Category Archives for "General Sales Tips"

Jul 08

Sales Lessons From England’s Dismal Failure At The World Cup

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what sales lessons we can learn from England’s dismal failure at the World Cup….and how you can ensure you and your team perform far better!….

Well.  I don’t know about you, but I found England’s dismal performance at the World Cup embarrassing.  The debate about what went wrong has been raging for a while now, but the fact remains that a bunch of highly-paid, professional sportsmen (who should have had a good chance of winning ‘on paper’), massively under-performed.

So what sales lessons can we learn from the dismal failure?

Sales Lesson No 1 – Motivation Is Crucial!

Of course you’ll already know that motivation is crucial to success, whether that’s in sport, in business and particularly in the sales arena.  However it’s motivation on a CONSISTENT basis that’s vital to producing good results in sales over a period of time.

Consistent motivation is even more important when it comes to ‘new business’ activities.  For example if you know you’ve got cold calling (or even follow up calls) to do, and you’re not feeling motivated, how likely is it you’ll do the calls you need?  Not very likely!

Alternatively, you may do the ‘task’, but in reality you’re just ‘going through the motions’, and even through you’ve done your ‘activity’ it was never going to produce any kind of results for you.  Some people then even use that ‘result’ to justify saying ‘cold calling just doesn’t work for me’ or ‘I’m no good at that’ for example!

You saw the impact that lack of motivation had on the England team – make sure it’s not happening to you or your team right now!

Sales Lesson No 2 – Don’t Play People Out Of Position

4-4-2 Formation This is one of the biggest lessons to come out of the World Cup.  Not just for football, but for sales as well.

I’ve lost count of the amount of people that have said to me over the past year or so that they’re having to get people who were previously ‘account managers’ to do new business activities.  When I’ve asked the question ‘and what training have you put in place to support them in getting the results you need?’ there’s usually been an awkward silence!

That means their answer to that is ‘none’.  How likely are those account managers to succeed?  Not very!  And the more ‘new business’ the activity is, the less likely they are to do it well!

This is compounded when managers and directors then get ‘non-salespeople’ involved in the sales process – like marketing making appointment calls, and administrators taking incoming sales enquiries for example!  You aren’t doing any of that in your business…..are you?

Sales Lesson No 3 – Be Flexible In Your Approach

Fabio Capello insisted on sticking to a 4-4-2 formation, even when the commentators, the fans, the media and even the players were asking for a 4-5-1 to be tried!  He again showed his unwillingness to be flexible even when the players complained about being stuck in a boring routine.

Now, putting your thoughts about the players and whether they should just have put up with it or not aside, there is another valuable ‘sales lesson’ there for us as well.

Whether it’s following up a marketing campaign that isn’t generating results, a sales system or ‘script’ that is ‘imposed’ on you by the company, or continuing to do things that aren’t working just because you’ve ‘always done them that way’, you need to have flexibility in your approach and consider changing things when the evidence shows that they aren’t working for you!

Also the market has changed for the majority of salespeople over the last few years – are you still using techniques that were developed in the ‘old market’, or are you training your team (and using) newer, more effective ones?

Sales Lesson No 4 – You’ve GOT To Handle Pressure!

Another reason (excuse) given by the England team and those involved with it was that fans were piling too much ‘pressure’ on the team.  Now I don’t know about you, but I’d be of the opinion that handling pressure is part of their job?!!

In the business world, salespeople, managers and directors do this everyday, so why on earth should footballers be different?

As a salesperson, there’s pressure on yourself (to perform well), pressure from your boss (usually about figures), pressure from clients or potential clients, pressure from production staff – in fact pressure from pretty much everybody associated with your job!

Especially with the pressure of hitting your sales targets and bringing in ‘new business’, EVERY salesperson needs the ability to handle pressure, or they’re going to struggle in the role.

Sales Lesson No 5 – Stop Being A ‘Sales Whinger!’

Now, if you’ve worked with me or trained with me in the past, you’ll know I talk a lot about the ‘sales whingers’ – salespeople whose only purpose in life appears to be to complain about anything and everything!

One of the key attributes of a sales whinger is that they ALWAYS blame someone (or something) else for their misfortune – it’s NEVER their own fault!

Now, think about this in respect to the England team, their management and their poor performance.  First of all it was the fault of the ball, because our players weren’t used to it!  Conveniently forgetting the fact we were offered the ball to use on 3 separate occasions over the last 12 months and we refused!

Then it was the fault of the fans and the media, putting too much pressure on the team and certain individuals in it.  Then it was the fault of the Premier League for wearing out those poor professional athletes?!!  Obviously ignoring the fact that Premier League stars playing for other countries were doing pretty well!

So how many things are you and your team blaming their poor performance on right now?  The market?  People’s budgets?  The recession?  Nobody wants to buy?  The target is unrealistic?

Stop blaming on other things and get thinking about how you can improve your own performance and that of your team.  And then let me know what you come up with!

So, take action on the above and the best of luck with your sales!

About The Author:

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker

He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here
Apr 02

Digital Selling – Are You Ahead (Or Behind) Your Competition?

By Andy Preston | Digital Selling

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains how ‘digital selling’ is impacting the way sales is evolving, and whether you’re ahead or behind your competitors in this area……

‘Digital Selling’ is changing the way sales and prospecting is done. That doesn’t mean that older, more traditional methods no longer work, more that there are new tools and platforms available to the average salesperson that weren’t there 5 years ago for example.

Digital Selling’ is the process of engaging more online with business and social networks, plus using the ‘digital sales tools’ available to drive more sales opportunities, that you otherwise wouldn’t be aware of.

Failing to use Digital Selling could mean you and your team losing out on valuable sales opportunities. But if you ARE going to embrace it, or at the very least dip your toe into the Digital Selling water, there are some things you need to be aware of, in order to make sure you’re maximising your potential sales opportunities.Continue reading

Feb 25

Sales Basics versus Sales Fundamentals…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Please watch the video below, and refer to the list of some ‘sales fundamentals’ you should have in place (or be doing on a consisent basis), which is directly below the video.

For those who can’t see or hear the video due to local restrictions, please see the ‘written version’ below the sales fundamentals list. Enjoy!

List Of 10 Sales Fundamentals You Should Have In Place

1. A written, focused sales plan.
2. A ‘perfect customer’ profile
3. An ‘irritational 25’
4. ‘Blocked out’ new business prospecting time (no distractions and never moved!).
5. A structured, customer focused Opening Statement.
6. A minimum of 20 Sales Questions of at least 5 different types, designed to make the customer think.
7. An individual client referral strategy.
8. A monthly sales meeting (even if you’re a 1-person business, you still need to ‘meet’ with yourself weekly to focus on sales!)
9. A training and development plan for each employee that has a ‘responsibility’ for sales – otherwise how can you expect them to improve?
10. A sales-focused Social Media strategy for driving sales leads through your sales funnel.

If you’re missing any of the above, give me a call on 0845 130 6779, or contact me here and I’ll see how I can help!

The ‘written’ version of the blog is below…..

 


In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains the difference between ‘basics’ and ‘fundamentals’ in sales….and why you need to understand the difference if you want to improve your sales figures right now!…..

 


 

I was speaking at an event last week and had decided to do feedback forms, as the majority of the audience hadn’t seen me speak before and I thought it would be useful to see what they thought!

If you’ve worked with me or been to one of my events before, you know I’m not a big fan of feedback forms as people seem to write quite bizarre things on them! I remember a piece of feedback we got from an event years ago that read ‘Great speech Andy! Got loads from it. Feeling really motivated! Food was a little bit spicy though with too many onions’. How funny is that?!!

However because of the amount of people that hadn’t seen me speak before, I decided to do them for this event. The vast majority of them came back very positive, but one in particular got me thinking. It said ‘Good event Andy, but the speech was bit basic for someone of my level’. Now that sort of thing always makes me smile, as the minute a salesperson refers to something as ‘basic’ I get concerned. That usually means that they consider it beneath them (i.e cold calling), or that they already know it and they don’t need to think about it. They’d be wrong! There’s a HUGE difference between ‘basic’ and ‘fundamental’.

Why Salespeople Should Think In Terms Of ‘Fundamentals’

I remember an old sales manager of mine, years ago. He took me to see a speaker that he really enjoyed listening to. The seminar itself was on a Saturday morning, so being a young salesperson at the time, I was already thinking of what else I could be doing, other than being at the seminar with my boss at that moment!

At the first break, my boss turned to me and asked me what I thought. I replied ‘yes, I think he’s quite good, he’s got some interesting things to say, but it’s a little bit ‘basic’.

My boss said ‘Andy, you’re wrong. This isn’t basic. This is fundamental to your success’. His belief was that anyone who called it ‘basic’ thought it was below them, they didn’t need to pay attention to them, and they did it all ‘naturally’, without having to worry about any of it! He said to me ‘Andy, these things are FUNDAMENTAL to your success. Another way of describing them would be CRITICAL. Or ESSENTIAL. These are things that you need to be doing on a DAILY basis to ensure that you get as many sales in as you can. If you want to be successful that is…..’

Learn The Lesson Of ‘Fundamentals’

That ‘lesson’ has always stayed with me. Because I think there’s a HUGE difference between ‘basics’ and ‘fundamentals’. If you dismiss something as ‘basic’, then you’re probably not going to do it, or be concerned about it.

If you think of something as ‘fundamental’, it’s something you’re going to focus on and make sure you do every single day to make sure you’re successful.

So for me, I think we should be thinking of things in terms of being ‘fundamental’ instead of ‘basic’. I’ve made a list of things below that I consider fundamental to the success of a salesperson, or a business owner.

So, take a look at the list below. And look at how many that you currently DON’T have in place. Then give me a call on 0845 130 6779, or contact me here and I’ll see how I can help!

List Of 10 Sales Fundamentals You Should Have In Place

1. A written, focused sales plan.
2. A ‘perfect customer’ profile
3. An ‘irritational 25’
4. ‘Blocked out’ new business prospecting time (no distractions and never moved!).
5. A structured, customer focused Opening Statement.
6. A minimum of 20 Sales Questions of at least 5 different types, designed to make the customer think.
7. An individual client referral strategy.
8. A monthly sales meeting (even if you’re a 1-person business, you still need to ‘meet’ with yourself weekly to focus on sales!)
9. A training and development plan for each employee that has a ‘responsibility’ for sales – otherwise how can you expect them to improve?
10. A sales-focused Social Media strategy for driving sales leads through your sales funnel.

Feb 11

Selling At Exhibitions: Stupid Mistakes Salespeople Make….

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains the stupid mistakes salespeople make at exhibitions….and what you need to do to make sure you don’t make the same errors…..


I got some great feedback on an article I wrote previously entitled ‘How To Lose Business At Exhibitions’ with a lot of people saying how it had helped them get better before their next exhibition, and how useful it was etc etc.

However, after attending the ‘Destinations’ exhibition at Earls Court in London at the weekend, either the salespeople there hadn’t read that article, or were ignoring it as they seemed to be doing their best to lose their company and potential sales leads and business that could be gained from it!

I realised it was time for another article – but this time to be more specific on the stupid mistakes that salespeople (or anyone ‘manning the stand’) make that cost them leads, business, and the company valuable sales!

Stupid Mistake No 1 – Judging Prospects By Their ‘Name Badge’

I’ve seen so many salespeople do that at exhibitions it’s ridiculous! Far too many people ‘gaze’ at prospects’ name badges, in order to find out their job titles, to see whether they’re worth talking to or not!

Prospects know you’re doing this – as the salespeople on pretty much every stand they’ve walked past so far have done that to them as well! They tire of this very quickly. You might as well be saying ‘Excuse me. Do you mind if I stare at your name badge in a really weird kind of way? I’m just looking at your job title to find out whether you’re worth talking to or not. If so, great! I’ll be really nice to you. If not, move along. And don’t think you’re taking one of our chocolates either!!’

Experienced exhibition visitors (myself included) will go to exhibitions and either not fill in the correct details on the name badge (because we don’t want to be ‘leapt’ upon by every salesperson), or give a more junior job title – because we know that salespeople won’t bother us if we do! How many of those prospects are you missing out on by using your current approach?

Stupid Mistake No 2 – Drinking Too Much The Night Before

I thought long and hard about including this one. Every time I thought about I wondered ‘surely salespeople know this isn’t a good idea?’ and ‘surely I don’t have to remind them not to do it?’ Unfortunately based on the exhibitions I’ve attended recently, I do!!

Even though salespeople KNOW this is a bad idea, somehow they always end up doing it! The idea of ‘just going for one or two’ turns into quite a few, a late night and usually a VERY large hangover the next morning!

Being on an exhibition stand when you’re hungover is not a very pleasant experience. Either for you, your colleagues or your prospects. You look awful, feel awful and smell awful. And no matter what you do, people can tell. Imagine the impression you’re giving if you’re best client turns up unexpectedly, or your best prospect walks up? Not good.

Whenever you have to be on a stand the next day, avoid drinking at all costs! If you don’t, you’re costing yourself leads, sales and your company valuable business. Not to mention probably creating an HR issue as well. Don’t do it!

Stupid Mistake No 3 – Not Being ‘Welcoming’ Enough

Far too many people aren’t ‘welcoming’ enough on their stands. Prospects are walking around looking at various companies while their salespeople are busy talking to each other, not looking around for potential prospects that would like to engage in conversation, stood with their backs to prospects etc etc.

Some prospects aren’t necessarily confident to ‘march’ right up to you on the stand and ask for details of your latest product or service! They’ll ‘linger’ a little off the stand, trying to work out what you do and if they want to engage or not. If you and your stand look more ‘hostile’ than ‘welcoming’ they’ll move on to one of your competitors instead!

Start being ‘alive’ and ‘awake’ to opportunities with prospects who are lingering just off your stand itself. Look for opportunities to engage them and make them feel more comfortable talking to you, rather than driving them away.

Stupid Mistake No 4 – ‘Breaking Down’ The Stand Too Early

This is one of the stupidest mistakes of all! I think this has happened at EVERY exhibition I’ve ever been too, but it was very noticeable at the ‘Destinations’ one last weekend.

The exhibition’s last day was Sunday, where it was due to close at 5.30pm. At 4.30pm, not only were a number of people ‘breaking down’ their stands and packing up, but some had already done so and their stand was empty! Are these people crazy?!!

There were still prospects walking around the exhibition at 5.20, never mind 4.30!! When I went over to a few stands and said them ‘you’re packing up early aren’t you?’, guess what their responses were? ‘Well it’s been a long weekend’, ‘We could do with getting home now’ and ‘We want to get a head-start on the traffic’.

Now, whilst I realise that exhibitions can be tiring, how ridiculous are those statements?!! How could they know that some of their best prospects weren’t coming to look at those times? What about the impression it had on potential customers if they say a stand being packed up, or worse still completely empty?

What kind of impression might that give someone? In the economic climate maybe even that you’re gone out of business? Or that you can’t afford to pay for the stand? Neither of these are very good impressions to give people, are they?

There is NO EXCUSE for packing a stand up early. Ever.

Stupid Mistake No 5 – Various Related ‘Stupid Mistakes’

Here are some more ‘stupid mistakes’ that you need to make sure you’re not making. They’re all ‘related’ to each other, so I’ve included them all together here. I’ve seen all of these personally at exhibitions over the past year, so don’t think people don’t do them!…..

Eating On The Stand – I’m astounded how many times I see this! Why on earth would you want to eat or drink in front of a potential customer? Would you go to see them at their offices, and then pull out a pre-packed sandwich from your case and start to eat it in front of them? So why are you doing the same thing at an exhibition? Bizarre!

Sitting Down – Now, I know exhibitions can be tiring, but sitting down does not show you in a good light. If you really have to do (on the stand), then make sure your stand is designed so you can sit on bar stools, rather than anything at normal ‘chair’ height. If you’re sat down, the unconscious message you’re sending to prospects is that they have to ‘disturb’ you to speak to you. So they probably won’t bother!

Reading A Book On The Stand – Even more stupid than the last one! I saw a lady on a stand at an educational show last year break out a book and start reading it on the stand! What faster way of showing people you’re not interested in them is there than that?!!

Texting Or Using Your Mobile Phone – You’ve just found the faster way than the reading example above! I’ve lost count of the amount of salespeople that I see sat down (see above) and texting on their stand – meaning they’re looking down at their phone, not at potential prospects!

Even worse is making/taking calls on their mobile – you might as well say to people ‘I’m more important than you because I’m on my mobile phone. And the person I’m talking to is more important than you, everyone else here, and the amount of the money the company has paid me and the exhibition company to be at this event otherwise I’d wouldn’t be on the phone, would I?’

Pathetic! There is NO EXCUSE for being on your mobile on your exhibition stand! If you were in a client meeting, you’d turn it off wouldn’t you? So why don’t you do that now? And if you really do HAVE to make/take a call, why not get a colleague to cover you, while you step off the stand to make it. Not hard is it?

Follow the steps above and make sure you don’t make these mistakes and lose valuable leads, sales and your company business at exhibitions in future….

You can ask any questions about this article or sales in general, by contacting Andy here

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on..

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker. He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here

Jan 22

5 Tips For Selling On The Upturn…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains 5 things you need to consider right now, to give yourself and your team the best chance of taking advantage of the ‘upturn’………


This month in the UK, we’re officially ‘out’ of the recession, according to The Guardian newspaper, which still contrives to somehow make the story sound negative! Funny how coming out of the recession hasn’t got nearly as much media coverage as when we went into it, isn’t it?

The savvy salespeople and companies right now are getting ready to take advantage of the upturn. Are you really fully prepared and ready?

If not, don’t worry, here are some tips on how to get yourself in the best position and maximise the opportunities that will come your way……

Sales Tip No 1 – Write A Sales Plan

If you’re a salesperson, you need to have a written sales plan of how you’re going to exceed your sales target. Notice I said ‘exceed’, not ‘achieve’ there. That was a little nudge 😉 If you’re a sales manager, you need to have a written sales plan. If you’re a sales director, you need to have a written sales plan. If you’re a business owner, you need to have a written sales plan. Anyone notice a pattern here?!!

There is NO excuse for not having a written sales plan. The most common one I hear when I mention this to people are ‘oh but Andy, I don’t have the time to write a sales plan’. Wrong. You don’t have the time NOT to write a sales plan!

The second most common one I hear is ‘oh but Andy, I don’t need a sales plan. I can sell my product or service to pretty much anybody’. Wrong again! You probably need a sales plan more than anyone else to be better targeted in your business development and lead generation efforts!

Sales Tip No 2 – Focus, Focus, Focus

Now you’ve got your written sales plan, the next step is to make sure you’re focused! Focusing has been forced on a lot of people as the recession hit, with many companies noticing a drop-off in incoming enquiries and sales leads.

This forced their sales team to concentrate harder on those opportunities, and focus more on each opportunity individually – and how they were going to get it to convert into business. If the market is starting to pick up for you and your team, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of taking those enquiries for granted – as some companies had done before the recession really hit them.

And if you’re starting to get lots more enquiries, your sales plan will help you focus on the best opportunities, and the ones you and your team are most likely to convert!

Sales Tip No 3 – Work To Your Strengths

This is an important point, and one that’s often missed. One important thing here is to be aware of (and manage) your energy levels. Back when I was a sales manager, I had one rep that truly was a ‘morning’ person – jumping around at 8.30 in the morning, yet when 3pm came he was almost asleep!

He’d tried a number of things to solve this problem – what he ate and drank, exercise and even how much sleep he got – and nothing seemed to have an effect!

We then decided to play to his strengths, and re-arranged his diary to take advantage of his energy levels. We made his ‘new business’ activity (cold calls, new business appointments etc) in the morning, and existing client calls and paperwork in the afternoon. Month on month his sales went up fifty percent! Amazing.

If you’re a manager or a director, are you playing to the strengths of your team? Are you asking account management staff or sales admin staff to do ‘new business’ sales roles? Are you asking marketing staff to make cold calls? Think about what the best use of your resources is right now……

Sales Tip No 4 – Block Out Time For Prospecting

This is something I’m very keen with my clients. I’ve lost count of the times people have said to me ‘oh but Andy, we don’t have time for prospecting/cold calling’ or ‘I know I should have made some calls today, but things just got in the way’.

There is NO excuse for not prospecting. Sales Managers and Directors all over the world continually get frustrated with salespeople who ‘ride the sales rollercoaster’ – a good month, followed by a bad month, followed by a good month, followed by a bad month – you get the idea!

This is usually because the salesperson has become so busy dealing with their leads that they ‘haven’t had time for prospecting’ – leading to a lack of leads for the following month – which leads to a lack of sales! So why does this keep happening? Because we let it!

Everyone should block out time for prospecting. It should be the most important thing in your day! The first thing IN your diary, and the last thing OUT of your diary! Too many salespeople don’t prospect because it’s easier to deal with existing customers etc – then they complain when they miss target the following month!

Sales Tip No 5 – Get Motivated

It’s interesting that already this year, how many companies are calling me and asking me to come in and help motivate their sales team. Companies that want to ‘steal a march’ on their competitors are looking to get better results from their teams – whether it’s an internal team making appointments for field sales, or an external team that the company wants to perform better.

Motivation is an area that’s vital to the success of yourself or your team. It’s not unusual for people that have been on sessions with me to have doubled or tripled their performance, whether that’s in terms of numbers of appointments booked, or in sales they’ve made in the months after the session.

Many organisations make the mistake of ‘assuming’ their salespeople are already motivated. Yet in my experience, most salespeople generally work between 30-50 percent of their potential.

If you’re a manager or a director, what steps are you taking right now to work on the motivation of your team? If you’re the salesperson, what would it take for you to get and feel more motivated right now? And then go and do it! And don’t say ‘more money’. That’s known as commission 😉

You can ask any questions about this article or sales in general, by contacting Andy here

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on..

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker. He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here

Jan 04

Sales Lessons From 2009…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what sales lessons you should have learnt from 2009…. and what you need to do differently to be more successful in 2010…..


2009 was an interesting year for many salespeople and business owners I’ve been speaking with recently. Whilst some had a successful year, many others were grateful for making the sales they did, and some were grateful to make it through the year at all!

2009 had some interesting lessons in terms of sales and sales tactics, things we should all learn from whether we’re a salesperson, sales manager, director or business owner.

Follow the tips below and watch your sales soar in 2009!…..

(This is a shortened version of the full article. To get a copy of the article in full, go to http://www.andy-preston.com/ask-andy/ and ask nicely ;-))

Sales Lesson Number One – Prospect Continuously

If 2009 taught you nothing else, it taught you that you can’t always rely on your existing customers to hit your sales targets! 2009 was the year that existing customers were looking for ways to cut costs in their businesses – and maybe you and your product or service were one of those costs?

Prospecting should be done on a continuous basis, not just when you’re quiet!

Sales Lesson Number Two – Control The Sales Cycle

2009 highlighted the need for the salesperson to control the sales process more than ever before! It was the year where customers started asking for ‘quotes’ regularly, but then didn’t seem to proceed with the order quite as fast!

In a lot of cases, prospects were trying to get a ‘feel’ for how much it would cost, before trying to get approval for the spend, which often wasn’t forthcoming! Therefore if salespeople weren’t careful, they’d end up doing lots of ‘running around’ for very little reward!

Sales Lesson Number Three – Know More About The Competition

Again, 2009 showed us that we have to be sharper in this arena. Many companies were finding increased competition when trying to sell their products or services, and often this was happening in existing accounts as well!

If you truly want to be able to sell against your competition, you’d better know them – inside and out.

You want to know about their marketing and promotion, their sales campaigns, their products and services, where they’re strong (and weak), and if you’re based in a regional areas – your competitors sales rep for that territory and their selling style!

Sales Lesson Number Four – Write A Sales Plan

Whenever I mention this topic at an event that I’m speaking at, I’m often amazed how few people have a proper sales plan in place! I mean a specific document, written down, with a focused plan of how the individual, team or business is going to win business for the forthcoming year.

Without a proper sales plan in place, most people will miss opportunities that they could have converted, and miss other opportunities they weren’t even aware of.

Not the best thing to happen in a tough market, so start your year off well and get a written sales plan in place, right now!

Sales Lesson Number Five – Examine Your ‘Selling Level’

2009 was the year that purchasing and ‘sign-off’ responsibility shifted somewhat. Managers or department heads that were previously able to sign-off quite large sums of money were ‘reigned in’ somewhat, and Directors and Owners started taking more interest in exactly where the company’s money was being spent.

This means that all the salespeople that were selling at ‘user’ or ‘manager’ level found that decisions we’re going ‘above’ – and that they weren’t coming back as positively or as quickly as previously might have happened!

Sales Lesson Number Six – Ask Better Questions

If you or your team are still asking mainly ‘fact-find’ questions of prospects you’re calling or going to see, then you’ll probably be one of the first to be left behind in 2010!

If your prospects and clients are looking at other vendors, and your phone calls and meetings are conducted knowing you’re not the only supplier they’re talking to, one of the biggest things that will differentiate you is your questioning ability.

How does yours (or your team’s) currently measure up?

Sales Lesson Number Seven – Look At Who’s Involved

As businesses have ‘re-engineered’ themselves and their business offering over the last few months, for some companies that’s meant re-shuffling their staff and their responsibilities. This is worth looking at closely from a sales point of view however, as we want to make sure you aren’t losing any opportunities through any re-structuring or re-organisation.

Have a think right now, who’s making the calls to try and get appointments for the field sales team? Highly sales trained individuals? Or have you got people from marketing or sales admin making those calls? How many meetings could you be missing out on right now?

Or how about the incoming sales enquiries? Highly trained sales staff with an incoming call structure and questioning process? Or are you just leaving the admin staff to answer those valuable sales calls? How much could that be costing you in lost opportunities right now?

Sales Lesson Number Eight – Don’t Miss Existing Opportunities

2009 taught us that far too many people took their existing customers for granted. Never forget that your customers could well be on your competitors prospect list!

Are you regularly in touch with all your existing customers? Are you up-to-speed on what their plans are for the next few months as they re-focus their businesses? Are you working to increase your number of contacts in each of your clients? Are you ‘on top’ of every single potential opportunity?

Sales Lesson Number Nine – Focus On Your Pipeline

2009 was the year that whoever was in charge of the sales team realised how lazy they’d become! I’ve spoken to Sales Managers that had stopped doing sales meetings, stopped doing field visits with their team and stopped checking their sales reps pipelines! How crazy is that?

When I’d ask them when was the last sales meeting they conducted with their entire team, they’d say things like ‘well I’d rather have them out in the field’, ‘it costs a lot to get them together for a whole day’ or ‘I don’t know what we’d do for an entire day’. Hmmmm. Doesn’t give you a lot of faith, does it?!!

When was the last time you had a sales meeting in your company out of interest?

Sales Lesson Number Ten – Work On Your Sales Skills

2009 taught us that many of the basic sales skills that are needed for success in a sales role had been ‘taken for granted’ – yet were lacking in a large number of the companies and the salespeople I spoke to!

Last year was the year where sales skills mattered far more than in years previous. Prospects were taking longer to make decisions, higher level decision makers were getting involved, ROI needed to be proven at every stage, more competitors were involved in every sale and prospects were looking to negotiate all your profit out of every deal!

How did you and you team’s sales skills measure up? And what are you going to do to improve that this year?

You can ask any questions about this article or sales in general, by contacting Andy here

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on..

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker. He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2009. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here

Jan 04

The 10 Biggest Sales Mistakes People Make On LinkedIn – Part Two……

By Andy Preston | Digital Selling

In part two of this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains that although LinkedIn is one of the best business development tools available, many people don’t use it properly, and even worse – make mistakes that actually LOSE them sales, rather than WIN them…..

Whenever I’m talking to salespeople or business owners about online sales tools, the one that they mention most often is LinkedIn. Yet I’m often amazed at how many people admit they don’t really use it properly – and even those that ‘think’ they’re using it properly don’t get the sales results they could from it.

Even worse that, some people make various ‘sales mistakes’ over LinkedIn – often without realising – that cost them valuable leads, connections and ultimately sales.

If we’re not connected already, connect with me here – Andy’s LinkedIn Profile – for specific ideas on how to get better results for your time spent on there, but in the meantime, here are the 10 biggest sales mistakes people make on LinkedIn……

Sales Mistake Number 5 – Only Using It For Name Gathering

Magnifying GlassThis mistake is more common amongst people that have been using LinkedIn for a while, and is particularly prevalent if you’re in recruitment. LinkedIn was mainly a CV site up until about 18 months ago, when more business development tools were introduced that expanded the scope of the site.

Therefore most recruiters would have had a ‘presence’ on there for a number of years, and while a few years ago the main focus of the site was to gather names and candidates, LinkedIn has advanced massively since then – and to still be only using it for ‘name gathering’ means you’re missing out on 90% of the potential value of the site.

If your industry does a lot of cold calling for example, why would you only use a site like LinkedIn to get the name of a decision maker, then pick up the phone and cold call them? Why wouldn’t you use the tools that Linkedin now offers to get in touch, develop rapport and qualify business opportunities in a different way?

If you just use it to get a ‘name’, then pick up the phone and cold call that person, that’s not really helping you to stand out from your competition, is it?

Sales Mistake Number 4 – Limiting Your Network

Now this is where myself and LinkedIn differ. LinkedIn’s general attitude is that you should only connect with people you know. My attitude is that you should connect with the majority of people. Depending on their business, sometimes my advice to people is not to connect with their competition, but other than that, I’m a big fan of being a ‘open networker’.

Anyone that ‘limits’ themselves to only connecting with people they know well, yet is on LinkedIn for business development purposes is missing out on the massive business development potential LinkedIn offers.

For example, if someone you want to contact is a 2nd level connection to you, you can get an introduction through someone you are directly connected with – but if they’re a 3rd level connection or worse, that introduction is a lot less likely to happen.

At some level, the more connections you have, the more likely it is that someone you are directly connected with will know that person – and facilitate the introduction. So if you’ve only got a small number of connections, you’re likely to miss out!

In addition, your ‘status’ or ‘update’ posts are posted onto the home page of every one of your LinkedIn contacts – so why on earth wouldn’t you want them to go to as many people as possible?

Sales Mistake Number 3 – Expecting A Fast Return

Another mistake most people make on LinkedIn is to expect a fast return. Now in some cases you can get a fast return in terms of a good contact that turns into business quickly, but like ANY networking LinkedIn should be part of a longer-term strategy.

You don’t need to spend a huge amount of time on LinkedIn to get very good sales results from it, but you do need to have certain fundamental things in place to get the best from it. Part of your LinkedIn strategy should be to put those things in place FIRST, then set about doing your LinkedIn activity to take advantage of those fundamentals – and not making the mistake most people make which is to try and do activity first, without having those critical things on your profile!

Your behaviour on LinkedIn, the information you put on your profile, your activity within groups you belong to, and pretty much EVERYTHING you do on LinkedIn should have the longer-term strategy in mind, otherwise you’ll burn bridges – and fast!

Sales Mistake Number 2 – Not Using ‘Groups’ Properly

The ‘groups’ area of LinkedIn is one of the most useful for the people who are looking to develop new business and new customers from LinkedIn. However, most people don’t use it effectively – some because they don’t know what to do, and some because they don’t want to dedicate time to it – because they haven’t seen the results quick enough (refer to the last point!)

The groups area (when used properly) is one of the best places for new business development. You can join groups where members have similar interest (Golf, Running, Cars for example), similar geographical areas, an association or trade body, or for a professional interest.

Joining these groups instantly gives you ‘commonality’ with others – which helps when generating rapport with others – which is an essential stage if you want to get ‘engagement’ with others and ultimately do business with them.

However, WHAT you do in these groups is more important than just joining them. How you interest with others. What threads you interact on. What threads you start. How you put together your posts to ensure the appropriate people read the, – and take the action you want – is all about putting the right strategy into action.

Sales Mistake Number 1 – Not Getting Feedback’


Another common mistake most people make on LinkedIn is not getting feedback on their profile and how they’re doing! And I don’t mean getting feedback from just ‘anybody’ – I mean getting feedback from someone who is getting RESULTS from LinkedIn, in terms of incoming sales enquiries or business conducted from it.

I’m often amazed at people that spend large amounts of time on LinkedIn yet haven’t taken the time to put important parts of their profile together properly, and that means that the effect of all their ‘activity’ is being limited by people not taking action when they click on their profiles!

For anyone that is concerned about the effectiveness, or the results they’re currently getting from their LinkedIn profile, connect with me here – Andy’s LinkedIn Profile – and I’ll happily take a look at it, and give you some ideas of what you need to do.

I also run a LinkedIn group dedicated to improving your sales performance, so if you’d like to join that as well, the link is here – LinkedIn Sales Group

To get the other 5 Biggest Sales Mistakes Most People Make On LinkedIn, go to www.andy-preston.com/ask-andy and request ‘LinkedIn article’.

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..

About The Author:

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker

He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here
Dec 27

Your Problem With Cold Calling Isn’t Cold Calling…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why cold calling is such a big issue for many…..and why vital first stages should be completed before a cold call is made…..


Cold calling is one of the things most people seem to ask me for help with, usually because they want to get better results from it – although some people like to avoid it altogether! However for a smaller business, often the problem with their cold calling isn’t cold calling – it’s something earlier in the process that’s causing them problems later on.

Now, whilst in these circumstances getting better at cold calling can help, it’s sometimes more important to look earlier in the process, to ensure you’re giving yourself and your team the best chance of success when it comes to the phone call.

Let me give you some examples we’ve uncovered whilst working with clients recently….

Problem Number 1 – Poorly Planned Sales Process

This is a common problem that occurs far more often than it should! Whether it’s the manager, director or business owner that hasn’t thought the process out fully, or that the salesperson just hasn’t ‘got their head around it’, either way this needs looking at before the sales calls start!

An important point to look at here is what has happened prior to the call you’re about to make? And compare that to what should have happened! Has the person responded to an advert? Have they come from a web enquiry? If it’s a ‘pure’ cold call, where have you sourced the data from and what is it like?

If it was a response to an advert for example, what ‘filtering’ have you done on the advert? Did you want only the good quality enquiries (useful for a small sales team that can’t handle larger call-volumes, and salespeople with less experience), or did you want all the enquiries you can get, so you can use your sales skills to try and get a positive outcome when you call?

The more ‘filtering’ you have done, the ‘warmer’ the enquiry is, generally speaking. I’ve seen far too many companies do too little filtering – usually because they naively think that the more responses they get, the better the advertising worked! It just means you’ve got lots of ‘follow-up’ calls with people who are less interested – which becomes a problem if you don’t do a lot of cold calling and aren’t used to the rejection!

Problem Number 2 – Poor Handling Of Initial Enquiry

Think about this for a moment. If your enquiry comes in over the phone, who is the person who takes that call? Someone that’s been well trained in sales? Someone who’s completely conversant with the campaign that generated the lead and knows everything about it? Someone you can rely on to have the best chance of converting that enquiry into business?

Far too often companies spend large amounts of money on websites, advertising, branding and marketing campaigns, yet when those campaigns generate an incoming lead, they fail to deal with it properly! They fail to invest in the most critical part of the process – the part that could win or lose them the business – the training of the person handling the incoming enquiry!

If it’s an enquiry that came in via your website, how quickly do you respond to the enquiry? Within a few hours? Or is it more like days? Some people I’ve talked to recently often don’t respond to them at all!! Hands up all of those who respond to the email or web enquiry with an email. You deserve to be shot! This is the main (or perhaps the ONLY) opportunity to engage the prospect into your sales process and you’re going to do it by sending an email? Dear oh dear….

If it was a telephone enquiry, what questions do you or your staff ask that person? Questions that just get the ‘facts’ or the ‘details’ of what they want? Or do you ask questions that uncover buyer motivation, desire, needs, control the call and win the business (and a new customer) at the end of it?

Problem Number 3 – Wrong (Or No) Focus On The Call

The third thing you needed to think about is the call itself. A common problem with people making cold calls or follow up calls is that they fail to consider what outcome they want from the call BEFORE they make it!

Are you trying to make an appointment from the call? A sale? Trying to get the prospect to visit you? A conference call? If none of those, what specifically are you trying to achieve?

Far too many calls are made without an objective in mind. Those are the sort of calls that tend to ‘drift’ – with little or no control from the salesperson – that give the recipient the impression that there wasn’t a clear reason for the call, nor for the conversation they’re now having – therefore they want to get out of it as quickly as possible!!

Your call structure needs to be designed and delivered with your outcome in mind! Otherwise, the prospect is far more likely to achieve THEIR objective from the call (in some cases theirs is to get rid of you!) than you are to get yours!

Problem Number 4 – Lack Of Confidence With Selling In General

If this relates to you directly, don’t worry. The majority of people I’ve worked with have some challenges with confidence at some point – and some on a regular basis!

As companies have ‘re-engineered’ themselves over the last few months, in a number of cases it’s meant that non-traditional sales staff are now having to handle parts of the sales process as part of their role. These staff members didn’t sign up for a sales job, but are now having to do sales activities – whether they like it or not!

Whether it’s a marketing person making sales calls trying to get appointments for field sales representatives, or an administrator handling incoming sales enquiries, if they aren’t confident with the activity they’re undertaking, that means less effective calls, lost opportunities, and therefore – lost sales!

Any person tasked with taking on any element of ‘sales responsibility’ within a company needs to be confident with that aspect of sales. A lack of confidence in any element of the sales operation can be a source of lost sales – something most businesses can’t afford at the moment.

It’s vital that action is taken to equip all team members with the mindset, skills and confidence required in order to maximise sales opportunities right now. Otherwise you could be virtually gifting business to the competition….

You can ask any questions about this article or sales in general, by contacting Andy here

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on..

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker. He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2009. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here

Dec 03

Sales Lessons From The Dubai Rugby 7’s…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what sales lessons we can learn from the Dubai Rugby 7’s……and how we implement them to benefit ourselves…..


Whenever I write a ‘Sales Lessons From…’ article, people often initially think ‘what on earth has this got to do with my business?‘, or ‘how can I relate this to my sales role?
However, they’re often surprised when they read more of the article how much they actually can get from it, and often change their personal or business approach as a result….

I’ve been to the Dubai 7’s a number of times now, but this year as well as the global recession, Dubai itself has been particularly badly hit. There are various ‘lessons’ that can be learnt from this year’s 7’s tournament that particularly apply to business, and to sales. Have a look below and see what you think….

Sales Lesson Number 1 – Don’t Be Afraid Of ‘Downsizing’

In the past, the Dubai 7’s has attracted around 50,000 people. This year, because of the ‘credit crunch’ and Dubai being hit particularly hard, it was more like 30,000. Now the stadium was therefore only going to be two thirds full at best. Therefore the organisers took action based on this – by putting netting over the top tiers of the stands and cordoning them off – people therefore had to sit in the lower tiers – resulting in it looking busier and creating far more atmosphere than having people dotted about all over the place.

They’d also taken action to ‘downsize’ in other areas. Crucially however, it didn’t affect the atmosphere, the experience, or the enjoyment of the event! This is something that’s critical to try and retain in your business – even if you have to downsize in terms of capability, people or offering.

Many businesses have had to look particularly hard at themselves over the last few months. Looking at operations and how they could become more efficient. Looking at their service offering and how it could be ‘tweaked’ to get a better response from potential purchasers. Looking at their staffing levels and seeing whether people were in the best positions or had the best responsibilities to get the best out of themselves and add the best value to the organisation.

As a result, many organisations have had to ‘downsize’. Others however have been hesitant to take this step, hoping instead that the market will ‘return’ or they just need to ‘ride it out’ for a little longer. However it’s the companies that are able to deliver a good service efficiently that will be among the best-placed to take advantage as the market goes back up. And the ones that aren’t as efficient will be struggling….

Sales Lesson Number 2 – Don’t Give Others A ‘Head Start’

In rugby just as in business, you can’t afford to give your competitors a ‘head start’. After playing solid rugby and looking good as they moved into the semi-finals stage, England came unstuck against Samoa.

The problem wasn’t that England weren’t capable of beating them – they were. The problem was that Samoa had scored 3 tries before England had ‘woken up!’ It’s very difficult in a game lasting 7 minutes each half to come back from 3 tries down early in the game.

England had the skills, the players and the capability to win – yet giving Samoa that kind of head start ultimately cost them the game – and the chance to play New Zealand in the final.

In your business are you giving your competitors a ‘head start’ right now? Do you find yourself saying things like ‘we’re in survival mode at the moment’, ‘no one’s got any budget to buy from us’ or ‘let’s just get through the next few months?’ If so, you could well be giving your competition a ‘head start’ on new prospects, or even your existing customers!

Perhaps you or your team have also not been prospecting for new business as much as you could over the past few months? That’s certainly going to have an effect on your business pipeline for the following few months as well! Where else have you been giving your competitors a ‘head start’ on you recently?

Sales Lesson Number 3 – Pick Your ‘Team’ Carefully

Rugby 7’s is a different type of game to the 15-a-side equivalent. The pace is faster, with more emphasis on ‘explosive’ pace and the ability to keep and run with the ball, with far less emphasis on kicking.

The teams who do well at the 7’s game are the ones that pick their team carefully. Just looking at the players the successful teams pick you can see they’re focussing on being quicker than their opponents, with speed from a standing start a vital attribute. Ball handling skills are also key, as many turnovers happen in 7’s, so keeping hold of the ball is vital! The teams that do well have picked their team based on these factors.

When it comes to your business, how have you picked your team? Have you consciously picked the right blend of people with the right blend of attributes to succeed in the current market? Or are you left with people that are just doing that job because they’ve been there for a number of years?

How about if you were to start your business again tomorrow? What would you differently? Who would you assign into the job roles you’d create? Why would you pick them for the roles over others? What skills do they bring to the table that makes them ideal candidates for those roles? Are they the sort of people you can rely on in a difficult market to lead your company back to where you want it to be?

Sales Lesson No 4 – Make It Easy For People To Buy

Far too many companies make it too difficult for people to buy, especially when it comes to cross-selling or up-selling additional items!

At the Dubai 7’s, they’ve eliminated the problems of people queuing for drinks, then not having the right cash, plus the temporary staff that the organiser has hired pocketing large amounts of the cash takings!

You simply go and buy ‘tokens’ for food and drink at special booths, then getting your drinks and food is much simpler, much quicker and the organisers don’t have to worry about their temporary staff pocketing takings! It’s a simple but efficient way of doing things.

So, how can you apply the same principles in your business? How are you making it easy for people to buy from you (or buy more from you) currently?

Think about the ‘customer experience’ of people buying from you. What are you doing before or after they purchase that makes you stand out from your competitors? What ‘bottlenecks’ in your process are standing in the way of you getting more business from customers?

You can ask any questions about this article or sales in general, by contacting Andy here

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker. He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

You can also see more about Andy’s training for small businesses at www.salesbreakfast.net

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2009. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here