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I realise it is rather a cliché to write about love as we are approaching Valentine’s Day – but bear with me.  Those that don’t believe in and don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day will be sure to make the comment that one should spread the love every day of the year and not just save it up for the one recognised day of the year.   Now I, along with millions of others, do love to receive a Valentine’s card with a loving message however, I do tend to agree that being appreciated and loved should be a year round occupation and not a one-day hazard!

So why all these thoughts on showing love and appreciation?  Over the past couple of months Leapfrog has been running a Customer Relationship Management Workshop for Conversis a Translation Services company.  This company already receive excellent feedback on their customer surveys.  However, the company’s view was that if they invest in a series of workshops, for their Project Managers, that will help their staff to develop and improve the Customer Experience which result in their clients feeling appreciated, listened to and understood these clients will then continue to stay even more loyal to the company.

The key themes that developed throughout the workshop are not rocket science but as we discussed during the sessions it is amazing how often companies don’t treat their customers very well and often let them down.   Therefore, to show that you care, and yes love your customers, think about making sure you follow a few simple ground rules:

“Treat others the way you would want to be treated”

Understand how you like to be treated and what constitutes as good and poor customer care and then make sure you are treating your clients in an exemplary fashion by:

Steve Jobs said that “sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

Mistakes happen and projects don’t always run smoothly especially if these client jobs are time sensitive and complicated.  However, putting yourself in the client’s shoes understanding how the problem impacts them, empathising with them, then apologising about the situation and taking them through a plan as to how you are going to resolve it will help to ensure the client feels like you are doing all you can to improve the situation.

George Bernard Shaw eloquently quotes that “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Poor communication can easily cause a personal relationship to break down and this can also be true when dealing with clients in business. So ask yourself whether you have both listened to your customer and asked them enough questions to fully understand what they are looking for or whether you have made assumptions about what they want.  Be honest about whether you can provide the service or product they want.  If you can’t – be brave and talk to them about what is possible.  If they go ahead and decide to buy from you then it is vital that you provide regular status updates and keep them up to date as to what is happening with their project / order.

Showing your clients that you care about them should be easy but it is amazing how often it can all go horribly wrong.  I am sure we are all aware from our personal relationships that we can all forget to do the simple things – communicating with your partner, acknowledging that we have made a mistake and are in wrong and most importantly showing and telling them how much we appreciate them.  So this Valentine’s Day make the promise that you will spread the love to your loved ones and your clients every day and not just once a year!

It finally feels like there are signs of Spring in the air –  seeing the daffodils and crocuses starting to bloom, blue skies and the sun shining all bring joy to my heart.  It got me thinking that finding a new business lead and getting the conversation to flow takes time, but when there are signs of interest from a new lead this can also blossom into the start of something new and exciting!

The question is though, how do you get your prospective client to blossom and open up to you when you make that first contact call?

Planning and research:  Before you call the client the old adage “fail to plan, plan to fail” comes to mind!  It is vital that you have thought about:

So do your homework.  Many moons ago when I started selling, I did not have the luxury of Google at my fingertips.  Now that we have this unbelievable source of information at our disposal there is no excuse not to use it to find out about your prospective client’s business.  Make sure you know, for example:

The reason for doing this research is to Attune yourself with your prospective client.  Daniel Pink writes in his book How to Sell is Human –  it is vital that you “bring yourself into harmony with individuals, groups and contexts.”  What he means is, put yourself in the client’s shoes – think about their business and why they might need you and how your product or service could be of benefit to them.

The Hook:  Now armed with all this wonderful information you need to get that flower to bloom and make it bask in the sunshine of your charming personality.  This means not only trying to build rapport quickly but also by finding and thinking of a hook so that you get their interest right at the outset and you can do this by following these steps:

Good luck – remember flowers like warmth and attention as does a prospective client so make sure the attention is focused on them and not on you and with some planning, persistence and a good opening hook you will also start to see your prospective client relationship bloom!

William Shakespeare wrote in the opening phrase of a soliloquy in the Nunnery Scene of Hamlet, “to be or not to be, that is the question.”  In this speech a despondent Prince Hamlet contemplates death and suicide while waiting for the love of his life Ophelia.

With the 400th Anniversary celebrations upon us of, many would argue, England’s finest playwright and poet, I felt that “it is high time” (Comedy of Errors) to focus on, what I would say, is the key ingredient of the sales process – that of asking questions in order to establish what a client needs and so how you the seller might be able to help your client.

Whilst we are not going to dwell on the life changing questions of death and suicide, that Hamlet is musing upon in his soliloquy, you would be committing sales suicide by not working to understand your client and their needs and so being able to provide them with a tailored solution.

So for a more literary sales blog this time here is your tour of a few of Shakespeare’s famous quotes as well as my Top Tips for uncovering client needs by asking relevant questions:

This is your first step before making a call or meeting with a client, researching the client’s website, thinking about the market they operate in and working out therefore what their needs might be and so what kind of questions to ask.  If you do nothing, with regards to research, you will get nothing –  including the results you will be aiming for.

The world will be your oyster if you concentrate on asking open questions, all of which will enable you to find out information, challenges and issues your client might be facing.  These start with Who, What, Where, When, Why, Which and How.  In the training courses that we run at Leapfrog improving your skills in how to ask open questions is a key component to improving your sales performance.

In general, it is easier for customers to answer questions about events and issues that happened in the past rather than be able to predict what is going to happen in the future, so focus on asking questions that will give you insight into what has happened previously and then move to asking them what they would like to see change based on what happened in the past.

Asking just one question on a particular issue may not give you all the information you need so make sure you keep going down that particular branch or theme of questions in order to really unearth the information you need and get to the nub of the issue.  Rushing the questioning process and trying to move on too fast will cause you to stumble and so have nothing of substance to hang your sales story onto when in the pitch part of the sales framework.

To be genuinely interested in the client’s business and what they are saying is vital so that you are not just mechanically asking questions.  Make sure you are really listening to their answers and not just focusing on what your next question is going to be.  Listening is as much a part of asking questions as the asking!

So as Shakespeare said in The Merry Wives of Windsor “as good luck would have it” using these questioning tips will definitely help ensure you don’t commit sales suicide and you will “bear a charmed life” (Macbeth). I hope you enjoyed the cultural references in this month’s blog.  Good luck and let me know how you get along!

Exam season is upon us and certainly looming large in my household with GCSE’s only having just started, with 4 weeks still to go until all the exams are over!  Clearly, we won’t know the outcome of these exams until late August, but there are certainly some key criteria required to at least making a stab at getting good results.  It feels like as a parent, the best form of help and support I can offer, for my angst ridden teens, is to keep a well-stocked fridge and biscuit cupboard and then to make emergency trips to M&S for Percy Pigs when stress levels get very high!

On one of these emergency trips for Percy Pigs I was reflecting on what it takes to be successful in exams and then how these skills are also useful when you are about to make a sales pitch to a client!

5 Top Tips for Sales Pitch & Exam Success:

There are a lot of facts to learn when it comes to exams and this is the same when you are in the sales pitch process.  You have to know all there is to know about your product or service and your company.  You need to be the expert in what you can offer and how you can help your client.  However, as I said in last month’s blog, To be or not to be – that is the question, you must also understand as much as you can about your client, any previous history they have with you and to think about their needs and challenges.  This is all before you even get to telling your story!

I certainly remember, when I was a teenager taking my exams, that one piece of advice that my mum screamed out as I was leaving the house “Don’t forget to read the question!”  Reading and assessing the situation you are about to place yourself in as a sales person is also key to success.  So before you go to your meeting think about:

The key to a successful sales pitch is relevance to the needs of your client and how your product or service can be of benefit to them.  The client doesn’t need a list of facts about your service and your business they need to know how your solution can help them!  As I said to my daughter during her Geography revision it is all very well repeating the facts but what is the implication behind the fact.   So keep asking yourself SO WHAT!

As random post it notes appear around the house with “Of Mice and Men” quotes on them, my daughter claims that the examiners “love a good quote!”  This also mirrors what you should be doing in your sales pitch – that is providing your client with relevant case studies and testimonials.   It is imperative that your sales story is personal for your client by using examples that ensure they see the value in what are you are selling and how you have helped other clients that are in the same situation as they are.

Nerves can get the better of you when you take exams and definitely when you have to stand up and present to a client.  So when the time comes to perform – take a few deep breaths, know that you have done your best and then just try to enjoy the process!

Taking time to prepare for an important sales pitch is not always easy but working hard and ensuring you think about how you can make it personal for your client will certainly lead to a better chance of success!  Similarly, I hope the hard work and preparation for the exams in our house also lead to the right results in August – with or without those emergency Percy Pig trips.

WOW we are definitely encountering turbulent times at the moment, whilst reflecting on Brexit, England’s dismal performance in Euro 2016 and the political turmoil engulfing Westminster what has become clear to me is how all the thoughts racing through my mind change like the wind depending on who I am listening to or what I am reading on social media or in the press and how powerfully these thoughts can affect my feelings which then impact upon how effective I am particularly at work.

As Leapfrog helps to equip SME’s and Start–Up’s with the sales strategy, know-how and skills to help them increase business revenue and to build their sales confidence and capability in order that they can leapfrog their competition, it is not surprising that we firmly believe that Sales is vital to business success.  A sales plan is the first step to success and then being able to sell with confidence is the second step.  However, what can set successful people apart when it comes to selling is mind-set.  So here are a few thoughts on what you could try when your mind is racing with negative thoughts.

One of my clients told me about this really simple sales equation recently, which certainly resonated with me.  With sales it really is this simple – you will win over some clients and win business but you have to be able to cope with the Some Wont’s and bounce back from rejection.  Given that you are not going to win them all –  there are two ways of reacting to this:

It has been very interesting over this past week, post Brexit, how different people have reacted to the EU referendum result.  My own thinking definitely hasn’t helped and has played a part in how I am feeling about the future and what it may or may not hold.  My understanding around thinking and how it affects feelings has come from The 3 Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought.  What is fascinating about this approach is that they believe everything you feel is based upon what you think at that moment in time.  So if you feel angry about the EU result it will be because of the thoughts that you are having, some of these thoughts may be about what the future will hold – which could be positive or could be negative but these are all just thoughts and at this point in time you won’t know what could happen – so you are letting your thoughts around the future dictate what you are feeling in the moment which may or may not become reality.

Clearly your thoughts and how you feel and then react will make a big impact when you are selling!  It is easy to get downhearted when you don’t get a piece of business you have been pitching for but my advice would be to let your negative thoughts be there without reacting to them, they will still be there but new positive thoughts will start to flow as the day progresses!

If you have managed to follow either of the pointers above, the next step would be to change and pivot your approach when talking to a client.  So taking the EU referendum result as an example instead of asking a client:

With these questions you are more likely to get answers which could help your sales effort rather than hinder it!

Good luck and please do let me know what other tips you may have for dealing with negative thoughts!

It is fair to say that 2016 has been a politically tumultuous year – the EU referendum, a Conservative leadership election, a Labour leadership re-election and then finally the turmoil that has been being raging in America with Trump winning the Clinton v Trump Presidential Election.

All the candidates have been selling us their big story or setting out their stall as to why they should be leader.  This got me thinking about how businesses present their story when selling, what makes a good sales pitch and is there anything we can learn from all the politician’s sales pitches this year?

5 Top Tips for delivering your sales pitch with impact:

  1. Clarity of key sales message.

It is vital that you know what your core sales message is – what is the most important fact or message that you want to convey to your audience.

  1. What is important to your Audience?

Understanding how to relate to your customer and knowing what issues are important to the audience you are selling to is vital when delivering your sales pitch.

  1. Varied tone of voice, enthusiasm and engaging use of body language

We have all been in the position of listening to a boring speaker.  In order that you deliver your sales pitch with impact you need to spend as much time practicing how you speak and how you look as well as working on what you are going to say.  People will remember the whole package not just what you say!

  1. Confidence

Delivering your sales pitch with confidence is also vital to winning over your audience.  People are more likely to buy into a pitch that is delivered with confidence compared to one where the speaker doesn’t sound as though they believe in what they are selling.

  1. Proof

Prove to your customer that you can deliver and have the credentials to provide an excellent solution for their problem.

As we have all experienced 2016 has provided us with two political sales stories where the results were completely unexpected and where my Top Tips 1-4 seemed to completely outweigh the requirement for proof!

Trump’s key sales message was to Make America Great Again and as much as you don’t want to believe it he obviously did strike a chord with swathe of Americans who felt disconnected to the current situation and believed his story that America was broken.  This also goes for the 52% of Leave voters in the EU Referendum who despite a lack of economic evidence, during the EU referendum process, believed the message that the UK would be better off out of the EU and that we need to control our borders – i.e. Let’s make Britain great again!  These key messages clearly resonated with the majority of the UK and US population.

Three key players in both the UK and US political scene – Trump, Boris Johnson and even Farage, whatever you think of them as individuals, are crowd rousing orators with a strong and engaging tone and formidable body language so that when they speak they manage to portray a key message.  They also all have utter confidence in themselves their stories and their beliefs and so made a strong argument for Brexit and in the US Election.  Trump even managed to persuade the people of the USA to vote for a presidential candidate with absolutely NO experience of politics!

Despite the evidence above, I would strongly advocate that when you are developing a sales pitch for your business that you still work hard to prove to your customer how your product or service can be of real benefit to them.  You can use testimonials, case studies, product sales figures, length of time in business to convince your prospective customers why you would be worth investing in.  However, as the politics of 2016 have proved it’s not the only thing you should rely on! Make sure you are confident, think about whether your key messages and story will resonate with your audience and work on the delivery because as the political scene of 2016 has shown us it is not all about proof!

To ensure you Make the Leap with your Sales Pitch and win the vote of your customer’s, email to book a Sales Pitch Workshop.  All bookings made before December 20th will receive a 10% discount if you mention this blog.

It does feel that spring has arrived!  Whilst walking my dog today, I spotted new green leaves bursting out on the willow trees and the daffodils are a blaze of colour.

What spring does bring is new beginnings.  Over the past year, we have delivered Sales Strategy and Sales Technique workshops for some fascinating start-up businesses courtesy of the corporate accelerator scheme LMarks who are innovation specialists and early stage investors.

As these entrepreneurs begin on their journey one of their main concerns is how to find clients. However, building a sales pipeline and finding new business is as relevant to established businesses who also need to find new markets and clients, so aren’t wholly reliant on existing clients.  To find new customers for your business, start by working through these top tips:

  1. The first step is to identify the sectors your business is most suited to work with.  Although the world is your oyster you need a workable world.  Think about 2 maximum 4 industry sectors.
  2. Next ask, what kind of business within that sector you want to approach? For example, identifying finance as a sector is great, but what strand of finance – insurance, banks or accountancy firms?  Then ask, what criteria would make you approach a business based within the sector e.g. size, location, business model, management structure or even whether you have a contact within the business! Now you have set the criteria, research the organisations’ that meet the requirements you have set.  This is your lead pool – for both marketing and sales purposes.
  3. Marketing builds profile, creates awareness, interest and leads and acts as a regular touch point for prospective and existing clients.  Re-visit your marketing activity to ensure you are generating interest.  Follow up with any incoming leads promptly and effectively.  Not following up on a lead is like throwing marketing money and effort down the drain.
  4. New business can also grow from existing clients.  Existing clients trust you, so it is significantly easier to generate additional revenue from an existing client than finding a completely new client.  As you already have access to decision makers, new opportunities could come from new projects that may be of interest to them or from developing relationships with new divisions or departments that may also need your help.
  5. Finally, don’t forget to ask current clients for a referral – they maight be happy to recommend you to another business and contact that they know.  As the saying goes, if you don’t ask you won’t get!

I hope these tips have helped you to kick start your sales planning and the process of starting to find new clients this spring – good luck and let us know how you progress!

With the snap General Election looming opinion polls abound, qualities of the leaders are being analysed, manifestos and policies are assessed and sound bites sought after.  It certainly feels as though there is a spotlight in this election campaign on leadership qualities and who can be trusted to lead the country and negotiate our exit from the EU

Leapfrog has recently been running Leadership and Management training workshops for Technica Solutions, an IT support company, so with all of this leadership talk, it feels like the right time to share our thoughts on what needs to be considered when leading a business.  To do this, we are going to highlight three ideas and thoughts from some of the great and good in management thinking:-

Q:  Our question to you as a business leader is – how many of these effective practices are you implementing?  If you are not implementing any of these leadership practices, are you putting any time aside to work on your business rather than just working in it?

Q:  How able would you say you are in positively managing your emotions and understanding and dealing with other’s emotions?  If you don’t feel confident in this area, is this then, negatively impacting upon your relationships internally and externally?

Q:  What is your absolute priority, right now, to take your business forward? For this business priority which tasks should you be taking on and which ones should you be delegating?

If you need help in working on any of the issues above, or in developing your future leaders or have staff that are new to management please do contact us to discuss how we can help in any area of leadership and management coaching, training or to facilitate a workshop.

Summer is most definitely here and is alive with the smell of suntan lotion, meat sizzling on the bbq, the buzzing of bees and, if you are very lucky, the feel of sand in between your toes, whilst on a summer holiday!

It is interesting to note how people behave and communicate when they plan and book their holiday.  When you are in holiday planning mode, what is your approach when talking to your family or friends who might join you on your adventures?

These are four very different approaches to the simple act of booking and planning a holiday. You may like some, and you may feel uncomfortable about others.

We all communicate differently, and having an understanding of our own preferred style, and how best that works with others, is invaluable in helping us to do so with success.

Leapfrog is experienced in facilitating training workshops which uses the DiSC personality profiling assessment tool as part of a workshop.  The workshop enables you to understand your own preferences and attitude when you communicate, but more importantly understanding the four behaviour and communication styles will also help you to improve the way you behave and communicate with your clients and internally with your colleagues and team.  You will build stronger relationships by recognising others’ styles and then flexing your style when communicating.

The DiSC personality profiling assessment tool identifies that some people are more social and love discussing what they did at the weekend whilst others are more task focused and just want to get on with their work.

When you are at work do you consider:

If building stronger relationships with clients and colleagues sounds of interest, Leapfrog would be delighted to talk further about running a workshop for you. 

That’s all for now, enjoy your summer!

Alongside the Autumnal chill in the air and the leaves on the trees changing colour, Autumn also brings a new academic year, a fresh football season and for many in business that vital final quarter to the financial year. All these require setting or reviewing and achieving goals (quite literally for footballers!)

In sales, unfortunately, you can’t just wave a magic wand and expect to achieve ambitious sales targets.  Achieving ambitious sales goals, like anything, requires hard work but it’s also important to constantly review what and how you are doing, and to step outside your comfort zone, so below are my Top Tips to help you push yourself out of your sales comfort zone, in order, to stretch yourself to achieve those goals for this final quarter:

  1. Is your goal SMART, is it:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time based.

It’s very easy to set a vague goal, for example, “we want to find new clients from the finance sector.” Make it SMART by specifying –  how many new clients, from which part of the finance sector, by when and identifying whether the goal is achievable? A goal which isn’t achievable is demoralising for those trying to achieve it.

2.  Set up a client referral programme. If you have done good work for existing clients, could you offer them something to encourage them to refer their contacts or clients to you?  Even if you don’t set up a referral programme then how about purposefully asking them if they know of any contacts who might be interested in the products / services you offer?

3.  Collaboration – what opportunities do you have for collaboration with organisations / people in other industries where partnerships and cross referrals could be of mutual benefit?

4.  Networking – this is a dreaded word for some people.  However, networking could be an avenue that will yield results if you push yourself to attend events and meet new contacts, which could lead to interesting opportunities for you and your business.

5.  Finally, and most importantly increase the number of your daily and weekly Critical Sales Activities (those activities that actually yield results), challenge yourself to:

Sales requires persistence, don’t assume that a lead will come back to you even if they’ll say they will! You need to be tenacious with following up any lead and prospect.

Good luck with achieving your goals!

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