Sales confidence


Sales secrets of high growth companies

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability

Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’

A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking about professional services, there are some interesting ideas about how to drive organic growth through the development of people. Having worked with thousands of professionals over many years, we have recognized that you can’t turn an engineer/lawyer/surveyor into a sales-person (or extremely rarely), but you can equip them with the tools, techniques and confidence to make an impact in their markets.

McKinsey surveyed more than a 1000 wide-­ranging companies and found that a rigorous focus on sales training is a clear differentiator between the fast and slow-growing companies. “Just under half the fast growers spend significant time and money on sales training, compared to 29 percent of slow growers.” What was really interesting though is that among the high-growers there was a feeling that they still needed to do more in areas such as ‘Understanding customers specific needs’, ‘Pipeline Management’ and ‘Account Planning’.

One of the surveyed organisations tried a new approach to improving sales performance after years of fruitless initiatives: “Instead of focusing solely on what sellers had to do, the program also devoted significant attention to building the talents and capabilities to enable them to do it, making a substantial investment in teaching skills and enforcing their use with specific goals.” The result? A 25% improvement in productivity across all regions within 18 months. More impressive still, the gains stuck, and two years later performance was still improving.

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So what can professional services firms take from this insight?

A significant weapon in a firm’s arsenal when fighting competition is the ability of its people. Not just their technical ability (which is important), but their selling ability as well. It used to be that one or two very well connected, very able ‘Rainmakers’ would create work for their juniors simply by working their network and being in the right place at the right time. Today’s world is different; yes, you still need to be well connected, but no longer can a firm really drive growth by relying on a few people to bring in the work. The successful modern professional is an all-rounder with the following attributes:

  • Good technical ability, keeping up with advances and changes.
  • Has a business and personal development plan encompassing objectives for both business targets and personal brand.
  • Has a strong and growing reputation (either for quality, niche player etc.) both online and offline.
  • Is a relentless networker who eats and drinks where her clients gather, writes articles for publications her target market reads, speaks at events where her chosen audience attends.
  • Understands the sales process and invests (or demands their firm invest) in learning skills and techniques for continuous improvement.

Questas Quote Marks Circle“Ultimately, those firms that invest continuously in developing sales and client management skills are those that will win more of the ‘pie’ than their competitors!”

Optimise your selling opportunity

Creating a positive impact at that first client meeting.

Effective Business Development Meetings - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Effective Business Development Meetings

Download this guide to maximise your time and effort to win more sales.

Get it now

Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

In this RICS article, Gary Williams of Questas, discusses EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, and how it can help you get the edge over your competitors. Embrace the human side of business relationships and you will be more confident with clients, more effective with sales...

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First impressions Whether your industry is engineering, law, property or the public sector, here are some ways you can prepare and optimise the opportunity at your first business development meeting with new clients. The Dos and Don'ts if you will, of creating the...

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at...

Quash imposter syndrome and optimise the business opportunity

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Having worked with different professional services clients over the years, I’ve seen many try to transform their approach to sales (or business development, if you prefer), says Annabel Miller. Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation...

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’ A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking...

Working together for better KAM

This article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to http://www.pmforum.co.uk. Chris Founds and Gary Williams look at harnessing the power of collaboration to achieve successful Key Account Management. Collaboration is a word used more in...

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Competitive bidding is an essential part of everyday business, but it’s often seen as a chore. Sarah Amery shares an effective model that will boost your ability to create successful bids. Sometimes its difficult to know where to start or how to organise content,...

Transforming your sales programme

  This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Pi magazine, published by Howden Insurance Brokers Is it time your team changed its approach to sales? Read on to discover some practical advice about transforming your sales programme and making...

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

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Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Do you dread the thought of attending an event with the purpose of networking? Annabel Miller shares her top ten networking nuggets.

It is fairly daunting: attempting to ingratiate yourself with strangers, make meaningful conversation and hopefully leave with useful leads – all while balancing a warm glass of wine, a chicken satay kebab and a stack of business cards!

Follow these tips to help you navigate the room, spend time with the right people, and make a graceful exit having agreed a number of follow-up conversations.

1. Do your homework

Find out who will be there, what they do and who they do business with. Make a short list of people that you would ideally like to meet, and bone up on what is going on in their industry or organisation so that you can impress by talking knowledgably about their world.

2. Travel light

Check your big bags and coats in. Don’t load up a plate with nibbles on the way in. If you need a bag make sure it’s got a shoulder strap. You will need a (preferably ketchup-free) hand to give dry, firm handshakes. Keep your business cards handy – but don’t throw them out unless you’ve built up enough rapport for it to be appropriate.

3. Position yourself near the drinks area

If you don’t fancy striding into the middle of the room and breaking into groups, then standing near the bar or coffee area is a great place to start up a more low-key conversation even if it starts with: “Can I pour you a glass of water?” or “Have you tried the crabcakes?”

4. Remember your host

If you have been invited to the event make sure you find them to say hello and thank them for asking you. If you are keen to meet someone that they can introduce you to then don’t be afraid to ask – this is a networking event after all! Follow up with a thanks to them afterwards as well. Always good to be remembered positively.

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5. Introduce yourself with impact

On the way to the event think about how you will introduce yourself and what you do in a short snappy soundbite. Don’t use jargon and acronyms – chances are people won’t have a clue what you do. Make sure you remember other people’s names by using them quickly, which will seal them in your brain.

6. Be interested, don’t try to be interesting

Most people enjoy talking about themselves and respond well to anyone who finds them fascinating. Ask them questions they are unlikely to be asked: Why did they choose their job? What is the best thing that happened to them at work today? Who do they credit with having helped them most in their career? This gives you the opportunity to move your conversation from being merely transactional to being relational. It also allows busy people to tell a story they like telling to someone who is really interested. They will remember you and feel a connection.

7. Listen well

There is nothing worse than talking to someone in a noisy crowded room while they alternate between looking over your shoulder at the door and scanning around the room at other groups. Your time talking to one person may only be short, so make it matter and make them feel important.

8. Breaking in and moving on

Ideally, you should aim to start talking to people on their own or people in groups of three or more. Couples in conversation are hard to interrupt, and they may be old friends or colleagues and not want to cut short their discussion. Make sure you don’t spend all your evening talking to the same group. It’s not rude to say: “It’s been great to meet you, have a lovely night and hope to see you again.” A smooth way of moving on is to offer to introduce the person you’ve finished talking with to someone else. That way they aren’t left on their own and you come off as socially adept and well-connected.

9. Mind your manners

Put your phone away. Don’t drink too much. Don’t be the last to leave. Thank your host and any staff that have helped you.

10. Follow up

When you are at the event and have made a connection with someone, be specific about how you will follow up. Ask, “Can I give you a call next week and we’ll make a date for coffee?” so that when you do ring, they are expecting it. Just connecting with someone on LinkedIn following an event will not guarantee any development of your business relationship.

Optimise your selling opportunity

Creating a positive impact at that first client meeting.

Effective Business Development Meetings - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Effective Business Development Meetings

Download this guide to maximise your time and effort to win more sales.

Get it now

Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

In this RICS article, Gary Williams of Questas, discusses EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, and how it can help you get the edge over your competitors. Embrace the human side of business relationships and you will be more confident with clients, more effective with sales...

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First impressions Whether your industry is engineering, law, property or the public sector, here are some ways you can prepare and optimise the opportunity at your first business development meeting with new clients. The Dos and Don'ts if you will, of creating the...

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at...

Quash imposter syndrome and optimise the business opportunity

Attending a ‘World Leading’ Event can be very daunting. Don’t let being a little fish in a big pond overwhelm you –  Gary Williams shares how he addressed his concerns and went prepared to optimise the opportunity. I recently attended #MIPIM2018. It was my first time...

Marketing

CREATE / Reputation & relationships Marketing training and consultancy Who's it for? Any business that wants to maximise the return on their investment in marketing. We help our clients align marketing with business strategy and long term objectives. Supported by...

Make your business development planning more successful

Having worked with different professional services clients over the years, I’ve seen many try to transform their approach to sales (or business development, if you prefer), says Annabel Miller. Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation...

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’ A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking...

Working together for better KAM

This article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to http://www.pmforum.co.uk. Chris Founds and Gary Williams look at harnessing the power of collaboration to achieve successful Key Account Management. Collaboration is a word used more in...

How To Be Brilliant At Winning Bids & Tenders

Competitive bidding is an essential part of everyday business, but it’s often seen as a chore. Sarah Amery shares an effective model that will boost your ability to create successful bids. Sometimes its difficult to know where to start or how to organise content,...

Transforming your sales programme

  This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Pi magazine, published by Howden Insurance Brokers Is it time your team changed its approach to sales? Read on to discover some practical advice about transforming your sales programme and making...
Sales Confidence

Sales Confidence

Sales confidence

The challenge

Too few people involved in business development

 

Our approach

Many companies have a tiny percentage of staff working on business development.

Many of our clients adopt the ‘seller-doer’ model but work winning often relies on the same few people. Many people say, “I can’t do business development, I’m a technical expert, I don’t do sales.” Don’t worry, we’re not going to turn you into a sales person. We’re going to equip you with some skills and build your confidence so that you can interact with clients and use your technical expertise to solve their problems.

Anyone can do this. And the business will get better results if everybody plays a part.

Recognise this challenge? Get in touch

From our blog

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Do you dread the thought of attending an event with the purpose of networking? Annabel Miller shares her top ten networking nuggets.

Read more

Questas Quote Marks Circle

Questas’s Paul Brady says:

“There’s a fear of being seen as a sales person. That’s where our training, particularly in the role playing that we do – it’s really important to practice in a simulation of a real life situation – is so important to demonstrate that you don’t have to be a sales person. Just be you, but be the trained you.”

 

The challenge

Turning conversations into instructions

 

Our approach

Does this quote sound familiar: “We talk to plenty of people, but we struggle to move the conversation into a business development discussion.” If so, you’re not alone. It might happen at a networking event or even with an existing client, but it’s common to feel there is a barrier between having a chat and making a sale.

We remove the barrier altogether and we encourage fluid conversations going from the personal through to work. The problem a lot of our clients face is that they think they have to switch into selling mode. But through training, roleplay and feedback we show them that it is a natural flow and that the business questions are quite acceptable and quite normal.

 

Recognise this challenge? Get in touch

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Questas Quote Marks Circle

Questas’s Annabel Miller says:

“The types of questions you ask, the way in which you ask those questions and the listening you do in those situations are all going to uncover work opportunities.”

Four easy ways to manage nerves before a presentation

Four easy ways to manage nerves before a presentation

What happens to our bodies when we are asked to present in front of a group of people, why do we get nervous and how can we manage nerves so that it doesn’t hinder our performance?

When we work with clients on their presentation skills, it’s important to push our attendees out of their comfort zones at times so that they can properly experience standing up and talking to people in a formal environment. It is always a good experiment in terms of ticking off the symptoms of anxiety that so many of us come up against when we are asked to speak publicly.

annabel on how to manage nerves when presentingFight or Flight?

The Fight or Flight response, which our bodies go through when we encounter what we consider a threat or danger, is a number of physiological changes as we get ready to physically tackle the threat or run away from it. This response goes back to the days when we lived in close proximity to very real predators and would be dealing with the prospect of killing or being killed every day. As my attendees got ready to present they reported they could feel the adrenaline rush which is the first stage resulting in shortness of breathing and a faster heart rate. Blood is pumped into the muscles of the arms and legs in readiness for attack or escape. We also sweat in times of stress, this is firstly to cool ourselves down but also so that we are slippery and difficult to catch. We had several dashes to the loo as my attendees’ bodies tried to ‘lighten their load’ as the threat advanced.

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Tips to combat nerves

So – how best to deal with this? It’s not great to be a sweaty shaking mess when you stand up in front of an audience. Here are four easy ways to combat that awful nervous feeling:

  • Prepare. It’s so simple but you will always feel less worried if you know your stuff. Make sure you’ve practised your presentation OUT LOUD at least once to avoid embarrassing unrehearsed detours from your key points.
  • Breathe. Before you get up in front of the crowd spend a few minutes breathing properly and mindfully. Make sure you breathe from your diaphragm rather than your upper chest, and try breathing in on a five count and then out for another five. Deep breathing tricks our body into thinking that the danger has passed and as a result our heart rate comes back down.
  • Visualise the talk being a success. If all goes well, what will your audience say on the way out? There is a growing body of evidence that “As a man thinks, so he is”, for example, musicians who rehearse only in their minds, find their improvement is as great as those who practice physically. Professional sports-people also will use visualisation techniques to beat nerves and improve performance, Johanna Konta, the tennis player, notably had a mind coach who taught a visualisation technique, which she practices ahead of every point she plays.
  • Smile at the audience. Smiling releases endorphins, seratonin and natural pain killers which together make us feel good. It will also encourage your audience to smile back at you which shows they are human and not sabre-toothed tigers about to kill you.

Your audience wants to be pleased

Lastly, we often think that we have to win over our audience at the start of a presentation, but on the whole, our audience is predisposed to like us. This is a great comfort if you think about it. You already have them on your side when you begin, they want you to interest and please them, and if you have prepared well, you will most likely do so. Smile, engage your audience and go for it!

Questas Quote Marks CircleAnnabel provided an instructive and useful day’s training on Presentation Skills. The course was informative, well organized and enjoyable and used a good mix of exercises to provide skills that will be immediately useful in the workplace.”

Tom Graham, Principal Design Engineer at Momentum Transport Planning

Optimise your selling opportunity

Creating a positive impact at that first client meeting.

Effective Business Development Meetings - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Effective Business Development Meetings

Download this guide to maximise your time and effort to win more sales.

Get it now

Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

In this RICS article, Gary Williams of Questas, discusses EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, and how it can help you get the edge over your competitors. Embrace the human side of business relationships and you will be more confident with clients, more effective with sales...

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First impressions Whether your industry is engineering, law, property or the public sector, here are some ways you can prepare and optimise the opportunity at your first business development meeting with new clients. The Dos and Don'ts if you will, of creating the...

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at...

Quash imposter syndrome and optimise the business opportunity

Attending a ‘World Leading’ Event can be very daunting. Don’t let being a little fish in a big pond overwhelm you –  Gary Williams shares how he addressed his concerns and went prepared to optimise the opportunity. I recently attended #MIPIM2018. It was my first time...

Make your business development planning more successful

Having worked with different professional services clients over the years, I’ve seen many try to transform their approach to sales (or business development, if you prefer), says Annabel Miller. Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation...

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’ A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking...

Working together for better KAM

This article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to http://www.pmforum.co.uk. Chris Founds and Gary Williams look at harnessing the power of collaboration to achieve successful Key Account Management. Collaboration is a word used more in...

How To Be Brilliant At Winning Bids & Tenders

Competitive bidding is an essential part of everyday business, but it’s often seen as a chore. Sarah Amery shares an effective model that will boost your ability to create successful bids. Sometimes its difficult to know where to start or how to organise content,...

Transforming your sales programme

  This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Pi magazine, published by Howden Insurance Brokers Is it time your team changed its approach to sales? Read on to discover some practical advice about transforming your sales programme and making...

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Do you dread the thought of attending an event with the purpose of networking? Annabel Miller shares her top ten networking nuggets. It is fairly daunting: attempting to ingratiate yourself with strangers, make meaningful conversation and hopefully leave with useful...

Get in touch