Archive for the ‘Sales Skills’ Category

Are Rain Makers born or are they made?

February 10, 2012
Rain Making

Rain Making?

There are many clichés and adages in sales training; “People buy from people they know, like and trust” is one of my favourites – because it’s so true.  The key job for all of us who have a product or service to sell is to become known, liked and trusted in our market place.

There are many ways in which you can do this, including:

  • writing blogs and articles
  • giving presentations
  • staying in touch with clients after the job is done
  • developing questioning and listening skills
  • becoming astute at spotting opportunities
  • and networking.

Ford Harding, the man who coined the phrase “Rain Making” to describe the processes needed to generate good quality leads, recommends all of the above. A “rain maker” brings in more business to her firm than she can service herself. Any business would love to have more Rain Makers in its employ.

Harding makes the point in the introduction to his book “Rain Making” that “whilst many firms offer in-house training on technical issues… marketing & sales training is…” and I quote, “…spotty.”

Out Networking

Working the Room?

When we go networking we see that not everyone is good at it.  Many actually undermine their likeability, trustworthiness to a point where people just don’t want to know them! It’s often because they put too much pressure on themselves to sell. They don’t. They get frustrated. They give up.

At New Tricks we train people to network properly… we help to create Rain Makers.

Our top tips for Networkers include:

  • Rather than focussing on generating business, first focus on becoming known, liked and trusted.  It’s unlikely business will flow until those qualities are established.
  • Develop a succinct “elevator pitch” that describes how you help your clients– rather than just listing what you and your firm do!
  • Get there early – it’s much easier to introduce yourself to new arrivals.
  • Smile, say “hello” and ask lots of questions
  • Target yourself to meet at least five new people and to find out what they do. Look for a co-incidence
  • Make an effort to remember and use people’s names in conversation – it impresses and really help establish rapport
  • Follow-up with people you’ve met – a “follow-up cup of coffee” is a more realistically achievable outcome than a bit of business.

For other blog posts on Networking see How to remember People’s Names and Are you Networking or Just Connecting

I recommend the latest edition of Ford Harding’s book Rainmaking: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field – here’s what others thought.

Please buy it from your local Independent Bookshop though. Mine’s Jaffé & Neale

Great Service from GO Outdoors

September 21, 2011

What a joy to find a retailer that really gets customer service right!  As you may have gathered from our previous posts on the subject (How far do you spread the word… and Seven Ways to Lose your Customers Parts 1 & 2) we are passionate about customer service.

My trusty walking shoes finally gave up the ghost and so I took myself off to Go Outdoors in Oxford to buy a replacement pair.   Go Outdoors offer a huge range which is brilliant but choice can be overwhelming. Luckily their brilliant staff is there to help.  After the warm welcome I received on entering the store I took myself off to the footwear department. Once there a very knowledgeable sales assistant asked questions to establish my needs and price range and narrowed the choice down to three shoes. He explained the features and, more importantly, the benefits of each and helped me to decide on the shoe that met my needs. He was able to recommend from his own personal experience – which, to my mind, is always reassuring.  With the shoes selected it was off to the till where one of his colleagues was just as helpful and friendly.

As a trainer in sales & service this was all music to my ears. It’s a pleasure being “sold to”, when you are “sold to” well. So, I was happy to tweet about the service using our #bestservice hashtag and just as happy to pen this blog.

I enjoyed the whole transaction so much that I actually found myself standing in the car park wondering what else I could go in to buy!  I resisted the temptation on this occasion but, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back!

So, people, who presses your “happy button” when it comes to #bestservice or, conversely, who gives the opposite #surlyservice?? Leave me your comments – I’d love to hear them

Are you Networking or just Connecting?

July 7, 2010
Networking is a funny old thing and often hugely misunderstood. I recently heard a self-appointed networking ‘guru’ tell an audience of aspiring business professionals that had they not got business by the second visit to a networking group, to abandon it. “Move on, ” he said with a sweep of his arm, “don’t waste your time.”


“Rubbish!” I thought. But thinking about it I guess he was talking about connecting – not networking. A connection is merely  a link between two points and can be a perfectly valid way to seek business. You identify your market and then organise, or seek, a gathering of your potential customers or introducers. Get it right, do a good job and it could generate business. If you find that there is absolutely no connection then certainly move on. But why limit yourself to just a few (or four) connections.

Networking is quite different; it is not just a connection between two points but links between many, many points. When you are networking you have to recognise that your job is not to try to sell your product or service, rather to sell yourself. It isn’t just about the people in the room, it’s also about all the people that they know and, indeed, all the people known to you. That means that given everyone has roughly 250 acquaintances then anyone you’d like to meet is only five contacts away.
A Network

A Network

Only after a period of time (i.e. more than two meetings) do you start to develop deep relationships with people who you like as you get to know them better. Once you have established a good level trust others become confident in you and thus more likely to introduce you to the folk in their network. And, of course, you become actively excited to seek opportunities for them. This inevitably takes longer to develop but instead of a one-off sale from a connection (if you are lucky), you’ll find yourself involved with a network of friends and referrers that will deliver business, yes, but also information and support for years to come.

And then we come to the other thing that got my goat about this ‘guru’s’ talk – he said, “Networking is about one thing and one thing only… Business.” Really?

What I do know is, that like many people, if I meet someone who focusses purely on pitching their product or service I metaphorically “run a mile” (I could just about manage it literally but it would be terribly inconvenient.)

Had I been training that room of fledgling networkers I’d have said completely the opposite. That networking is NOT just about business. It’s NOT about selling or badgering people about your business nor is it about putting people on the spot. If you do that then please don’t come back for a third meeting – you’ll not be welcome  – you’ll need to find somewhere else to go!

People buy from people that they know, like and trust, so that’s the primary objective of networking, surely, getting people to the stage where they know you, like you and trust you. Once you have established relationships and given of yourself then a whole new world opens up: you find new suppliers, you meet new friends, you get free advice, you get market intelligence, you get useful information, you gain support, encouragement, feedback for your ideas, solutions to your problems, the list goes on.


There, I’ve got that off my chest.

How far do you spread the word about good & bad customer service?

April 23, 2010

As part of our sales skills training suite we run a customer service training module on which we have some fun with an exercise using company logos. We ask our delegates to sort forty or so logos into three piles: those organizations that give great customer service, bad customer service and indifferent customer service. Having done that, we then ask them to discuss what makes the good, good and the bad, bad and then to list the attributes of each. When it comes to great service, attributes include:

  • Good or bad customer service?They’re friendly
  • They look please to see me
  • They give me time
  • I can always find staff
  • Knowledgeable staff
  • They’re polite
  • Smart staff
  • Clean stores
  • Great environment
  • Quickly deal with customer complaints and put things right
  • They smile

Whilst bad customer service elicits these sorts of comment:

  • The staff are miserable
  • You can never find anyone to help
  • Don’t take customer complaints seriously
  • Staff are surly, rude,
  • Staff talk to each other
  • The staff are scruffy
  • They’re not interested in me

What’s really interesting is that people LOVE talking about the bad customer service that they’ve received and this invariably dominates the conversation. Even when we specifically ask the room to tell us a story of great customer service, someone will launch into a story of a recent shopping trip soured by a surly assistant.

This seems to bear out the general opinion about customer complaints – that an aggrieved customer will tell at least ten people about their experience.

Our Customer Service Experiment

That gave us an idea – to conduct our very own twitter experiment using two twitter # tags.

When you want to have a gripe about a recent shopping experience, your broadband provider, bank (or indeed anyone else who lets you down on the customer service front) include #surlyservice in your tweet. On the flip-side of the coin if you want to tell the word about a brilliant experience, then tweet using #bestservice. We can then keep an eye on the results.

Of course if you want to expand upon the experience – good or bad – feel free to add your story here. It’s very cathartic – look on it as a kind of counselling service if you will. We’ll even pass on any good news to the people concerned.

By the way (in case you’re interested) of the forty or so company logos we use in our customer service training exercise two consistently end up in the good customer service pile: John Lewis and Waitrose whilst Dixons and BT invariably end up in the bad pile.

So, who are your customer service heroes and customer service zeros?

The Perfect Pitch

February 22, 2010

In an ever more sophisticated and competitive world, increasingly businesses (even small ones) are being asked to tender for work, either through a formal process of submitting a tender document followed by a presentation, or by presenting their proposals in competition with others. This way in which business is won can create real problems unless the sales team learns to adapt their approach.

In business-to-business selling a transaction is often conducted technician to technician or specialist to specialist. As a result there is usually a common understanding about what the solution to be purchased needs to achieve and so the discussion can focus on the technical elements of the proposition.  However, if the buying decision is to be made by panel, it introduces a whole new dynamic.

Pitching to a panel?

Suppose you have been asked to tender for the supply of a new software solution for a large company; it is vital to recognise that you cannot simply submit a technical specification and expect to win the business. Your tender document and your presentation will be scrutinised by a group of people – all with very different agendas.  You may well find yourself having to satisfy the needs of the IT Director, the Sales Director, the Finance Director, the end user and the HR Director. What is more, it may be the absent Managing Director, based upon recommendations from the panel, who takes the ultimate decision.

We recently tendered to support a large organisation, who were in turn tendering for a major contract. As we were pitching for the business, our research quickly confirmed that their requirements went far beyond the initial request for help with just the delivery of the presentation, which is where they assumed they had been losing out.  In fact, they had been making the mistake of sending out the technical champion of the product who could (and did) talk about the technical features for hours, supported by his PowerPoint Presentation with 142 very wordy slides !

An “aha” moment for them came when one of the team used the analogy of selling a car: “You wouldn’t send out a mechanic to sell it, would you?”

They asked for one day of ‘Presentations Skills Training’ evolved into three days where the first two were used to analyse and understand the needs and aspirations of the individuals on the purchasing panel, before honing the message to satisfy them all.  By the end of our third day we had worked together, yes, on the skills to deliver a great pitch presentation but more importantly on its structure, the words to be used and the supporting visual aids. They are now winning the pitches they were losing before.

The moral of the story is this; tendering and competitive pitches are much more than just another sale and there is a path to follow that will give the best chance of success. Whatever you do: put yourself into the shoes of the individuals on the panel consider their concerns and then address them!

How to Remember People’s Names…

February 4, 2010

When we run a training course we take a good deal of trouble to remember the names of our delegates. That can be difficult when there are more than sixteen or so – but not impossible. It’s a great skill to have (it is a skill – rather than a gift – you can get better at it the more you practise) and always impresses.

As Dale Carnegie (author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”) wrote, ”If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.”

When building relationships – say at a networking event – it can fast-track rapport building. After all, if you forget the name of the person who just introduced themselves to you just three minutes ago, your brain tends to fixate on the fact you’ve forgotten – and if you’re not careful you then forget to listen as you tell yourself “I can’t remember her name…I can’t remember her name!”

So, here then are our Top Tips that will help you remember people’s names…

Stage One: Switch Off Your Brain!

Often our head is full of internal chatter at the point we meet someone new. You know the sort of thing: “Will they like me?” or “I really don’t like networking…”  or even “My goodness – what is he wearing?”  You might be playing amateur psychologist in assessing their handshake… “Ugh! What a wet-fish of a handshake!” All of this internal chatter (for want of a better description) can get in the way at a very important stage of commencing a new relationship. So prime yourself. Ready yourself by clearing this internal chatter. In short make yourself ready to receive the name of the person you are about to be introduced to. Tell yourself – “I’m about to hear a name – I must catch it!” and now you’re ready for Stage Two.

Hear It!

Stage Two: Hear It!

Sounds bloomin’ obvious, but now you’ve primed yourself to hear the name – you’ll be amazed at how many people don’t actually tell you their name when they introduce themselves. They’ll say hello – of course – but often people just don’t tell you their name (and this is one of the reasons you don’t remember it.)  Your brain, in the past, has tricked you into believing you’ve forgotten it!  So, now you’re primed and alert you’ll know whether they have or haven’t. If they haven’t just say, “Sorry I didn’t catch your name.” rather than the less supportive, “…and your name is…? Assuming they have told you their name check that you’ve heard it correctly by moving onto Stage Three…

Use it or Lose it!

Stage Three – Use it…or Lose it.

Use the name of the person you’ve just been introduced to. Use it in a conversational way. “So, David what is it you do, then?” “Tell me, David is this a group you attend regularly?” Assuming that his name is David he’ll be impressed! Honest. Some people have a real problem with this. They’ll say, “I can’t do that,  it sounds ‘salesy’ or ‘smarmy.'”  Well, work on it so it sounds genuine, then. If you’ve remembered his name you can concentrate on what he’s saying. It also means you can introduce him to other people and it means you can say goodbye courteously. People often tell us they have real problems, “moving on” at networking events.  This overcomes that problem. Just hold out your hand and say, “Well David, it’s been a pleasure meeting you,” and you’re on your way.

Other Tips:

David? David?

Association (works for some people) Are there any other Davids that you know? Call them to mind. Picture the new David standing with the other David. The very act of thinking this helps lodge the name in the brain (for the reason why, see Tony Buzan’s writing about memory – Use Your Head or The Memory Book and many more.)

Use your Own Name Help the other party out – use your own name in conversation. “People say to me, “Ken how do you remember people’s names so quickly?”” They’ll love you for it, especially if they’ve forgotten it.

Wear a name-badge in the RIGHT place Don’t rely on name badges to remember other people’s names – they’ll often wear them in places that means your eye-contact may stray where it’s not welcome! If YOU wear a name badge wear it high on you RIGHT-hand lapel. As you shake hands it will be in the natural line of sight.

Admit it! So many people have a problem remembering names they’ll forgive you saying, “I know we’ve only just met but I’ve forgotten your name.” Not ideal, but if it helps you stop worrying about it worth doing (once only please!)

Please share your Top Tips for remembering names – we’d love to try them out too! And if you want even more TIPS see our FREE Downloads Page

7 Ways to Lose a Customer (part two)

December 8, 2009

So, it seems that tactics 1 – 4 have struck a chord with some of our readers – we’re pleased to be back with Part 2.

Remember, we’ve already covered:

Tactic One:    Don’t Engage with the Customer
Tactic Two:    Look as Unappealing as Possible
Tactic Three: Feign or Cultivate Total Ignorance of your Product and Services
Tactic Four:   Keep the Customer Waiting

Now we come to one of my favourites, Tactic Five:  ‘Destroy the Customers Desire to Buy’

Half Price chocolate with that newspaper?
Would you like chocolate with your paper?

We are now at the point where customers arrive at the till clutching their potential purchase. If you are working the till this is a dangerous time because if you are not careful you will have to abandon your discussion with your mate and perform a transaction.  Luckily for you your masters may have devised a strategy that will often put the kibosh on any need to open the till a second time: the Clunky Cross-sell.

WH Smith is brilliant at this. You put down your books, your CD and your DVD purchase and then you are asked, “Would you like a half-price bar of chocolate with that?” This really drives people round the twist!

Our electrical retailing friends have taken this process one step further; they actually throw doubt on the very thing you’ve purchased before it has even gone into the bag!  I refer, of course, to that magical device – the extended warranty!  You arrive at the till, excited by that special purchase, only to be told that there is very good chance that it will pack up, the tube will go, the screen will scratch, the drum will rust, the hose will crack, the microchips will fry and you will have to fork out for a new one! Unless that is you are prepared now to fork a sum almost as large as the purchase price to insure against this dire eventuality.  Well this ruins the sale for many people …

Even the banks are in on the act: as you pay in a cheque the cashier has been trained to ask, “Would you like a pension with that? You just need to see our Financial Adviser…can I book you an appointment?”

Saturday Sales Staff
“Er I think it’ll work..”

So, to Tactic Six: Emulate The Saturday Staffing Experience

Classic amongst the ignorant are ‘Saturday Staff.”  We just love them because it is immediately and blindingly obvious that they have no idea about any of the products they are there to sell (see Tactic Three).

You can imagine the board meeting at the electrical retailers with the red logo…

Smithers: “I’ve just had a brilliant idea!”

Big Wig: “Go on Smithers…”

Smithers: “Can I just check something out with Geoff in Finance? Geoff what’s our busiest day of the week?

Geoff : “That’ll be Saturday.”

Smithers: “Well then… let’s fill the shop with school children who know nothing about our products! It’ll save us a fortune; not using highly trained sales-people.”

Big Wig: “Genius!”

Now look here’s an idea. Saturday Staff turn away customers because if they want advice – they ain’t going to get it. So why not train your full time staff to emulate the Saturday experience. The staff member just has to skulk around trying not to be noticed and avoiding eye contact at all costs.  If by some mishap they are cornered by a customer the routine is as follows: Look nervous. As soon as the customer asks for advice, break eye contact, furrow the brow and look around wildly for help. When none is forthcoming walk them over to the items in question, sweep your arm around in general fashion, read out (moronically) the features described on the blurb, then explain that actually these days all the washing-machines/televisions/hairsprays/shoes/toilet papers are much the same so just choose the one you fancy. Then leg it.

I am sure that by this point you have come to the realisation that with the right training (or rather with absolutely no training whatsoever) staff can quickly become highly proficient at keeping customers at bay. But then they move on. So, the next problem you have to face is that of recruiting replacement staff. If you get this wrong you can find customers coming back through the door and messing everything up again.  I have undertaken numerous surveys and so can share with you those attributes which customers tell us constitute good service. They use words such as:

Friendly, Polite, Knowledgeable, Well-trained, Helpful, Chatty, Smart, Clean, Smiley, Attentive, Focussed

You have been warned. If you interview someone who matches that description… send them away, employ them not.  They will only upset your peace and quiet, unsettle your existing staff and bring on all the pressure and stress that you have worked so hard to remove.

And so, finally my last; Tactic Seven – Use Technology and Internal Processes to Distract Your Staff from Serving the Customer!

Confusing till?

Not all staff get up in the morning intent on giving rubbish service – so you may have to help them out. For those of you desperate to keep customers firmly at bay, the arrival of the high technology tills is an absolute gift. The great things about them are: their unreliability, their dependence on telecommunications and their sheer complexity, which means that most staff do not have a clue how to work them.

In the village where I live we have a community shop – a charming little store.  Unfortunately the decision was made to equip this little shop with the ultimate in computer driven, point of sale, bar code reading, flat touch screen, digital, wiz-bang tills.  As a result as you enter the shop all you could see behind the counter was the top of three heads.

“Well what did you press dear?”

“I think it was that one but now the drawer won’t open.”

“Well that should have worked.  Are you sure you pressed that?”

“Don’t press it again! Oh dear, it is so difficult to see without my glasses.”

“ I found that it is better to use the end of a biro than my finger- look.”

“Oh no, wrong end, now you’ve drawn on the screen dear.”

“Oh bother, we’ll try a bit of Vim in a minute.”

“Oh sorry … can I help you? You don’t happen to have the right money do you? We can’t open the drawer.”

If you don’t have the money for “smart tills’ just get your staff doing stock takes at busy times, or hack them off so they are miserable and surly with everyone, or target them to cross-sell more (without training them how to do it properly) or introduce an automated telephone answering system.The staff are totally distracted by technology and internal procedure and as a result completely ignore their customers.

Follow these simple guidelines and you too will find that shelves remain neatly stacked, phones don’t ring, carpets are not muddied, the postman’s delivery is light and peace and tranquillity can be yours. Customers – who needs them?

Be sure to let us have your observations. How have shop-keepers or suppliers made sure you went elsewhere? Please let us know – we can feel a regular column coming on!

7 Ways to Lose your Customers (part one)

November 26, 2009

We all know what a damn nuisance customers are: they mess up our premises, they take stock off our shelves, they demand to be served and they insist on telephoning us at times when we have far more important things to do. How many days have you had that have been spoilt by customers?

To help you to bring peace and tranquillity into your lives here are some proven tactics which will really let customers know how unwelcome they are so that they will go away and stay away and we can get on with the important things in life.

Tactic 1 ‘Don’t Engage with the Customer.’

To set the scene, I am in the supermarket, I approach the checkout, I set my goods on the conveyor belt and smile at the checkout person who does not smile back but looks around me to her colleague on the next till;

“Here, you knows I have my days off on a Thursday & Friday, right? Yeah well this year Christmas is Thursday & Friday, right, and so I says to him, ‘When can I have my days off then?” And he says, ‘Thursday & Friday, same as normal.’ And I says, ‘That can’t be right ‘cos they’re holidays, everyone gets them off. I ought to have another two days.’ And he says, ‘It’s not my fault you don’t work…’ – £26.89 love – ‘…Thursday & Friday, is it?’  He says, ‘You don’t work in Boots either do you? But if Boots had a day’s holiday you wouldn’t expect me to give you a day in lieu would you?’ He’s a right git he is. And another thing…”

So a fascinating exchange which made me as a customer feel really rather special.  Obviously if you can upset and annoy your customer facing staff it does encourage them to share their feelings with customers. True aficionados of the ‘Ignore the Customer’ tactic will have noticed a little slip there.  Did you spot it?  Yes, she actually spoke to me to tell me the price – she should just have pointed at the LED display and grunted.

You see perfect, absolutely no communication at all.  Brilliant.

Fag break!
Tactic 2 – Look as Unappealing as Possible

So what else can we do?  Another great tactic (tactic 2) is to ‘Look as Unappealing as Possible’.  This is a great one for your smokers. The staff in my local supermarket have this dead right.  Out in the street, near the entrance to the store is smoker’s corner.  Here staff who are not permitted to smoke within, pick their way through a sea of dog ends, come rain or shine, to congregate at regular intervals for a fag.  Resplendent in their shop uniforms they lean against the wall and the conversation goes some thing like this (MUCH FAG DRAGGING, NAIL BITING AND NOSE PICKING)

“Y’all right?”


“Bleeding cold in’it”


“On yer break?”

“Nah, just ‘avin’ a fag.”

“What doing after?”

“I’m on the deli counter…”

We would always recommend that you encourage staff to smoke where they are MOST VISIBLE to potential customers to guarantee this particular turnoff works to maximum effect.

Why develop your product knowledge? Just read out your displays to your customers!

Next tactic.  Tactic Three: Feign or better still cultivate total ignorance of your product and product range.

I’d read about  a new SONY television in Which magazine and popped into an a famous electrical retailer to see if I could purchase the KS9905.

After much hanging around the hi-fis in an expectant manner (Keep the customer waiting is tactic four –  it really does does work.)

Eventually I bump into a young girl in a stained tabard (see Tactic 2)

“Can you help me?”

“Er…what can I do for you?”

“Which? magazine was very impressed with the new Sony Hi Fi so I thought I’d take a look’

“Were they?”

“Yes, and look there is a laminated copy of the article attached to it.”

“Oh yes, I wondered what that was – I haven’t read it though.”

“Do you know if I can play my i-pod through this?”

(Reading from features list) “This hi-fi has 40watts per channel, an impactful sub-woofer and comes in a choice of sleek black or stylish white. I should think so. Most do these days. Don’t they? Would you like to have a listen?”

“Yes please”

“Hang on I’ll get the security keys”

Another 10 minutes pass by – again Tactic Four: Keep the Customer Waiting.

“We haven’t got any in stock – that’s just a dummy model for display, apparently, sorry.”

“Right then well never mind, goodbye”

You see, she had me out of that showroom in double quick time.  She also managed to avoid the mistake of ‘Finding an Alternative’ which would have delayed my departure and possibly interfered with her coffee or toilet, lunch, fag break or wherever she was a going when she had the misfortune to bump into me.

Be sure to come back for Tactics 5 to 7!

Selling Skills Matter – Globally!

June 1, 2009

IAPA logo

In May 2008 we were delighted to be invited to London to speak at the European Conference of IAPA. The Independent Association of Practicing Accountants is a global association of independent accounting firms and groups.  It was even better then to be invited back to speak at the 2009 event – this time in Malta – and pleasing to discover just how much the delegates and speakers had remembered from the previous year!

The New Tricks key-note presentations this year were: ‘Selling – Black Art or Vital Skill’ and ‘How to Remember People’s Names and other Networking Skills’.  The IAPA delegates are always a very responsive and appreciative audience and after the sessions it was fascinating to be approached by professionals from all over the world who told us that, not only had they enjoyed and benefited from the sessions, but that they also now realise that a lack of sales training was potentially holding back their businesses.

They were especially relieved to realise that professional selling is not about pushing unwanted goods or services on clients –  rather it is about ensuring that clients are fully provided with the services that they need.

On the networking side of life, it is also interesting to find that an inability to remember names is a global issue and having to remember the names of  co many delegates was certainly a challenge that kept us on our mettle! Our top tips for remembering names? Firstly, make sure you hear it (this may mean switching off your internal voice.) Secondly, “Use it, or lose it” – some people dislike this (“because,” they say,  “… it sounds cheesy”) BUT it works and generally people are impressed if you remember their name. Thirdly, make an association… do you know anyone else with the same name?  What does their name rhyme with? For a more fulsome Top Tips sheet download a factsheet from our website.

It is a always daunting prospect – presenting to an audience many of whom do not speak English as their first language but then equally humbling to realise not only how well they speak English but also the range of languages that they have at their disposal.

The Hilton Hotel Malta - a great conference venue

The Hilton Hotel Malta - a great conference venue

Malta is a fascinating and beautiful island and the Hilton Hotel, part of the Portmaso Complex, is a stunning conference venue.  Apart from the hotel with its pools and beach centre, there are apartments, a marina, shops, restaurants and a business centre which is housed in a tower. The host firm this year was Charles Scerri and Associates who organised the whole event superbly for both the business delegates and for their guests who enjoyed some enviable days out.

Thanks IAPA for inviting us. Their next global conference is in Madrid in September – can’t wait!

What does a car salesman have to do to earn commission?

May 15, 2009

I have the very great pleasure of working with the franchisees of Fire Compliance & Safety Ltd. The franchise is very keen to sell their Fire Risk Assessments in an ethical and appropriate manner.  I have been working with them to develop the teams’ sales skills.

Reflecting on good and bad experiences of being sold to (or NOT being sold to) one of the team, Shaun Harness, related a recent experience at the hands of car sales people.

So picture the scene: he wants a van for his business, he’s done his research, he knows the sort of van he’s after and narrowed it down to one of possibly four models. Bearing in mind there’s a recession on – the car and commercial vehicle markets seem somewhat depressed – he expected to have salesmen snapping at his heels for a deal.

On the contrary, at the local Ford, Peugeot and Vauxhall dealerships the “scruffy” sales team “with dirty shoes and frayed suits” remained resolutely sat on their backsides (presumably cold calling and filling in zeros on their sales returns.) He and his business partner, Caroline Hepburn, could not believe the lack of response to their extraordinary buying signals: picking up leaflets, opening and closing van doors, sitting inside and stroking their chins as they admired the paintwork. After walking straight out of two of the dealerships (devoid of any other customers) Shaun approached the sales desk at Ford and asked for assistance. He was told that the commercial sales manager was in a meeting. The team of four redundant salesmen (“…we don’t sell vans”) didn’t even ask for their details so their colleague could call them back. No doubt he arrived back at his desk to complain about what a quiet day its been!

VW Commercial van salesmen – the best??

Their experience at Volkswagen was quite different. The first thing they noticed was the place was heaving with customers!  A few minutes after they walked in they were warmly welcomed and asked if they needed assistance or whether they were happy browsing for a few minutes. When they were ready the same (very smartly dressed) salesman sat them down and had an amiable chat with them. The next thing he did was take their personal details (so he could stay in contact) asked them loads of questions, identified the ideal van – and sold them the van they needed. He negotiated sensibly with them and out walked two happy business people with the van they came in to buy – oh and some war stories about customer service! Well done to VW, no doubt the salesmen at the other dealerships would earn a bit more commission if they could actually sell.

For Shaun and Caroline, about to launch their new fire risk assessment business, the experience brought home much of what we’d covered in the training: build rapport (you can only do that if you actually talk to people – You Don’t Get Business Sat on Your Arse), watch out for buying signals, ask questions to fully understand needs and look the part – first impressions count for a lot!

The very best of luck to Shaun and Caroline as they set out to run their business.