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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!

Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving, retail discounting day, is nearly upon us.  Another American tradition that seems to have taken the retail sector by storm – advertising tantalising discounts trying to encourage us all to bag a bargain.  This led me to think about the part of the sales process when you need to talk about money. Talking confidently about money and the ability to value your product or service, without feeling you should offer a discount, is a key skill and one that many business owners, often tell me, they feel nervous and awkward about.

Here are my 5 Top Tips, for those of you who lack confidence when talking about money:

  1.  Plan and prepare the talking money stage of the sales process.  Work out 3 price positions:

2.  People often think their customer will blow a fuse when asking for a price increase.  My advice would be to show belief in the value of the work you do, set a realistically ambitious price which reflects the time and effort for the work done or product provided.  However, be prepared to say no to unreasonable client price demands and walk away where and when appropriate. Don’t undervalue your contribution to the customer!

3. The language you use when proposing your price is important.  Be clear, succinct and confident when giving a price for the work / product. Weak language such as “would it be ok if the price were, I’m thinking the price is, I hope this is ok but it’s going to cost.” These phrases show the client you are not confident about the price you are asking for. Get rid of the weak language and be confident and positive when outlining the price

4.  Make sure you understand how your product / service is helping your customer’s business.  Is your solution:

If your product/ solution is helping them achieve any of these four core business needs then you are offering vital business value which is another reason to feel confident about the price you are proposing.

5.  Think about what else, other than price, the customer will value so that you have some additional variables to negotiate with.  It’s often not only about price even if the customer makes this the focus of the negotiation, so put yourself in the client’s shoes and identify what else would be useful for them.

Good luck with the money talk and as Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding said in the film Jerry Maguire don’t be afraid to ask your customer to Show me the Money!

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How many of you have kept to the diet or exercise regime, that you pledged you were going to stick to at the beginning of January? I know that my resolution of not eating sugar lasted less than a week! Those that manage to keep to their resolutions often have a coach, support group or friend by their side which helps keep up the resolution and accountability. As we all know keeping to a regime is challenging!

I often hear, from business owners, during coaching and consultancy sessions, that time management and juggling all the different balls in the air at one time is a constant battle particularly when one of these balls is managing the sales pipeline.  As a small business owner, myself I understand the constant time battle, but also know that selling needs to be a daily activity! So here are my top tips on how to manage your sales activity effectively:

  1. Break down your Sales Forecasts:  Set yourself manageable monthly and weekly sales targets. Working, only, to one big annual number is like looking at the top of the mountain rather than breaking the climb up into manageable parts. Look back at previous years so that you are aware of the peaks and troughs that happen throughout the year.  Identifying the implications of your revenue model and what it means for your annual sales forecast will also help to indicate which months need particular focus for finding new business to hit the annual sales target.
  2. Pinpoint your Critical Sales Activities.  Determine what you need to do each day and each week to ensure that you are constantly building your sales pipeline and be scientific about these activities.  Whether it be attending a weekly networking event, having 5 meetings per week with prospective clients or sending out 10 quotes a day, identify what these critical sales activities are, the time it takes and the process you should go through to convert a prospect into a paying customer.  Finally, remember that you will always need more prospects than you think – not all possible business will convert!!
  3. Eat that Frog First.  Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  To put this into a sales activity context – without sales you don’t have a business so your sales tasks are one of the most important tasks of the day and maybe for some, much like eating a frog, not the most pleasant. Discipline yourself to eat that frog first and start the day by making your sales calls, approaching your linked in contacts and sending sales proposals so that procrastination doesn’t take over and you get this vital task out of the way first thing!
  4. In the corporate sales world sales directors and managers hold weekly team meetings and 1-1 sales catch-ups with each member of their sales team to understand what prospects are in the pipeline and for the sales person to report against their KPIs. In this spirit, you need to hold yourself accountable and have those ‘sales meetings’ whether that be by yourself or with a fellow director, so that you can measure how you are doing against your sales targets and critical sales activities.  Alternatively contact Leapfrog and we can be your sales coach and manger! We do this for several business owners including the founder of Thinking Partnerships  who said about our process “Joanna provides a great framework and some useful tools to help build a sales pipeline, to understand your market and your ideal client.  She then works with you to help set some challenging sales targets and to make sure you push yourself well out of your comfort zone to achieve them.”

Good luck and don’t forget to Eat That Frog First thing

Spring is finally in the air with daffodils blooming and sunshine peeking through the clouds. All signals of renewal, change and something new happening. Exciting news from Leapfrog HQ is that we have launched two new training courses; Successful Project and Account Management and Driving Organic Growth.

Sales, as we all know, isn’t all about finding new business.  In fact, you can derive significant growth from developing and renewing relationships with existing customers, hence the creation of a Driving Organic Growth training course!

Top Tips – Do you have an 80 / 20 Split?

Many years ago, 1896 to be precise, Vilfredo Pareto an Italian economist noted that 80% of land was owned by 20% of landowners and so Pareto’s 80/20 principle was created.

  1. Is the 80/20 rule true for your business? Does 80% of your revenue come from 20% of your clients? Understanding the breakdown is imperative as new customer acquisition is much more expensive than building business with an existing client. Work out your ratio. There is insight to be had from this formula – whether you find that you are over reliant on too few clients for a significant proportion of your revenue or from having a wide pool of clients that only work with you once and deliver limited revenue.
  2. What plans, if any, do you have in place to retain and renew business with existing clients? As I said above given the expense and time it takes to win new customers in the first place surely it is worth thinking and planning as to how you should keep them on board and how you might be able to get them to work with you again.
  3. It is in the nature of business and sales that occasionally clients will stop working with you. Our recommendation is therefore to analyse the profile of your key clients.  Once you understand what a ‘key’ client looks like you can assess which other customers have the potential to do more work with you? Leapfrog can work with you to create this key client profile.  We can then help you to identify whether there are customers with irregular purchase habits that fit a similar profile to the big spenders and then more importantly create a plan with you to target those look-a-likes who in theory could have the potential to work with you again.
  4. We would also urge you to think about what makes a great commercial partnership for your business. Who do you want to work with regularly? It is all very well if your customer delivers significant revenue but how does this client treat your staff and are they worth the effort? Can you grow old together? Are they a treasured partnership? Sometimes it is more important to walk away from a profitable but toxic relationship than stay and have a miserable time!
  5. Finally, how much do you know and understand about your key clients? You can’t expect to generate additional revenue from them if you don’t make any effort to understand them their market and what’s going on with their business. We can work with you to help identity what’s important in this understanding and then what the implications are for you moving forward.

We have just run the Driving Organic Growth training course for a well respected PR agency, Liz Male Consulting, and this is what the MD, Liz Male, had to say about the workshop.  “This was an excellent day for the whole team to be involved in working ON the business, not just IN the business.  It made clear the potential opportunites and valuable roles everyone has to play in growing the business.”

We would also love to help you or your team create practical growth plans for your exsiting client base so please do contact us to discuss how we can help.

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