I’m currently in Zurich running a sales training seminar and had planned to watch The Apprentice tomorrow night on the excellent BBC iPlayer and report with my sales training and business development tips as usual. As I was out with a client tonight I have been unable to rescedule and do this tonight. I will now watch it later on in the week and post some brief thoughts and tips.
This means that I have missed my first report on the night of the broadcast in two years! I guess that this was always going to happen at some point with me stuck in an airport or something but it got me thinking…
How many others of you who are not glued to the television have also missed The Apprentice tonight?
Search on The Apprentice moving days on the web and you will already find several enraged online comments about it. I predict there will be many more posted tomorrow morning when people get to work having missed the programme only to be told who got sacked by their colleagues! There will certainly be many people in offices up and down the country yelling, “Don’t tell me” and singing, “La! La! La!” with their fingers stuck in their ears like little children!
Did this change get announced last week? If it did, I missed it. With 7 million weekly viewers the BBC runs a risk of upsetting a lot of people here.
So what sales training and business development tips do we learn from us missing The Apprentice? Perhaps surprisingly, quite a few…
Consistency is critical for sales and business success.
Your clients need to know what to expect from you. People thrive on certainty. If you give your clients a coffee one time, you should give them a coffee every time. The BBC might be thinking that they won’t lose any Apprentice viewers over this but they almost certainly will. It may be a slash of the pen for them but for some of their customers this will be seen as sacrilege.
I have a “friend” who runs a café. She is supposed to open at 9am. I went down there the other day for a business meeting and she was shut. No reason, no apology, no excuse… just shut. I won’t organise another meeting there again… ever. Not a lot of lost business just from me admittedly but I am not her only customer. How many other customers felt the same and will not be going back?
Sales training tip: If you want to be seen as a reliable, professional and trustworthy business partner for your clients you need to set yourself sales and business standards and stick to them.
Once you set yourself business standards they are not “like to haves”, or “maybe we do thems”, they should be absolutes. People should know exactly what they can expect and will get when they do business with you and your company. People will judge you on your worst days so consistency is key for your success.
Get your message across.
The good old Beeb must have known for months that The Apprentice was going to clash with England playing the US in a friendly football match. Maybe they told us last week. Maybe they didn’t.
Hey! Let’s be fair to them, they probably did. But I never got that message and I won’t be the only one.
As in sales, the message received by your customer is the only one that matters. They did not broadcast this message clearly enough. That’s their problem not mine the same as it is your problem when your message does not get across to your clients no matter how well you tried. Until the message gets across it’s your reponsibility to get it across.
How much effort and organisation would it have taken to let everyone know before last week’s programme, after last week’s programme and with a message on the screen at points during the programme?
Not much. Which brings me to my final point…
Care about your clients.
A BBC spokesman apparently told the Guardian, “”It is quite usual for us to move programmes to accommodate big sporting occasions. That is the reason for this schedule change.”
Whoop de doo!
Big companies often make statements like this. I read this and I hear, “Blah! Blah! Blah! Us! Us! Us! We don’t have to explain ourselves to you. What, you expected consistency? We can move stuff without an explanation. We’re the BBC you know! We don’t care what you want or think! And we’re not going to say sorry so tough.”
That might not be what they meant but it’s what I read! Oh, and by the way, last night Sir Alan sacked…
… Only joking!