Category Archives for "General Sales Tips"

Oct 29

Why People Don’t Buy From You……

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips





I always find it interesting how many sales opportunities that salespeople or business owners miss out on, often that they could have won! If they realised how much that lost business was worth over a 12 month period, I’m sure they’d be quicker to do something about it!

There are many different reasons why a salesperson or business owner loses the sale, but here are 3 of the most common – and also the easiest to put right!

Sales Mistake Number 1 – Poor First Impression

I’m astounded how often people struggle to get this one right! Think about the first impression people have of your business. If you’re a salesperson, their first impression of your business might be you! That means looking smart, arriving on time (or early), and looking the person in the eye when you greet them. If people are coming to your premises, it might be things like how easily they can park, how your receptionist greets them, or the literature in your reception area for example.

An example of a business that often gets this wrong (as anyone who travels a lot knows) is a hotel. Think about one of your first impressions when you enter a hotel. The first interaction you normally have with staff is when you check in. What’s often one of the worst things about a hotel? That’s right, their checking-in procedure!

Think about it……. it’s 01:00am, you’ve been driving for 3 or 4 hours and you finally reach your hotel for the night. You’re tired, exhausted and just want to get to bed. You wearily drag your bags and suit carrier up to the counter to be greeted from a voice (coming from somewhere below the counter) with the immortal line ‘SURNAME?’ Resisting the opportunity just to reply with ‘Yes!’, you drop all your bags, answer their inane questions and fill in the registration card with all the same details you filled in online and that you’ve already given them the 14 times you’ve stayed with them so far this year!

What Could They Do Instead?

Now I might be slightly exaggerating in the above example, but not by much! Think about what action a hotel could take to improve the experience. How about if you were greeted with something like ‘Good evening sir. You’ve probably had a long journey. While I quickly check you in, I’ll get the porter to take your baggage up to your room straightaway – do you have your booking reference?’

How much extra effort does this take? Not much! Is it worth it for the impression it leaves the customer with? Of course!

Sales Mistake Number 2 – Not Taking A Genuine Interest

This is something that’s vital to generating more sales, yet is something that’s often overlooked. Far too many people don’t take a genuine interest in their clients!

Let’s use a retail store as an example. Most people have had the experience of going into a retail store looking to make a substantial purchase – usually electrical like a television, computer etc etc. However that experience often isn’t as good as it could be!

Particularly at the moment, when stores have cut back on the number of staff ‘on the floor’ and available to help. Now if there’s a shortage of staff it’s more of a management issue than something the individual salesperson can do anything about, yet the staff who are left don’t seem to take any interest at all in the potential customers, let along a genuine one!

I’ve seen many potential customers stood around, desperately looking for someone to help them make a purchase! They wait for ages (the ones that don’t get fed up and leave) then when someone finally comes along, they appear to have no interest in the potential customer, no interest in what they’re looking for, and definitely no interest in making the sale! What kind of behaviour is that for a salesperson?!!

However most salespeople and business owners make the same mistake to some degree. Most either don’t take enough genuine interest in potential clients – either they don’t the right questions to uncover needs, buying motivation and drivers to purchase, or they are too ‘self-focused’ and talk to much about themselves and their solutions!

What Could They Do Instead?

Be aware of customers looking for help. Engage them in conversation. Ask them what they want the product or service for, not just ask about the technical specification. Ask them better questions about reasons and drivers behind the purchase!

Sales Mistake Number 3 – Poor Last Impression

If your business would like repeat business, testimonials, or customers referring you to others then people’s ‘last’ impressions of your business are as critical as their ‘first’ impressions of your business!

However, most people don’t think about the last impressions of their business. Perhaps the last impression of your business is the delivery driver or courier? The person experience the customer has when paying for the goods or service? The package when it arrives at the customers offices?

Let’s take the ‘hotel’ example we mentioned in the ‘first impressions’ part above. What is the second most annoying process of being in a hotel? That’s right – checking out!

Think about it…. you queue up at the desk, behind people checking in and people just wanting directions etc, then when you finally get to the front of the queue you’re asked for your credit/debit card details again (the same ones you already entered online and the same one you already gave them when you checked in). Then you have to wait while they do yet another card transaction – when you’re in a hurry and all you want to do is leave! The best you can hope for at the end of this long-winded procedure is a mumbled ‘thank you’ from the receptionist!

Does that sort of experience inspire you to book that hotel again? Send them a testimonial? Recommend them to all your family and friends? I thought not.

What Could They Do Instead?

How about when you check out, they ask you if you’d like the payment to be taken off the same card you used when checking in? I know they can do this as one hotel offered to do this last week. That’s the only time in over 250 nights I’ve stayed in hotels over the past 18 months it’s been offered!

Or how about taking full payment when you check in, so you can leave quickly in the morning? How about the receptionists were trained to say ‘thank you for staying with us – here’s a voucher for 10 percent off your next stay with our compliments’. How much extra loyalty and extra business would that generate? Quite a lot I’d think!

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

Oct 18

Your Business Card Is …..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

This one is for all the ‘networkers’ who are always talking about what you ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ have on your business card…..there are also a few ‘reality’ tips below from me!

Please don’t watch the video if you’re easily offended – thanks to a printing client for sending me this….

What was your favourite part of the video? Mine was ‘it doesn’t fit in a rolodex….because it doesn’t belong in a rolodex!’ lol

Now onto the more serious tips!……

Andy’s Top 5 Tips For Business Cards

Tip No 1 – Get the best looking business card you can afford!

Remember, once you’re gone, all they have left to remember you by is your business card – so make sure it’s made a good impression!

This means getting it designed properly, and having your branding consistent with your website etc, so it’s a consistent message to would-be-clients.

Tip No 2 – Ignore the ‘rubbish’ people say about being able to write on it

So many so-called ‘experts’ talk about this. But far more important is the quality of the card and the design (see tip 1). Most people that talk about this say you should be able to write on the card so they can make notes to remember you by. Well if they can’t remember you to start with, you’re obviously not that memorable! That’t not a good sign!

If someone represents a genuine opportunity to you, it’s YOUR responsibility to follow up with those people – so keep those cards seperate from the others and get them in your CRM system or diary – fast – if they represent genuine opportunities to you.

Tip No 3 – Only pass cards to people you want to keep in contact with

From a sales point of view, there’s pretty much zero point in just handing out your cards to everyone and collecting theirs – unless you’re just keeping the printers in business!

Let’s face it – you’re not going to follow up with everyone anyway (unless you think that a ‘standard email’ is following up? I hope not!), so why bother? Ask for and keep the cards of the people you want to stay in touch with….

Tip No 4 – Have something memorable on your card

Have something memorable on your card that makes you stand out from your competitors. And by ‘memorable’, I don’t mean ‘cheesy!’ If you are the ‘face’ of your business, a picture is essential. Spot varnish and ‘cut outs’ are fairly inexpensive options these days to make you appear different. Otherwise, direct the recipient to an offer or certain part of your website designed to engage them with you and your company.

Tip No 5 – When face-to-face, exchange them at the start of the meeting

So many people get this wrong. If you’re in a face-to-face meeting with a client, exchange them at the beginning of the meetings. This saves the ‘awkward moments’ wondering about when it’s a good time to exchange them. Put the card on the table in front of you, so you can easily remember the client’s name and responsibilites – I’ve seen too many people forget the client’s name part-way through a sales meeting! Don’t let this happen to you….

Jul 10

Do You Need A Little Inspiration?….

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Every now and then everyone needs a little inspiration, don’t you agree?

As salespeople (or business owners who have to sell) it’s important that we keep our motivation levels as high as possible – particularly in the current climate, where we could be finding things tougher than usual, and getting more rejection and objections than previously.

Sport has links to selling, as it serves us by providing examples of excellence. Having done some work with professional sportspeople on peak performance, some of the traits required for suceess in that field mirror the traits required to become a top salesperson.

I saw the video below, and it reminded me about the pursuit of excellence. Watch and it and I DARE you not to feel inspired by it! There are some good sales lessons in it too, about persistence and not giving up (the first minute where he’s trying to get across the railings) calm and poise in difficult situations and about working hard on your skills to give a good performance when it matters!

Watch the video and let me know your favourite bit – mine’s probably the somersault off the tree at 3:05….

Enjoy the video!

Jun 12

What’s the biggest sales challenge right now?

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

I was talking with a group of salespeople and small business owners the other day, and they were telling me about the ‘sales challenges’ they’re experiencing at the moment.

Some commented that they were struggling to generate new sales leads, as their usual levels of incoming leads had slowed down somewhat.

Others commented that it was getting tougher to get meetings, or to get new potential clients to take them seriously.

Another group commented that getting commitment from clients and closing them down was their biggest problem.

So I’m interested to know – what do you think the biggest sales problem is for most salespeople (or business owners that have to sell) right now?

Enter your comments by using the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the page….

Best Regards


May 28

Launch of the Leeds Sales Breakfast – feedback……

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips



Leeds Businesses Get Early Morning Wake Up Call From UK Sales Guru

Small business owners and sales people in Leeds were put through their paces by UK sales guru Andy Preston after his Sales Training Breakfast Club arrived in Leeds.

During the early morning training session which started at 7.30am at The Village Hotel, Leeds South, Andy Preston addressed business owners and sales professionals from local businesses including BMW, Auditel and TLC Business Supplies, on how to win more business from cold calling.

“In the current climate, the ability to win new customers or gain more appointments over the phone is vital. I felt that is was particularly important for local businesses in Leeds to get the results they deserve from their cold calling activities” explains Preston, Director at sales performance company Outstanding Results.

Feedback From Attendees….

The event provided food for thought for many in attendance with Andy Ryalls from BMW commenting, “Andy has totally changed my mindset about the ‘worst’ part of my job’, and Jo Elsy from TLC Business Supplies said the session left her feeling ‘very positive’. Preston believes that it is critical to help boost the morale of small business owners and equip them with the skills they need to thrive, despite the downturn.

“We all know that small businesses are helping to keep the economy going yet most have little or no budget available to dedicate to sales training, but need to be good at selling to stay in businesses! The bitesize training given at the Sales Training Breakfast is perfect for busy business owners and sales people and is proving extremely popular both in the UK and abroad,” adds Preston.

The Sales Training Breakfast Club is hosted in a number of locations including London, Manchester and Dubai and is designed to help small business owners, consultants and salespeople get more sales and more customers every month. Launched in early 2008 by Preston, The Sales Training Breakfast Club was created specifically to help give businesses across the country access to quality sales training at a price they can afford.

Further Events….

The next Leeds Sales Training Breakfast will be held on 4th AUgust 2009 at the VIllage Hotel, Leeds South at 7.30am. For more details or to book a place, call Andy Preston on 0845 130 6779, or visit

The other Sales Breakfast events can be seen here –

Places are in high demand so early booking is recommended.

May 20

Why Your Cold Calling Isn’t Working……(part 2)

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips





In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why you’re not currently getting the results from your cold calling that you could be…..and what you can do about it to get the results you deserve……..

Please note: This is the second part of a 2-part article. To read the first part, go here now.

Whenever I’m talking to business owners or their sales teams, the topic of new business development and cold calling in particular always evokes interesting reactions.

Cold calling is one of those topics that everyone has an opinion on – even those that don’t do it! And the salespeople and business owners that do it normally fall into one of the camps – love it, loathe it, or tolerate it!

However, no matter which of those camps you or your team fall into, most people don’t get the results that they want from cold calling, so below are some reasons why that is the case, and also some ideas on what to do about it!

So why isn’t your cold calling working as well as it could be?…..

Reason No 5 – Wrong Attitude

I always find it interesting how many people start a cold calling session that are defeated before they even start! These people can always find an excuse for not doing the calls ‘oh I haven’t got the time’, ‘I’ve just got to ring a few existing customers first’ and ‘I just need to tidy my desk for the 17th time this week!’

And when they actually have to make some calls, they are convinced that decision makers don’t want to speak to them, that no one will buy because of ‘the recession’, that cold calling is a pointless activity and won’t work, etc etc.

What kind of impact does this sort of thinking have on the potential results of their cold calling sessions do you think? Might it be affected in a negative way? Of course!

Then, when it comes to handling objections, the same negative attitude and mindset affects them here as well. Let’s take the example above, where the salesperson has ‘decided’ that no-one is buying because of the recession.

What do you think will happen to that salesperson’s attitude the minute that the person they’re talking to says something like ‘we don’t have a budget’ ‘or we’re cutting back at the moment’? That’s right, they’ll say to themselves ‘see I knew it, no-one’s got any money at the moment because of the recession, maybe I should get out of sales and get another job?’

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But it’s happening a lot more than you’d think. What happening to trying to handle that objection, position back the value and re-close for the business? Didn’t even show up! All because the salesperson had the wrong attitude and had already ‘decided’ that the person wasn’t going to buy – and the first piece of ‘evidence’ that seemingly confirmed their suspicions, they gave up….

Reason No 6 – Lack Of Pride

I’m often astounded when I meet salespeople (and business owners who have to ‘sell’ as part of their role) that don’t appear to be proud of what they’re doing. Instead of being proud of themselves, their role, their company and their products and services, far too many salespeople sound like they’re almost ashamed instead!

Think about when you’ve ever received a call from someone trying to sell to you. If the person has sounded weak, uncertain and has started to apologise for the fact that they’re even calling you, what kind of impact has that had on your perception of this person, their company, and their products and services? My guess would be that it wouldn’t be particularly favourable!

I’ve even heard some salespeople say things like ‘oh I’m sorry to bother you’, or ‘sorry if this sounds like a sales call but…’ It IS a sales call! Be proud of the fact! Be proud of the fact you’re in sales, your company and your products and services, instead of apologising for them!

God knows what the potential customers think of the salespeople who apologise! Do those salespeople think the client’s going to say something like ‘there, there, it’s okay. I don’t mind this sales call. It’s okay, please go ahead and pitch me….?!!’

Sales is a difficult job to start with. Cold calling is even tougher. Why on earth would you want to make your job even more difficult by trotting out this kind of rubbish?!!

Reason No 7 – Lack Of Activity

Now I know some of you are going to complain about this one (those would be the sales whingers ;-)) But seriously – lack of new business activity is one of the biggest reasons salespeople don’t hit their turnover or profit targets.

And before any of you start banging on about ‘oh but Andy I want to make quality calls, not quantity’, let me explain further. I don’t mean that I want you to make lots of random calls with no direction, no quality and no value. What I mean is that I want you to make quality calls, I just want you to make more of them!

Let’s face it – no matter how poor (or how good) your sales skills are, based on your existing conversion rates if you make 10% more calls, you’re going to get to speak to 10% more decision makers, make 10% more meetings, 10% more proposals, and therefore 10% more business! Just from a 10% increase in activity alone!

Now if you were to read the rest of this article (and the first part) and work on your sales skills, you can increase your sales figures even higher…..and some of you could also increase your activity by more than 10% of course 😉

And this also comes back to ‘reason one’ that I mentioned in the first part of this article – that mentioned ‘preparation’. If you haven’t planned to do a cold calling session uninterrupted, how on earth can you expect to get in the ‘zone’ as athletes call it – ready, focused, motivated and call after call continuing with the same energy and enthusiasm that’s needed to help persuade people over the phone?

Reason No 8 – Lack Of (Or ‘Rusty’) Sales Skills

This is a topic that people are becoming more and more aware of in the current market. There is a general lack of sales skills, but especially so in the ‘new business’ and ‘cold calling’ arenas.

For far too long, cold calling has been viewed by some people as a ‘necessary evil’, something that ‘junior’ salespeople do, and generally looked on as something that people with a year or more of sales experience don’t have to do anymore. They’re wrong.

Cold calling and new business generation is something that every salesperson should do, regardless of age, seniority or experience. It helps to keep you ‘sharp’, being able to deal with the tougher objections (so when they come up from existing clients, you can deal with them easily) and helps you to fill your sales pipeline.

For some salespeople however, they’ve never developed those skills, possibly because they’ve been in more of an account management or ‘incoming’ sales role. It might also be that they haven’t had to cold call for a while and their skill are ‘rusty’ at best.

To be successful at cold calling and new business generation, you need to have a good level of skill at call openings, getting past gatekeepers, questioning, objection handling and closing at the very least! How do you currently rate yourself or your team in those areas? And when would be a good time to do something about it?!!

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

May 04

Why Your Cold Calling Isn’t Working……(part 1)

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips



In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why you’re not currently getting the results from your cold calling that you could be…..and what you can do about it to get the results you deserve……..

Whenever I’m talking to business owners or their sales teams, the topic of new business development and cold calling in particular always evokes interesting reactions.

Cold calling is one of those topics that everyone has an opinion on – even those that don’t do it! And the salespeople and business owners that do it normally fall into one of the camps – love it, loathe it, or tolerate it!

However, no matter which of those camps you or your team fall into, most people don’t get the results that they want from cold calling, so below are some reasons why that is the case, and also some ideas on what to do about it!

So why isn’t your cold calling working as well as it could be?…..

Reason No 1 – Lack Of Preparation

If this is you, you’re not alone! Most people fail to prepare for their cold calling sessions properly. You’d be astounded how many times I see people ‘start’ a cold calling session by looking for their list of people to call, trying to find their diary, finishing off an email, taking a call from an existing client, tidying their desk, going to get a drink or have a quick cigarette…pretty much anything but start making the calls!

Often, this means that the calling session that was due to start at 10.00 now really starts at about 10.40. Then, by the time the salesperson has made a few calls, the session is over! The salesperson might have achieved their objective of ‘avoiding’ the session, but has the session really contributed to the success of the business? Hardly!

Cold calling is best done in focussed ‘sessions’, with no interruptions. That means no emails, no incoming phone calls, no interruptions from colleagues, no going to get a drink etc – do all of that before the session starts. And if the session is meant to start at 10.00, then the first phone call should be at 10.00 – not 10.05, 10.10, or 10.20!

Reason No 2 – Lack Of Belief

A number of business owners and salespeople I meet still aren’t convinced that cold calling actually works, or could work for them and their company. And those people are usually the ones who have tried it (or are currently doing it) and aren’t getting the results that they could, or they haven’t tried it but have already decided that it won’t work!

I always find it interesting when I talk to people who have this belief as they often that that ‘cold calling just won’t work in my industry’. Then, when I ask them what they do, they are in the same industry as someone that I have trained that is getting great results from cold calling! Perhaps what the people with the negative beliefs really mean is – I’m not sure of the right approach that would make it work for me?

Whatever the reason, if you or your team is making cold calls with the belief that cold calling doesn’t work, do you think that might stand in the way of the potential success of your calls a little? Of course it will!

In my experience of making and listening to tens of thousands of cold calls in all sorts of industries, if you start with that sort of belief, your activity levels will be lower, your voice tone will be monotone and boring (instead of bright and enthusiastic), you’ll accept the first objection too easily and you’ll do anything to avoid doing the calls – so is it any wonder that cold calling isn’t working for you at the moment?!!

Reason No 3 – Inability To Deal With Rejection

This is always an interesting subject. This can affect anyone, particularly if you’re new to sales, new to cold calling, or only do it as part of your role. For example, if your role consists of mainly account management, if your boss has just told you that you need to start making cold calls, or you’ve started up your own business and need to start cold calling, then this could be affecting you right now!

Let’s face it – if you’re cold calling you’re going to face some rejection. Some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will give you objections. Some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will say ‘no’ directly to you. And some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will put the phone down on you fairly regularly.

When you’re cold calling, the majority of people you speak to are going to be hesitant, resistant and say no to you at some level. The point is, you’re not expecting to get a ‘yes’ on every call. You’re expecting that 90%, 95% sometimes even 97.5% of people are going to say no. The reason you’re calling is to get the smaller percentage of people that are going to say yes to you – yes I’ll consider you, yes I’ll meet with you, yes I’ll look at buying from you.

However if you can’t deal with (or learn to deal with) the rejection that you’re going to face, do you think that might stop you making the calls, or do your best to avoid it? Of course it will!

Reason No 4 – Failure To Stay Motivated

Cold calling can be difficult. And because of the amount of objections and rejection you face it can sometimes be difficult to stay motivated. However your failure to stay motivated could actually be causing you problems on your cold calls.

Many people I talk to find selling over the phone difficult. Particularly if your role involves selling face-to-face, or has done in the past. This is because when you sell face-to-face, you can read the other person’s body language, build rapport faster and watch their reaction when you deliver your price. However when you’re selling over the phone, all you have is your voice tone and your delivery.

And if your role involves a lot of cold calling, it’s very easy for your motivation levels to drop later in the day if you’re not careful! For many people cold calling is about sounding bright, enthusiastic, confident and certain. And all these traits can be heard in your voice tone, can’t they?

However, I’ve lost count of the amount of calls that have been made when the salesperson or business owner isn’t motivated. Their voice tone has gone from being bright and enthusiastic to bored, tired and disinterested. They might as well be saying ‘Hi it’s Andy from XYZ company… probably won’t be interested in what we have to offer…’ve probably happy with your existing supplier, so please put me out of my misery and tell me to go away, so I can ring someone else and hit my call target to get my boss off my back….’.

Now, you don’t have to be a genius to work out that making that sort of call is going to produce pretty much zero results, do you?!

This article is continued next month, where we look at 4 more reasons why your cold calling isn’t working for you. If you have any questions in the meantime, ask Andy your question 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

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

Mar 03

Sales Lessons From Manchester United’s Carling Cup Win……

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Manchester United’s win against Tottenham on penalties in the Carling Cup Final has been put down to goalkeeper Ben Foster pulling out a video ipod just before the penalty kicks started and watching previous footage of Tottenham’s penalty takers. Foster claims that doing this enabled him to better ‘guess’ where Tottenham’s penalty takers would place their kicks, and therefore give him an advantage in saving them! There’s more to this than meets the eye however, says leading Sales Expert Andy Preston, who explains what ‘sales lessons’ we can take from the incident……

It’s interesting that Ben Foster puts his success in the penalties down to watching the ipod video clips. There are some important things to note here than Ben himself probably isn’t aware of, that can have a positive effect when it comes to sales as well!

Let’s have a look at what positive impact the ipod ‘incident’ had on Ben, and how that relates to our own sales……..

Sales Lesson Number 1 – More Confidence

Do you think that purely by watching the video clips gave Ben more confidence about his ability to save the penalties? Of course it did! We all know that the good penalty takers don’t place the ball in exactly the same place every single time, but purely from watching the video clips, Ben would have had more confidence in his ability to save the kicks, right at the critical moment, just before the kicks were about to start.

Quick question – how often do you feel really confident before you pick up the phone, or go into a sales appointment?

Sales Lesson Number 2 – More Certainty

By watching the video clips of the kicks beforehand, do you think Ben felt more certain that he was going to save the kicks than he did before? Of course! Certainty is linked to confidence and is an inner feeling that you’re going to make something happen, no matter what. By being more certain in his abilities, Ben gave himself more chance of being successful in the penalty shootout.

Remember the quote from Hannibal? ‘I’ll either find a way or make one’. That is an example of certainty at work. It inspires the people around you as well, so could definitely have had an effect on Ben’s team mates taking the penalties as well. Just imagine a team starting a penalty competition with no confidence in their own goalkeeper!

Quick question – How certain do you feel that you’re going to do business with a prospect, prior to the call or appointment?

Sales Lesson Number 3 – Being Prepared

Preparation often leads to confidence. Without this step, often people’s confidence is affected. If he hadn’t watched those video clips, do you think Ben’s performance would have been affected in a negative way? Of course it would!

How often do you give yourself enough time to prepare for your sales calls or appointments? Enough so that you feel confident and certain in your ability to win the business?

Follow the tips above and watch for the massive improvement in your sales. I look forward to hearing about your successes!

Feb 27

How To Lose Business At Exhibitions!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why most companies struggle when it comes to getting business from exhibitions……and how some simple tips on what to do instead can make a huge difference……

As the market gets tougher, more and more people are turning to other ways of generating new business – cold calling, marketing and in particular, doing business through exhibitions.

Now for most businesses, their experience of exhibitions, conferences and roadshows is fairly limited. They have perhaps attended a few, maybe even exhibited at a few in the past, yet are still unsure as to how to get the best return-on-investment from them. In fact, when they do exhibit, they’re probably guilty of making some of the common mistakes that most people make when it comes to exhibiting.

The Common Mistakes That Mean You Losing Business At An Exhibition…..

Most people lose business at exhibitions because they commit some of the following common mistakes. Let’s look at these in turn and then what we can do to avoid them.

Mistake No 1 – Not Thinking About Your Outcomes Beforehand

This is a critical step that most people miss. It’s essential to think about what you want from an exhibition in advance! Is it to ‘showcase’ a new product? To gain new sales leads? To have a ‘presence’ for buyers and show them you’re still around and want their business?

You also need to think about what will make the exhibition a success for you. Is it number of new enquiries? Orders placed at the show? Orders that come in afterwards?

In addition, which potential customers are you hoping to meet at the show? Have you sent them specifically targeted invitations, perhaps to an event you’re hosting after the show starts?

Mistake No 2 – Trying To ‘Sell’ On The Stand

This is a huge mistake that most people make. Think about it – you’ve invested all that money, time and effort in having a presence at the exhibition, all the staff costs you’ve incurred for them attending, and you’re letting valuable sales leads ‘drift away’ because you’re caught up in conversations with other people trying to ‘sell’ them on what you offer? Big mistake.

Exhibitions should only be about the first part of your sales pipeline – meeting and qualifying your potential customer. Anything more and you’re going to be losing business because of the number of people you missed speaking to because you were too ‘caught up’ in trying to sell someone else what you offer.

Use the exhibition as a way of meeting, identifying and qualifying prospects, then you could potentially set up one-to-one meetings with prospects during the event in a quiet corner of the cafe, or an external venue. Alternatively why not do a presentation on your company after the show one evening, and arrange meetings after that?

You’ve paid good money for your company and your staff (and yourself!) to be at that exhibition. Don’t let valuable sales leads walk away because you’re too focused on one person.

Mistake No 3 – Not Being ‘On Top Of Your Game’

I’ve lost count of the number of exhibitions, conferences and roadshows where the company has spent a large amount of money on the exhibition stand, taken the majority of the sales team off the phones or the road in order to ‘man’ the stand for the event and then proceeds to allow (and in certain circumstances encourage) them to get seriously drunk in the evenings.

Now I’m the last person to stop someone enjoying themselves and having fun, but think about it. The amount of time, money and effort you’ve invested in the exhibition could go to waste if when the potential sales opportunity comes along, your salesperson isn’t at the top of their game and fails to deal with it properly.

At far too many exhibitions, salespeople appear visibly hung-over, tired, and sometimes even still smell of the previous night’s alcohol – not a great first impression for a potential new client, is it?

Exhibitions can be long days. You need all your energy and focus to maximise the sales opportunities that come your way, without ruining the opportunities before they even have a chance to get started.

Mistake No 4 – Not Following Up Properly

This is probably the biggest mistake of all! I regularly speak at exhibitions and conferences and I often go over to stands, engage the salespeople in conversation and show interest in their products and services. Usually they take my details (I give them my training company card) and I then wait to see how pro-active they are in following up my interest?

I reckon about 10% of the time I receive a phone call, and about 50% of the time I receive an email. That means that 40% of the time, I’m not getting any follow up from that company at all! And even more scarily 90% of the time, the salespeople don’t bother pick up the phone and call me! And I’m not alone – whenever I speak to others about this, those numbers seem to be about right for them as well.

So why would that be? Their company has spent all that time, effort and money to generate that lead, yet the salespeople don’t follow up? Here are three quick reasons that explain in more detail……

Reason 1 – Your Salespeople Didn’t Take The Exhibition Seriously

Some salespeople still see exhibitions as a chance to get away from work and get drunk on the company (see mistake number 4 above). They don’t take the leads seriously, see it as a hassle, and can’t wait to get back to ‘normal’ work.

Reason 2 – You Gave It To The Wrong Person To Follow Up

Another big reason is that you gave to the wrong person to follow up! A lot of the time, follow up is done by marketing departments or office staff, not trained salespeople – and then wonder why the leads don’t result in much business!

Reason 3 – You Left It Too Long!

People that are visiting exhibitions will probably be talking to you, and your competition. If they’re in the market for your product or service, they may well be talking to other suppliers outside the exhibition as well. Yet you’ve done the work, you’ve met the person, you’ve got the lead…..then what do you do? Wait a couple of weeks to follow it up? Hopeless!

Make sure if you’ve took the time, trouble and effort to get the lead in the first place, that you follow it up within 3 days, maximum!

Follow the tips above and watch for the massive improvement in your negotiations. I look forward to hearing about your successes!

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

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