Wednesday, 14 August 2013

'Old' School is 'New' School

Over a cup of coffee recently a very experienced and senior business developer in the recruitment space said to me that the modern generation of sales professionals and relationship managers are woefully inadequate when it comes to the skills of engaging with people and 'working' relationships....

He said that selling and account management over the last 10 years had degenerated into a focus on transaction processing and 'short-termism' (particularly prevalent in PLCs where they are constantly focused on the short term quarter gains). Business development and sales had become less about the people and more about the process - with the result that business was suffering through a lack of quality relationships.

For him doing it 'old school' - the days when we focused on creating and spending time building real and substantial client relationships (yes the days of long lunches and entertainment) was much needed in today's market.

While business has (unfortunately!) moved on from the days of long lunches it is hard to argue with his views - and they are views I am increasingly hearing from senior sales management and business owners.

The move away from people and relationships is most prevalent in retail banking - where I see people being guided away from a queue to speak to a teller and instead being pressurised to engage with more sophisticated ATMs.

This might be a cost-saving innovation for the banks but it continues to erode any feeling of loyalty (be it ever so slight now at all) or engagement with banks. Retail banking is becoming a commodity business - and it will be very hard to recover loyalty of any form.

There is a need to re-focus on strong relationships, on re-gaining trust and influence in business relationships again, of people to people business. It truly has become important that 'old school' needs to be 'new school'.

If you want to learn the skills of creating and keeping compelling client relationships get my book 'The High Trust Adviser: How to Build High Trust and High Profits in Business Today' over on Amazon and join us at 

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Social Media or Social Intelligence?

Most businesses now appreciate that not having a 'digital footprint' - i.e. a strong personal presence or brand on the web - is no longer an option.

Not only is it important for your company to be well positioned and connected online but we as individuals and professionals must be too. 

In 2006 the Harvard Business Review published an article indicating that the 'buying cycle' now preceded the 'selling cycle'. In other words in the past the market was dependent on sales professionals and business advisers 'bringing the message' about their products and services to the market and so starting 'the buying cycle'.

However with the growth of the Internet the customer or client now has control over who he or she decides to contact to discuss their needs with - after they have researched their needs on the Web first. So now they initiate 'the sales cycle'. 

Therefore by failing to have an excellent online presence you may be missing the opportunity of even being considered as a potential provider. Hence the focus on social media.

However once you do have contact from the potential client then everything depends on your level of 'social intelligence' and I do not see very high levels of this in business at all.

There is a great deal of emphasis on technical intelligence but the capacity to create 'high value and high trust relationships' is at best poor. In the 1980's Howard Gardner proposed the concept of mutiple intelligences in the human mind - including interpersonal (or social) intelligence and intrapersonal (or emotional) intelligence.

In many businesses - and particularly professional services there still remains a heavy emphasis on technical intelligence where advisers assume that the level of their technical knowledge will 'see them through'. Not so however.

Now more than ever there is a greater emphasis on an adviser's (or entrepreneur, sales professional, business owner's) social intelligence or interpersonal skills (what were once patronisingly referred to as 'soft skills' as if they had no importance) to build close and deep rapport quickly.

Where rapport is missing, trust is absent and no investment will be made or business relationship created.

Successful social intelligence skills however can be learned and there is now an economic imperative for all members of a team that are client-facing and have a revenue-generating responsibility to get up-to-speed quickly in the critical field of business development..

To learn many of these skills check out my book 'The High Trust Adviser: How to Build High Trust and High Profits in Business Today'  and see what today's top advisers and 'socially intelligent' business owners are using to gain the competitive edge in business today.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Are You an 'Online' or an 'Offline' Business?

Like most business owners I have struggled with the very best business model for what I do.

Like many professional firms or consultants the greatest challenge has always been for me how does one 'scale up' and make oneself available 24/7, or make your skills available at a lower cost or on a wider playing field?

I did find that what I have accomplished after years of training, coaching and speaking is that I had created a 'job' for myself but not a 'business' - and it is all dependent on me. So I had to find a new way to address this challenge. A logical outcome of that reflection was to build an online element to my business.

The outcome of that was the launch of SalesDojo - an online membership community for small to medium businesses who want to learn the latest in permission-based, high trust, service selling. (You can visit that site or take our free e-coaching programme 'Zanshin: The Way of the Business Warrior')

That then raised the question of is an 'online' (internet only) model the best business model moving forward and how does one build and maintain trust with clients if one goes into cyberspace?

I think for an advisory, consulting or training business of any kind the online model is definitely the way to go.

It increases the scope of one's profile, helps you to create an alternate stream of income and drives you to create ever more interesting and engaging content. The more engaging and interesting and available the content - the more trust you build in your expertise.

For professional services firms it is also a model worth exploring.

How often do you take calls from clients who 'just want to run something by you' and it turns into a much greater period of time than expected - all for no fee? There is no need for that anymore.

By training your clients into using an online service you can now send them a link with your availability that week, have them pick a time, then a link is sent to them automatically confirming the time, providing a dial in number (the call is automatically recorded and an MP3 file is provided to the client) and most importantly a payment link is provided.  No more wasted billable time - unless you make that choice.

This was precisely the system I was gently encouraged to use when I requested some time recently from that great Internet psychologist, Net expert and friend Graham Jones (

The internet is transforming business of all kinds but the key question you will have to ask yourself is this: 'in the future is my business an 'online' business which generates 'offline' work as well - or is it an 'offline' business with an 'online' element?'.

The answer to that question will determine how successful you will be moving into the future because it will re-shape your strategy and vision for your business and ensure that you do the right things for the right business model and clients.

I know that it has re-shaped mine as I move to an 'online' model and look to serve ever more clients and customers around the world. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Power Goal Setting

The SMART model is recognised as a standard way of structuring successful personal and professional goals and many of us are familiar with the idea of goals being specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.

However, in many cases goals only focus on WHAT we want to achieve, simply defining the final objective or outcome.

While this can be effective it often leaves out the powerful motivational (or ‘motive in action) energy that drives us to reach outside our comfort zone and really make lasting change.

Powering a goal with an emotional reason or benefit really ramps up the possibility of our achieving the goal because we clearly understand the compelling benefit to us in making it happen.

A better way to structure goals would be to ask ourselves the following questions:

1.              WHAT is the greatest challenge facing me right now or what one thing could I do such that if I do it – it would affect the greatest amount of change for me?

2.    WHY is that important to me…what will I have that I don’t have now when I make this happen?

The first question helps us to identify the most important thing that needs doing, while the second question helps us identify the personal motivation behind the goal – what we really get when the goal is accomplished.

Our chosen goal then has a WHAT and a WHY component – both a focus and a powerful reason for making it happen.

This then allow us to structure the goal in a slightly different but more powerful way using the structure ‘I want to ..our that I..our WHY’.

This is a well-structured, articulated and powerful goal.

For example let’s say that the WHAT part of a goal is that ‘I want to be more organised and in control of my time’. 

The next part is then to ensure that we find the reason WHY this of value to us.

This is what’s called ‘Toward’ motivation – or motive-in-action that drives our efforts and expectations ‘toward’ a successful outcome and the WHY is often personal and highly specific.

For example, in this goal the WHY might be to ‘get home earlier’ or ‘to feel more relaxed’ or ‘to have more personal time’ or ‘to feel more in control’ or ‘to have more choice’ – the WHY reason can be as varied as the person but it has a real, personal value for them which can be a powerful motivator.

A goal that has only a WHAT but no WHY is never as powerful as one that includes both.

Therefore a really successful and motivating goal would read as follows:

‘I want to be more organised and in control of my time - so that I can get home earlier every night’

Can you notice the difference between including the WHY as opposed to just saying ‘I want to be more in control of my time’?

By identifying and including a personal and specific reason for completing a goal and working it into the language of the goal then our success is assured along with a greater sense of self-esteem and confidence in our abilities to create the world in our own unique way.

All successful people take the time to set effective and well written goals, knowing that their lives and careers move from ‘mediocre to magnificent’ and from ‘success to significance’ when we engage with effective goal setting. 

Check out more about building High Trust and High Profits in Business Today at

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Video on High Trust Business Relationships

Recent video interview with Se├ín Weafer in London by Andy Lopata Business Networking Strategist, Author and Speaker.

For more information on High Trust Business Development go to

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Professional Speaking for Advisers

Speaking in front of an audience can be one of the most fearful things a professional can be asked to do. However the higher up the ladder you go and the more you want to develop your personal brand the more critical a competency it is.

Here's a link to Alan Steven's Media Coach blog which features an interview with myself, Alan and Lesley Everett the world's top personal and corporate branding expert.

Definitely worth a listen.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Call to Action

I am continually amazed by the number of meetings that business advisers and relationship managers have with clients where there never seems to be a 'call to action' at the end of the meeting.

Any meeting and every meeting should have a specific outcome - there should be a measured difference as a result of the meeting. Have the client do something. Show them that they have not wasted their time in spending it with us. The days of meetings for the sake of meetings are over.

We need to demonstrate value at the end of every client meeting and often that value is about encouraging the client to do something different that either adds value to them or helps move us (both adviser and client) towards a preferred and desired outcome.

Requesting a call (or an invitation) to action engages the client, involves them and makes them a 'co-creator of value' in the process. If we are afraid of them objecting to a 'call to action' remember that it is an objection not a rejection. We simply have to more effectively explain the value that comes from taking the action.

Every meeting ..sound the call.