See the video of my presentation at TEDx Salford, Manchester. Everybody has great ideas, everybody has ambitions to get that good job. People tend to dislike the idea of selling anything but with the skill to sell we can achieve the things that we so desperately want.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSOm8xiBBXM
Despite your skill or diligence or ability to do the job, an enterprise must take into account the surrounding things that do not apparently relate specifically to the core skill. Rich people are usually rich because they’re often very shrewd and I find they indulge in a secret practice of developing “little treasures.” Being rich and clever, unlike the majority of the public, they do value core skills and realise that their prey, who are incompetent at professionalism but are brilliant at the core skill, can be had on the cheap and will become “little treasures.”
“I have a man who does my gardening, he’s a bit smelly but he’s a little treasure. I can’t remember the last time we paid him!”
“She is a bit odd, but she does all my dressmaking by hand, we pay her pennies. She is a little treasure.”
Do you want to be a “little treasure”? No? Then shape up!
“I bet I can get that coat off him” the wind declared.
“You’re on!” said the sun, “A tenner says you can’t.”
The wind gathered up all its force and howled down from the sky and it hit the man at full power. He ended up tumbling down the road like an Autumn leaf but with every blast he pulled the coat tighter and tighter around him. In the end the wind gave up exhausted.
“OK” he admitted to the sun, “You win, the guy will never let that coat go.”
“I can get it off him” grinned the sun. “Want to get your money back double or quits?”
The sun rose majestically into the sky where he smiled and shone and blazed. The flowers opened, the puddles dried, the birds began to sing. The man mopped his sweating brow, smiled and of course took off his coat (whilst singing, I’m sure, zipidee doo dah).
Will your customers be singing zipidee doo dah once you have finished with them?
Airlines are just like the childrens’ character, Noddy, who said, “When we build a house, let’s put the roof on first so that when it rains we won’t get wet!” The airlines are saying “There are those passengers who pay £200 and those that pay £2000. We will only carry the £2000 ones.”
This is like sawing the legs off your chairs and expecting the seat to stay in the air. Where do they think the big customers come from? They come from the loyal small customers.
The world has truly changed, producing threats and opportunities. The mega-corporations can no longer expect to have it all their own way. By having loyal, even, dare I say, fanatical, multi-tasked people working for you and the whole world to source products from, you can take on the biggest and win, but your customers will expect responsiveness and speed. Hierarchies just cannot work, people will expect a result whenever and wherever they contact our enterprise. Cheery helpful knowledgeable people who add value at every step – without them nothing works.
I read about each management fad, TQM, CRM, process re-engineering, excellence, change programmes, or even customer care. The day I read the book I am sold on it and then I watch as it fades and dies. Surely some of those ideas must have been good ones so there must have been some common fault - perhaps none of them carried their people with them.
Know where you are going and tell everyone else where you are going. Then you must expect them to help you get there.
The companies who made components and raw materials would send out armies of salespeople to win the battle for orders.
Here is a very harsh snapshot of life back then. Four salespeople would have an appointment to see a buyer of components. After each one did their best to show their product in the best light, only one would walk out with the order. For every purchase made there were always a number of disappointed salespeople. It was usual to have more supply than demand. The empty handed salesperson could cost his company jobs; the winner put food on everyone’s table so it is no wonder they became superstars. Well those times are back.
A street has five coffee bars – why should people drink in yours? Five window cleaners called this week, why should I use you? You make garden furniture but so do five other people, why should I buy from you?
The answer is that you have to grab the situation by the throat and sell, and not just on price. If you aren’t actually asking people to buy on a regular basis, then in the current crisis you just won’t survive.
Companies find adding value so hard, sometimes, that they abandon it, and, to my horror, some branches of this new religion called CRM (customer relationship management) actually encourage it.
There was a halfwit who was being paraded as the profit of CRM who suggested that quality and service could be dumped if one could determine, through CRM, that the customers were driven only by price and that those customers could be profitably harvested under those terms.
A supermarket chain was cited as a glittering example, their outlets are the sort of vast, grey concrete hangers, where sad people with snotty kids and fat arses waddle out with trolleys laden with dayglo orange and green soft drinks, forty pound bags of cheap chocolate marshmallows, and twenty four putty coloured loaves of sliced bread.
Too miserable and depressing to even contemplate owning a company like that, but should you be so full of despair and lacking in joie de vivre that you open one of these places in competition, try throwing in a smile, a bit of service, some knowledgeable people, and you will scoop the pot. They do not realise how vulnerable they are. No one in their game has nice, happy, value-adding people, so they believe, wrongly, that they don’t need them. Good people – your army – is the trojan horse that will allow you to tear those walls down.
Thought: if you are in a crap industry, just being consistently less crap than the competition will keep you ahead of the game.
I am sure that you are mentally fit, eager and raring to go (you better be). The battle will be fierce and you will fight it every minute of every day, moving products, being aware of trends, spotting people who may be sharper, quicker, and more competitive than you. This is all about speed. The fast win, the fast win more, the fastest win it all. I do it. I fight fast and hard, but it is like swimming in a fierce current. It is tiring but your life depends upon it. I should imagine that those who drown must be almost relieved to be able to stop struggling, but there is an alternative.
The squirrel population of the UK was once red. Red squirrels are gentle, uncompetitive, relaxed little creatures, so when the ferociously competitive grey squirrels were introduced they drove the red squirrels out. They competed for food, habitat, and space. The battle was totally onesided but not a tragedy. Rather than fighting to the death or being subjugated by the grey squirrels, the red squirrels just buggered off. No hassle, no worries, or bitterness. “You want it that much, you have it.” They can be found on secluded islands and in isolated woods doing their gentle squirrely things.
As the pressure builds and you count the scars you picked up fighting for every nut or acorn, consider the red squirrel alternative. Of course you will have made your pile, the bank balance will be healthy, but before you consider next year’s expansion plans, go to a Mediterranean harbour and look at the middle aged couple on the wooden schooner. They both have skins like crocodile-hide handbags and are discussing the winter voyage to Tobago. Or look at that Harley mounted Hells Angel floating across Arizona with his entire belongings strapped to his rack and a terrier wearing a flying helmet sitting on the petrol tank. The shock when he takes off his crash helmet to reveal the grey hair. The pair of Budhist beach bums on Lantau Island in Hong Kong who strangely arrive at the beach each day in a vintage Rolls Royce. These are the red squirrels, not drowned but just living elsewhere. Why be in the rat race if you’re not a rat.
Watch every customer contact and count how often your people ask for the business. Increase that number, increase your profit. Simple, huh?
What Marketing and sometimes sales really do is create expectations. People always buy because they expect something. Does everyone who works with you know what that customer expects and are they sufficiently equipped to deliver it?