A lot of owner-managers obviously know what it takes to set up and run a business. Where they can flounder is in the dark art of driving new sales.
Jenny Tooth, GLE Growth Capital’s business development director, explains how a review of your approach to sales can give a dramatic boost to your bottom line
A lot of owner-managers obviously know what it takes to set up and run a business. Where they can flounder, however, is in the dark art of driving new sales.
Fortunately, assistance is out there for those who are willing to admit they can sharpen up their skills.
Paul Drew, managing director of award-winning production company The Communicator has enjoyed one of his best sales quarters ever, despite being in a highly competitive business during a recession.
The company is one of 13 on the High Growth programme run by GLE Growth Capital, designed to put SMEs on the fast track. The London Development Agency is funding the programme, which was launched by Gordon Brown when he was chancellor.
London companies with at least £1 million turnover that intend to expand can receive nine months’ support from a coach who has been a chief executive of a growing and successful business. The course includes regular workshops on performing for high growth.
Drew says the company benefited from the advice and suggestions of a coach dispatched by GLE, who set about turning the company’s focus from selling glossy corporate videos to a sales pipeline that was product-led.
Keep it simple
The production team began an aggressive sales drive offering short, sharp videos that delivered tightly targeted messages. It was a campaign that struck a chord with many corporate clients who might otherwise have shied away from the prospect of expensive and time-consuming productions.
‘Our coach stopped us selling a service and treated it like a product. She coached us in sales techniques, so that we are now much better equipped, and we make the buying process much easier for our clients,’ Drew comments.
After launching a new product, the team had a reason to contact past and present clients to explain the benefits of a more cost-effective video package.
For Drew, the coaching was useful in that it concentrated on the mechanics of generating and closing sales rather than on sales presentation. Indeed, the coach encouraged the company to open up its old contact books, which provided sales leads for clients over the past ten years.
‘The work was much more about the analytical side of selling, and not so much about the presentation. We now look at where we are in the sales process, and how we should respond,’ he adds.
Following the sales training, Communicator’s new product quickly outstripped sales of the traditional video service the company had been producing since it started 21 years ago, doubling sales from the previous quarter.
Maximise what you have
Zubair Aleem, managing director of IT provider Quadnet, had an altogether different problem. The company was losing £30,000 per month during the last three months of last year, when a High Growth coach stepped in to help.
As a fast-paced entrepreneur, Aleem found himself constantly in conflict with his staff as he rushed from one project to the next.
‘I never managed my staff before,’ admits Aleem . ‘Sales is all about motivation, and if the team are demotivated they are not going to sell. We had to set clear and realistic sales objectives, and we had to make decisions quickly.
‘Now I write down what we agree and I check what people are doing. Once people know you are keeping an eye on things they don’t think it is worth giving you the runaround.’
Coaching the Quadnet team is already paying dividends; the company has stopped burning cash and is now back in profit. The company is expecting to increase profits by 20 per cent, despite a £1 million drop in turnover to £6 million.
‘I want to create an environment where people want to work, because happy people want to create wealth for the company.’
The High Growth programme has space for up to 35 companies, and GLE is keen to attract more enterprises. For more information about the high growth programme, email Jenny Tooth, GLE Growth Capital’s business development director