they are over-ridden by these feelings. To best deal with this we need to find every bit of empathy we can muster. Seeing through the bile being spat out at you and being patient isn’t always easy, but it is an essential step to turning the situation into a positive one. Diffusing the exchange is key and using the AQUA tool is a good place to start:

A – Acknowledge – it will only elevate the problem if we dismiss the complaint.

Q – Question – showing empathy and using a few questions to get the person talking about facts is already starting to diffuse the emotion and will get the person speaking rationally.

U – Understand – show understanding by using caring body language, lots of eye contact, and simply be the authentic person you are. See yourself as a friend rather than a representative of your business. At the end of the day, you are on the same team.

A – Action – be clear and direct with what is going to happen next. Follow it up personally and instil confidence in the customer by doing what you said you would do.

 

  1. Side-by-Side. A lot of the time the real problem is forgotten and the abuse can start to be directed towards you. This is not good, nor is it productive for the customer. A great way to change the dynamic is to stand or sit next to the customer rather than directly across from them. The attention needs to be directed at the problem, both conversationally and physically. Using your notepad or the product in question, you can start to write and point to the problem and keep referring to it. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the customer is directing their energy at the problem instead of you. In fact, at times it may give you a chance to join in and direct your own emotion at the problem too! All of the sudden, everyone is working on the problem together and collaborating rather than fighting.
  2. Getting the complaint is a good thing. According to the retail professionals at the Australian Retailers Association HQ, Australian businesses lose 13% in sales per year due to customer dis-satisfaction. That is a huge number. Imagine the positive impact on our revenues if we avoided even half of these loses. How can we make an impact on these losses if people keep the problems to themselves and simply do not come back to shop with us? Seriously, what can we do? Absolutely nothing. By that stage, the horse has well and truly bolted. We must have ways of intervening before this and getting the truth from our patrons. Feedback forms, Net Promoter Score Surveys, Suggestion Boxes, Follow-up e-mails/phone calls/text messages are all methods to get this info. There are many many more, but my advice is to use the most personal process available to you. If you deliver a service that runs over an extended time, then be sure to check in as often as you can while being appropriate. Getting the complaint is a huge win. You can do something about it and turn things around.
  3. Better than getting it right in the first place. I have had a few situations as a customer where I have lodged a complaint and the way it was addressed either killed the brand off for me forever (i.e. I never went back), or it turned me into an even bigger follower than I was before. Sounds mad, but every complaint is an opportunity to create some of your best long term customers. As we discussed before, complaints are usually laden with emotion. It is all about how we feel as a valued consumer. When a complaint is received the first thought must be – how do I WOW this person? I want my complainee (is that a word!?!) to feel that they are the most valued person in the world. I want them to think that my brand is full of wonderful caring people that really do care. Now, I know, this is tough, but if you are prepared with tools, processes, and actions ready to go, then it becomes a lot easier to nail. It is also viable, because you have crunched the numbers on what resources you can afford to use over a quarter or year. No matter what, you want these customers to be raving about how special you made them feel when talking to their friends over a coffee or glass of wine.
  4. Be willing to fire clients. Some people are terrible to deal with and always will be. It’s not that they are terrible people, they are just not our sort of people. They don’t get us, and we don’t get them. This is ok. The reason why this is an asset is that we can draw the conclusion that this is now one less person to throw resources into. We can now concentrate on the customers that we love and that love us. I would always rather have 500 diehard fans than 10,000 marginally interested ones. We must sometimes understand that subtraction is better than addition for our client base. When we receive certain complaints, or repeated problems with an individual customer then this is a flag to fire them and move on with serving those that you love.

My people hate selling! My 5 Tips for teams to start to LOVE Selling

Selling can be a dirty word in some workplaces. I’ve been in sales for over 15 years, and I still cringe at the thought of picking up the phone to make a cold call sometimes. Then there are many people in our teams that do not see selling as remotely relevant to their roles (nor their lives). Here are a few tips for all of those people out there that hate selling to their core, as well as those leaders that find it difficult to get their teams to sell effectively.

  1. You actually actively sell every day without knowing it.

My mind was blown-away many years ago when a guy I was working with told me that “everything that I had ever read was selling me something”. How can that be? Even historic facts in the Encyclopedia Britannica? Yes, is the answer. Every conversation & scripture includes information being passed-on for the receiver’s mind to be influenced.

Communication = Selling. The quicker you and your team understand this, the quicker the stigma of selling will dissipate.

2. Your team is a reflection of you.

An unorganised team will almost certainly have an unorganised leader. The same applies to teams that are poor at sales. But wait, I can hear you screaming at me “I bring in huge sales myself, and I just wish the team could sell half of what I do”. This situation is common. Here, the missing link is for the leader to coach and mentor people that sell in a different way to you, or that have different capabilities to you. Either way, the first check is to understand your own fears and inabilities to sell. The second step is to check yourself in regard to how well you are selling the importance and fun of selling to your staff. An honest look at your own behaviour and our communication with our team has to be assessed. Then the ongoing process of coaching is critical to build sustainable cultural sales ability.

3. Selling is customer service.

I bet most know this and have tried this tact with their staff. The concept is critical, and is at the heart of sales as a skill – if we provide good customer service this will translate to sales. Think about the last time you received brilliant customer service. Write ten descriptive words about that person and the service they gave you. Now, see if these descriptive words match the “ideal salesperson”. The two lists tends to be spot on, and is an activity worth doing with your staff at your next team meeting. When it comes time for individual performance reviews, be sure to use sales performance metrics as the scoreboard for the performance of a team member in regard to their customer service standards. This will help to create a link between customer service (generally seen as a fun and desirable skill) and sales ability.

4. Selling is what your customers want.

Who has ever walked into a shop hoping for the sales assistant to do a bad job with the result being that you know the same as what you did before you walked in. No one, right!?! Customers want a positive outcome. In fact, they want the same positive outcome that you want. That is; they want information. They want connection. They want a fun, memorable experience. They want to buy something, if not today, someday soon. Your team’s job is to provide this. Without selling, what are we actually doing? We are simply just existing. Breathing. Maybe doing a few tasks and taking a few orders (which is not selling). This does not inspire customers to become loyal, nor help the business to grow. Give the customers what they want, and selling is a big part of this.

5. The expert factor.

Your team need to know that they are seen by you and your patrons as an expert in the products and services of your business. They are by definition consultants. Their primary job is to guide a customer through the decision making process so that the customer can make an informed choice to fulfil their particular need. Are your team experts? Do they need more training to build their capability and confidence? Are they the right people? This is your job to ensure these questions are answered. Focus on supporting your experts and they will help you blow-your-competition-away.

 The only addition to these points is to ensure a person is in the right mind set. Remember, at the top I mentioned that I cringe sometimes when I need to make a cold call. In these moments I need to check-in with myself and get back into my happy place. This may come in the form of music, dancing around the room, or taking a brief walk outside – anything to get a smile on my face and into game mode. Whatever does the trick, make sure it is done, and support your team to get into their sweet spot so they can sell with no inhibitions.

Not ready? No problem.

There are many tough aspects to Sales and the act of selling within your business. We can become demotivated due to a lack of progress, continual rejection, and a confusion of how much time and resource should go into sales activities. This can be magnified when you are managing a team of people where Sales is a considerable part of their function within the business. So, how are we expected to keep pushing forward with a positive mindset and a high-energy approach!?! Listening to experts talk about a positive mindset can be the type of talk that sends a business owner over the edge and into bouts of depression, denial, or manic stress.

In my experience building a framework for your sales process is the foundation that all goodness springs from in terms of revenue growth. Having a solid professional approach to your sales cycles will keep you on track and help you keep your actions efficient. But, what about effectiveness? Being effective is the number one target, and in terms of sales our scoreboard is revenue, or number of new clients, or deals completed. So how do we maintain our focus and keep pushing forward when the results are not materialising?

For me, my first experience of manic stress in relation to sales was when I was a Sales Rep for the first time. I felt like I had no idea how I was going to get a meeting, or where I was going to target, or even what I was actually selling at times! No one wanted to see me, take my calls, or listen to the value I could offer. It was a frustrating time, and since I had no experience to draw on, all I could do was take advice from colleagues around me and press on. It was tough. I became mentally and emotionally exhausted, and if it wasn’t for some good support and a few lucky breaks, I don’t think I would have lasted six months.

In the ten or so years since then, I built up my sales capability to the point where I have led sales teams, and now educate in the area. It is amazing to write this article and look back at what the act of sales used to mean to me compared to how I approach it now. There are several ways a sales process can be set up to build a sustainable flow of revenue. However, there is one key mentality which has helped me to push forward with optimism and gain results for my businesses and my clients.

Never register a No

There are many things I have been called in my life (insert joke here…) But, seriously, one thing keeps on popping up, and usually it comes from my prospect partners and prospect clients. Persistent. I love this, as they always mean it in a complimentary way and do not associate my persistence with any form of annoyance or irritability. It is a term of endearment as they are thankful for my persistence. Otherwise we would have never been able to connect and understand how we may be able to help each other. The importance of persistence is beautifully articulated in the book titled Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth. Here we understand how persistence plays a huge role in determining one’s ability to succeed in any activity we undertake.

Beyond persistence a key learning I developed was that when we are selling a, we tend to refer to our work in black-and-white terms. Did you get the sale? Yes/No. Did you get a meeting? Yes/No. Are they interested? Yes/No. Was it a good call? Yes/No.

Unfortunately, we end up with many more No’s than Yes’s, and this links to the feeling of failure and dejection. My heart sinks thinking about this feeling, and that people are experiencing this daily. The answer for me was to change my perspective. To turn the tables on the whole scenario and to take back control of the scenario.

I started to see that there was a big spectrum between “yes” and “no”. There was more to the situation, and to the relationship building process. No matter how abrasive or abrupt a prospect may be acting, I didn’t automatically write the contact off. I didn’t see it as a flat-out NO. I started to think in terms of “Not Ready”. Please allow me to explain.

The more experience I gained in business the more I begun to understand the importance of timing. It is often the case where the solution you are providing (i.e. the product you are selling) is being offered at the wrong time for a client rather than it being the wrong solution. The contemporary consumer (B2C or B2B) is time poor, usually mentally stressed in some way, and has little patience for information that is not relevant for them now. So, if this consumer is being approached at the wrong time, then it is safe to assume that the approach will be backhanded swiftly and brutally. At this point, I do not accept a “no thank you” response. I do my best to investigate what is happening in the person’s business or life, and ask as many questions as I can without prying or agitating. I also tend to slip in a comment along the lines of “not now? Great, when would be better”. If this is not appropriate, then maybe it is a matter of saying “Great, I’ll drop you a line in six months or so”. By doing this I am keeping the dialogue alive and continuous. There is no “no”, there is only “not ready”.

I have chased contacts for years to finally gain a meeting. This however, is not the truth. I am not chasing anyone, I am simply connecting, re-connecting, and keeping the dialogue alive. Sometimes prospects end up selling to me, or becoming friends, or end up being a valuable part of my network. I know this sounds a little insane, but trust me – when you are doing this with over one hundred prospects all at the same time you start to see results. Not only are you going to get lucky with a few people when your timing is perfect, but you are also building relationships that will give you sales opportunities well into the future.