Week 7 of the Sales Apprentice… a week defined by sales decisions, sales strategies and sales mistakes. And one in which there were many sales lessons to learn…
This week’s task was to sell a blue-screen, video experience to the public so that they could star in their own reality video experience. Sir Alan was obviously keen to test out some of the weaker links in the group and, after a quick mix up of team members, appointed Stuart to go head to head with Sandeesh. As usual, the team who made the most profit would be the winner.
Stuart “I am the brand” Baggs, who probably makes good TV but you just want to punch in the nose, was quick to shoot his mouth off, “The only place I fit in a team naturally is as leader,” he bragged. In the brainstorming sessions to decide which backdrops they should use for their videos we saw these amazing leadership skills in practise when he silenced Stella and the others. Nick, who has obviously taken up chewing acidic cockroaches to help to get him through this series, grimaced and spat, “Who does he think he is?”
Sales Leadership Tip: I’ve said it nearly every week this year but sales leadership really is about inclusion and involvement. Great teams are open teams where communication and collusion are natural. Silencing team members because you are the boss is a guaranteed way to ensure that they won’t step up or take any initiative in the future…
Both teams set about discussing what types of video backgrounds they should use and who they should be targeting. Sandeesh’s team quickly agreed that in the Westfield Shopping Centre the primary market would be kids tugging on their parents’ arms to have a go. Despite his team not agreeing with him Stuart steam rolled them (again) and decided upon adults as his core market. With the option of using two stock backgrounds and shooting one for themselves, Sandeesh and team opted for a main video background of a ski run that they would film themselves at a snow dome. Stuart meanwhile was down at Brand’s Hatch shooting a racing background in an M3… I have one of those, no really I do, I do, I do he boasted to Laura and anyone who would listen. After finishing the video he rang the rest of the team to say that he had changed his mind and that now they would be going for kids too… wise decision.
Video backdrops made, team Stuart sat down to watch their racing video and the girls were not impressed. Joanna asked him, “Would you be happy charging someone £15 for that?” and pointed out that she wanted to get things clear. Stuart, who clearly does not like being questioned, responded in the most breathtakingly arrogant way, “I’ll tell you why (you need to get things clear)… ‘Cause I’ve got where I am (err, where?) being (repulsive?) impulsive cause I’m an entrepreneur. So I make decisions based on judgements and the reason why I’m successful (???) is ‘cause I make those judgements correctly whereas other people, who don’t, generally are unsuccessful. So you probably can’t share my vision.” Stella, in a classical moment of understated WTF looked sideways at Joanna. Words were not required. Nick gobbled down another cockroach. “Any other issues, niggling things?” asked Stuart, voice pitching up at the end of the sentence. Stella squinted, clearly wondering what Stuart would look like with a machete buried in his skull.
SalesTraining Tip: Be open to feedback. Whatever Stuart has or hasn’t achieved in his life he is a young man and has lots to learn. The only way he is going to gain the success and the rewards that he so (repulsively) desires is to grow and develop. The quickest way to learn is from the experience and expertise of others. Many of the sales lessons, sales tips and sales strategies that I have learnt over the years have been from others. Even if Stuart thinks he is superior to others it does not mean that he cannot learn from them… Geez! We’re learning from them and could they make more mistakes?!
Next day at Westfield, Stuart has asked Laura to be in the back room looking after CD production. Laura asked to be on the front line selling. Stuart in one of the most slippery-shouldered, pass-the-buck attempts to create a built in excuse for if he lost dumped all responsibility for a potential sales failure at her doorstep. “If you go on the front line then our sales are entirely dependent on you and… err Jo… You understand, without a shadow of a doubt, that if you go out there onto the sales floor then we lose this task because of insufficient sales then you and Joanna will bear the brunt of that.”
Nick, now chewing on a packet of sugar coated scorpions, grimaced. Stuart had a tendency to do that to him. The bear-faced gall of this Stuart chap was breath-taking. But even this was secondary to his total hypocrisy when he finished off by saying, “No arse covering… I hate that,” having just attempted to cover his in you-can’t-lay-the-blame-at-my-door-grease.
Sales leadership Tip. Sales leaders (and all leaders) need to take responsibility. If you want your teams to take action, if you want your teams to get involved, if you want your teams to step up and “go for it” then you need to take responsibility. Great leaders take action AND take responsibility for their actions. If your people expect to get the blame for everything and the credit for nothing they are unlikely to behave in the way that you want them to.
Laura, to her credit, ignored him and told him to send her out there. Attempted arse covering completed, Stuart and team sprang into action selling their DVDs for £10. Their little red plastic car quickly attracted the attention of some kids and parents and the cash started to motor in. Nick smiled. He obviously likes children… even if he doesn’t like people who behave like them.
Over on Sandeesh’s sales pitch tumbleweed was blowing through… for the whole of the first hour of selling time… as one part of the team trained the other. What? What? What? Unbelievable. This could (and probably did) cost her the task. Any recruiter (Sandeesh) should know that this was the worst decision ever…
Sales Training Tip. Protect core selling hours. If you want to make sales then you need to dedicate time to selling. You need to allocate core selling hours, times when you are committed to doing good honest sales activities. If you pay for a pitch and there are customers in it then you should be on it selling. On my travels, I see sales and business people finding multifarious ways to avoid selling. I call them SATs or Sales Avoidance Tactics. This is not good business.
And, as a recruiter who would be fully aware of the concept of core selling hours, Sandeesh had no excuse for making this task losing mistake. Back on Stuart’s team the car was proving to be a hit. And someone had the idea of handing a medal to every child when they “won” the race which of course they always did. Like it! Over on Sandeesh’s team however things were not going so well. Having wandered out onto the sales floor late and seemingly low on sales enthusiasm they were beginning to question their product. Their answer? Drop the price. What? Yep, drop the price to £8.
Oh come on! Get a grip!
Sales Training Tip and fundamental tenet of sales and business success. If you want to achieve anything worth achieving in this career we call sales….drum roll… If you win your business on price, then you will lose your business on price. Most salespeople are far too quick to moan and groan and blame price for their failings. Most businesses are far too quick to reduce prices… particularly in recent years.
People buy what they want. People buy what they need. People buy based on the perceived value of what they are buying. People buy based on their desire to own the product.
Did it not occur to anyone on Sandeesh’s team that they just weren’t selling well enough? Or that their product was just not sexy enough?
Over on team Stuart however, Stuart and Laura (and probably the others) were showing their true colours. They had realized that they had undersold their videos and were telling people when they returned to collect them that they were £15 and not £10…
Now look. I don’t even know where to start with this one. This is not sharp. This is not clever. This is not good business. And this is not right. This is THEFT! It’s tricks like this that give sales a bad name. It’s people like this who give entrepreneurs a bad name. It’s scams like this that give business a bad name. Seriously now, if you have your pricing wrong up the prices on new sales but do not compromise your integrity on old sales. I’d have sacked anyone involved with this piece of total dishonesty.
Sales Training And Business Tip. Integrity is everything. Honesty is everything. Your reputation is your best salesperson. Your integrity is your key to your future value. In today’s complex, competitive and challenging markets your integrity and your honesty need to be your guiding light. If you want your clients to see value in what you do, work in partnership with you, refer you and your business, give you glowing recommendations and become repeat customers then this is not optional. Period.
On the check out desk, Stuart’s DVDs were starting to build up. Shoppers were not returning to collect the “sold” DVDs. Apparently, no-one had considered the possibility that customers might enjoy the experience but decide not to return with their cash. Ooops! Money up front might have been a good idea here team!!!
Sandeesh and co, meanwhile, had realized that skiing was just not that sexy for kids and after a bit of industrial espionage (spying) from Stella they had invested in a kiddie car of their own and business had picked up… but apparently not prices as they were still selling at £8!
In the Boardroom…
Apollo and Stuart had sold £347.50, spent £85 and made profit of £262.50.
Synergy and Sandeesh had sold £372.97, spent £150 and made profit of £222.97.
Had she not wasted money on too many DVDs and unneeded advertising and had she not lost the first hour of selling time and had they sold the “experience” better and not dropped their prices then Sandeesh would have hammered Stuart and we could have ditched the fool. But we don’t live in a world of might-have-been and Stuart’s ego took another boost as we saw that arrogant, everyone-in-the-UK-wants-to-wipe-it-off-your-face smirk again. He was the winner so it was Sandeesh who would have to face up to the likelihood of an early bath.
Back in the Boardroom…
Sandeesh elected to bring back Chris and Liz making it an extraordinary battle of the eyes… Sandeesh and her big green cat’s eyes, Liz and her deep, dark brown pools and Chris (and as someone once said on a CV) and his steely blue eyes.
Sir Alan was struggling to decide who had the nicest eyes, “Chris you have me caught in your stare but I don’t like boys. Liz I am drowning in your eyes and I think I want to continue to stare into them for a few weeks yet. Sandeesh, I am not sure that I haven’t seen far too much of yours and, to be honest, they scare me just a little.”
He was deeply unimpressed that price was dropped prior to ideas about how to sell better, “It seems to me that someone somewhere… has capitulated too easily and has dropped the price.” Liz (who had lost a little of her sheen tonight and must take some responsibility for overspending on this task) was quick to agree. Chris blamed Sandeesh despite not making enough sales himself. I’d probably let him AND Sandeesh go tonight as surely she cannot exit the boardroom unscathed week after week after week. Sir Alan will sack her tonight just for a change of scenery. Too many questions, not enough answers…
But the decision was in, “Liz, I like your eyes, they look classy, I want to drown in them a little more. Chris, your eyes are blue and you should have been able to charm people better than wot you did but I think you’ve done ok so far. Sandeesh, you have good eyes too but it’s fair to say that you are up against two very strong contenders here. I’m going to have to let you go. You’re fired.”
A proximity killing. Too close to the fire, too often. In the cab Sandeesh was close to tears, humbled but defiant, “I think he has made a mistake in letting me go but what is there to say he has made his decision? Whatever else I do I know I’ll be successful so…” And she tailed off, thoughts drifting away.
Quote of the week…
“I have to rein in my own extreme masculinity.”
That was Stuart… obviously.