• Why I don’t like you

    Have you ever wondered why some people you just click with and others, well, you simply don’t? Some folk appear warm and some just rub you up the wrong way?

    I was coming home from a networking meeting the other day and pondered on these very thoughts. It was the first meeting after the Christmas break and people were in high spirits and catching up with each other and so the buzz was good.

    Whilst I chatted to people, acquaintances, collaborators and those that wanted to speak to me undoubtedly there were some folk in the room that took an exception to me, judged me one way or another or had already formed an opinion about me previously or indeed me to them. But here’s the thing: In that room everyone was trying their best to make everyone like them… or were they?

    The unwritten rules of segregation (as I like to call them)  undoubtedly differ depending on the occasion and are unique to each person. Equally the rules of connection are not necessarily equal and opposite to the rules of segregation ( sorry Einstein).

    I find these rules fascinating. For instance Norwich football club supporters find unity and solidarity in there support for the team however they may not speak to each other because of a personal moral or political standpoint.

    Thinking about Networking, everybody is there to meet people and talk to them. To be able to do this they need to create a first impression and as a result of that  impression there’s 4 outcomes that may follow:

    1. I like you and I want to talk to you further
    2. I like you but I don’t want to talk further, not now at least
    3. I don’t like you but I need to talk to you
    4. I don’t like you and I neither want or need to talk to you.

    So how do you come to your conclusion? What are the rules that you apply to decide whether you put this person in bracket 1 0r 2, or 3 or 4?

    I bet it’s not what Football team they support and I bet in 9 times out of 10 cases you know nothing about their political or moral view points so why would some make it to #1 and some to #4?

    The thing is your Mr or Mrs #4 is someone else’s #1 for reasons only known to them because their rules are different to yours.

    So what about me? Some of the things I look for to open a possible connection (in a networking context) are self belief, honesty ( I can smell a rat), humbleness, someone who perhaps can make me laugh or laugh at themselves, a smiler are a few things. There’s 100′s I’m sure.

    Things I don’t like are cockiness, boastfulness – sharing achievements is one thing but boasting is another, self involvement, self righteousness are a few, arguably these and some of the above are character traits but I don’t believe that character traits are wholly what I’m talking about in this post.

    What about you ? What are your rules of segregation or connection? What makes you put someone into category 1 or category 4?

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • More on goals

    January is the time for setting goals.  Indeed, many business professionals are familiar with writing business goals for the upcoming year.  Unfortunately, it’s common to find these well intentioned goals tossed in a file drawer not to be looked at or referred to again.  What was intended to serve as a guiding force or roadmap for positive behaviours and change has been forgotten.  Does this behaviour seem flawed to you?

    Goal setting is all about creating balance. Goals need to address the whole person, not just the professional person.  If attaining a goal means sacrificing in other areas of your life, (health, family etc), one risks creating imbalance.  This imbalance can jeopardise not only the success of attaining the goal but risks creating a negative impact on other areas of life.”

    Sandler training has been working with professionals to develop, execute and achieve goals for more than 30 years.  By utilising a proven ten step methodology, people are able to identify, organise and plan activities designed to move them towards goal attainment.  The Sandler Goal Setting System is designed to address all areas of life so that goals work in harmony thereby accelerating success rates.

    Sandler’s 10 Steps To Goal Setting

    1. Label eight sheets of paper each with one life goal area: 

    Social, Physical, Financial, Mental (Educational), Professional, Family, Personal, Spiritual. Reflect on your current status within each life goal area and write it down.

    1. List everything you would like to accomplish for each life area

    Don’t pre-judge your thoughts, write them all down as if nothing is out of reach

    1. Prioritise goals in each of the eight areas from most important to least important.
    2. Create a master list of the top three goals from each of the 8 areas.
    3. Prioritise the master list.  Check for balance and any possible conflicts
    4. Write a detailed description of each master list goal and how you are going to achieve it.

    Goals must be SMART:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.
    Goals are made to make you stretch so don’t make them too easy.

    1. Develop a timetable for each goal

    Break down long term goals into short-term activities with deadlines
    Include daily, weekly and monthly activities

    1. Share your goals with others – Hold yourself accountable.
    2. Review your goals regularly and track your progress
    3. Be persistent – DO NOT QUIT
      Priorities change over time so be prepared to redefine or realign you goal
      Only abandon a goal if it becomes irrelevant, never because it’s too difficult

    There are 68,899 books on goal setting listed on Amazon.co.uk so if you need more specifics on the process, any one of them can provide them. Experience, however, tells me that it’s not about the “how”, it’s about the “whether”.  My hope is that people reading this article will be motivated to take action, either setting goals for the first time, or setting more challenging goals, or scheduling time for review and refinement … and ultimate success.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • Networking is a prospecting activity.

    At its heart it is all about finding new clients, and growing our business.  Do not get me wrong, this does not meant that we should be pushy and salesy when we network.  Nor should be anticipate or behave as if we anticipate direct selling to the room.

    Let’s first define prospecting in the context of networking.  A prospect is a potential customer, client or purchaser or sales lead which has been qualified as fitting certain criteria.  Prospecting is therefore the search for and qualification of potential customers, clients and purchasers.  Prospecting is the act of finding prospects.

    We talk about cold, cool, warm and hot prospects.  At its simplest this defines both their degree of qualification and also the degree to which you have moved along the continuum from untrusted stranger to trusted adviser.

    The goal of networking is to increase our leads and convert them to prospects and ultimately to sales.  One of the reasons networking is such a preferred form of prospecting is that for the majority of participants it does not feel salesy.  It feels much ‘warmer’.  First we get to know people and build trust, then we share our contacts.  By definition and introduction to a prospect via a networking contact has already begun the journey along the continuum of untrusted stranger to known and trusted adviser.

    The problems people have when using networking as a prospecting vehicle lies in its very attraction, namely that it can be a social activity and not a sales activity.  This can be for a number of reasons but they divide into conceptual and technical.  Technical is that people do not know how to effectively network; conceptual is that they are uncomfortable with selling so avoid it and over play the social side of networking.

    The result is that networking does not deliver the anticipated benefits.  Additionally people can have overly high expectations of results from networking, especially in terms of the timescales and when they do not appear they blame the network or networking organisation rather than look at how realistic the expectations were or what they could be doing to improve results. The challenge – and strength – of networking is that it is the way we network that impacts on its effectiveness and this is pretty much within our control.

    At Sandler we use the idea of passive and active prospecting.  When applied to belonging to a regular networking group here are the results:

    Passive networking looks like this:

    • You attend most of the meetings but if something comes up you are not too worried
    • If you need a “sub” you are happy (potentially even expect) someone to find them for you
    • You do your 60 seconds or 2 minute introduction but do not speak to people at the beginning or the meeting
    • You are polite and if asked to do a to one to one you accept; you are not diligent in timekeeping so are sometimes a bit late for them
    • You do not actively follow up with people
    • If someone helps you, you thank them at the meeting but you do not spend time in advance of each meeting thinking about how you can help people

    Active networking looks something like:

    • Attending every meeting unless totally impossible
    • If you have to send a “sub”, ensuring you find one yourself (perhaps using someone within the network who has used your services or knows you well and can therefore combine your minute with a bit of a personal testimonial).  Even putting together a short list (2-3) of people who you have talked to in advance who would be willing to step in for you at short notice
    • Taking the time to talk to your “sub” before and after the meeting – they are your ambassador, after all
    • Preparing in advance of each meeting (your introduction, your testimonials, your referrals)
    • Researching other attendees and working out things that you can say to each of them which will demonstrate your credibility and position you as someone worth knowing
    • Setting and following a schedule of one to ones (or group one to ones)
    • Working hard on making introductions and nurturing them through to business and tracking this
    • Bringing visitors and starting to get known for someone who is well connected
    • Tracking your time and results from your networking activities

    You cannot control whether or not someone needs your services or product but you can absolutely control whether or not you are someone that people want to do business with.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • New Light through Old Windows: a new approach to selling…that works!

    Selling has been going on since the beginning of mankind. The challenge remains the same: how do we cost effectively and efficiently find people to buy from us and not from our competitors.

    Thus the “window” is unchanged, and to be frank it is now slightly grubby.

    The image most of us have of a sales person is someone who is pushy, does not listen, interrupts what you are doing, does not understand your business, tells you what they can do for you and so on.

    The literature does not help us either.  I put ‘Define Sales’ into Google and found this:

    “Selling focuses on the needs of the seller and the need to convert product to cash….To put it another way, it’s sales’ job to influence the customer to buy what the company has produced.”

    Whilst I can’t say I agree with this definition it does support the idea that a salesperson is selfishly motivated, potentially manipulative and only interested in money.  Furthermore, they talk a lot, mostly about themselves, or their products or services and why people should buy; they rarely listen.

    Understanding the reasons for the generally negative perception of sales is critical to understanding how to fix the problem – selling and buying has been going on for hundreds of years and both sides have long established behaviour patterns and expectations.  At Sandler we have found that these do not serve the best interests of either the buyer or the seller.  Thus the need to shine “new light” through the old window of sales; to adopt a different approach where the expectations of both sides are openly shared thus allowing a genuine exploration of whether or not the buyer has a need and the seller can best meet that need.

    STOP START
    Doing what sales people do Doing the opposite
    Selling features and benefits.  People don’t buy them. Establishing rapport and continue to build rapport and trust throughout the entire selling relationship, not just during the first five minutes
    Acting like a salesperson Behaving as an equal and being authentic
    Playing games and withholding information Adopting a direct, no-nonsense approach to selling that frames the sales meeting as a business meeting between equals, where the sales person facilitates an honest, non-manipulative exchange of information
    Relying on your presentation skills to seal the deal; you can devote a lot of time and energy to a sales meeting only to discover that the necessary interest level was never there Focusing on qualifying the prospect; do they have a compelling reason to buy which is personal to them?  Are they willing and able to spend the necessary money, time and resources to fix the problem? What is their decision making process and is it acceptable to you?
    Focusing on handling objections.  By doing so you perpetuate a system of “positive selling” in which the sales person pitches and the prospect assumes a negative role. Accepting that only the prospect can handle their own objections.  Your role is to facilitate their doing this for themselves, not trying to do it for them.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • THE BATTLE BETWEEN YOUR ROLE & IDENTITY

    Sandler’s I/R Theory (Identity/Role) represents the dual nature of our lives. Each of us has an “I” and an “R.” Our “I” represents our values, beliefs, principles, desires and emotions–our inner selves. Our “R” is made up of the many roles we play in our lives, or our outer selves. These roles include son, daughter, friend, student, salesperson, etc.

    The I/R model was developed to define the relationship between those two parts of our whole and to help distinguish between them. Although they are separate, they affect each other.

    If we confuse our role performances with our values as a human being, our self-image will go up and down with each performance. Regardless of the level of our self-image, we constantly work to bring our performance into line with that self-image. Therefore, if we translate our “I” perception as a rating between 1 and 10, without a 10 rating for our self-image, our role performance will be limited.

    How do you rate your “I”?

    If you rate your “I” between 8 and 10, you are a winner: you have a healthy self-image. You feel good about yourself most of the time, no matter how you are performing in your roles.

    If you rate yourself between 4 and 7, you are an at-leaster: if things go fairly well on your “R” side, you feel pretty good about yourself. If your role performance goes badly, you work to get back to average. People in this position tell themselves, “I may not be a winner, but at least I’m not a loser”.

    If you rate your “I” between 0 and 3, you’re in the category of non-winner: you allow your role performance to affect how you feel about yourself. That poor self-image affects your performance, putting you in a cycle of self-defeating attitudes and behaviours.

    The I/R Theory demonstrates the importance of separating “who you “I'” from “what you ‘R.'”.  Essentially, if you want to fix your performance, your earnings etc (your R), you need to first focus on and fix your self-image, view of yourself (your I).

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • Networking – Passive or Active?

    A lot of people belong to a formal networking group – one that meets regularly, weekly or monthly, with the same attendees (plus guests) with one of its stated goals being sharing introductions and referrals.

    Networking is a prospecting activity.  At its heart, it is all about finding new clients, and growing our business.  Do not get me wrong, this does not meant that we should be pushy and salesy when we network.  Nor should be anticipate or behave as if we anticipate direct selling to the room.

    Let’s first define prospecting in the context of networking.  A prospect is a potential customer, client or purchaser or sales lead which has been qualified as fitting certain criteria.  Prospecting is therefore the search for and qualification of potential customers, clients and purchasers.  Prospecting is the act of finding prospects.

    We talk about cold, cool, warm and hot prospects.  At its simplest this defines both their degree of qualification and also the degree to which you have moved along the continuum from untrusted stranger to trusted adviser.

    The goal of networking is to increase our leads and convert them to prospects and ultimately to sales.  One of the reasons networking is such a preferred form of prospecting is that for the majority of participants it does not feel salesy.  It feels much ‘warmer’.  First we get to know people and build trust, then we share our contacts.  By definition, an introduction to a prospect via a networking contact has already begun the journey along the continuum of untrusted stranger to known and trusted adviser.

    The problem people have when using networking as a prospecting vehicle lies in its very attraction, namely that it can be a social activity and not a sales activity.  This can be for a number of reasons but they divide into conceptual and technical.  Technical is that people do not know how to effectively network; conceptual is that they are uncomfortable with selling so avoid it and over play the social side of networking.

    The result is that networking does not deliver the anticipated benefits.  Additionally people can have overly high expectations of results from networking, especially in terms of the timescales and when they do not appear they blame the network rather than look at how realistic the expectations were or what they could be doing to improve results. The challenge – and blessing – of networking is that it is the way we network that impacts on its effectiveness and this is pretty much within our control.

    At Sandler we use the idea of passive and active prospecting.  When applied to networking here are the results:

    Passive networking looks like this:

    • You attend most of the meetings but if something comes up you are not too worried
    • If you need a Sub you are happy (potentially even expect) someone to find them for you
    • You give your sub your “60 seconds pitch” but do not speak to them in advance
    • You are polite and if asked to do a to one to one you accept; you are not diligent in timekeeping so are sometimes a bit late for them
    • You do not actively follow up with people
    • If someone helps you, you thank them at the meeting but you do not spend time in advance of each meeting thinking about how you can help people

    Active networking looks something like:

    • Attending every meeting unless totally impossible
    • If you have to send a Sub, ensuring you find one yourself (perhaps using someone who has used your services or knows you well and can therefore combine your 60-seconds with a bit of a personal testimonial). Even putting together a short list (2-3) of contacts who you have talked to in advance who would be willing to Sub for you at short notice
    • Taking the time to talk to your Sub before and after the meeting
    • Preparing in advance of each meeting (your 60-seconds, your testimonials, your referrals)
    • Researching other attendees and working out things that you can say to each of them which will demonstrate your credibility and position you as someone worth knowing
    • Setting and following a schedule of one to ones (or group one to ones)
    • Working hard on making introductions and nurturing them through to business and tracking this
    • Bringing visitors and starting to get known for someone who is well connected
    • Tracking your time and results from your networking activities

    You cannot control whether or not someone needs your services or product but you can absolutely control whether or not you are someone that people want to do business with.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • Successful People

    Thinking about the attributes and qualities of successful people provides a great benchmark for us to audit our own ‘success factor’.  Look at the list below of 8 attributes of successful people that I have pulled together.  Augment the list if you think there is something missing – and let us know so we can build up a super list.

    Or you could take the list and using it as a benchmark rate yourself –

    1. Successful People Embrace change. Unsuccessful People Fear change.

    Change is always going to occur around us, indeed the only thing that will not change is the fact that change is inevitable.  Given this you have a choice.  Either you choose to adapt and flourish or slowly fail.  Some changes are incremental so unless you are vigilant you might not even notice things changing around you.  In some ways this is the most dangerous since those less attuned and focused on changing and growing (as a person, as a business) will, possibly without even realising it, decline.  Abrupt changes, whilst potentially more frightening, at least jolt us into action, albeit often late and less effective than if the change is anticipated and managed.  To be successful you need to set your own change agenda and work on this.

    1. Successful people want others to succeed. Unsuccessful people secretly hope others fail.

    Spending all your time hoping someone fails not only attracts bad energy, it’s simply a waste of time. All those times thinking about the demise of others is time that can be spent doing things to help you become more successful.  It is having the attitude of plentifulness versus the attitude of scarcity.  The attitude of plentifulness means that you do not need to worry about others, indeed you can see endless possibilities if the people around you succeed.  The attitude of scarcity means that you work on the premise the only one person can succeed so the more that fail the better your chances.  The problem with this latter position is that it creates failure.  If you believe success if scarce, it become scare and you suffer from this.

    1. Successful people accept responsibly for their failures. Unsuccessful blame others for their failures.

    Being a true leader takes one who will be honest when they screw up. It puts you in a position of solving the problem instead of complaining about it. This is the difference between taking responsibility and having the mindset “I am responsible for everything that happens to me” as opposed to one where you defend and justify.  If you are late it is the fault of the traffic rather than the fact that you choose to not get up 30 minutes earlier ‘just in case the traffic is bad’.  This choice may not have been a bad choice in itself (indeed over time it probably saves you a considerable amount of down time; the key is that it was your choice.

    1. Successful people talk about ideas. Unsuccessful people talk about other people’s failures.

    Talking about other people’s failure or faults is a waste of time. However, it can become very addictive.  It is an example of externalising responsibility. Thinking more positively and focusing on ideas and possibilities will have an uplifting effect on everything that you do.  Think about how much time you currently spend taking about other people in a negative way.  Imagine the benefits if all that time is spent on brainstorming the next big idea that changes the world, or even your world.

    1. Successful people give people all the credit for their victories. Unsuccessful people take all the credit from others.

    No matter who you are, it takes an amazing team of talented people to help you attain success. Spending time making sure the people you work with are appreciated will not only help attract the best talents to you, but help ensure everyone is giving their best efforts to complete the end-goal.  Taking the time to thank people who have helped you achieve each success is integral to how successful people operate.

    1. Successful people operate from a transformational perspective. Unsuccessful people operate from a transactional perspective.

    True leaders focus on growth and ways to make him/herself and the people around them better. It’s not always about just getting as much out of people as possible. This is not only short term thinking, but doesn’t set you up as a person people would want to be around with.  Taking the longer term view might take a bit more time in the short term but pays dividends longer term.  In response to a request for help ‘Here, let me do it, it will be quicker’ vs ‘let’s take the time to run through it together and then you have a go so you can do it next time’.

    1. Successful people forgive others. Unsuccessful People hold grudges.

    Successful people are always forward thinking and know that holding grudges can hold them back. Take Steve Jobs for example, even with his bouts with Bill Gates, it was ultimately Gates who took part in investing his own dollars to help save Apple. You can’t do stuff like that when you hold grudges with people.

    1. Successful people have gratitude. Unsuccessful people don’t appreciate others and the world around them.

    Being appreciative of the things around you keeps you grounded and makes you realise the beauty of the world. You can’t change the world if you hate it.  Successful people appreciate others and are comfortable complimenting, or even challenging them.  Unsuccessful people tend to do little more than criticise.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • How to differentiate your business (Part 2)

    Continuing on the theme of differentiation, here I explore three other important aspects that you may wish to consider when driving forward your differentiation approach.

    1. The Social Sales-scape

    The rise and rise of the social web has been a key factor to the need for businesses to truly examine how they differentiate themselves. Digital technologies and social networks have dramatically changed the roles of buyers and sellers, their cycles and how they interact. The features and benefits of a product or service can be quickly and easily debunked as not necessarily unique to one’s business in what is now an open access market. Indeed for many products and services the provision of comparator information has become a business in its own right.  This undermines the possibility of selling within these parameters, making price one of the only discernible differentiators.

    In today’s fast evolving buyers’ market, true differentiation needs to be found in new places. You need to get beneath the skin of your brand’s essence to connect with what truly makes your business different. This often comes down to sales; it can be how you run your business and your sales strategy, how you approach and sell to prospects, how well you equip your people to take your business forward and how you manage client relationship strategies. These all need to be structured and systemic as frequently they are what will set you apart from the crowd.

    Getting these strategies right is critical for businesses of all sizes. Businesses tend to invest too much time, resource and creativity in creating brand or product or service differentiation, despite a simpler, more elegant strategy that focuses on the organic, systemic way a business sells often being more beneficial.

    Indeed, product or service differentiation cannot really be achieved at the point of sale and seeking to do this can in fact make you appear more salesey and less attractive.  It requires a trust and understanding of you and your product that a buyer will not have (nor can they until they have worked with you, which in turn, requires them to buy)

    1. We’re all grown-ups here

    When it comes to differentiation, it’s essential to treat your customers like adults, and build the expectation that you should be treated like an adult.

    This sounds odd but an adult-to-adult relationship is critical to building engagement and trust. This is what will strengthen your position in the buyer-seller framework. We talk a lot about communication being at the heart of our relationships. What we forget is that, when it comes to differentiation, it’s about what you do, not what you say and I see businesses failing to recognise this time and time again. Delivering on your promise – at all times, without fail, that’s what drives customer trust, customer commitment and customer loyalty. That’s differentiation.

    Your customer has a role to play in this too. Let your customers know what’s expected of them in the process. A classic example here is when companies in the services industry pitch for new business. Very often, the pitch process becomes an extended programme of free consulting with no real return. By having the guts to draw the line under the process, making the rules of engagement clear with your prospect, you are setting yourself apart with buyers who have expectations of the norm. You are also saving your business a lot of time and money. In this way, the buyer and seller start to treat each other with equal business stature – as adults. Changing your behaviour and attitude by holding your nerve against pressure from buyers to devalue your business will be critical next year.

    1. Holding your nerve

    Economic uncertainty makes this a tough environment for businesses and the temptation is all too great to compete on price. We all know that in the longer-term, this isn’t sustainable for businesses looking to grow.

    Businesses need to have the guts, the courage, to remain true to themselves. Understanding their competitors, understanding their customers and understanding their own place in the market will help them map out their differentiation strategy. Communicate this right across your business to ensure your customers get a consistent, cohesive message. Creating a sense of ownership around your business’ authentic point of differentiation is critically important.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • How to differentiate your business

    As businesses continue through uncertain times, I thought I would look at how differentiation could be the key to your success.

    Has the word “differentiation” started to sound a little tired? If so, this is because it is both misused and over used.

    We need to pause and think about what differentiation actually means to businesses. In business, when we talk about differentiation we are talking about separating ourselves from our competitors. Ideally, we want to achieve two things by doing this. Firstly, to attract customers to buy from us, and secondly, to have them buy at our price. Working with businesses from a number of sectors, I find that they don’t always realise that a key purpose for striving for differentiation is to maintain their price point; as a result they often end up selling themselves short. This doesn’t look like real success to me.

    Differentiation should therefore not be seen as an end in itself but a means to an end, namely to sell on terms that make sense. Additionally we need to adapt our attempt to differentiate our businesses to today’s tough and increasingly cluttered marketplace.

    In a series of 2 blogs I have looked at the 5 things you need to consider when striving for that all important differentiation.

    1. Know your competitors

    Understanding your competitors is at the crux of differentiation – it’s only by doing this, that you can carve out your own market segment. However, this again requires a new way of thinking.

    Your competitor isn’t necessarily the shop next door. You need to think wider than this.  There are obvious competitors here such as similar products/services, geographies or employee pools. There are also the less obvious ones such as people who provide a very different solution but one that fixes the same problem, meets the same need as yours.  There is also the frequently overlooked ‘competitor’ which is the option to do nothing or to do it in-house.

    It is therefore important to think carefully about your competitors, know what they offer and know what you have to do differently to deliver a more attractive proposition for your customers.

    1. Authentic differentiation

    We hear a great deal about developing our unique selling proposition.  However, your USP, like differentiation, is a concept that can come across as trite and pedestrian in customer engagement as we all work so hard to prove how different we are from competitors and as a business. As brand-savvy consumers, expectation of differentiation had grown.

    There are a couple of things to consider when it comes to crystallising your USP or point of differentiation. I quote Steve Jobs here when I say, quite simply, “Brands are themselves”. You need to know – beyond making a profit – what the purpose of your business is and what you believe in it. There has to be that authentic core at the centre of what you do, rather than merely focusing on “What will sell more?” Customers today are sophisticated and discerning – they will see through the empty promise. Working with CEOs and business owners, I constantly encourage them to go back to the seed of their business.  To identify your business essence, get back in touch with yourself and your business to create that consistent and genuine proposition.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • Ever thought of how “Change” effects selling?

    Change

    This blog looks at change from the context of buying – and selling.

    Buying and selling can defined be in its broadest terms – selling a product or service or an idea. So it applies to a non-sales selling situation such as being persuaded to do something, support something and persuading someone to do something, support something etc.  It can also be applied to more traditionally defined sales situation – exchanging a product or service for money.

    Looking at buying.  Any purchase of any kind – thing, service or idea – requires a change.  Looking at some examples:

    • Buying new clothes or new shoes – they will feel different (and make you feel different) and thus are a change
    • Commissioning a new website – this requires a change in the look and feel of your online brand, new processes (if it includes different functionality), new opportunities
    • Investing in sales training – this requires you to let go of some of the things you do, change what you do and take some risks
    • Agreeing to do something different at work, or adopt a new work practice – this changes your actions or your beliefs

    It follows therefore that when we are selling we are actually facilitating a change.

    Looking at our change equation, change is a function of:

    • dissatisfaction with the present
    • a vision of the future
    • some first practical steps

    And to be personally motivated to make the change the sum of these needs to be equal to or greater to the cost or pain or effort of making the change

    Therefore before we can sell something to someone they need:

    • to be dissatisfied with what they have at the moment
    • a clear vision of the future – of where they could be, what could be happening
    • an idea of how to get there and confidence that it is possible – and then in turn, the actual route map
    • for the above to be equal to or great to the cost or pain or effort of making the change.

    If any of these elements are missing you will not make a sale.

    Taking an example of investing in sales training.  If I am happy enough with my client acquisition processes, even if I know at one level that I ‘should’ be bringing on more clients, unless something more compelling drives me (and creates dissatisfaction) I am not going to make a change.  Equally if I cannot imagine a future where I have more clients and enjoy some real benefits from this, I will not make the investment (in time, money and personal upheaval).  And finally if I do not think that you are the person to take me there I will not buy from you (i.e. I need to see my ‘first practical steps’).  And even if those things are in place, if I am not convinced that the cost – in terms of my time, my money or the demands placed on me – will be met or exceeded through the investment in training I will not buy.

    To sell effectively we need to facilitate our buyer in exploring the change equation for themselves and making a decision to change or not to change.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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