Some 800 of the UK’s top salespeople explored and enhanced their skills at this year’s ‘Successful Selling’ conference, which was held at the Ricoh Arena, in Coventry, on20th October.
The conference, organised by the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (ISMM), the UK’s professional body for salespeople, was chaired by the business writer and commentator, Guy Browning, and heard presentations from, among others:
· the former Conservative Cabinet Minister-turned -broadcaster, Michael Portillo;
· Don Hutson, the CEO of the Memphis Tennessee-based, US Learning Inc, who advised the conference delegates to ‘sell value not price’;
· Dr Graeme Coddrington, who explained that successful selling depends on ‘connecting’ with customers’ values – that is, that part of the customer that decides what is right or wrong; what is normal or weird;
· Sharon Drew Morgen, who discussed why people don’t buy – even when what you’re selling them will benefit them;
· Gavin Ingham, who explored how to be ‘different’ when making a sales presentation and, so, ‘wow’ your customers;
· Alice Beer, a BBC journalist and presenter of the consumer programme, Watchdog, who discussed ethical selling.
· Sales development specialist, Sean McPheat, who explained how the internet is reshaping the way in which people buy – and sell.
Michael Portillo, the former Conservative Cabinet Minister who is now a well-known broadcaster, took up the theme of ‘The Importance of Selling in Today’s Economy’ by discussing the current economic situation.
He said: “The British and other western economies are in crisis because the current recession is unusual. This recession is like the Depression of some 80 years ago which, like this crisis, was born of financial – notably banks’ – collapse.
“But it’s inaccurate to call this a ‘global recession’ because the recession is only affecting Western economies,” he continued. “Economies representing around 60 per cent of global GDP – including Brazil and Turkey - are experiencing growth of at least six per cent a year; so there should be good opportunities to sell to them.
“Of course, ‘recession’ and ‘boom’ are generalised expressions,” he said. “For example, despite this country currently experiencing a ‘debt crisis’, there are people in the UK who are not in debt. These people are currently not spending – not because they don’t have the money but because they don’t have the confidence to buy.
“But even in an economy that not growing, you can still battle for market share – especially via brand differentiation,” he added.
Sales development specialist, Sean McPheat, urged developing your brand online. He explained: “It appears we’re moving from the traditional sales model of ‘telephone, visit, discuss and decide’ to ‘customer’s internet research, internal discussion and the preparation of shortlists, then a decision followed by contacting the vendor’.
“The key question is: do you show up where buyers conduct their research?” he asked. “In terms of e-selling visibility you need to have personal branding; create an internet footprint, and engage with social media. “
His advice to conference delegates was to:
· Tidy up your social media portfolio
· Set up a content machine
· Join in – don’t be passive where the internet and social media are concerned
· Add value – become involved to ‘give’, not to ‘get’
· Use online activity to aid offline selling (for example, send potential customers links to helpful information before you go to see them)
· Schedule your prospecting activity
· Remember that you don’t have to be better; you just need to be different to be successful
The Successful Selling conference also included a series of break-out seminars, including one by stress specialist, Carole Spiers, who launched her new book, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’ at the event. Spiers believes that, by applying proven stress management strategies, organisations can tackle the enormous loss which stress costs British business each year.
For the first time in the 19 year history of this event, the conference had an accompanying exhibition – attracting organisations including Sage CRM Solutions, TACK International, Oracle CRM and company and executive information collectors and disseminators, OneSource.
Stephen Wright, the ISSM’s Commercial Director, commented: “In the current economic climate, successful selling is more important than ever. And, with the sales profession in the UK becoming increasingly ‘knowledge driven’, it’s important to recognise the profession’s growing status and importance via an event which attracts the top practitioners in our industry – as well as knowledgeable and able speakers.
“Successful Selling provided not only a wealth of ideas but also an excellent networking opportunity to help every delegate increase their effectiveness in an ethical, efficient and professional way.”