The Sales Apprentice 2011: Sales Training & Business Development Tips From The Hit TV Show, The Final

So last night, bumbling but friendly inventor Tom Pellereau, who from now on I shall call Caractacus Potts (after the rather nice but boffin father in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), won The Apprentice and in doing so made something of a mockery of actually bothering with the weeks and weeks of tasks…

Despite ten weeks of competition in which he had only been on the winning side three times and had spent more time being called nice but useless by Uncle Alan, he walked away with the top prize of £250k investment in his business. He might rue the day he went into business with people so alien to himself or it might be the making of him but I couldn’t help singing under my breath…

Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you’ll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses! Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!
Oh yes!
Grow the roses! Those rosy roses!
From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!

Yes I know but he wants it to float. It will!
For every big mistake you make be grateful!
Here, here!
That mistake you’ll never make again!
No sir!
Every shiny dream that fades and dies,
Generates the steam for two more tries!
(Oh) There’s magic in the wake of a fiasco!
Correct!
It gives you that chance to second guess!
Oh yes!
Then up from the ashes, up from the ashes grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses! Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses! Those rosy roses!
From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!

Disaster didn’t stymie Louis Pasteur!
No sir!
Edison took years to see the light!
Right!
Alexander Graham knew failure well; he took a lot of knocks to ring that
bell!
So when it gets distressing it’s a blessing!
Onward and upward you must press!
Yes, Yes!
Till up from the ashes, up from the ashes grow the roses of success.
Grow the ro Grow the ro Grow the roses!
Grow the ro Grow the ro Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!

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I have been saying for a few weeks now that Lord Alan was keeping Tom for a reason and that the reason might be to see his business idea… and ultimately it was. When Lord Alan was presented with some rather pathetic business ideas, Caractacus stole the crown…

The Business Plans…

  • Suzy was suggesting an organic skin care range for the general market. In fairness to her she has loads of entrepreneurial spirit and I am sure she will succeed… but she didn’t get on very well with any of the other Apprentices and her sales forecasting methods are naive to say the least. This fact she demonstrated well in the Birmingham Bullring when she predicted stellar sales and brought in merely dust. She also failed to sell duvets in West London.Verdict: Uninvestable as offered.
  • Jim offered up an e-learning system for schools aimed at helping them to become more business focused and entrepreneurial. The business was based on Lord Alan and cheekily (cleverly?) sounded as if it was already in his stable. Jim is Mr Cliche, he has proven himself to be master of the meaningless relationship and prince of doorstep, persuasion but he seems to lack depth or substance. When asked to sum himself up without cliche he said, “I am what it says on the tin!” Verdict: Uninvestable.
  • Helen was the favourite of many people and had this been a normal show she would have romped away as Al’s Apprentice. I have had doubts about her entrepreneurial acumen, wondering if she is more super-organizer rather than super-leader. Her business plan was to save people time by doing tasks for them. It was riddled with issues and it’s not a market I’d want to play in although if anyone could make it work, it might be her. I have my doubts as to whether the franchise model would work though.Verdict: Uninvestable… although I’d be looking for an Ops Manager / Director role for her.
  • Caractacus Potts (Tom) was seen by many as something of a joke. He seemed to lack some of the “business” skills that one would expect but there was always the likelhood that he was goiung to come up with a good plan having already taken products to market in the past. His business idea… a chair that he had  designed and consultancy services to reduce back issues and associated costs to businesses was sound one. We didn’t find out much about the chair but if it’s real and Lord Alan is prepared to support Tom and help him to complete and follow through…Verdict: Maybe investable.

And that’s what Lord Alan saw too making me wonder why I had bothered watching eleven  weeks of Tom “failing” whilst trying to win “irrelevant” taks only to be invested in at the end because of entirely different criteria…??

The Interviewers…

Part of the fun of the interview show is to hide behind the sofa with your hands over your face as Lord Alan’s bully boys (and girl) kick the c**p out of the Apprentices. With a new line up this year the interviews were more restrained and sensible with only Claude Littner staying true to form and rude as ever. Along with Claude this year were Matthew Reilly (founder and CEO of the Daisy Group), Mike Suter (something to do with magazines?) and the welcome return of Margaret Mountford, bringing a welcome quality and consideration to the proceedings.

The interviewers thought that…

  • Helen had a great track record, she was hard working, she would give 100%, she was perhaps lacking in entrepreneurial flare, she was incredibly organised, they didn’t like her plan. If Lord Alan was hiring someone to work in his companies she would win hands down.
  • Jim was a terrific salesman, he is slippery and cannot be pinned down, he is Mr Cliche, Claude quite likes his plan, Lord Alan says schools currently have “no money.”
  • Tom was a bit of a mad professor, will want to create something new every week, has a lack of focus, his numbers are wrong…
  • Suzy has done well to get so far, is naive, her business plan is based on assumptions, she is an entrepreneur.

Lord Alan thought similar but was clearly disappointed in Helen’s proposition. He doesn’t like it at all. But it’s Jim who came in for the flack, “I think you tried to win me with your business plan but I’m afraid you’re fired.” For once there was nothing Jim could say other than he had given his best… and I think he was right.

Next ouf of the door was Suzy. Lord Alan thought she would do well but he wasn’t going to invest in her so we were left with Helen and Caractacus. I wondered if Lord Alan might pull off a shocker and hire them both to work together… likeable, boffin inventor and workaholic organizer? They had form together and clearly liked working together… think MyPy.

Lord Alan took some tiome with Nick and Karen and when they came back in Helen, realising she had pitched the wrong business, tried to pitch another. It was too little too late, the boffin had the money, the career, the car and the girl. Well, the money anyway.

So, as this is the last Apprentice show this year, I’m not going to try and recap any of the sales training and business development lessons merely ask you to think about what you learnt from the show this year and ask you to think about how you can apply it to increase your sales, business and personal success…?

And if you’re feeling like it… please share your thoughts about last night’s decision or your sales tips from the show below in the comments section…

P.s And the best sales success of the series? Tom last night telling us how he got his product into Walmart… After trying and failing to reach the buyer he went to their offices with a parcel of “hand-delivered” gifts. When the receptionist asked him to leave them he explained that he had been told to hand-deliver them to the recipient. On meeting the buyer he then explained why he was there and was given 30 minutes. You got to love that!

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