Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Keep your Customer Credibility

In any business, there’s a product or service that someone wants to sell, and a customer who wants to buy it.  The trick is to understand when someone wants your product/service or whether you should walk away.

I had an interesting experience recently which taught me about my naivete as well as that some people can't take a hint.  Someone reached out to me on LinkedIn asking to be on my contact list.  He was the CEO of an organisation that I’d heard of (having worked in that country – information which was on my LinkedIn profile) and I was flattered that he should want to link in.

I accepted and within 24 hours received a message offering me an “Investment Opportunity” in the country concerned.  Given the status of the sender, I politely declined the offer, thinking that would be the end of it.

I received another message, this time asking me for my email address to which more information could be sent.  At this point I removed the person from my contacts list and blocked him, worried that he might reach out to others on my network with the same offer.

We only have one chance to make an impression.    We’re taught in “Sales School” that we have to be persistent but if someone says “no”, it’s time to withdraw gracefully.  If we fail to spot the signs, we risk losing another (better) opportunity in the future with that customer, or the chance that they will recommend us to someone else who may need what we have even more.  

Selling is a tough game at the best of times.  Everyone’s style is different and I continue to learn both by my mistakes and those of others who approach me.  My mantra has always been to approach others as I would wish to be approached.


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

How Do You Work?

When dealing with another organisation, it literally pays to know how they work, particularly when it comes to getting paid.

A client recently came away from a client meeting very frustrated.  When I talked to him about what had happened, it seemed that he had been asked a lot of questions about a quotation he had submitted for more services to the same client.  

What was the problem? They obviously had a good relationship if he was being asked to provide even more services to them, but his proposal had resulted in a slew of questions.  On looking at what had happened, it wasn’t the overall price that was the problem, but rather the way it had been put together.

This client liked consistency.  The problem was that my client had included expense categories that weren’t part of the overall contract, but showed how he had reached the price that the client was happy with.  The person my client was talking to was the one who had to put the proposal up to his bosses, and it seemed that theywere the ones who would compare this pricing with previous pricing.  (albeit without understanding the logic of what it was so stated) and ask the “junior” what this all meant.  The junior was simply trying to forestall these questions and suggest that my client re-submit the proposal but set out in a format more consistent with what had gone before.  

In other cases, the approval process for an invoice can vary.  Sometimes we need to send it direct to the client’s accounts department, at others to the person who is in charge of “our” contract. Sending it to the “wrong” person may cause delays as it makes its way (sometimes very slowly) to the correct party.

Understanding our clients’ way of doing things means we get deals approved faster and paid faster as well.  “Every client is different” and it’s vital that we understand these differences, particularly if we are small businesses.   The bigger the business, the more “bureaucracy” we’re likely to encounter as our clients’ approval processes (usually designed by lawyers, accountants and compliance managers whose focus is on explaining to auditors and regulators why things are so) have to be satisfied.  

We need to be as flexible as we can and understand as much as possible in advance. Much of this comes from asking the “right” questions if we can, but a lot will come from experience, trial and error and is part of the great game of business dealings.

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Hold on to That Sale!

When selling to someone, we have literally a matter of seconds to make the right impression and get their attention.  Experienced salespeople know this, but it takes practice to know what to do and how.

One mistake I constantly see myself (and others) making is to waste those vital first moments with too much detail.  I recently had an experience where I agreed to assist a company in finding a potential market for its product and suggested to the person introducing them that they contact me direct.

The company did so, but what they sent was a long, detailed email with attached links to other sources.  My eyes literally glazed over and I replied to the company that a different approach might be in order in the particular market they were looking at. 

In those instances where we rely on someone else to support, I find that the following approach works better:
  • Having been introduced by the mutual acquaintance, send either a short email with basic information (max. ½ side of A4) or offer to call the person who has agreed to help.
  • In that first email/phone call, try to establish what the other person needs to know to provide initial advice.
  • Allow the other party to digest and then one proposes a way forward.
  • Identify potential target clients and a suitable approach (either with the other party or on our own).

As more people experience more demands on their time both internally and externally, it’s up to us to respect that time and make their job as easy as possible.  The key information they need is:
  • What does it do?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • How does it solve it?
  • Why is it better than other solutions out there?
  • How easy is it to set up?
  • How easy is it to use?
  • Who does it help?

If they don't understand what we’re selling or how it works in the first few minutes, there’s a problem.  These are the questions we need to answer first.



I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Subscribers" or "Customers"?

I was recently talking to the CEO of a mobile communications company when he made an interesting observation about how one of his competitors described those who used their services.  The competitor referred to them as “subscribers” whilst the company with whose CEO I was speaking described his users as “Customers”.

A small difference, but it got me thinking: do the words we use to describe those who use our product or service reflect how we see them?  Do they affect our employees’ performance or attitude on a subconscious level? 

In the UK, Southwest Trains now refers to “customers”, not “passengers”.  How many other examples can you think of where a company you’ve known for a long time changes the way it describes the people who buy its product or service?

One of my pet peeves is “Human Resources”, the word used to describe those who work for an organisation as well as the function responsible for their general well-being.  It came in during the late 80s and has stuck ever since, although some organisations now describe their employees as “partners” or in other terms that illustrate either their attitude of what those employees are or what they would like them to aspire to think of themselves.  In a recent post I mentioned Sir Richard Branson’s attitude to looking after his people as this led to them looking after customers as a result.  If someone feels valued, they’ll go the extra mile and it shows in the service. 

The power of words is unappreciated, and yet we use them every day to encourage people to achieve things, support a project or vote in a certain way.  The basic underlying emotional appeal of a word is what drives actions.

Do our words reflect the attitude we want to show to others?  If not, maybe it’s time to change.




I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Do I have Something You Want?

This could equally well be put as, “Do you have something I want?” and revolves around the question of selling to others.

Many of us will have received “cold” calls from telesales people who want to share their “client list” (or similar) without even telling us what it is they do or if checking whether we need their product/service (let alone use another supplier). 

When selling to someone else, the natural tendency may be to start with a glowing description of the product or service’s features and benefits and ending by asking the potential customer how many or how much they’d like.  Then the surprise comes – they don’t want any…

Experienced sellers know to start with questions to the potential buyer based on a product or service’s feature and benefits to find out what matters to the buyer.  If their needs match, then there’s a potential sale.  A buyer needs to feel that we're genuinely interested in solving their problem, not that they’re just a potential target.

What happens, though, if the potential buyer genuinely doesn't want/need what we have?  It happens.  Once this is clear, there’s no point in trying to irritate them into buying – we’ll only lose their goodwill the next time.  The answer is to ask them if they know anyone else who might need it.  This way, we still have another potential buyer and who knows, the next time we call the first one, they may need what we have and be willing to listen as we respected their position the last time.  Or they may even call us…

Some people simply put the phone down when they hear that Mr/Ms X is calling or that ABC Company is on the phone.  This isn’t where we want to be.  In short, we need to:
  • Know what questions to ask;
  • When to stop asking;
  • How to ask for a referral.




I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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