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The Journey of Sales Success for Crown Paints

21/12/2015 14:30:22

By Mark Bannister, Learning, Development & Merchandising Manager at Crown Paints.
 
Whether your company recruits school leavers, graduates, or only those with relevant workplace experience, the chances are that most of your training budget is focused on ensuring those on the lower rungs of the career ladder have the skills they need to climb it.
 
We have found that a clear development path has become an important part of attracting and retaining the best candidates, which makes it an important part of any company’s business strategy. But what about the talented people that have already proved their value to your organisation? Shouldn’t you be investing in ensuring that you maximise their value with courses that focus on leadership and mentoring?
 
That’s what we believe at Crown Paints, as we are already seeing positive results from moulding our own and upskilling staff within the business. During the Sales and Customer Service Excellence training, we’ve learnt that successful sales is a journey, and the engine behind your sales vehicle is investing in some form of training within the business, as this acts as an effective catalyst to boosting confidence to sell.
 
Even members of a sales team can lack confidence to pick up the phone and sell – this could be a product, or to simply book an appointment. Even the most experienced sales people can be hindered by lack of motivational training.
 
During our training voyage, we have developed the ‘Crown Way’ of successfully adopting a professional sales service for people at all levels. Whilst this is still in its infancy, we have seen this has already had a positive welcome within the business, engaging the team as they’re all following one consistent method.
 
Our goal within the next year is to ensure 500 key sales personnel across our decorator centres undertake targeted training and this will be measured against sales success, ensuring immediate return on investment for the company.
 
Even the most talented and experienced people in an organisation sometimes need to take a step back and examine how they can do things better. Just one behaviour change as a result of training can have a significant impact on productivity and the ability to add value.
 
You may come across some resistance by team members who may believe they are too busy to take time out for training. But by selecting an outcomes-based training model with clear goals and a defined follow up process, any objections can be overcome and any time invested will be more than recouped in greater efficiency and productivity day-to-day.
 
This stage of our training journey has just begun, but my advice for any company looking to spend on training would be this - a culture of continuous improvement can only thrive in any organisation if there is a commitment to developing the skills of those who run it. A consistent sales ethos is a good start along a road which is often less travelled – investing in training.

Training Helps Build 1500-strong Business Network

15/12/2015 20:29:53

Belfast-based business membership organisation, Business First Network, has signed up its 1500th member, thanks to sales techniques learned by its managing director Michael Osborne at a training course 10 years ago.

Michael attended various training with Bury-based provider, MLP Training, with his previous employer and has used the tools and techniques he picked up ever since. 

When he established Business First Network in June 2014, using his sales training to make appointments over the phone and sign up new members was critical to the venture’s success, and has helped him reach the 1500 members mark in just 18 months.

Michael commented: “I worked for a business membership organisation before but I knew I could provide something better for SMEs and that’s what drove me to set up Business First Network.

“The company provides big business services and resources for small businesses, covering everything from HR advice to access to funding. It’s a way for smaller businesses to access expert advice and support, and the more members we have the more we can offer - so growing exponentially is critical to our business model.

“The sales techniques I learned from MLP have been key to my success in growing our membership and I have been able to pass those tools on to our development partners as we’ve grown.”

Amongst the training programmes that Michael has attended at MLP are ‘Getting Appointments over the Phone’ and ‘Telephone Selling’, which have been vital for the team at Business First Network.

Michael continues: “We have 12 development partners across the UK covering the entire country so many of our new members have been recruited over the phone. Building a rapport on the telephone is a very specific skill and our growth would not have been so rapid without the skills I learned from MLP.”

Mike Le Put, owner and founder of MLP Training added: “Michael’s story demonstrates the long-term value of investing in high-quality training. The techniques we teach can be applied in so many environments and give people the confidence to maximise opportunities, something that Michael has done so impressively since starting Business First Network.”

Training Provides More Than a Spring Clean for Restoration Firm

15/12/2015 20:25:14

Professional cleaning company, Art of Clean, is gearing up to drive growth in its tenth year in business as it has seen conversion rates of up to 70% following sales training with Bury-based provider, MLP Training

The Cambridge-based firm, which is celebrating its tenth year, was founded by husband and wife business duo Pierre and Laurence De Wet and. Together they manage a team which offers flooring and furnishing care for both domestic and commercial clients, including wood floor sanding and restoration, rug and upholstery care, and external surface cleaning including stone walls and driveways.

Following training with MLP, the company has seen an increase in quotes turning into orders.

Managing director, Pierre De Wet, explains: “I decided about six months ago to restructure the business strategy and to invest in some training, and so the team and I have been on several courses with MLP including Successful Selling Skills, Sales Negotiator and Sales Managers Masterclass.

“Running your own business can lead to give in to the temptation to do everything yourself, but you have to delegate and play to your strengths - I wasn’t as good at everything as I thought I was! So I reviewed the roles of the team to ensure the right people were working in areas they excelled in, and upskilled where needed – including myself.

“The return on investment of the training was almost immediate, as you could see the improvement in our confidence and awareness of negotiation skills with customers. I particularly learnt not to underestimate the power of communication and how simply one wrong or right word could either lose or win the business.”

Art of Clean services clients predominately in the Cambridgeshire area, but also branches out across the UK, having worked on some prestigious projects including Norwich Cathedral, St Edmundsbury Cathedral and high-end properties in Kensington, London.

Pierre explains how his new business strategy also includes a more integrated offering for clients.

“We are offering a complete floor care and restoration service which includes extra services such as floor sanding and carpet cleaning. We’re a premium service provider and we like to give clients a bespoke and personal experience, as we really do believe that cleaning and restoration really is an art.

“Training with MLP has helped up broaden our view on how to speak to customers and give them what they want, not what we think they need, and this has really helped to increase our conversion rates.

“Training with MLP will also help us to identify areas in the team which need up-skilling, so our sales force is motivated and driven, ultimately being able to close deals.”

Pierre is looking to further expand the business, and increase conversion rates by another two per cent this coming year.

He concluded: “Even if we can increase conversion rates by just a few percent that will definitely be a great return on our investment in training and stand us in good stead for future growth of the business.”  

Customer Service Begins at Home

15/12/2015 09:44:24

by Mike Prince, managing director at Advanced Handling Ltd.
 
Richard Branson famously said: “…if you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers.” - and it’s very sound advice. 
 
Often, business leaders are so busy thinking about how to sell more to their customers that they forget the most important stakeholder group of all - their own staff!
 
It’s a business fundamental that one of MLP’s clients, Advanced Handling, understands and implements in a way that has both supported its own commercial success and inspired the team here at MLP.
 
The company designs, manufactures and installs material handling and lifting solutions for customers across the UK and around the world. Quality is important to them because their customers rely on their solutions for both safety and efficiency.  Building that quality into everything they do from custom product design through to after sales support begins with treating internal stakeholders like valued customers.
 
Developing a culture where every interaction and the contribution made by every member of staff is valued ensures that there is a focus on teamwork and shared ownership for the company’s success.
 
Advanced Handling champions the concept of internal and external customers, where all customer relationships are important and service levels are set between departments.  In that way, progress and quality are monitored throughout the delivery cycle of every project, which enhances service to external customers and ensures that internal customers access the support and resources they need to get the job done to the highest standards.
 
The company has achieved this by following another of Richard Branson’s famous mantras: “Train people well enough that they can leave, treat them well enough that they don’t want to.”
 
From Customer Service Excellence programmes through to Goal Setting & Time Management training, MLP has provided the team at Advanced Handling with the tools it needs to implement its people-focused business culture at every level.  We even got involved in helping the company’s management team to formulate its ‘20-20 Vision’, a goal-oriented manifesto for how the company sees itself developing by the year 2020.
 
The bottom line is that a company is more successful when its entire team is united with common goals, a shared responsibility for quality and a genuine recognition for the contribution of every individual. Training can help deliver that consistency and inspired thinking as part of a progressive business culture.

 
For more information about the next Goal Setting & Time Management course, click here

WANT TO BE A BUSINESS KING? YOU’LL NEED A CROWN!

20/11/2015 16:01:39

Ask any sports team and they’ll tell you - success not only requires talent and hard work; it requires a winning formula too.

At MLP, we specialise in harnessing the talent and hard work of our clients and giving them the formulas they need to translate that raw material into sustainable success.

And when it comes to being the king of commerce, our C.R.O.W.N formula has helped lots of ambitious business owners to maximise their potential.

So, what’s the secret?

CROWN stands for:
C    Create a demand
R    Realise the full potential
O    Open to new ideas
W   Work with everything
N    Never underestimate

Creating demand involves marketing your products and services effectively, taking a planned approach to developing customer awareness so that customers are ready to buy even before you start to sell.

You need to take the same sustained approach to point two: ‘realise the full potential’, which means both maximising your own potential through continuous personal development and helping your customers to leverage their own potential by taking any opportunities to contribute to their growth.

Potential can take many different forms so be proactive and embed a willingness to improve into everything you do, which brings us on to the third element of the formula: ‘open to ideas’. Again, be vigilant and remember that all ideas are worth considering – even ideas that don’t work might teach you something! It’s also important to remember that ideas can come from a variety of sources; your customers, your colleagues, your competitors, other industries - use your instincts and think creatively.

Indeed, ideas are one of your greatest resources and it’s essential to ‘work with everything’ you have at your disposal, as we point out in step four of our CROWN formula. Don’t waste assets or people but make sure they are helping you work towards enhancing your business success.

Which brings us to the final – and arguably the most important – element of the formula: ‘never underestimate’ your own potential, the value of customer relationships, the threat posed by competitors and market conditions or any other challenges and opportunities that may affect your business.

If you have the talent and drive to be successful, you will always achieve your goals, but with the right business formula, you can CROWN that success.

The 10 Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurship

17/11/2015 09:44:22

By Mike Le Put, owner and founder of MLP Training
 
I love my job.  Not only because it gives me the opportunity to train people and help them be the best that they can be, but also because it brings me into contact with so many entrepreneurs that I can learn from as part of my own continuous personal development.

The insights I’ve gained from working with trailblazing entrepreneurs over the years are also secrets of success that I can pass on to my clients and contacts.

If you’d like to tap into some of the habits of successful business people, here are ten key secrets of success in business:

1. Have a clear vision with definable, measureable goals and plan ahead confidently as though those goals have already been achieved

2. Be passionate about what you do and feed that passion into every element of what you’re trying to achieve. Remember, passion is contagious so this will not only impact on what you achieve but on what your team achieves too

3. Maintain your drive and energy levels, even though challenging times

4. Work hard.  It may seem like a business basic but it’s important to understand the direct correlation between the amount of effort you put in and the level of your success

5. Focus on solutions, not problems. Assume there is a solution and work on finding it, ensuring that you use the experience as a learning process

6. Don’t look back.  Successful people are forward focussed so, while they will always learn from their mistakes, they will never dwell on them

7. Be positive.  Successful people look for the good in every situation and every person

8. Surround yourself with good people. Regardless of how talented and driven you are, you will need people that you can trust who share your goals and commitment

9. Delegate. When you’ve found the right people ensure you maximise their value to your business by playing to their strengths

10. Don’t be shy about success.  Successful people expect to succeed and, when they do, they celebrate their achievements!

Expect Success

16/09/2015 14:51:13

By Mike Le Put, founder and owner of MLP Training
 
As any sports psychologist will tell you, winning is not all about physical performance - it’s also about faith in your ability to win.

 

Many sales people could learn from their sporting heroes’ self belief and, while they may not be able to wear the word ‘believe’ on the inside of their shirt as many do on the pitch, it should certainly be a mantra that comes from their heart every day of their working lives.

 

The correlation between confidence and sales success is well-documented with numerous experiments being carried out to measure the impact of positive belief on sales conversion rates.

 

For example, a large team of newly trained sales people was split randomly into two groups following the recruits’ induction. The two sets of salespeople had been trained in the same way and were equally talented.

 

Group one was told that the territories they were being given were well-established markets with excellent potential where the company expected to see high sales volumes during a short period of time. Group two, meanwhile, was told that they were to be deployed in challenging territories where sales opportunities were scarce and meeting targets was going to be tough.

 

The outcomes are not surprising.  Despite the fact that all the territories had the same customer demographic and potential to generate new business, sales for group one far outstripped those for group two. The only real difference between each location was the sales people’s expectation of success.

 

The work I do myself, training a wide range of sales people, echoes these results. MLP Training provides a range of courses and works with sales people who are just

 

 

starting out on their career right through to those that have lived and breathed sales for decades. It’s extraordinary that many of those who have earned their sales stripes over a number of years still don’t fully understand the correlation between expectation and success.

 

A recent MLP ‘Getting Appointments Over the Phone’ course highlights this too. The one-day course involved training a group of 10 experienced sales people and my first question was ‘how many cold calls do you expect to have to make before you secure an appointment?’

 

Answers from the group varied between 10 and 20, with one particularly jaded salesperson answering 100. There was, however, just one delegate that confidently answered ‘one’.

 

When set the practical task of carrying out some cold calls, success levels varied across the group. By far the most successful delegate, however, was the person that had anticipated securing an appointment with his first call. He may not have achieved a successful outcome every time he picked up the phone but his hit rate was far greater – largely because he believed it would be!

 

Whatever you’re selling and whoever you’re selling it to, the biggest factor in your success is confidence that you can make success happen. Certainly, there will be obstacles, but, if believe you will lose out on price, quality or anything else, the chances are you probably will.  

 

If you want to avoid being defeated the moment you’re challenged, you have to believe the sale is yours.

Never Mind the Price, What’s the Value?

10/09/2015 16:52:09

By Mike Le Put, owner and founder of MLP Training
 
The most common grumble I hear from sales people is that their market is driven by price and it’s getting harder to make any margin because price cutting has become so aggressive.

My advice to them is, if you can’t win the price cutting game, don’t play it!

Let me explain with an example. A sweet potato farmer based in West Virginia who exported to the UK was paying $1,000 per container to ship his harvest.  His shipping overheads were low but his customers were disgruntled because many of the sweet potatoes transported in the low-cost standard containers were no longer in saleable condition when they arrived at their destination – they had perished.

The sales person was going to offer ventilated containers at a cost of $2,000 each but this is twice the price and would sound expensive at this stage. So, the first priority for the salesperson was to ask the right questions.

He ascertained that the farmer was now using refrigerated containers at a cost of $3500 dollars each shipping 20 containers per week for 25 weeks of the year whilst the sweet potatoes were in season, at a total cost of $1,175.000.

Armed with this information, the sales person was able to base his approach on helping the farmer improve his business by addressing his customers’ needs, while offering him a price that was lower than his expectations, even though it was twice his existing costs of a basic container it saved the farmer $75.000 over the 25 week period. In this way, he not only sealed the deal but exceeded the customer’s expectations by helping him solve his issue with perished stock much more cost-effectively than the customer had anticipated.

So what’s the moral of the story? Firstly, it’s a reminder that price is never the sole criteria for any purchase. A successful salesperson will always keep this as their mantra and find out more about the buyer’s other purchase motivations as an integral part of the selling process.

By asking the right questions, listening to the answers and developing a solution that addresses the customer’s specific needs, a salesperson can add value and push price down the agenda.

Instead of focusing on price, this approach establishes the desire to buy. As a sales professional, if you understand the desire to buy, you’re in a position to develop it, and the higher the desire to buy, the lower the customer’s price resistance will be.

For many salespeople, the default setting seems to be to find out what the customer is currently paying and begin negotiations on price. While finding out what the customer is already paying is an important part of the process, it should go hand in hand with finding out what value they are receiving at that price so that you can offer them a higher value solution. 

It is the value that you can provide that will secure the sale and only once the customer is sold on buying from you should you begin negotiations on price.

Finding the Time for Success

26/08/2015 14:44:49

Apparently, the average UK adult spends 26 hours a week watching television. I’m not against watching TV but I know there will be people in the UK saying ‘I wish I could learn how to play the piano, but I just don’t have time’. But here is where they are wrong - they do have the time, they just choose to spend it watching TV.

I often give this analogy when people ask me what the secret to sales success is, and I conclude with - you need to find the time for success. Yet the reality is often, ‘I need more time’.

First of all, there is no more time. Low and high achievers all get 24 hours a day. Secondly, yes there isn’t enough time to do everything, which is why you need to learn to prioritise effectively and be aware of which actions will enable you to develop a plan and ultimately achieve your goals.

There are two easy steps to help you overcome this. Step one is to set your goals - whether this is to sell three times more than you did last year, become a managing director even run a marathon – anything is possible if you know what you’re striving towards. This seems like a simple solution but many people make the common mistake of not setting goals and wonder why they fail.

Step two is to simply develop a plan, because it will help drive your motivation and you’ll succeed as a result.

High achievers have clearly defined targets and plan their time to achieve this. You can’t create more time but you can control your environment, your procedures, your habits, and only you can allocate the right amount of time to reach your goals. It’s your life, your future, and your time for success.

So if you find yourself thinking or saying, ‘I don’t have time’, ask yourself what you are doing or about to do which is taking you away from your goals?

We’re hosting our next Goal Setting and Time Management Course  at the Bolholt Country Park Hotel in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Click here to find out more and secure your place.

*Source: www.thinkbox.tv (2014)

A positive mind is half the battle

04/08/2015 15:36:41

by Mike Le Put, owner and founder of MLP Training

In a fast-paced work environment, it’s often hard to prioritise your personal goals as the busyness of the working day can often create obstacles which may inhibit your success.   However, simply changing your attitude towards your targets and prioritising your time effectively can lead to outstanding results – whatever sector you work in.

I often find the analogy of the ancient battle between Alexander the Great and Persian Emperor Darius a useful one when teaching the Goal Setting and Time Management course.

Alexander the Great had defeated Darius’ army twice before and understandably Darius did not want to be beaten again. Leading up to the great battle, Darius cruelly enrolled thousands more men to his army, forcing them to fight for him so they outnumbered Alexander’s army by twenty to one. It seemed at the outset that Darius had the stronger force to beat Alexander once and for all.

The night before the battle, generals in Alexander’s army were extremely worried about Darius’ numerical advantage, and failed to understand how they would kill them all and win the battle. But Alexander’s had done his homework, and had a plan. He realised he didn’t need to destroy the entire army, just kill Darius, as his army had no loyalty to him.

He shared his vision with his troops and made sure they understood and bought into the plan. During the battle, Alexander’s army lined up in an arrow head formation with him at the tip, followed by an enormous war cry from his army of men, “Kill Darius! Kill Darius!”

Darius panicked and galloped off into the distance, leaving his men and the battle behind. Darius’ army surrendered to Alexander and he had conquered once again.
The challenges faced by Alexander and his army seemed overwhelming but he took a step back, reviewed his options and conceived a way forward. He quickly eliminated the negatives and barriers to success and instilled belief in his team, ensuring they were fully behind the positive plan.
 
Distinguishing the difference between urgent and important tasks is a skill, but it’s also important to remember to use your time effectively to enable you to achieve what you want and reach your ultimate goals – which is what I teach all my delegates to do. Being able to identify the time wasters and potential obstacles together with a positive attitude is a sure starting point to success.

So when people ask me if there’s one thing they can do to improve their time management and goal setting skills, my answer is, ‘a positive mind is half the battle’. You can achieve your goals with an optimistic outlook because with a clear vision, you’re able to manage your time more efficiently.

It may seem simple, but the best advice always is!

To find out about the next Goal Setting and Time Management course, call 01204 88 88 26 or click here

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