Does Selling Exist Anymore?

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I’ve been in sales for a long time, so much so that I believe we are all in sales; I’ve written a previous blog about that. I love sales probably because as a consumer I love buying! I love a great sale, when the salesperson really listens to what you want and wows you with their level of attentiveness and personalised service.

I detest bad sales.

And unfortunately, over the years, more of us experience bad sales than good sales. So it’s no surprise that so many consumers view salespeople as possessing some very unsavoury characteristics. Most of us see sales people as pushy, privacy-invaders, cold callers, or those who will go to any lengths to close the sale.

Companies seek to attract and retain people who are ‘hungry’ for the sale, driven, ambitious, entrepreneurial. These are not bad characteristics – I admire them in people – and when combined with someone who is an excellent listener, make for amazing sales potential.

Unfortunately, whilst sales techniques have developed over the years, they perhaps haven’t changed and developed as much as the consumer base has.

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Mind Monopoly

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Nearly all businesses wish they had a monopoly in their field, to be the only provider. To not just lead the market, to be the market. It would provide a business with limitless profit potential, even if it didn’t generate advocacy from the customers it extracted profit from.

Because whilst businesses want to monopolise, customers generally hate it when they do. Customers want choice, and choice is good for price. Different providers in the same market create variations to meet individual needs, which generally drives prices down.

And businesses today have to fight harder than ever to catch the customer’s attention, to be heard above the competition, to engage them in “why choose us?”

So perhaps the goal now is to hold a monopoly of the consumer’s mind, rather than on the market. If you think about it, some businesses may have already achieved this with you…

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Are We Losing Trust in Trust?

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Our trust has been broken so many times that we no longer trust “trust”. What do I mean by that? Well, if someone says “trust me”, we’re becoming more inclined to respond sceptically or defensively.

The tele-sales rep tells us “I’m not trying to sell you anything!” because if they said they were trying to sell us something then we would not trust a word they said. Even though we don’t trust that they are not trying to sell us something… because we know that they are!

Politicians have broken our trust so many times that we no longer trust them. As a result there’s a surge in popularity for “rookie” candidates – the person who’s new to politics, the person without political experience. One reason, perhaps, that so many are finding Donald Trump an appealing candidate for the US Presidency.

Businesses have broken our trust. They’ve lied to us too many times. Banks have fixed rates, sold us products and services we didn’t want, weren’t eligible for, or didn’t even know we were buying.

Newspaper companies hacked phones… TV shows rigged telephone votes… the list of examples goes on and on…

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Quick Wins

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I’ve heard the phrase “quick wins” used for many years, usually in a business setting, when people refer to the actions that can be done easily and quickly to deliver the biggest results. Is there anything wrong with that desire? I mean, why not get the results you want in the shortest possible amount of time? That’s what we all want right?

It seems we also want this in our lives outside work. We’re always on the look out for a quick win, whether it’s to enable us to lose weight, make money or learn a new skill. It seems that whatever it is we want, we want it quickly.

The problem I have with “quick wins” is that, in my experience, a true “win” is rarely achieved quickly and if it is “quick” it generally isn’t that big a win.

We all have a desire for the best results with the least amount of effort, but I fear we have become lazy in believing that the best option is to always go for the quick win first. We become so obsessed with the concept of quick wins that we never get around to the long term actions needed to achieve our work targets or our life goals. As a result we jump from one quick win to another; seeking short term solutions to long term problems.

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The VF² Equation


Improving engagement, performance and results in the workplace are key focus areas within most businesses. But the way to achieve consistent success across these three areas seems to evade a great many employers, managers and leaders. In today’s blog post I share with you the equation that holds the answer:  VF².

VF² refers to Value, Future, Fun. It’s not an equation in a mathematical sense, but it is my equation to engaging people in their jobs, careers or calling.

In my experience VF² = engaged and productive individuals.

I’ve coached leaders on this for many years although sometimes, frustratingly, it can seem so basic and simple that they ignore it. Surely cracking a complex problem such as getting people engaged with their job is very complex – it just can’t be that simple? Can it?

But I tend to find that sometimes it’s the simple things, the small things, that can make the biggest difference.

So let’s look at the equation a little closer. Let’s break it down…

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The Evolution of Expectation

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Customer expectations have evolved, are still evolving and will continue to evolve. Customers have never had more choice, more opportunities to switch between providers and this puts pressure on businesses to tailor products and services to more readily meet the individual’s needs. To make it personal.

The variance of process is expensive for businesses. If you don’t have a standardised process it makes calculating the channel cost very difficult. If you can’t force customers down particular channels, if you can’t serve them all in roughly the same way it becomes very challenging. Businesses don’t exist without making a profit, and the traditional view suggests that variance challenges profit.

But customers don’t want standardisation, they want to be treated as individuals and as a valued customer. And if a business doesn’t make them feel like that then they’ll find a competitor who does…

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It’s Always A Sale

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You are always selling something, whether it’s a product, a service, an idea… or just yourself. In almost every situation you can imagine, you are selling.

Selling is not a bad thing, I love sales; I’ve worked in sales for many years. I love being sold to as much as I love selling to others – if I find an idea, product or service that I love, I will often slip into “sales mode” when I discuss it with friends or colleagues.

I think I’ve always enjoyed the excitement of selling something, the sense of solving problems, finding solutions and matching products to needs. I enjoy it even when there’s no cash exchanged or financial reward at the end – those times when I’m simply “selling” an idea or concept to someone.

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You Can’t Beat ‘Available’

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Businesses spend huge amounts of effort creating the best products, coupled with the best possible service experiences to meet the needs of their customers. They will spend vast sums of money marketing a product, showing the customer how amazing the product is and how perfectly it fufills their desires, aspirations and needs.

As customers we love this – we want products and services that ‘wow’ us. Who doesn’t want to walk into a great restaurant and be treated like a returning friend or VIP? Who doesn’t want the ‘free’ upgrades? Who doesn’t want the latest gadget that works so intuitively you can operate it without reading any instruction manual?

Yes, all these things are great but when it comes down to it, when we get to the crunch time, what we really want is availability… 

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The Cost of Customer Centricity

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Lately, the financial services industry seems to have been rocked by its fair share of scandals. As someone whose career began in banking, I’ll confess I’ve felt more than a little let down by some of the activities which have come to light in recent years.

Nonetheless, it was in one of my early banking roles that I first came across the term ‘customer centricity’- meaning selling to customers needs, being focused on what the customer wants. Basically, putting the customer at the heart of everything.

As soon as I was introduced to this term I became a firm advocate of the concept. I believed in it.

A bit about me – I love sales. I love selling. I think it’s an exciting and fun area to be in – no matter what the business is. Over the years I’ve sold all manner of things – from pizzas to pensions, cakes to cameras. I have an innate interest in the process and the psychology of selling.

But above all, I’m passionate about ethical selling and customer centricity. But that can be tough if you find yourself in an environment where people ‘talk the talk’ but don’t seem to understand the language they’re speaking…

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