BullS*^t Sales Tactics – Don’t Do it!

I was stood at Exhibition Floor Layout today trying to find a particular company I had arranged to meet, I began to notice and listen to the conversation of 3 Sales People next to me, they seemed to be from the same company or team (I’m assuming here, which I should never do, but they were acting together), they were pointing at individual companies and talking negatively about each one, and organising amongst themselves how they were going to approach and try and rattle each one of them, not a care on who was in the vicinity listening to their negative connotations.

Now, I’m not for this, in fact I think its BS tactics, lowest of the low and it surprised the hell out of me. My view is if you’d put half as much energy into working with your potential Customers, finding new customers, listening to customers, you wouldn’t need to do this, as you’re a level above, operating on a higher plain. You could also have the potential of working collaboratively on accounts you may not dream of getting.

For me, if you’re operating with these sorts of tactics you’ve lost as an individual and a business. If you want to compete and win, do it through Adding Value to your Customer or potential Customer.



Lesley Russon:

Competitors are only annoying if they are winning your percentage of your targeted business. I always believe if you watch your competitors you can learn about their weaknesses and strengths and you can only learn how to focus and target your own SWOT’s to learn and improve how you manage your business. I am assuming (as I don’t have all the facts) but it they had a good leader they would teach them marketing intelligence and how to act on it ??

Steven Taylor:

Never talk down your competition, ensure your company performance is the best it can be. These so-called salesmen will only sell by undercutting prices and over promising. Short term gain only with very low profit margins and no future

Rebecca Morgan:

When we collaborate, we all improve and push standards higher for ours and our customers’ benefits.

Simon Lane:

Probably learned their tactics from the protagonists in the debacle otherwise known as the Conservative Leadership Elections

Wayne Wilding:

Trash talking competitors has no value to your prospects/customers. Negative language will put people off you, and bore them. They do not want to hear why the other lot are bad, they want to know why you are good. Trash talking makes it seem like you have nothing else to offer.

And, if nothing else, mentioning your competitors might just remind your prospect/customer about them. You might find your customers giving them a call as soon as you leave.

#ukmanufacturing #ukmfg #customerfocus #sales #customervalue #addvalue


Miss that moment – and you start to decline.

“There is at least one point in the history of any company when you have to change dramatically to rise to the next level of performance. Miss that moment – and you start to decline.” – Andy Gove

My personal view and experience is that it’s more than one point in time.

SMEs are characterised by their ability to adapt easily to market changes and their lean organisational structure (not as in Lean Manufacturing), which results in a more dynamic environment and a quicker decision making process. Although SME businesses vary widely in size and capacity for growth generally they will all follow a similar path: going from Owner/Entrepreneur with two or three employees to a business aiming for £10m or even £20m per year, and experiencing 20%/30% year on year growth and upwards along this journey. The sketch below illustrates an example of this, showing where most businesses may feel the pinch points of growth at key intersections.

SME Journey and Growth

Zero to £5m

The hard work really kicks in here. This part of the journey is often the one that is the most lonely, but often the most exciting. But it is here that most business owners feel the pains. Because it can be a lonely place, it is easy for owners to doubt themselves, they also don’t know what they don’t know which can be a limiting factor. And as an owner one of the main areas of responsibility is simply getting things done, which means you are working in your business as a manufacturer, and not working on it as a strategic leader.

In smaller SMES, management structures are also small with most owners being very hands-on. People are stretched across all functions all processes. Systems are not in place, IT is minimal or non-existent and there is a lack of standard processes. Utilising the Continuous Improvement and Management graph we can see that all levels are being worked with a very lean structure. Small customer projects, odd-job shop style of working.

SME Zero to £5m

As we get closer to a turnover of £5m, it becomes clear that things need to change. We are then moving from that odd-job, one off customer delivery to a mix of bigger projects, possible increased volumes and an increase in market share from your customers. As we start to scale-up from the initial start-up, decisions have to be made about the organisational structure, the company’s technology infrastructure, its business and marketing strategy, etc. With regard to organisational structure, you might now start to see the requirement for supervisory position(s) to take on more of the owners duties, the labour force growing, new machines, loans, investment, functional departments, Operations, Quality, Sales, Technical, Finance. This is where it can be rise or decline with those decisions. In scaling and growth and the opportunities it also brings its own set of problems, (albeit they are nice problems to have because its growth).

£5m to £10m

IT Systems and Planning may start to become an issue here, Microsoft Excel may no longer be good enough to manage your shop floor requirements (although I have seen £100m business still using excel but it was beginning to creak), and you are likely at this level to be considering MRP/ERP implementations. You may also look at outsourcing some functions, like Sales, Human Resources, Engineering Support, Quality, Quality Accreditation. All this requires a lot of investment in terms of time, money and energy. You need to do your homework to avoid costly mistakes, especially where IT is concerned, but it’s all opportunity.

And this stage, the business owner is now becoming more removed from the day to day operational tasks on the shop floor. This can be a very uncomfortable feeling in one or two ways. Firstly, the owner may want that hands-on role and not relinquish that part. It could be that the business is now at the stage where the owner is stopping it from growing, the entrepreneurial side is restricted as they are tied to the business. There a number of factors and variables in play, and having the right people is key, being a good leader is fundamental (at all stages).

SME £5m to £10m

£10m upwards

Financial Audits are required at this point (although some companies can be exempt if they satisfy certain criteria), so businesses need to be aware of the UK Audit requirements. Similar issues and opportunities still arise, but on a grander scale. Organisational structures are still fundamental, we might now start to see the need for Middle Management. We may also be looking to diversify into new markets, take on bigger orders, and higher volume. From £5m and up, some of your customers may not be the ones you want to deal with now, the one-off, low volume, job shop may not be your ideal customer. You might be seeing more of a need for Product Flow and Cells (Lean Manufacturing is a must from when you first start up), competition is high so you cannot stand still, even if your decision is to stay at a certain level. You will need to be driving for improvements to maintain the status quo, and your service has to be exceptional. Collaboration with a network of Manufacturers and or Partners, in my opinion, is key in this new world, and can bring some fantastic opportunities for growth. Again, IT infrastructure comes into play as the business is getting bigger: more employees, management leadership. The addition of new premises or additional buildings on the same industrial estate (this is where having a world class logistics operations pays dividends in not impacting your efficiency/productivity). The opportunities may now open up bringing the out-sourced services back in house, Sales and Human Resources, etc. At this level, you are likely to be making informed decisions based around data. Strategy alignment throughout the organisation is required, communicated and disseminated so everyone in the organisation knows the direction the company is going in and what the priorities are.

SME £10m upwards

Every business is different. One business’s pinch point may be at £3.5m another’s £7.5m but there will be very similar decisions to be made, but at this level the advantage is that businesses are likely to be able to make these decisions in a more informed way through data. Companies may not achieve sustained profitable growth unless they draft in the specialist skills required at the right time for the business. It’s the maxim that we don’t know what we don’t know. And the best advice is to seek advice from the experts in order to shift the dial in the right direction. This is something we can certainly help with, just contact the number below.

Ask yourself:

How much will it cost you not to resolve the issues that you are currently facing now or in the immediate future? How much will it cost you not to eliminate that pain? What are the lost opportunities on not taking your business to the next level or indeed keeping it at the level you want?

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Sales and Operations Planning – is it a missing link in your business???

Benefits of Sales and Operations Planning

  • Increased customer service levels
  • Improved profitability
  • Reduced time to market with new products
  • More products to increase revenue
  • Lower inventories and obsolescence
  • Reduced lead times
  • Quicker responsiveness
  • Top-down management control
  • Predictable operating performance for shareholders

The Sales and Operations Planning process is the primary tool by which there is a systematic review of the business, out of which plans are established. It brings Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing and Finance together to agree on the volume of products to be produced over the next sales horizon. The process should be incorporated into the business calendar to coincide with the key activities of, strategic reviews, budget preparation, quarterly forecasting, monthly performance reviews and MRP/ERP timing.

Alignment from S&OP Process goes beyond just the meeting, the entire company is aligned to a given direction. This is one of the huge benefits from the S&OP Process. The Master Scheduler is implementing the decisions made by the S&OP team. The planners and buyers are aligning to the Master Scheduler. Capacity is being increased and decreased in accordance to the plan. Changes to the financial plan are made in advance given the decisions from the S&OP meeting. The monthly meeting allows for issues to be raised, tracked and resolved. Key department heads are present so that the entire company can be aligned behind a decision and as it is cascaded and communicated to the levels below.

The sales and operations plan looks 12 – 18 months into the future, this level of visibility opens the door to a different way of thinking: a longer term view. The process facilitates the bringing together of data from different departments and presents it to the team (Operations has visibility to Sales plans. Sales have visibility to the supply plan. Finance has visibility to expected revenues and expenses)

Finance are an integral part to making the process successful, they ensure the alignment of the financial plan to the operational plan so ultimately the objective of making money is achieved and on track. It’s no good planning to ramp up 30% if you only have the resources to ramp up 10%.

New product introduction (NPI) can be a headache (new suppliers, ramp up, technical issues, capacity, obsolete inventory, etc) but again the S&OP process facilitates the discussion. It enables all stakeholders to be aware when a new product introduction is happening. Sales needs to be talking to Operations. Operations needs to be talking to Finance. Many companies deal with NPI separately and have a project plan dealing specifically with new product introductions With NPI on the agenda within the S&OP process, issues can be raised, actioned and tracked, (releasing of capacity for trials, product traceability, etc) are managed carefully.

A big part of the S&OP agenda is reviewing the key business metrics in order to identify and resolve performance issues, when issues are raised, the key stakeholders are in the room to get things done.

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This is how not to make a Sale!

This week I was contacted by a Corporate Merchandise Company, a cold call asking for me. When I picked up they went straight into overdrive asking me about my company…it’s a debt collecting business isn’t it?

Me??????????? NO.

My brain starts going a million miles an hour (this is a bad opening, their process is way off of how to truly build a relationship, they’re not listening),

As I piece together his opening statement “so you’re a debt collecting agency” I’m thinking, so you did a google search for “TCMUK” then picked the first one, “TV channel” no wouldn’t be that, next one nah!!!!!   It must be the third one…

What a PRIME example of how not to know your customer avatar…..I actually appear third and fourth, but they still picked the wrong one????

Sales 101

Know your Customer. (your avatar)  

What they want and what motivates them to buy. Clarify who your market is, What is it your perspective customer is looking for but doesn’t perceive to be available. Where do they hang out?

Develop your Marketing Message

Market – Message – Media

Don’t just cold call, shout at them down the phone, then get abusive.

It doesn’t have to be in order but it is certainly a PRIORITY knowing your customer avatar.

Now this business does look as though they’ve had some success (financials), but their customer reviews/feedback is 1.4 stars out of 5, and reading some of them

“Would never use this company again! Used them once for diaries for clients and ever since we have been bombarded with hundreds of phone calls, despite telling them we would contact them should we ever need anything in the future. Constantly having to put the phone down on them. Safe to say we will not be using *&^%$ again. There is persistent and then down right harassment. STAY AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY!”

They certainly have room for improvement, 1.4 stars out 5!!!! Imagine what they could achieve with a completely different customer orientated approach. I think there will be a KPI driving that Sales behaviour some-where. Wrong KPI, Wrong Behaviour. (KPI – key performance indicator)

Getting and Keeping Customers

Focus on Customer Satisfaction then Profitability, DON’T focus on Profitability at the cost of Customer Satisfaction, you will have limited success and you won’t be in business for very long.

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