(Build a successful business without compromising
your integrity, your conscience or your faith)
By Mark Elcocks
Published by Win4 Ministries at Shakespir
Copyright © 2016 Mark Elcocks
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favourite eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Do to others as you would have them do to you – Luke 6:31 (NIV)
Discover other titles by Mark Elcocks:
(Transformation of Life, Community & World through Prayer & Action)
It’s all very well Win4 Ministries offering an E-Book that provides you with tips on how to build an ethical sales & marketing system but you might just be asking yourself the question “Why would I need one anyway?” Here’re 10 reasons why you should seriously consider developing your own system:
1. A marketing system can ensure you always have qualified leads in your sales system.
2. A sales system enables you to stay in control of the sales cycle.
3. This will help prevent you wasting time on individuals who have no intention of actually buying from you.
4. A system-based approach to sales and marketing enables you to dispense with old-fashioned, manipulative sales techniques.
5. This will help build your credibility with your prospects.
6. Your confidence will increase.
7. As your confidence increases so will your sales and marketing activity.
8. As you make more sales your self-esteem will grow.
9. You will benefit from not feeling under pressure to close a sale and will be enabled to walk away from a sales situation without feeling guilt or failure.
10. You will be enabled to achieve your clearly defined goals.
So, a sales and marketing system is an enabling tool. A system differs from a process in that a process is a linear series of steps that are completed in the same order each time the process is employed. A system is a defined as a set of interconnected or interrelated parts forming a complex whole (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary).
A sales system then, is a matrix of actions and behaviours that are followed invariably by all members of the sales team or, if YOU are the sales team then invariably by YOU. The actions and behaviours are all interconnected and working at the same time in concert with each other – you cannot omit any part of the system without it failing.
Just to be absolutely clear on this “invariably” means: “always; without exception” (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, again).
As proponents of an ethical system of business and personal development we naturally believe that a sales & marketing system should be a matrix of actions and behaviours that adhere to the principles of Win4 Ministries.
Sales and Marketing are 2 distinct activities. Marketing is concerned with finding qualified leads; Sales is about converting those leads into customers and retaining them. There are principles herein that overlap both activities.
I once had the unfortunate, yet informative, experience of working for a “bucket shop” insurance broker. The sole form of lead generation was to cold call, by phone in the main, but sometimes through door knocking.
The very nature of cold calls makes it extremely difficult for the telesales person to control the sales conversation and cold-calling commercial insurance is particularly difficult due to regulation and the ethos of treating customers fairly. This means, unlike other sales fields, you cannot withhold information on factors such as pricing if the prospect asks for it. If he or she wants a formal quotation and time to think it over, then that’s exactly what you’ve got to give them.
The result of being unable to control the sales conversation is that you provide the consultancy, the recommendation and a competitive quotation and your would-be client says something like “Thank you for all your work, I need to think about it and I’ll call you back next week”. Of course the call never comes. You try chasing but you can only ever get through to voicemail and your messages are never acknowledged, your calls never returned.
This is because your “prospect” has taken your consultancy, your recommendation and your price and used it as a club with which to beat down the price of his existing vendor.
I remember well one brief conversation I had with a business owner who was on my call list for a particular day at the start of my sales career. I was feeling totally fed-up with providing free consultancy and typing up presentations and recommendations for “prospects” to “think about”. I tried, 2 or 3 times to obtain a commitment from him that in the event of my being able to deliver an agreed cost reduction in return for matching his existing insurance cover, he would not feed my price back to his existing provider or use it as a general pricing benchmark with other vendors.
His response was telling. He calmly and politely told me that as I had made an unsolicited call to him, interrupting him in his work, I had no right to dictate to him the terms on which we would do business; that if I wanted to give him a quotation I was welcome to do so and that he would give me the time I needed to conduct the necessary fact-find. I could send him or present to him my recommendation and he would do whatever he wanted with it. And, of course, he was absolutely right. I thanked him for his time and hung up.
I took one valuable lesson away from my short cold-calling career: cold callers are not respected. As a cold caller you are effectively surrendering your control of the sales cycle because you have relinquished the moral high ground in the buyer-seller relationship.
Since moving on from my unhappy time at the “bucket shop” I have sat with clients, trying to talk to them about their business and witnessed their reactions to being interrupted by a cold-caller: irritated, annoyance, anger. It’s a natural reaction to the perpetual bombardment of unsolicited interruptions to which they are subjected every day. You will, no doubt, know yourself how frustrating it is to constantly be receiving these calls, either at work or in your own home.
In following the fundamental law of doing to others as you would have them do to you is there any way you can ethically employ cold-calling as part of your direct marketing strategy?
Networking is a great way to start building your reputation as a business person of integrity. It may be scary at first if you aren’t used to walking into a room full of strangers, walking up to somebody you’ve never seen before and starting a conversation but it is possible for you to develop your networking skills, become an accomplished networker and build your business through this method.
The ethical angle of networking is the concept of doing unto others as you would have them do to you. Dr Ivan Misner, founder of Business Network International (BNI), uses the phrase “Givers Gain” – If I do something for you, you will want to do something for me in return. A few years ago researchers at Stanford University conducted a global survey of Citibank employees and determined that in English-speaking countries, the employees would feel most obligated to do something for a colleague if that colleague had already done something for them* (*Professor Robert Cialdini speaking on Peter Thomson’s Achievers Edge).
As Christians, of course, we do not do things for other people in order for them to do something in return. Rather, we do it in the quiet, confident knowledge that we will reap what we sow. This is an apt metaphor as the most productive and sustainable method of networking is to be a “farmer” rather than a “hunter”.
A “hunter”, in networking terms, is a person who is constantly looking for an opportunity to sell – for them networking is one-way street. A “farmer” on the other hand will look and listen for opportunities where they can help a fellow networker, particularly by referring to them an opportunity. It is through this method that you, as a fledgling networker, can build your reputation as a trustworthy business person over time and grow your business through networking and referrals.
5 Networking Mini-Tips:
Mini-Tip #1: Find a networking group you like: If you go to a couple of events and find you didn’t like them, don’t give up. There are loads of networking events out there, please contact the author at Win4 Ministries if you would like some suggestions on groups to visit.
Mini-Tip #2: Read books about networking: If you really want to become an expert at something then commit to studying it. I’d recommend Business Networking; the Survival Guide by Will Kintish and The Unnatural Networker by Charlie Lawson as great starting points.
Mini-Tip #3: Always Follow Up: If you agree to call or email a contact you make when networking, make sure you do so without fail. Reliability is the first building block of your reputation.
Mini-Tip #4: Don’t “Spam” the Delegate List: It’s frustrating to receive emails after you have been to an event that read “It was great to meet you today…” when you didn’t actually meet the sender. This is another integrity issue: you could be viewed as either careless or just plain dishonest. It’s better to simply get involved at the event and meet as many people as you want to.
Mini-Tip #5: Never Let Your Referrers Down: That’s absolutely never, ever! If one of your contacts gives you a referral you must get in touch with the lead within the timescale agreed with your contact. If you fail to do so, 3 things will probably happen. The first is that as you are showing a complete lack of respect for your contact and also embarrassing them into the bargain (they will almost certainly have told the lead you would be in touch) you will not get another opportunity from that contact. The second thing is that you will have alienated yourself from the lead – you most certainly won’t get a second opportunity with them. The third is that instead of winning 2 advocates for you and your business you now have 2 people who are more likely to be negative towards you if your name should crop up at other events.
One of the big advantages of networking is that you get to make plenty of new contacts and although you may not be able to help them in the short term, when you conclude your initial conversation with them you can ask their permission to add them to your newsletter or e-zine circulation as well as invite them to join your social media networks. This is a fantastic way of being able to stay in front of your network and keep your contacts up to date with developments that might affect their own businesses.
Whereas cold-calling is definitely a “No-No” it is possible to approach businesses in your niche by telephone without transgressing the advice of Tip #1 if your intention is genuinely not to sell. You can simply call to invite somebody to subscribe to your newsletter or e-zine or you could set up your own online trade directory and offer them a free listing.
This is an effective way of building your prospect list. Email marketing is effective but you do not want to suffer the negative results of being accused of spamming. Sending out unsolicited email blasts can have severe implications for your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO) and can even is unlawful in some instances. It can also lead to some email service providers suspending your list or account so it is vital to obtain people’s permission to add them to your distribution.
Telephoning potential newsletter or directory subscribers can be an extremely labour-intensive activity. You may wish to consider outsourcing this to a professional telesales organisation. It will enable you to focus your time on your core business activities. If you have a list of potential subscribers it also means the telesales company will ensure it is completely up to date by the time it comes back to you and it should be wiped of people who aren’t interested in hearing from you. This process should also mean you avoid breaching Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) rules as your telesales company should be aware whether or not the number is registered as not wanting to receive marketing calls.
By this we mean you must provide a service or product that delivers a quantifiable benefit to your customer. Examples include:
Health, beauty, fitness benefits
Financial (Business & Personal) – reducing costs, increasing returns
Education and training
Recreational or Lifestyle enhancements
Get rich quick schemes, products that do not function as advertised or described, illegal and/or exploitative activities would not qualify as having utility.
Rather than the simple Win-Win that many will be familiar with, Win4 means a 4-way win – a Win to Power of 4:
Your customer wins by receiving a product or service from you of real value. Value means the quality as the customer sees it divided by your price.
You win: you receive a price or fee commensurate with the value or benefit you have delivered to your customer.
The World or wider community wins: it is a Christian duty to help other people and the Win4 principle reminds us that we use our talents to support ourselves and our families in addition to using a portion of our gain to support good causes.
At Win4 Ministries we maintain our talents are God-given and in using them to realise the full potential of our journey here on Earth we remember they are indeed God-given and we utilise them with thanks to our Creator and to help build His Kingdom here and now.
Knowing exactly what your product does, the results it delivers to your customers and what the subsequent benefits are may sound obvious but it’s amazing how many people can’t accurately define what their offering is when put on the spot.
For example, if I were to inform a contact at a networking event that I sold insurance I would simply be feeding that individual’s own worldview of what an insurance salesperson is – which in all likelihood would not be a particularly positive one! If, on the other hand I was to say I helped company directors achieve their personal and business goals by making sure their future profits are protected properly, then I am at least informing them of a positive result and subsequent benefit I might be able to deliver. Pretentious? It would be if I was exaggerating what I can deliver; if I can demonstrate that this is exactly what I do then it’s quite acceptable.
Another example: You tell somebody you sell health supplements. That’s fine but, what’s the benefit of using the supplement and, what’s the outcome of the benefit? Use the benefit and then the outcome of the benefit to describe what you do, i.e.: “I provide a health supplement that balances your immune system which means you are less susceptible to colds and flu” (assuming this is actually the case, of course). With something like this there is a whole chain of benefits – if you are free from colds and flu then how will that affect your life? What will be the benefits of not having to take time out from work due to illness, miss training or all the other little things that you miss or are spoilt when you are poorly? It is worth taking time to properly think through the initial benefits and consequential outcomes of what your product or service can do.
And the initial benefit to you is that because you focus on these benefits and outcomes, you become more passionate about your product or service, which means you become an evangelist for it and this, in turn will help you to make your potential customers understand exactly how you can help them – which helps your business to grow faster.
Having brilliant product knowledge also means having brilliant knowledge about your competitors and the wider market. There are 4 immediate advantages to this:
Advantage #1: Knowing what your competitors are offering enables you to target specific segments where you hold an advantage, such as quality over price.
Advantage #2: It also offers you the opportunity to avoid areas where they have an advantage over you – price over quality, perhaps, which in turn means you do not waste valuable time on forlorn hopes.
Advantage #3: Combining knowledge of your customer or prospect with knowledge of your competitors means you can practice the principle of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. By this, we mean if you are discussing a potential client’s needs and it transpires that a competitor is already providing them with the best possible solution then you do not attempt to sell them something that would be detrimental in any way. You will benefit immeasurably more in the long term through referrals passed to you because of your integrity than the immediate short term gain of a bad sale.
Let’s face it, nobody likes a pessimist. Whatever you say to them, every silver lining has a cloud. I avoid them and so should you; pessimists are energy vampires who suck all positivity out of room and body. The flip side is that if you too are pessimistic then people, that is positive people – the sort of people you need to and want to meet, are going to avoid you too.
Being optimistic is not being “Pollyanna” or unrealistic about a situation. It is being able to align your attitude to happiness and abundance in addition to being able to seek for something positive in the face of a setback.
William James, founder of the school of pragmatism, as well as individuals such as Dale Carnegie, Earl Nightingale, Napoleon Hill and a host of later experts, not to mention Solomon, St Paul and a certain carpenter from Nazareth himself, all proclaim a message of optimism.
Never forget that you reap what you sow; that treating others as you would wish to be treated by them means you will ultimately receive from others what you put out. Positive people – your kind of people – love optimists, they love being around them because they are energising.
One piece of regular significant feed-back to pollsters during US and UK election campaigns through the past 20 years or so has been just how much voters are turned-off by negative campaigning. Politicians, it seems, are content to resort to the lowest common denominator – unleashing the smear campaign on each other rather than focussing on their own strengths and the benefits of their policies. The antipathy of voters towards negative campaigning should serve as a warning to anybody in the business of sales and/or marketing.
I think it’s generally acknowledged that resorting to bashing your competition is unprofessional. Admittedly it can be difficult to refrain from doing so when you learn your competitor has indulged in such behaviour himself towards yourself.
The Karmic principles of reaping what you sow, and doing unto others are writ large in this Tip. I also think the maxim “do not judge or you too will be judged” in Matthew, not to mention diverse warnings in Proverbs and the Letters of St Paul as to the dangers of gossip and slander add weight to the advice to avoid maligning your competitors.
As an ethical business person it is not difficult to turn any negative comments made by your competitor towards you to your advantage. First and foremost you can position yourself as a completely different type of individual – a true professional concerned only with the best interests of your prospect.
Secondly, If we take the advice of Tip #6 (have brilliant product knowledge) you will know whether your product or service better suits your prospect’s needs than your competitor’s solution – if it doesn’t then you are walking anyway. If, on the other hand it does then this means you have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the value and benefit of your proposal and, in doing so, the shortcomings of the competitors offering will naturally become apparent.
One of the things that I find frustrating in the Insurance Industry is that it has become almost solely price focussed across much of the spectrum – and I know this is the case in many other service segments too. As I pointed out in Tip #1 it is not unusual for buyers to use insurance brokers or agents for bench-marking premiums or playing one agent off against another. This is probably not entirely surprising given some of the practices I have come across in the past 19 years. These include agents quoting their “best price” and then miraculously being able to slice 25% off it when a competitor undercuts them. I have even spoken to prospects who have told me they have been quoted a price by their provider and been told to “come back if somebody gives you a better quote”. So much for treating customers fairly!
Dropping your already quoted price to match or undercut a competitor’s calls into question your integrity. I’m not saying you should not review your pricing if feedback suggests you have got it wrong but if you have done your homework properly you should know whereabouts you are pricewise as far as your target market is concerned.
If somebody objects to your price by saying it’s too high you can respond by asking them exactly what they mean. If it’s a case of your price being outside their budget you can always reduce your price in return for removing one of the features or benefits of your overall offering. Or you could respond by agreeing to reduce your price in return for a larger or repeat order of your product or service. If it is a question of value to your prospect you can look to add to the initial offering by bundling an additional benefit into your proposal and increasing your initial price slightly.
You’ve got a great product or service, a great vision, you’ve defined your goals written your business plan and launched your marketing campaign. But, you’re not making many or even any sales. Worse than that you are being rejected – and rejection hurts.
Do not lose heart. It takes time to get your name known and trusted. In employing networking as one of your prime sources of marketing/lead generation you will get referrals as long as you remember to adopt the role of the farmer rather than the role of the hunter. People will want to help you if you have helped them and you can help them by looking out for opportunities to pass their way when you are out and about.
Do not feel tempted to lapse into a cold-calling routine. You will experience rejection even more and this is not good for your self-image or your reputation; remember, when you cold-call you surrender the moral high ground.
Walk away from time wasters – your time is your biggest asset. Do not fall into the trap of being messed about by people who want to use you for free consultancy and price benchmarking in order to beat down your competition. Remember, you have a fantastic product or service. Also, do not forget that being committed to the Win4 principles means that your success is part of the equation too.
Ethical Development is a 2-way street: we commit to dealing with people on an ethical basis and in doing so we reserve a right to be treated ethically ourselves
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10 Top Tips for Creating an Ethical Sales and Marketing System initially explains exactly why you should have a sales and marketing system in the first place and then goes on to give you 10 tips on which to base the system you create to develop your business. Win4 Ministries advocates the application of Christian principles in order to facilitate ethical personal and commercial development and the tips contained in this volume are based on that ethos.