Aaron Wallis Sales Industry News

Welcome to our News Page. Discover more about the UK Sales Industry and recruitment trends together with links to quick tips and sales advice. Meet the Editorial Team

Friday, 11 June 2010

Doing business ‘on purpose’: Reactive Vs Proactive...How the best sales people get results. 5 Great Tips to Become More Proactive

A recent poll of executives asked “what do you feel is the single best way for employees to earn a promotion and/or raise?” Topping the list for 82% of respondents was “Ask for more work and responsibility”

It’s a rarely contested ‘fact’ that successful sales people are proactive.

The best way to understand 'proactive' is to look at what it is not...

1) It is not ‘putting out fires’ as they occur.

2) It is not thinking on your feet when faced with a tough question about you, your business or your product or service

3) It certainly is not trying to cover up failings on your part to carry out tasks that you said you would do but didn’t follow through on.

4) Arguably the most important thing that it is not is sitting and waiting for opportunities to arise and then trying to ‘grab them with both hands.’

Reactive behaviour could be costing you sales and therefore money.

Being proactive (in a nutshell) is anticipating problems or opportunities before they occur and taking action.

Whoever we are in life and whatever our job is, we can all benefit from being more proactive...Here’s our top 5 ways in which you can achieve this:

1) Brainstorm

Brainstorm areas in which you could be proactive - what common problems or challenges do you encounter that you could minimise by taking action sooner? Which of these problems are you ignoring because it ‘isn’t your responsibility?’

2) Take Action without waiting for directions

Initiative by definition, means doing something without waiting for direction or instruction. If you have to be told to do something, you are being reactive and are not taking initiative.

Problems happen, there’s not much we can do about some of them but what we can do is minimise the chance of them happening or limit their negative impact. We should all feel obligated once we discover problems, challenges or opportunities, to ACT on that knowledge!

This doesn’t mean you’re on your own- often you will need the support of others around you in your team. Identify the opportunity to do better and design the plan to do.

Decide how you can create a better outcome for you, your company or for your clients. Work hard on a proposal for new plans to sell to your team. Prepare thoroughly and ensure you have clarity on your idea yourself before proposing it to others.

3) Generate a response or outcome

Whilst this is still considered ‘taking action’, more specifically it is taking action to generate a response. Sales professionals need to think of it in terms of strategy and competition...how can you put your competitors under competitive stress through innovation?

What does your industry do? How can you redefine it and do something different? What actions could you take whereby your industry normally states “we don’t do that”. What if you DID do that? What if your company could lead by taking the initiative to solve some set problems and by doing so created greater value than your competitors? Could you capture enough of the value created to profit from doing so? Would taking the advantage set up a competitive mismatch between you and your competitors?

Nature has a great way of getting things right – ask if my business was nature and had to be the fittest to survive what initiatives could I take now to ensure that I have the edge.

4) Take responsibility for your ability to be proactive

Focus on your own professional and personal development. Taking initiative is personal. Read books that educate you in sales or download audiobooks from audible.co.uk, attend seminars, workshops and training opportunities. This is where becoming proactive begins.

Initiative is setting your own goals and writing your own plans. It is taking charge of the outcome that is your life.

People frequently make lists but few take action. Take action before you are asked and take action before you are given direction. Be responsible for taking your own action – you are ‘response-able’ - start now, don’t just make the plan to be more proactive - do it!

5) Persevere

The most proactive sales professionals also possess the ability to persevere. To persist over the objections of your manager or others takes even more commitment and courage...but will lead to great things. Be careful not to undermine your boss or others however and be aware that it is still important to take others views into consideration. But, if you really believe in the core of what you are proposing, go with it.


In such a competitive environment being proactive is what defines sales success and professionalism. Ensure you are at the forefront of your industry, your business and your life...do business ‘on purpose’ and ensure that you are in control of hitting your targets month on month, quarter on quarter, year on year.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Customers: The 6 Main Reasons You Lose Them

We have all lost customers somewhere along the line- sometimes we know how it happened but often it’s difficult to pin point exactly what the reasons are unless the client offers you that information.

There are 6 main reasons that you’ll lose a customer and if you can identify which one (or ones!) are impacting your business simply by taking an honest look at your company’s operation;

1) Not truly knowing your customers

If you don’t fully know who your customers are, if you don’t know what their needs, likes and dislikes are, this could be where your problem lies. Segment your market and ensure your marketing department have done their market research. Although not doing your market research could lead to you losing customers to competitors, likewise doing it could put you WAY ahead!....you’d be surprised how many companies don’t bother to do it. More than that...get to know your customers personally and on an individual basis over a coffee, lunch, a sports match, whatever.

2) “Overpromise and under deliver”

When a client asks when you will get back to them with that proposal don’t try to impress them by stating a quick turn-around time. If you promise your customer anything, whatever happens you must fulfil that promise. If you don’t, the trust will be lost forever. Even if you’re sure you can get it done in super quick time, don’t be tempted to tell them that - you never know what might come up. ‘Proof is in the pudding’ and if you give a reasonable time period and deliver when you say then that ‘delivery on a promise’ could well be a lot more than what many of your competitors are doing!

3) Poor customer service

It’s likely that all of your competitors say that they offer “great customer service” but do they really? Can they back it up? Ensure your customer service advisors are highly skilled - they shouldn’t just be friendly - they need to be knowledgeable and trained in dealing with problems too...

How you go about customer service in your business will be down to the nature of your business but whether you’re B2B or B2C you will need to make sure your customer service is tip top because after all....customers spend money with you....you need to look after them! Continue to offer new methods of customer service, such as communication through Twitter, and always be thinking about how you can help your clients out.

4) Ignoring Loyalty

If you want to improve customer retention REWARD THEM. Make them feel special and show them how appreciative you are of their business. Don’t just see them as a number or another sales figure. Rewarding them can be as simple as offering an exclusive discount or a free product for every x amount of products they buy. On the other hand, Ignoring loyalty could be a ‘death wish’ for your business; the cost of getting new clients on board is way greater than maintaining the ones you have. Be smart about customer retention.

5) Inconsistency in your service or products

When people buy they want to feel that they’ve made the right decision and they like to know what they are getting. Delivering something to them superbly the first time is great but the customer will really pay attention to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th times where they will reassess if they made the right decision...and may decide if they come back for more.

Unfortunately for businesses, customers are far more likely to remember the times you get it wrong than the times you get it right, so make sure you get it right every time! Whilst fast food chains might not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, let’s face it, you know what you’re getting!

6) Constantly trying to sell to them

Don’t annoy your customer with marketing material that is really going to turn them off. Some well directed marketing that really adds value and pin-points what the customer wants can go a long way but this has to be well thought out and well timed. As the years go on people are getting more and more intolerant of frequent messages. Receiving a message every day about a new product or service or how they can “save money by purchasing today!” will switch customers off. At worst...yes you’ve guessed it...you’ll lose them.

Over all, when you lose a customer, yes it can be wounding, but find out why. Often by asking and identifying the problem you’re at least in a position to turn it around. Locate the problem, act upon it and don’t let your ego lose the business by passing it to a colleague if you’re the problem! Above all ask the question why and you could find that your customer retention rate goes up dramatically......

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The sun, our enemy.

The thought struck me as I was on my lunch break today about the relationships between glorious sunshine and sales recruitment...It dawned on me how slow the lunchtime applications for sales jobs are this week at an ordinarily busy period of the day- British sales professionals currently out of work are changing their tactics (or their priorities) it seems!

In the past we’ve found that we receive the highest volume of applications for positions throughout lunchtimes when the boss is out and whilst candidates are on their lunch break; ‘Whilst the cat’s away’ candidate’s trawl through internet job search sites plotting their next career move within a rigid period of one hour, constantly on edge that the boss might cunningly return early.

Ordinarily the 11.30- 2pm time slot has provided us with the majority of the active job seekers we put forward for positions that day....today however has been slow!..and I think I know where they all are!...sitting outside Costa coffee at Milton Keynes shopping centre, sipping their iced mochas in their less than formal office attire and sunglasses, having a natter about how many barbeques they will be attending this weekend...I’m only jealous mind...I was nipping to the post office to post a letter...

Now barbeques, sunglasses, even some slightly summery office attire are all part and parcel of the fantastic 20+ degree weather that appears to be more and more frequent as we enter summer in England, however what are we meant to do with all these awesome sales jobs we have that need to be filled? Perhaps I should go about taking my lunch break outside Costa and do some mid-lunchtime network recruiting?...instead we may have to revert to alternative recruitment methods to get the roles filled...

Nevermind...we might get a huge influx of applications over the weekend as job seekers panic over their job hunting inactivity during the week...although something tells me that the current weather report doesn’t support that theory....more glorious sunshine...oh well! As the saying goes...”if you can’t beat them...” there’s only one thing to do!.........