Sunday, 6 December 2009

Making it easier for a Buyers to Buy

There are 3 key areas in this topic;
Part 1: Modern Buyer Expectations
Part 2: Integrated Sales Process and In-house Integrated Sales & Purchasing

Part 1
Modern Buyer Expectations
“We're all exceptionally busy and we've got tight deadlines to meet. I don't like to do this, but we're having to making hard decisions to meet our business expectations and deadlines; which generally means companies who post our requirements (like quotes, specifications and in-house data) are marked down and less likely to be a supplier or regular trader. Those providing integrated services are our desired partner and supplier. ” answered the modern buyer of a large leisure and hospitality group about their expectations and desired supplier experience.

I'm working backwards from the buyers experience to sales integration and technique.
The reason for this is if the experience is poor but a smooth sales technique, customers wont stay.
Think of it as a whole in a bucket, if customers & work are leaking away it doesn't matter about the sales technique, marketing or generation just stop the leak.

To understand a Modern Buyers Expectations we're best first understanding why a customer will leave and the opportunities it presents. Amazingly when a customer leaves a supplier many businesses don't ask “the Why's” - some don't want to know, others think they know (the telepathy method) and most that do ask don't listen to the answers. Its reasonably easy to spot the business listening to their buyers as their business is pretty stable, they tend to be ahead of their piers in sales figures despite economic climates. This is because they don't lose many customers, a bi-product of listening to them, they value and use the feedback to get ahead, ensuring they don't lose future customers and in doing so attract new ones.

In a Buyer and Supplier relationship, like any relationship, there is going to personal clashes except there's more persons to clash with. Once a supplier, there are two possible clashes [a] delivery of service and [b] cashflow. The accounts department (sometimes referred too as “anti sales team') is the most likely to cause clashes over cashflow, were in the customers viewsomeone or something is unreasonable and so on. Covering the aspects of dealing with these issues or clashes will be in a coming article and blog on “developing your customers.”

In the majority of cases when a Modern Buyer and customer leaves and there's no relationship clash, its because the buyer wants a smoother service. Knowing the reasons for this is critical to rescuing the business, usual it's for a more modern approach (integrated sales & purchasing system) or its part of a consolidation process; which is drawing a combination of services together, increasing purchasing power, reducing supplier base and creating more time focus on their business.

At this point some will be thinking, I've missed out price as the main reason for a buyer leaving. However if price is the change issue the service was at a TRADER level and the business never raised the customer relationship to an account management level.
The customer never got or valued the experience, there was no real relationship
(knowing your customer levels & “developing your customers” is another topic & blog).

The modern buyer and customer journey has changed they're looking for faster, smother services and why not, there's plenty of technology available and they're expecting suppliers to utilise it through IT integration, supported by service specialisum.

Consider the points within “Sales Leadership” article before and the think of these modern expectations; to stop the leaking customers, look to modernise and ask them “why have their orders gone down – is it you? Why do they use a number of suppliers? What accreditations do they value (most common mistake to accredit yourself to you value)? Why are they leaving? Can we do anything more for you? But above all – ask the customers you lost 3, 6, 12, 24 months ago! Your likely to find they value you more for coming back to ask and for showing your modernising.

I'll have Part 2 available shortly but in the mean time I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts.

If you want to get more on related blogs view
Increasing Cashflow through your Sales Force” and “Sales Leadership
or want to know more on Tim visit & - you can also keep up with him at, &

Monday, 14 September 2009

SPHERE:eco tips - increase your Car Efficiency

Whether its for the environment or a personal motive, running a car has become extremely costly. Many have looked to a company car as a solution to the costs but in every case getting the best efficiency out of the car is most certainly at the for front of everyone's mind.

As a consequence we're all making decisions and shortlisting our cars by their efficiency: Miles Per Gallon (MPG). When we've bought our vehicle we believe we've ticked the right boxes, we're doing or have done our bit for sustainability in buying an efficient car, whether a hybrid or not. However how many people actually achieve the MPG performance marketed for the car we shortlisted and conscientiously bought? If we're honest the answer is very few – if any!

So why is that we struggle to achieve the MPG performance out of our cars?
The answer is simple yet difficult for many to accept, as it is our driving style and habits that hold us back from achieving the performance from our vehicles.

[1] Tyres: they are one of the most less understood aspects of the vehicle and viewed by most as merely providing “traction” to support braking; however tyre pressure and grip are vital ingredients to achieving and helping to increase your driving MPG.

Having the right tyre pressure (correct pressure information can usually be found on the edge of the driver's side door & in your car manual) ensures the car delivers the power to the road and coasts/travels optimally. If the tyre pressure is less the vehicle wont coast or travel very well, requiring the engine to work harder to maintain speed/momentum. Under inflated tyres reduces the control of the vehicle, increasing braking distances and wearing out the tyres more rapidly.

Quote from Kwik fit website “Vehicles with under-inflated tyres have increased rolling resistance that require more fuel to maintain the same speed.” For more detail view link at bottom.

[2] Reduce loads: a large proportion of increasing your driving efficiency can be achieved by reducing the amount of unnecessary baggage being carried around. Commonly the car will be used as an extra storage area for items like work documents, years worth of leaflets & brochures to name a few.

Your vehicle's marketed MPG performance will be based on a new car with a 1 person driving and testing it. Therefore carrying around all the trip over items from your house or workplace is costing you through the performance of your car.

[3] Air Conditioning: most cars these days have air conditioning which helps efficiency on hot and humid days as opening windows creates drag reduces performance. However, air conditioning uses horse power from the engine and reducing the performance of the vehicle.

[4] Maintain your vehicle: everyone knows the old phrase “a well maintained machine performs and lasts longer” but how many of people know that good oil can increase the performance of your engine. Warming up the engine is a practice valuing oil in the performance of a engine, lubricating it before inflicting driving stresses on it.

The 'warm up' practice uses fuel but with modern engines and advanced oil technologies mean there is no need for the practice anymore; however cheap oils are a different story. It's worth considering whether having a modern medium or high spec oil has an advantage over cheap oil where it would be advisable to 'warm up' the engine; any cost savings is dependent on the vehicle – environmentally not warming up is better as you'll be using oil anyway, and not using fuel is a reduction in your emissions.

For more detail I've attached a few great links on Engine Oil and Engine Flushes at the bottom.

The remaining and following tips are a change in driving styles and habits; after a 3 month experiment these tips showed an increase in participants MPG of between 7&11.

[5] Engine braking:
an engine, road and air have a natural friction to the vehicle and each gear in a vehicle has a maximum speed. Using these components together can increase the performance of your vehicle and reduce tyre and brake wear. For example, judging in advance of a hazard and coasting up to the hazard without dropping the clutch will result in the vehicle gradually slowing. However, dropping a gear from 4th to 3rd before a hill decent has been a common safety practice for heavy vehicles to keep a constant speed down a hill – try it.

[6] Smooth Driving: many drivers drive hard which is to say, they accelerate away hard and break hard which is not smooth driving. The skill of smooth driving is maximising the momentum of your vehicle and will increase the performance and safety of your driving. Most of us focus on a journey as the time taken to get from A to B. However the momentum of the journey is the average speed, distance divided by time taken.

For example, if two cars travelled the same distance, one drove at a constant speed whilst the other drove hard, accelerating hard and braking late but both reached the finish at about the same time. The first kept with the traffic whilst the second stopped and started, the first car would have performed better.

The success of smooth driving is [a] the focus on accelerating gently, slowly increasing the revs and changing gear between1500 and 2500 revs and [b] involves judging the road ahead, braking (engine or other) in advance of the hazard – not braking at/ upon the hazard.

[7] Don't ride the clutch: riding the clutch is a fancy but lazy technique used in replacement of brakes/ hand brake and an MPG inefficient solution to controlling a vehicle.

[8] Plan your journey: common sense but it really brings all the above into action, plan a route that enables you to get the best out of your vehicle and maximises Smooth Driving.

Increasing your driving MPG is about your Driving Style - you've made a great effort at finding an economical vehicle and the cheapest fuel, the easiest step to get the most out of your vehicle is with these simple changes?

Plan your journey.
Check tyre pressures frequently.
Reduce loads.
Drive Smoothly: accelerate gently & keep speed constant.
Use engine braking.
Don't idle your engine.
When necessary use air conditioning.
Don't warm up your engine.


Great links:
Tyre pressure Kwik fit reference
Should I warm up my engine?
Engine Flushes Pros & Cons

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Add Value to business through Part-time employment

Do you remember those days when child care was a luxury and businesses had loyalty from their employees because the business supported their staff? These were the times when someone's career had one or two employers - anything more than that and you might be considered a 'flighty' employee.

Modern practices however are completely different. Child care is a problematic necessity and businesses still expect loyalty but give little support to gain it from their staff. Employees are now not giving loyalty and starting to adopt the same attitude; as expressed to me recently “the city's” view is that if you're in a role more than 2 or 3 years you are some how considered 'settled', 'not driven or stagnant' as an employment agency described it.

It is therefore easy to state that things have changed. Knowing what exactly has changed and why, is the purpose of this blog and the businesses opportunity.

The loyalty aspects within modern business is moving towards an equilibrium, as identified in my “Adding Value to business through Employees” blog.

The opportunity to an organisation is understanding the child care issue and how that's driving employees attitudes to work.

The changes I've mentioned have come about with the devaluation of the 'Home Keeper'. By that I mean the person managing and creating the home. The Home Keeper can be male or female, I'm not bothered but my point is, it has become a requirement and an expectation for families to have 2 incomes to support a home.

Consider, if a TV crew walked into a local pub or sports club and asked everyone to explain out loud their vocation, what reaction do you think would be given to men or women that said “I'm a house husband” or “I'm a house wife”?

Look at it from another angle, the same TV crew go into a office and ask everyone to state out loud how would they realistically structure their home life to be truly happy, what reaction do you think would be given to men or women that said, “I'd like to work part time, so I could look after the home, family and it would reduce my child care costs or at least give us more time with them”?

I'm sure you'll agree in both cases the majority of people would look alarmed or potentially consider them 'inferior' after the event.

It is fair to say that this is an observation of the times right now. However, businesses are becoming more considerate - valuing more flexible habits and “working from home” and introducing employee incentives (as previous mentioned in Adding Value to business through Employees).

So what has all this got to do with Part-time working Adding Value to Business? The answer is quite simply; employees with families would like the opportunity to go part time but are apprehensive at the reaction they might receive from employer and colleagues. These reactions might impact their career straight away or in the future. However from a business perspective part-time or job shared work is a fantastic opportunity misunderstood.

With part time or job shared work a business will gain:
[a] increased skills within the work place without increasing overheads,
[b] created flexibility for heavy periods, holidays, or cover during recruitment lag,
[c] stepped towards creating a responsible employer reputation,
[d] increased loyalty from staff,
[e] this loyalty encourages better internal support across departments,
[f] resulting in over all better productivity and profitability.

So why are employees so interested in finding responsible employers? Again the answer is quite simply family lifestyle but greatly because of child care costs. Families are being forced to choose how they start a family:
[a] not getting married to enable a single parent benefit claim,
[b] one in the home not working to claim more child care allowances,
[c] one in the home moving to part time employment and reduce the amount of child care,
[d] or a combination of the above to ensure a reasonable family lifestyle.

Some of you might be thinking, it couldn't happen today there's employment law support, enable and protect option [c] making it feasible. However, many businesses wont openly admit to not wanting part time or job shared employment. Therefore go to 'reasonable' lengths and efforts to defend that position; forcing the employee to find another job or struggle.

My point is to identify the current situation and highlight the role businesses can play to alleviate some of the problems whilst adding value to their business. Large organisations are less likely to change their ways and opinions, leaving the opporuntiy for SME's to add value to their business by capitalising on this demand.

In case there's a few of you still unconvinced about this point, think that we are most definitely in the age of responsibility both environmentally and socially. Then consider what a famous sportsman once said when asked why he was so successful at his sport he answered: “most people play where the ball is at but I play to where it is going!” Demand will eventually change the circumstances, it would good to get ahead of the game.

Responsible businesses is the requirement, part-time work is the demand and SME's have the opportunity to win in all areas without cost. I'd be interested to know those who agree and disagree with this blog.

If you want to get more on related blogs view “Adding Value to business through Employees” & “Business growth through Environmental & Partnership developments” or visit

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Business Growth through Environmental & Partnership developments

Are you update with the modern lingo or pretending to be, ignoring it and burying you head in the sand?

Environment, Sustainability, Partnerships and Networks important buzz words being thrown about creating as much opportunity for those that have grasped it but more than an equal amount of smoke and misunderstanding for those who don't.

How your organisation is handling these buzz words now has a major impact on credibility and reputation.

The methodology behind an organisations statements in managing these buzz words is critical, there are lots of organisations all sizes writing, saying and “spinning” what everyone wants to hear about these topics but failing miserably to deliver any where near their policy statements.

The pace in which the Environmental & Sustainability developments have rightfully taken hold of our lives has meant skills gaps and misunderstandings in how to meet modern expectations in achieving them.

Knowing what to do, where to start, how to structure and communicate these buzz words is difficult especially for SME sized organisations who are less likely to be able to dedicate resources to adopt and implement necessary changes. Many are either burying their heads in sand, or plagiarising other organisations policies without clear methodology or structures behind them and unaware of the damage they're making of their credibility and reputation.

Getting an organisation's Environmental & Sustainability policies or statements to add value and growth is not about great “spin” words but how you show that these words are being implemented.

The purpose and philosophy of Environmental & Sustainability policies is all about the impact and diligence outside your direct surroundings. Diligence includes customer lines, supply chains, environment, business and its employees; which has naturally lead to the revival of business networking and partnerships.

The development of modern partnerships are with suppliers and similar client non-competitors (like a solar panel company partnering with a roofing company) each fantastic and easy solution areas whilst fundamental focuses to develop the necessary methodologies for Environmental & Sustainability policies. Modern networking is realistically partnerships as well, partnerships that assist sales and resource opportunities – a blog area I'll be commenting about shortly in Sales & Strategic Growth.

Consumers are experienced to the hard cold corporate “spin” either form their work place or as a customer and are now choosing their purchases with businesses that can show (not talk) their acclaimed credibility & reputation. They're driven and influenced by the Environmental policy & Sustainability policies of organisations which provides opportunities for those who act, take the time and look to adopt Environmental & Sustainable focuses and develop good methodologies with dedicated reviews and schedules.

Promoting an organisations policies is not enough, communicating and making available statements and methodologies is an absolute - done properly it can create growth and opportunities through consumers as well as open doors with new partnerships.

In conclusion, being known as “responsible” is strong PR that includes activities and principles towards environment, employees and overall business practices. Good environmental practices will add value and growth to an organisation through savings whilst creating further opportunities and growth through partnerships as businesses team up to support each other in becoming more responsible.

Get to know more about environmental policies and how to develop and implement effective methodologies visit A FREE brochure on easy environmental saving ideas is available.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Adding Value to business through Employees

We're most definitely in the age of technology & responsibility both for environment & employment. Yet there are many who haven't grasped that this age is here or realised it's here to stay. Responsibilities towards the environment, work and employment are changing and these changes are reshaping general business practice. The reshaping is really the revival of employment responsibilities but now includes the environment and it's deeper aspects - making this new age simply Corporate Responsibilities.

Over the past 3 decades employment attitudes & trends has had some distinctive changes between employees & businesses that have shaped our beliefs about work ethics, loyalty and career development. For a long time up to the 80's was a time where loyalty between both businesses and employees were clearly noticeable, almost a job for life. In the late 80's & early 90's businesses shifted their expectations, to their “self attitude” where employment demanded loyalty & meant work came first, family second with little if any loyalty returned to the employee. Then the late 90's & early 00's saw another shift in the loyalty expectations balance with employees adopting the same “self attitude” businesses had conveyed in the early 90's. The attitude resulted in employees focusing on 2 to 3 years in any one position & if promotion wasn't available they'd find it else where.

We're now moving into the 2000 teens where change in the loyalty balance is happening again - modern businesses are putting back what they lost in their employees and embracing schemes to support and drive loyalty. This development and change hasn't been a sudden brain wave in corporate thinking but more a biproduct of organisations focusing on the environment and sustainability. In the development of modern and lateral thinking about being responsible towards the environment, it has been recognised that sustainability and longevity also includes employees.

The employees link into sustainability & longevity has added a more rounded or tangible value to Corporate Responsibility - being known & seen as responsible is the modern PR, working wonders at reducing staff turnover (employee retention) & increasing employee performance & over all profitability; extending to increased credibility & it's associated growth – a blog area I'll be writing about shortly. However I recognise the achilles heal to staff turnover, productivity & profitability will always be Leadership Vs Management.

Being known & viewed as a “responsible employer.”
This is simply how an organisation's employees value the business and recognise its value to them & the local society. Areas to review & consider what impact the value a business has with it's employees & their opinions are:

[a] illustrating acknowledgment where work fits into an employees life – very few people exist to work.

[b] an organisations culture & leadership style will impact staff morale daily – influencing employees opinions more than any rewards or recognition can remedy.

[c] understand where you're organisation can support your staff personally – utilise the business through employee incentives & benefit packages to defer taxes enabling an employee to achieve their lifestyle easier (view for more details).

[d] work recognition – strongly associated and covered with good leadership but at times easily forgotten.

[e] open communication – strongly associated with culture, drive gossip & rumours out of your business by proactively and openly communicating what's happening in the business.

For those that might still be unconvinced note that the longevity of a business is through the quality of the people in the business. Consider everyone can sell your organisation because everyone knows someone & socially everyone asks what people do for a living. If an employee speaks positively and enthusiastically when asked about their living, the person & the business are likely to be remembered.

"Adding value through your employees" is simply adding employee incentives, benefit packages & rewards to your business – a modern fast growing practice in becoming recognised as a "responsible employer."

Get to know more about how to implement these schemes FREE and how easy they are to set up visit

Friday, 10 July 2009

Grow your business through Sales Leadership Part 3

Sales Leadership is about leading 4 key areas:
Part 1: Targets Management, Part 2: Leading Sales teams to achieve Profit Margins, Flexible Multiple Goals and

Part 3: The Jewel in your crown that is your Customer.

In identifying what Sales Leadership is at the beginning, some might believe that's it - the end; but they'd be mistaken. Knowing what to say is nowhere near the same as knowing how, when and why you're doing it.

The Jewel in sales leadership is in your Customer
To recap in PART 1 I highlighted that a heavy focus on targets leads the business away from what it was intending; in PART 2 that business success from sales leadership is simply the consistency in results it delivers.

However there's one area I've left unmentioned that many businesses get distracted from and in some cases have lost the skill with. This jewel and the growth in your business with Sales Leadership is about leading both the “customer” and the business. It's not the sales process, conversions or cycle but simply knowing your customer. The reason I call it the jewel is that the 30% growth you want in your business can come from the people you already know. Ever heard the phrase “I can't see the wood for the trees” if not then remember it as a key phrase to remind you and your team about leading the customer.

Knowing your customer has three areas [a] the potential in each customer, [b] leads through their networks & recommendations and [c] lost business. To conclude maximising these three customer areas you'll get the consistent growth in your business. Lost business is one everyone avoids yet its the easiest to get growth.
The reasoning is straight forward, new business is a relationship from scratch and time required to build it– lost business is a relationship that can be fixed. They already know you, your capabilities and potentially still have an account with you. There's cases where time is needed to mend bridges but in most cases they left for a combination of small things.

To conclude lead your customers to your growth and lead your sales teams to lost business; and deliver effective Sales Leadership by bringing out the best in people and encouraging them to work for the best reasons, whilst it includes easy achievable goals with a focus on profit margin that is flexible and allows for organisational change or circumstances.

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts: was it thought provoking? is it what you expected? possibly I could help with a query, or a sales come sales teams issue you're facing or involved in?

If you want to get more on related blogs view “Increasing cashflow through your Sales Force”
or want to know more on Tim visit & - you can also
keep up with Tim at
Visit & join - the sales network, tips & professional advice site

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Grow your business through Sales Leadership Part 2

Sales Leadership is about leading 4 key areas:
Part 1: Targets Management, Part 2: Leading Sales teams to achieve Profit Margins, Flexible Multiple Goals and Part 3: The Jewel in your crown that is your Customer.

In identifying what Sales Leadership is at the beginning, some might believe that's it - the end; but they'd be mistaken. Knowing what to say is nowhere near the same as knowing how, when and why you're doing it.

Part 2
Profit for Sanity
Do you recall the old fashioned saying, “Revenue for Vanity, Profit for Sanity” - it's worth remembering if you don't as businesses can go bust with large revenue, I've not heard any do the same with large profits.

In my mind and from experience, if profit margins on a product is not at least 3% above standard banking interest rates it's not worth the sale. The reasoning is quite simply the working capital used to process the product or service would have gained an equal return if left in the bank; therefore activities in the business would have been best spent else where. That is not to say I don't recognise there are situations where getting some money back is better than none, as at times its more costly to have a product line or service down than selling low; however each of these exceptions are results of poor sales & strategy.

Flexible Multiple Goals
Many businesses go to great lengths developing their budgets each year, which are segmented into 12 financial performances. The problem is little or no thought is given about what steps are needed to make the performance a reality. In budgeting for growth reviews in departments, processes and practices is a critical aspect as the requirements and expectations for a £1m business are completely different to a £9m business. To account for this I personally use a 100 day plan and multiple targets (I've got a Sales & Strategic Growth blog coming out shortly, in it I explain the 100 day plans). The principle of having multiple targets is to measure and reward performance not only on finances but projects I've tasked (personal objectives), performance targets (KPI's) and goals (the budget and financial aspect). From experience I've found sales teams respond better to these principles of sales leadership as it keeps them focused on each performance area. If for what ever reason individuals miss out or results are going to fall short in an area, such as budget error, budget adjustment and/or other general circumstances they don't get demotivated because they can still achieve something and get rewarded (the flexible part). Obviously if all areas are failing with a team member then that needs to be addressed.

The business success from sales leadership is simply the consistency in results it delivers apposed to what many businesses experience - see-saw sales results or yo-yo sales performance due to motivation or circumstance issues.

I'll have Part 3 available tomorrow but in the mean time I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts: was it thought provoking? is it what you expected? possibly I could help with a query, or a sales come sales teams issue you're facing or involved in?

If you want to get more on related blogs view “Increasing cashflow through your Sales Force”
or want to know more on Tim visit & - you can also
keep up with Tim at
Visit & join - the sales network, tips & professional advice site

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Grow your business through Sales Leadership Part 1

Sales Leadership is about leading 4 key areas:
Part 1: Targets Management, Part 2: Leading Sales teams to achieve Profit Margins, Flexible Multiple Goals and Part 3: The Jewel in your crown that is your Customer.

In identifying what Sales Leadership is at the beginning, some might believe that's it - the end; but they'd be mistaken. Knowing what to say is nowhere near the same as knowing how, when and why you're doing it.

Part 1
Targets Management
We all know there's a need to measure performance and targets is an easy method. The problem is when the measurement is exhausted with over targeted practices.
I'll use an analogy of a donkey, carrot & stick to illustrate. In my analogy the donkey represents the sales team and business. The carrot is the targets and rewards; whilst the stick is the general leadership and management style. The goal is to reach the desired destination.

If the donkey never achieves the carrot it wont be inspired by it and ignore it. It's the same at the other end of the analogy, if the donkey always gets the carrot it wouldn't take long before the donkey gets full and doesn't move or eat another any time soon.

Many businesses might think now to use the stick whilst the donkey's not inspired by the carrot or can't move due to gluttony. I'd describe this thinking as slave driving and it would be a mistake because a donkey needs leadership for results. Hitting the donkey with a stick and it is likely to behave with defiance or wild reaction and run off out of control maybe in the direction of your journey, but most likely not.
The point is the donkey doesn't always need the carrot, the skill in sales leadership is knowing at what stage in the journey it does, when it does not and how to get it moving when it's had enough. Therefore managing and administering targets sparingly, closely monitoring but appreciative that “performance added value” can be limited if over targeted.

A heavy focus on targets leads the business away from what it was intending.

Lose sales through 'results now' attitude.
The slave driver thinking has come about because many businesses have forgotten or replaced the skill of sales leadership with over focused targets. Just like the donkey the resulting behaviour is damaging, high staff turnovers with associated loses (such as reduced sales, knowledge deficite and reductions in client relationships) and low moral.

In addition we're in a world where everything is getting faster which has developed a “now attitude.” Most businesses have adopted and encouraged this attitude and behaviour with staff when setting and managing targets. Thus causing unnecessary stress, anxiety and fear of failure resulting in slowed or poor sales performance.

To describe how sales teams and performance are affected by the “now attitude” think of it like holding a carrot out infront of the donkey with one hand and beating the back of the donkey with the stick in the other. Now both hands are off the donkey how long and easy is it going to be to fall off the donkey? And how do you expect to keep the donkey going in the direction you want it too?

There is a time for 'results now' attitude as there is when driving a car and dropping down a gear to perform a passing manoeuvre. However running a car in first gear everywhere or second on a motor way would ruin the engine, just as continual now attitude damages the performance of the business as well as the sales team.
Knowing when to drop down a gear for performance, or when to use the carrot or the stick is in my view the first part of Sales Leadership for continual growth.

I'll have Part 2 available tomorrow but in the mean time I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts: was it thought provoking? is it what you expected? possibly I could help with a query, or a sales come sales teams issue you're facing or involved in?

If you want to get more on related blogs view “Increasing cashflow through your Sales Force”
or want to know more on Tim visit & - you can also
keep up with Tim at &
Visit & join - the sales network, tips & professional advice site

Friday, 3 July 2009

Increasing Cash Flow is in your Sales Force

Many businesses are feeling the squeeze, some believe micro-managing their sales targets is the key, others think the finance department have the solution & some are set on micro-managing everything and cutting costs; but in most cases they would be looking in the wrong direction.

My point is simply most businesses operate leanly & cutting even more corners to the majority of businesses is not the answer; infact it compounds the problem. How many times can you cut the corners of a square before it resembles or becomes a circle?

The first step to surviving hard times is to actively manage your business. The problem is many mistake this to mean micro-managing the business. I'd challenge anyone to find someone you know who likes being micro-managed. Micro-managing is an imploding activity & a result of poor performance generally from a wrong strategy, leadership or general management to begin with.

Think for a minute then of a business & everyone within it were performing well, the market still needs the business but everyone's under financial pressures. The solution to the business surviving these pressures is the how the business is perceived & valued in the market.

The elements to surviving & growing in these times are Cash Flow, Maintaining Sales & Communication.

Some might be thinking of the Finance Department as the solution but they can't collect cash when payments stopped due to a query in the service. The Finance Department can't control stock levels & cash caught up in it because purchasing agreements are at certain volumes for efficient production. The Finance Department could delay payment on suppliers but that's short lived. In addition no-one likes a later payer & becoming notoriously late usually means the business needs more stock to maintain operations as order fulfilment drops to late payers with potential order shortages due to account stops etc. The Finance department can help but on their own they can't affect cash flow substantially.

My point is the Sales Force is the strongest department in tough times & it's not about mirco-managing them and their targets. The Sales Force impact the businesses perception in the market, they're the front line to the customer & hold the relationships to surviving hard times. Maintaining Sales is about continuing the level of sales as much as possible, reducing your Debtors & sending out positive messages.

If there's a service issue making a payment query, the Sales Force is the right department to handle it. The business needs to find more commitment from customers, such as raising minimum order values or shorter customer payment terms; the Sales Force is the right department to handle it.

The view & strategy that really bothers me is cutting the Sales Force in hard times, though I recognise in certain circumstances its required. In mostly situations this happens because the business focus is inwards with a belief of cutting overheads & riding the storm with existing sales. This behaviour has little thought to the Communication & signals this sends out to the market.

If a business has a high turnover of staff, specifically in a field sales type roles the perception in the market is that the business is a poor employer, struggling, not to mention the lose in customer relationships and knowledge. Such a practice can't control market perceptions it creates because no-one's there long enough for the customer to have any integrity with.

Remember some of the old sales phrases: “ring fence your customers” & “when you're not talking to your customers, some else is.” - I believe they've lost their meaning and value.

To conclude be close to your customers through your Sales Force to increase your cash flow, don't micro-manage, communicate to maintain sales.

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts: was it thought provoking? is it what you expected?
possibly I could help with a query, or a sales come sales teams issue you're facing or involved in?

If you want to get more on related blogs view “Grow your business through Sales Leadership”
or want to know more on Tim visit & - you can also
keep up with Tim at
Visit & join - the sales network, tips & professional advice site