Insights Blog

Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

Six Ways To Get Better At Phone Sales

Phone sales (aka telesales) are a key revenue driver for many businesses. The ability to sell to clients over the phone is a very valuable skill, but not one that develops without employees being given the proper tools and training.

The correct development and implementation of a phone-based sales strategy is a long and arduous process, which will require continued updating and training as you discover which tools work better than others. However, in order to put your business on the path to improved sales over the phone, you may want to consider ensuring your sales staff do the following:

1. Qualify your leads.

Whether you buy leads, use a lead generation service, or generate leads internally, you absolutely must make sure that all leads are qualified. Every client that’s called needs to be a suitable customer with the ability to buy today.

Failure to qualify leads will generate huge wastes of time for effective salespeople.

Moreover, bad leads can be the source of undue headaches and lead you to revise your sales process unnecessarily.

2. Don’t try to move too fast.

Gone are the days of the hard and quick sale. Clients today want the ability to do their own research and see if something’s right for them. They can be led to make a purchase, but they need to make their own decisions.

Often, this takes a series of calls and follow-ups before a client is ready to close.

Make sure you have a process of sales staff to manage communications with a potential client and ensure timely follow-up.

3. Understand the client.

It isn’t enough for your salespeople to have intimate knowledge of what they’re selling. They need to be able to demonstrate how their product is good for the client, and this means knowing a customer’s needs as well as they know your product.

Sales associates should know all of the reasons a potential customer should say “yes,” but also all of the reasons they’re likely to say “no” on a sales call.

4. Make sure the client is having fun.

This is perhaps the most-overlooked aspect of successful sales, on the phone or otherwise.

People don’t buy if they feel burdened or put out. Admittedly, this can’t always be helped. Sometimes you reach them at a bad time or on a bad day, and allowances should be made for bad timing.

On the whole, though, it’s important to make the experience pleasant for the client. Their interaction with your sales staff should not be something that they resent or regret.

The client’s enjoyment of the process – or at least their toleration of it – dramatically increases the odds of them staying on the line and eventually buying from you.

Even if they don’t buy on the first call, a client is more likely to welcome a follow-up if they develop rapport with a member of your sales team.

5. Learn your rebuttals.

Excuses vary by industry and by product, but clients will always have reasons to say “no.”

What’s important is that you anticipate what they’ll be, construct good responses, and train for them.

Find ways that you can assuage doubts, answers questions concisely and positively, or find ways that you can circle back to complete a sale.

6. Practice – a lot.

Phone sales are virtually impossible without some amount of training and preparation.

It can help to have a well-developed script on-hand, but not because salespeople can lean on a canned opening or response. Instead, they learn to address any client issues early on and get them out of the way.

Staff also develop the ability to concisely address any new concerns that a customer raises on the call.

Practicing can feel extremely awkward at first, but it’s absolutely necessary to the success of sales calls.

 

If your business relies on phone calls to generate sales, the tips above will hopefully serve to hone the kills of your sales staff.

More importantly, they will help to develop your company’s sales process, which must continue to be refined and revised as customer psychology changes.

You will need to learn to adapt as customers begin asking new questions or raising new concerns.

Like any of your marketing efforts, your phone sales process will need to be continually improved, and make use of updated technology for continued success.

Hopefully, the tips above will help to provide you with a strong starting point to improve your phone sales efforts, as you begin the process of developing and refining your strategy going forward.

 

This article was written by John Taylor. John is a long-time professional with over two decades of experience in analytics and communications technology. He works as the Senior Data Analyst at Fone Dynamics, a leader in call tracking, voice, and SMS communication. When John steps out of the office, he loves to spend time with his family and bike riding.

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Choosing the Right Office For Your Business

If you’re buying or renting a new house, the phrase “make a house a home” can sometimes feel a bit redundant: you need somewhere to live and although you’d like it to be nice, cost and location generally come first. It’s much the same with an office for a business. That said, there are many types of space available and some will be more suitable than others. Lilli Hender from OfficeGenie.co.uk is here to tell you what you need to know to make the best decision.

Size matters

One of the first major considerations should be the size of the space you’re after. This will involve weighing up plans for expansion, reduction, and retention of the number of employees in the business.

If you’re in your very early days with few employees and no expansion plans yet in the pipeline, finding a shared office can be a great place to start. This involves a company renting out spare desks available in their office, acting as a host to your business.

For smaller teams set to grow, coworking hubs can be the office-space solution: desks come on a per-person basis and, if the property is big enough, will allow for expansion. If there is a large number of staff members to cater for, a serviced or traditional lease will usually be the best option. These are generally bigger offices and the space is rented out solely to one company to occupy.

Company culture considerations

Many startups want their office to reflect the innovation that has gone into setting up the business. This will more often than not involve envisioning slides, ping pong tables, bean bags and the like. A few coworking hubs will offer this sort of office-based fun (WeWork have beer on tap, for example) but generally this can only come with private offices and a lot of cash!

If you want to be able to customise to suit your brand and culture, you’re in need of a traditional-lease office. Renting this type of space involves outfitting the property yourself: desks, chairs, computers, (slides) and all. You can make it exactly how you want it but it requires time, effort and money.

Serviced offices are the opposite: everything is set up and ready to go. They generally look nice and function well, and coworking hubs and shared offices are thankfully much the same – even if you do lose a bit of artistic license.

If the price is right…

When it comes to the cost of office space, it is both dependent on the type and the whereabouts of the property. I’ll start by saying if you want an office in London, it’s going to cost a small fortune regardless of what kind of space it is.

Serviced offices are generally the most expensive option: they come fully equipped with everything a business could need and often include added extras such as a reception and security personnel. Coworking hubs and shared offices can include similar services but needless to say, the more basic the offering, the cheaper it will be. Desks in London can be anything from £200 per desk per month to in excess of £1,000.

Traditional spaces are usually the most cost-effective option but due to the fact the occupying business is responsible for the initial outfitting, you can feel the pinch when first taking on the property. You will also be responsible for the maintenance of the space which means preparing to fork out cash when faced with unfortunate and unexpected events like leaks or broken windows.

Last but not lease

If you’re after flexibility or a short-term let, coworking will provide you with what you need. Contracts are generally on a rolling, monthly basis. Serviced offices are starting to become more flexible too, with contracts appearing on a one-to-three-month basis.

For longer-term lets, a traditional space is what you’ll want: contracts tend to be anything between three-to-ten years. This marks quite a significant commitment however and you need to be confident in the longevity of your business.

It’s worth adding as a final point that there are plenty of alternative spaces if you’re just starting out or need a quick fix: libraries and cafes will happily host small teams, freelancers, and budding businessmen and businesswomen! One will provide peace and quiet and the other one lots of coffee – it’s really up to you!

When you’re unsure of what the future holds for your business, choosing an office to suit your needs can feel like a difficult task. Rest assured you’ll make the right decision – just take enough time out to consider the various options and what it is want from the space.

Author bio
Lilli Hender writes for OfficeGenie.co.uk: a desk and office space marketplace for every kind of business. She primarily writes about workplace wellbeing, productivity, and making the most of your workspace.

Trying to Expand Your Business?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIf your business is taking off and you think it’s time to start expanding to bigger offices – or maybe open a whole new one – you might want to make sure you have the right systems and processes in place.

Otherwise, you could end up with more complexity than you bargained for, and that growth can quickly take a downturn.

Book a complimentary strategy session with us to find out if our strategies may be helpful to you…


The Importance of Strategic Planning

Part 2: Strategic Planning

Last week in Part 1 (go to Part 1) we tried to explain what Strategic Planning is and the benefits of such planning for the business.  Today we continue talking about Strategic Planning risks and why it can fail.

Strategic Planning Risks

One of the pitfalls of doing business without a strategic plan in place is the risk of a lack of clarity around accountability across your organisation. Strategic planning should clearly establish accountability for the various tasks required to progress the company. Otherwise it is all too easy for deadlines to be missed, and catastrophic errors to occur in your financial planning, your marketing or your customer service (where only one negative post on social media is enough to undermine all your efforts to build a reputable brand).

In contrast to all of the above, there exists numerous companies who complete strategic plans, only for the documents to sit gathering digital dust on a server somewhere, never to be read. The problem? It was a document they felt they should do for the business plan, but don’t execute in actuality. Indeed more than 70% of companies with a strategic plan never execute it, research suggests. Why is this?

Forbes suggests several reasons why strategic plans fail, most notably among the causes are a reluctance to address large complex issues, and creating a document that is too confusing and while outlaying the issues, clearly leads nowhere. Indeed there are so many options when it comes to the level of depth of strategic plan, that unexperienced strategists can end up wasting a lot of valuable time compiling an unusable and unrealistic ‘plan’. That or it is a ask that gets abandoned long after it was begun; too mind boggling to justify the time requirements. The cost of that wasted time could be better spent in learning how to draw together a realistic and achievable strategic plan – a plan that provides direction to the whole organisation and a reference point for leadership in the face of industry challenges.

At London Coaching Group, you can invest in yourself and your company by learning the skill of creating and executing clear, concise and insightful strategic plans. We help businesses propel themselves forward by showing them how to craft a plan that is precise, exacting and devoid of all the unnecessary stuff. We will show you how to choose the metrics and the KPIs that bring quantifiable boundaries to the steps in the strategic plan. We will teach you how to get your strategic plan working for you. Still not convinced on the importance of a strategic plan and the ability to get it right?

Then consider this: there is demonstrable research based evidence from the Harvard Business Review that strategic planning has a positive impact on profit performance, with others citing businesses using strategic plans as being 12% more profitable.

Can you afford to be without a usable strategic plan? Talk to us today.


 

Part 1: Strategic Planning

drawing wall

 

Would you consider getting on an airplane without knowing where that airplane was going? Neither would we. Strategic planning is the equivalent of Google Maps for a company to achieve their objectives. It’s the tool that guides you on your journey to achieve those objectives, however long and complex that journey may be. In fact, most businesses don’t have a ‘final destination’ per se; once they achieve their objectives, they start the process again with a new set of objectives to achieve business growth.

Regardless of whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned managing director or the CEO of a multinational corporate, you need to be skilled at strategic planning. Let’s repeat that: you need to be skilled at strategic planning. That’s right – it is NOT an innate ability, it is not the preserve of the wealthy, highly educated or already successful individual. Money and education can only help you in so far as you can be trained in the strategic planning process – such as the training London Coaching Group provide – but in fact these things are the hoped-for outcomes of learning how to strategically plan; they are not the entry criteria.

Some businesses have a shortage of resources: capital, human and knowledge resources – particularly start ups – and their businesses struggle to survive while they spend their ever shrinking budgets on acquiring these resources, until finally they they are out of operating cash flow and cannot continue. Research shows that of 26,000 failed startup businesses, 67% did not have a strategic plan in place. Other businesses have a wealth of resources, but are unsure where to utilise those resources for the best return on investment, or perhaps  they are struggling to see new growth opportunities once their current objectives are achieved and their revenues diminish as they reach market saturation.

It is hoped that most businesses and individuals have goals. Goals are great – but the problem is they are only the destination. For quote-a-goal-without-a-planexample, putting your business goals in front of a group of investors is only showing them where you want to end up, and not how you will get there. Goals are the overarching reason why a strategic plan is needed. A strategic plan contains the step by step ‘directions’ you will follow as you conquer the territory on the way to your destination.

Another benefit is that it forces business owners into considering what their mission statement should be. If you don’t have a mission statement already, you really need one. Often it gets overlooked by startups and entrepreneurs as they get bogged down in the day to day of getting their product or service out to the market. And yet your mission statement is your raison d’etre  – your absolute singular purpose – against which your core values, your business decisions and your growth trajectory should be judged.

One of the most critical things about strategic planning is that you need to be able to objectively assess where you are in your journey – now. This is a lot harder than it seems as it is hard to stay objective when looking at the culmination of your efforts so far. Learning how to create a strategic plan will give you the tools and techniques to establish your baseline objectively. You cannot move forward until you accurately locate where you are now.

Go to (Part 2) of this article….

This article was contributed by Lindsey from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

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How to Reduce No Shows To Your Webinar

sucessfull webinar

Do you have realistic expectations about the number of people who will attend your webinar?

After all, no matter how great your content, you will never have 100% attendance, even if people have paid to attend. That being said, there are definite attendance-boosting actions you can take to reduce the number of no shows to your webinar.

Set a challenging goal: Research shows that approximately 42% of sign ups actually show up to webinars. So it’s a numbers game; figure out how many registrants you need to get in order to convert to your 42%. Setting a goal will push you to achieve it.

Choose the optimum day and time: People’s time is a premium asset, one they have to be willing to share. Weekends are personal time for most, so are not optimal. But did you know that there are optimal days? This study suggests Wednesday and Thursday are the preferred days for most.

Create and Maximise a ‘Thank you’ page: ‘A Thank You’ page affords you a major opportunity to continue engaging with your visitor immediately after they have registered. Offer the ability to share the webinar opportunity on social media with sharing buttons. You can also use this page to link to blog content or offer newsletter sign ups. Then have that content refer back frequently to your upcoming webinar.

Use a #Hashtag: Create and display a dedicated #hashtag specifically for your event on your ‘Thank you’ page and make it highly visible. Offer your registrants the opportunity to post pre-webinar questions and comments using that hashtag. An upside to this is that it will help you bulk out your webinar content. Ensure you are also using this hashtag across your own social media.

Add to Calendar: The most basic way is to include a call to action on your ‘Thank you’ page to remind your visitor to add the webinar to their calendar. The best way is to use a plugin that will either automatically add the event to the user’s calendar or alternatively provide you with a link that you can add to your landing page beside your call to action, on your blogs and across your social media. AddEvent provides excellent capability, for example. Ensure you are including your social media sharing buttons and your link to automatically add-to-calendar.

Email reminders post sign-up: An absolute necessity obviously, are your email reminders post sign-up. While most organisers send emails immediately upon registration, there are further emails that you should send. We recommend the following email schedule:

•    One week before
•    One day before
•    At the time the webinar is about to begin

Blitz your social media: To reduce no shows at your webinar then getting the word out about your webinar is key. It’s particularly important on the day the webinar is scheduled because same day conversion rates are quite good, so you could see a slew of new registrants on the day itself if you successfully advertise your event across all your social media channels. If you use a social media scheduling tool, ensure to schedule your webinar information regularly. Pay per click advertising across social media and GoogleAd words may well be worth it but is not essential. Anyone who joins your webinar via your social media ‘event’ will be inadvertently advertising your event to all their friends.

Use a Countdown Clock: Across your website and landing pages, ensure you have a countdown clock accompanied by the register button as soon as you begin your webinar advertising. It serves as a great reminder to registrants visiting your site and is a hugely eye catching visual for new visitors.

Develop a reputation for top class webinars: If you are skilled at picking and delivering killer topics for your webinar, you will slowly build your attendance rates. The topic itself is not the only concern. Keeping your audience’s attention so that they don’t drop the webinar – or worse not sign up for your next one – is a completely separate skill than marketing the webinar or writing the content.

This article was contributed by Lindsey from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

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How Great Leaders Embrace Their Weaknesses

Part 3: How Great Leaders Turn Their Weaknesses Into Strengths

Businessman

In Part 1 and 2 we tried to explain what exactly the weakness in business leadership is (see the Part 1 below) and how leaders can identify their weakness (go to Part 2). Today we will examine exactly how great leaders go about embracing their weaknesses with a view to strengthening them or minimising their effect.

In a perfect world, each and every business leader would be absolutely flawless.  But, regrettably, we don’t live in a perfect world and every business leader has a few flaws.  That is not to say that they can’t be effective leaders, it just means that their strong leadership qualities are countered by a few weak ones.

Given that we live in an imperfect world, this is the case with every business leader.  And yet the world is full of brilliant leaders that are nothing if not successful.  So, if weakness is a part of every business leader, how do some still achieve this level of success?  The answer can be given in one word: acceptance.

The best leaders recognise and accept that they are not perfect and indeed have a few weaknesses, and they embrace these weaknesses and try to turn them into strengths.

This doesn’t mean that they try to eliminate them from their personalities.  Instead, great leaders function with their weaknesses, and still manage to be effective and inspirational.

But, how do leaders do this?  How do they manage their weaknesses in such a way that they are never inhibitive?  The following are some of the ways in which they accomplish the feat.

 
How to Turn Weaknesses Into Strengths

1. Preparation
Business leaders that know of and accept their weaknesses are in a good position to eliminate their effect through preparation.  If, for strength vs weeknessexample, someone has a problem keeping track of time, it might help them to set reminders on their phone, notifying them of important meetings, etc.  This same approach can be applied to business leadership.  It simply involves making the necessary plans to counter the effect of any possible weaknesses.

2. Consultation
Some leaders feel that, as the decision-makers of their companies, they have to know everything.  This perception is absolutely ridiculous.  Leaders don’t have to have all of the answers.  Any great leader will tell you that there is no shame in consulting the opinions of others.  This promotes synergy, generates ideas and, importantly, limits the capabilities of leadership weaknesses.   

3. Replacing the Weakness through Human Resources
Where business leaders are aware of a particular weakness negatively affecting their companies, the hiring of someone to curb that negative effect is often advantageous.  By bringing in an employee to control the task, or tasks, being affected by management weakness, a leader can simply cut the effects of that weakness out of the company.

4. Seeking External Support
Modern executive coaching is not aimed at targeting weaknesses as much as it is aimed at growing leadership abilities.  However, if some skills need to be strengthened in the pursuit of the creation of a better-rounded leader, this is a measure that will be taken.  Hiring external support can thus work well in helping leaders embrace their weaknesses and work around them.

strong arms

 
Accepting Weakness is a Strength

Some people might say that finding the good in the bad is the best way to turn a weakness into a strength.  By this logic, a pedantic leader should embrace his or her finicky nature and call it passion.

While accepting that small parts of some weaknesses can be turned into strengths, simply renaming the weakness is perpetuating that weakness in the form of avoidance.  

The best business leaders don’t avoid their weaknesses.  They accept that they have various weaknesses, they attempt to honestly identify them, and then they find ways to lead effectively without being affected by their weaknesses.

 


 

Part 2: How Great Leaders Identify Weaknesses Within Themselves

(16 August, 2016 by Russell Peach)

Smiling business woman

In Part 1 we tried to explain what the weakness in business leadership is (see the Part 1 below). Here we continue by talking about how leaders can identify their weakness.

John Kotter, Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School, said that ‘Great leadership doesn’t mean running away from reality.’

Good leaders know to play to their strengths, and can be more than competent in doing so.  But great leaders recognise their own weaknesses, and focus on improving the areas in which they may be lacking, whether through executive coaching or otherwise.

Admitting weakness may sound to some like the hallmark of an unconfident, anxious leader.  But, in actual fact, it is the leader that refuses to accept that he or she has any flaws that stands to be victimised by confidence.  Leaders who recognise various weaknesses within themselves, yet refuse to be characterised by those weaknesses, are the leaders who relentlessly pursue and most often achieve success.

But, how do these business leaders go about identifying various weaknesses within themselves?

broken chain

Ways in Which Great Leaders Identify Their Own Leadership Weaknesses

1. Introspection
One of the first methods of identifying weakness in oneself is through deep and honest self-examination.  Honesty is the key factor here.  Leaders who attempt to justify the weaknesses in themselves, or perhaps try to pass some weaknesses off as strengths, won’t get a clear picture of their leadership shortcomings, and thus won’t be able to truly tackle them.

2. Feedback from Colleagues
Some leaders turn to their colleagues for appraisals of their leadership, and the identification of weak areas.  This means urging those colleagues to be absolutely honest however, and not arguing with their thoughts.  Leaders who get defensive when receiving feedback won’t garner honest opinions, and thus won’t end up with a clear picture as to their weaknesses, ironic as that may be.

3. Evaluation of Data
When it comes to weaknesses, the numbers don’t lie.  Areas in which a leader is weak will suffer as a result, which will reflect in company data.  A good leader can use this data to identify these weak points and use them as a basis for future growth and development.

4. The Assistance of Advisors
Some leaders who are looking for weaknesses in their approaches turn to advisors for help.  By bringing advisors into business decisions, leadership weaknesses may be exposed through conflicting suggestions.  If a team of advisors is unanimous on a particular point, and that point happens to be in contrast with the business leader’s position, that may be a key indicator of weakness in that area.

5. External Assessments
Business leaders don’t always have to look inwards in order to discover weakness – be it within the company or within themselves.  It is quite possible for experts from the outside to provide clear suggestions as to any weaknesses in leadership style.  These could come as the result of personality tests or leadership assessments.

Strengths and Weaknesses balance sheet

Identification Is the First Step Towards Resolution

As we mentioned earlier, leaders who possess distrust in the opinions of others or have difficulty accepting criticism may have a hard time of identifying their own weakness as a direct result of that weakness.

However, the leaders who can freely accept that they have various weaknesses are the ones that are most likely to conquer those weaknesses and become much more effective leaders in the future.

In Part 3 next week we will examine exactly how great leaders go about embracing their weaknesses with a view to strengthening them or minimising their effect.


 

Part 1: What Is Weakness in Business Leadership?

(2 August, 2016 by Russell Peach)

Leader standing

CEOs and executives aren’t just plucked off the street and asked to lead businesses. Whether they helm small enterprises or major corporations, leaders find themselves in their positions because of their ability to make decisions and inspire others.

So, when we talk about leadership weakness, we aren’t referring to a given leader’s inability to lead effectively. As mentioned, that leader wouldn’t have ever been placed in a leadership position should there be an inherent problem with his or her overall ability to lead a team (and, as executive coaching specialists, we know this more than anyone). Instead, when we talk about leadership weaknesses, we refer to small factors of a leader’s overall ability.

Over the three parts of this look into leadership weakness we intend to explore how great leaders identify and embrace the various weaknesses in their leadership abilities. But, before we can do that, we will first take a brief look at some of the common weaknesses amongst leaders.

group of figures with ties

 

Common Business Leadership Weaknesses

1. Distrust
This is one of the biggest weaknesses amongst leaders. It manifests itself in many forms (autocracy, arrogance, pessimism, etc.) but basically boils down to a lack of faith in colleagues. Part of good leadership involves delegation – placing trust in others and relinquishing total control over each aspect of every project. Failure to embrace this results in a fundamental leadership weakness.

2. Needing to be Liked
Leaders are humans first and business tools second. It thus stands to reason that many leaders possess that innate human trait of wanting to be liked and accepted. However, the business leaders that let this influence their business decisions are the victims of another common leadership weakness.

3. Neglecting Emotional Impact
In contrast to the leaders who make decisions based on how popular they will be with their employees, some leaders pay no attention to the emotional impact of their decisions. These leaders either disregard or fail to notice the emotional effect of their decisions, possibly due to a lack of emotional attunement or empathy.

4. Complacency
Leaders brought into companies to meet specific goals are always at risk of becoming complacent when reaching those goals. It is very tempting for a leader to see everything snap into place and then take his or her foot off the accelerator and coast. These types of leaders then wait until they receive a new set of objectives before creating new ideas, which defeats the purpose of leadership.

back fingers crossing

 

Failing to Notice Weakness Is a Weakness in Itself

It is easy for us to identify business leadership weaknesses from an objective viewpoint. However, it is much harder for some leaders to adopt an introspective viewpoint and truthfully identify their own weaknesses. This is perhaps the first form of weakness that needs to be dealt with.

 

This article was contributed by Russell Peach from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

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