Richard Maun – sales

better business blog

Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation


Sales Skills #4 …Sharpen Your Message

5 December 2010

Probably the best Christmas card in the world...

Probably the best Christmas card in the world...

Hello there and I hope that you’re not suffering too much under the extra workload that this time of year brings. It’s been terrible for me so far, as I’ve had to eat at least 20 mince pies…my days are already busy enough, without needing to find time to scoff extra confectionery. Preferably warm, with lashings of cream please…

However, I did make the effort to go to a meeting with Marshall Cavendish last week, to hobnob with fellow authors and work out how we could sell more books. Apart from having a great conversation about the use of the semi colon and finding out what makes for a great cover image, I did pick up some useful sales tips from a chap called Bob Etherington, who’s written several cracking books on the subject. Seeing that Christmas is the season of giving, I thought I’d give you my choice of some of his top tips. I won’t gift wrap them though, to save paper.

Here they are:

1. Start your sentences with a word that ends in ‘ly’, such as ‘Probably the best soft skills blog in the world’. Or: Surely the only soft skills blog you’ll ever need. This construction tends to shut off any doubt people have about your product or service. It may feel a bit cheesy at first, but it does generate a huge halo of confidence.

2. Use the word ‘because’ because when you do so people are more likely to buy in to your argument and be convinced. For example; this is probably the best soft skills blog in the world, because it only talks about what works in real life and includes elements of Transactional Analysis to bring depth and insight to the weekly posts.

3. Say it simply. The key to sales success is to have a short, relevant, message which highlights what you are genuinely passionate about and really deliver to your clients. This message is likely to be something you find yourself saying often, and don’t recognise that it’s a core attribute of your business. I was reminded of this during the author meeting when asked to tell people what kind work I did and I replied; ‘I build confidence’.

Primary People is now working with Chilli Pepper Global to bring outplacement services to industrial and service sector clients. We were asked why someone should invest in us and our answer was because we’re;

Probably the best confidence builders in the business.

That’s what we do to a high standard, because we passionately believe everyone has the ability to succeed.

What are you the best at? How would you summarise your competitive edge in 10 words or less? And most importantly; do you make time for mince pies?

That’s enough questions for now. Don’t you think? So, thank you from me for being part of a fantastic year of blog posts. I really do think this is the best soft skills blog in the world, because if I didn’t I wouldn’t spend hours writing and honing it each week. Fortunately for me though, I have my feathery guest blogger to keep my feet on the ground. He’s back next week for a while to cover for me whilst I take a festive break. I do hope he’s not too rude about me.

Happy Christmas, sincere good wishes to you and I look forward to seeing you again in 2011.


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Sales Skills #3 …Ask For It!

28 November 2010

Ask for the order, or for a princess' hand, and then you can have your own plate!

Ask for the order, or for a princess' hand, and then you can have your own plate!

Well now, we all have just under a month to go to Christmas and just under five months to go to the Royal Wedding…I know; not much time to get the bunting ready!!

Personally, I’m still chuckling at this week’s edition of Private Eye, which has launched the perfect commemorative offer; The Waity Katie Platey …when you wash it the picture fades to reveal Diana, in order to please Daily Mail readers. (She’s dead doncha know?)

Now what has Christmas and The Royal Nuptials got to do with sales skills, I hear you ask? …Fearful that this may become a pseudo Royal Hitching blog. Don’t worry though, it won’t.

The answer is that to get a sale you have to ask for the order. You don’t have to go down on one knee like HRH Lovestruck and disentangle your mum’s old ring from your shreddies at the bottom of your rucksack. (I suspect there is a psychologist somewhere preparing to write a thesis on that subject as we speak). But you do have to ask for the order / the bride’s hand / your preferred Christmas present.

If a client wants to hire your services it’s good form to say:

‘Can I have a purchase order number please?’

This cements the order in their head and then it becomes formalised once the paperwork kicks in. Until that moment of concretion, the order is just a possibility and as good business people it’s our job to turn it into a certainty.

Many years ago I worked as a General Manager and when one of my salesmen (they were all men) phoned up to tell me about some great new piece of business, I would always ask them if they had a confirmed order.

Several times my question was followed by silence on the telephone and then the words:

‘Well, um no…not confirmed exactly! But definitely in the bag!’

My reply was usually to point out the contradiction in those statements and to enquire if they had asked for order?

Asking can make us nervous, fearful of a no-thanks reply, but asking per se doesn’t increase the chances of failure. Indeed, in many cases, the act of asking shows commitment and seriousness and can shift a doubter to a positive ‘Yes please!’

If you want to marry your pretty princess, or handsome prince, you can ask them. If you’re still at the frog stage, you can ask for a kiss.

If you want a truly happy Christmas you can ask for the present that you really want…you can make your intentions overt to avoid annual guessing games.

And…if you’re out there looking for new business and a customer expresses a sincere interest you can ask for the order.

As Waity Katie and her magic Platey have discovered, it’s amazing what can happen when someone asks you something!

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Next Week

We will continue with the sales skill tips…if you run your own business this series is here to help!

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Click cover to view details on Amazon


Riding the Rocket

How to manage your Modern Career

Published 2013 Marshall Cavendish



Bouncing Back

How to get going again after a career setback

Published 2012 Marshall Cavendish



How to Keep Your Job

Brilliant ways to increase performance, stay employed and keep the money rolling in

Published 2011 Marshall Cavendish



Job Hunting 3.0

Secrets and skills to sell yourself effectively in the Modern Age

Published 2010 Marshall Cavendish



Leave the Bastards Behind

An insider's guide to working for yourself

Published 2007 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish



My Boss is a Bastard

Surviving turmoil at work

Published 2006 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish


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