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Rethinking ‘Sales’
© conor kenny & associates. All rights reserved. 2018

I Don’t Like Mondays
Bob Geldof is famous for many things but, to my generation, his defining legacy is ‘I don’t like Mondays’ It is as fresh today and perhaps more relevant.
If you are in Sales and if you don’t like Mondays then you are probably in the wrong job. Or, as the saying goes “your attitude to the job may just defeat you before you even begin” To succeed in sales you have to love your customers, your job and Mondays.

Years ago we had ‘Bus Conductors’ they were generally relaxed easy going people with a job that was not too demanding. They collected your fare and sat idly on the drivers token door chatting. Every so often there was a moment of high energy as the bus came to rest. With a confident voice the cry of “All change” rang out. It was a polite way of saying “Get off my bus” Today; it’s all change and time to get off the old road.
Old roads can sink collapse and disintegrate. That leaves two choices. Wait for the old road to return or cut a new path.
However, it’s not a decision that can wait. Fuel is precious and time too. If you idle too long, the engine will die. Change is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.
As Alan Cohen said;
“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power”

Reset Your Compass
Before you race off in search of sales you need to reset the compass and refocus the lens. The landscape has changed and new paths need to be built. That means revisiting your business, your message, your offer and your vision. But what is this mystical magical word all about?
Vision is an idyllic place. In the beginning it has no boundaries, no rules, it is unclaimed territory, it is new, it is pure and it has yet to be created. The picture can be dreamy but some dreams come true.
True leaders follow their dreams. Some succeed, some keep trying.
If we have a dream we must at least aim for it. If we miss we can start again. Far better then to aim high than aim too low, hit our target and not even realise it.
Think big, then think bigger and reach beyond the stars.
The late Lord Ballyedmond was better known as Eddie Haughey, founder of Norbrook Laboratories. I had the enormous pleasure of being in his company in the past. Incredibly successful, he combined humility with a passion, energy and drive that is inspirational. Here is what he said on ‘Vision’
“If you don’t have a vision, it’s very difficult to have a starting point. A vision is a dream. If you don’t bring a dream to fruition, to realisation, then it’s an hallucination.”

The Dip
In today’s turbulent world it’s easy to be suspicious about the business owner who tells you everything “is just great” It’s not, unless they live in some make believe world. The reality is that it’s tough, turbulent and testing. But, ‘good’ emerges with focus, energy and heart. The world is in a dip. The high grazing pastures above the canyon seem remote but read the wisdom of American Author, Seth Godin. In his bestselling book ‘The Dip’ this is what he has to say;
“If you haven’t already realised it, the Dip is the secret to your success. The people who make it through the Dip – People who invest the time and energy and the effort to power through the Dip – those are the ones who become the best in the world. They are breaking the system because, instead of moving on to the next thing, instead of doing slightly above average and settling for what they have got, they embrace the challenge. For whatever reason, they refuse to abandon the quest and they push through the Dip all the way to the next level”
It’s no coincidence that few climb to the summit of Everest. It’s no coincidence that there is little room for more than one at the top.

Challenge the Status Quo
Everything. Attitude, behaviour, learning’s. How we buy, how we sell. How we decide. The recession has created a greater awareness of price, of value and of what is worth what.
The Web has created easy access to information. It’s easy to research, it’s easy to compare. It’s easy for a customer to be equipped with facts and competitive data. If the sales person is about to do battle, not a bad idea to check their ammunition first.
Today, customers will haggle. That needs a strategy. They will have more information on you than you may have on yourself. Think of the influence of Trip Advisor and Message Boards. That too needs a plan.
Marketing will see the death of paper and the growth of online emarketing. Connecting with others will be driven by social media and if you don’t understand Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can prepare to fail.
Many years ago petrol stations served oil and petrol. Today, they are branded supermarkets with petrol attached.
As a young man living in London it cost £170 to fly to Dublin. Today I can fly the same route for €20. That’s what happens when someone has a vision, sees a gap and challenges the existing norm.
Isn’t it time your selling did the same?

The Ice Cream Van
Marketing is often not understood. It’s wrapped neatly into the ‘Sales and Marketing’ cupboard. It shouldn’t be, they are two halves of a whole.
All the global research indicates the need for more marketing in a recession. Here is what John Quelch, Harvard, has to say;
“Don’t assume a return to normal. The longer and deeper the recession, the more likely consumers will adjust their attitudes and behaviours permanently. Their coping mechanisms may become ingrained and define a new normal. In addition, the competitive landscape will have changed. A competitive shakeout along with new product launches may mean consumers are looking at your products and services through new lenses. Listen closely to your customers and revise your market segmentation assumptions”
Last Summer I was working with a fabulous team.
At our Workshop, Helen, a wonderful, sharp and wise young local girl was talking about marketing and how people attract customers. Helen wanted to explain ‘marketing’ to her colleagues. This is what she said;
“It’s a bit like an Ice Cream Van. Think about it. They come dashing in to your estate creating a stir. The first thing is a big bright colourful van – that gets your attention. Then, just in case you are indoors and didn’t see the cheerful bright colours, they play loud music hall tunes to get noticed. Next, there’s a man in a sparkling white coat – he looks like he really knows Ice Cream. Then, when you buy your ‘99’ – the sale - they always had that little extra wow factor. Remember? The strawberry sauce?”
Marketing folks is a little like that”

From Good to Great
There is no such thing as a definitive list that will teach you the fundamentals of good selling. Like everything, it’s a lot to do with common sense (or as the wise owl once said; “the problem with common sense is that it’s not very common”)
Recently, I was asked “What’s important when selling something?”
Here’s my 10 point take on it;
First you need to be working with a product or service that the market decides they are willing to purchase because – it makes their life/work better.
Second, you have to communicate that – effectively.
Third (and most importantly) you have to ‘understand’ not where you are coming from but – where the customer is coming from.
Fourth, you must do ‘the right thing’ – that’s the truth. That’s trust, that’s integrity.
Five, you must work with their timetable – not yours.
Six, you must deliver ‘exactly what you promise – not more, not less.
Seven, it must be a good deal – for both.
Eight, you must seek feedback – no matter how uncomfortable.
Nine, you must know when to pull back – and avoid being a pest.
Finally, you must love it – or it will show.

Good Ideas
Innovation and a constant stream of ideas are as important as cash flow. They excite, motivate and energise. They must become part of your DNA, culture and ethos.
The challenge is simple. You must stand out from the crowd and they must make you different. As Tom Peters said;
“Successful companies are not hundreds of percent better than you in every way; they are 1% better in hundreds of ways”
Even better, as A. Whitney Brown said;
“There are a billion people in China. It’s not easy to be an individual in a crowd of more than a billion people. Think of it, more than a billion people. That means even if you’re a one-in-a-million type of guy, there are still a thousand guys exactly like you”

People Power
In an earlier edition of Hotel & Catering Review I summarized the importance of people. It’s a quote that caught fire and it’s worth repeating. It makes the point;
“People create atmosphere. Nothing else, full stop. Good design and comfort merely facilitate that. The secret to a successful outlet is to understand and develop your own DNA. Develop your points of difference. Develop what you do best, what you know best and make it absolutely relevant to where you are and who wants you or could want you. A hotel is like a theatre. Every night when the lights go down the show is over another day is done. The next day, no matter what has gone before it, the show will have a new audience, often a first time audience, and today’s show must, at the very least, be better than the day before. The actors who will deliver the show are your people. If you do not invest in them in many ways you will have an average show. After all, what is the point of a beautiful comfortable cozy theatre with great sets, great seats and great lighting if the guys on stage have no idea what they are doing?”

Tread Carefully (but have fun too)
It’s all too easy in a storm to blame the Sailors. Even easier to shout and roar. People remember and people are the key to your future. Treat them well, trust them, invest in them and they will reward you. After all, no sale worth celebrating will exclude people.
Be an optimist and learn from Winston Churchill;
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”
Finally, when you have done that, celebrate success, celebrate life and as James Dean said;

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”


Conor Kenny is the principal of Conor Kenny & Associates, Ireland’s leading independent training, learning and professional development company for the hospitality and service sector.

He is the author of 3 books; ‘It’s Who I Am’ ‘Dancing at the Fountain’ Sales Tales’
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All Rights Reserved. 2018. Conor Kenny & Associates

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