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Cloud Telesales

Foreign businesses have long coveted the UK technology market and people my age (16 (joke)), are used to American, Japanese and European companies being here since the 60s and 70s. However globalisation, the freeing up of Eastern Europe and the arrival of India and China has added to the clamour of companies all wanting to expand UK operations (let’s ignore Brexit for now, for once).

In my capacity running business development campaigns for technology companies, I’ve worked with Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Americans, Indians and the Chinese amongst others. I know of a USA company that wasted $millions trying to build a foothold only to end up buying a UK business instead (to great effect). An Eastern European firm I know wasted £thousands running campaigns and employing the wrong people until they got it right. I’ve had Indians and Chinese ask me to run tele campaigns to find leads which they plan to service from home (I have turned these away as I can’t handle the pain of their disappointment).

With great respect to all these companies there almost always is a pattern which is to under-estimate just how hard it is for a foreign business to establish a foothold here. The UK is a brutally competitive market because it is rich, mature and English (thus a landing point for US businesses expanding into Europe). It's also geographically small and somehow everyone knows everyone, at least in the tech market. Towards the larger end of the deal-size spectrum it also requires hard won relationships to be established which is impossible to do from abroad.

So what should you do? Firstly, establish a good sized war chest. Building new business is expensive anyway as cash usually only flows many months down the road and it is more expensive if you are starting from scratch in a country. Secondly, you’ll need boots on the ground. Unless your proposition can be sold entirely on the phone, somebody will need to go and build those relationships – big UK buyers will need something with a pulse to kick if things start to go wrong. Thirdly, run local marketing efforts and don’t call in from abroad – tele is really hard in the UK (perhaps the world’s hardest) and even calling in from the USA will add an extra barrier to your selling.

To succeed in the UK, assume you are creating a well backed start-up which has a ready-developed product and little else. Do your due diligence as to what makes your offering differentiated enough in the UK and employ and deploy local sales and marketing. Finally, take a long-term view and be prepared to change track.

It’s really possible for foreign companies to succeed in the UK as we have an open approach to investment and business and employment legislation is light. But take care – without a well thought out and properly funded plan you’re almost sure to fail.

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You’ve got yourself to a decent position. Business is good so you have decided that it’s time to expand. Your contacts and track record have got you a few customers but now you're looking at the sales game so what next?

It’s obvious – hire a Sales Director, isn’t it?

Well no, we tend to disagree. Not with Sales Directors per se, but the notion that all you need to do to sort out your business development and sales strategy is to hire a Ferrari-driving, testosterone-fuelled, big spending Sale Director. Please don’t get me wrong – some of my best friends are like that and businesses need these kinds of people so I'm not saying never hire them. I'm saying plan when you hire them.

The reason is simple – a Sales Director without marketing, inside sales, demand generation and so on, is only as good as their Black Book - Black Books run out and also rapidly lose their context. Worse, they can become a costly overhead, constantly just around the corner from that big deal. We recommend that before you hire “that guy”, get a proper marketing plan and measured strategy in place, run campaigns to test the market, establish a pipeline with perhaps even some closed deals. Then hire that guy. With the full business development system in place, when they join your business they can be quickly productive and better still, you can see how well they perform against your previous experience.

It’s not a surprise I’m saying this – it’s exactly the service we sell.

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Leads should be the result, not the metric

As buckets of cash have got poured down marketing drains over the years, buyers have rightly asked for measurement. “Return on Investment” is the mantra (I know one very successful director who thought that meant “Republic of Ireland” for the first few years of his career. That proves a number of things, but those aren't for this email).

But it’s the “Return” bit that means everything and typically that means LEADS. That’s fine for commodities Lead Gen – phone up, pitch and you get “yes”, “later” or “never”, results that can be easily put into a table. When you’re selling complex technology it is much harder - if you get a "qualified" lead from a campaign you’re probably too late - your competitor set the agenda months ago and you’re making up the numbers. If you've decided to measure the ROI of your campaign on leads or meetings, then your agency is incentivised to label whatever the output is by those names. No wonder the quality is so poor!

Our campaigns produce leads but they typically rarely relate to identified projects with budgets assigned. They are leads to relationships with people who have interest in our client's proposition - the seed of a new sale.

We measure our campaigns on Market Penetration – how many accounts we have managed to pitch our client's proposition to. We report in detail and in real-time and we feedback transparently so that our clients know how their proposition is being received. This is how you start relationships and also, with all that feedback, adjust your proposition to meet the market’s needs.

What would you rather have – meaningless criteria or doors being edged open across your target market? If you’d like the latter, give us a call.

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The urge to DO SOMETHING when the sales pipeline looks wafer thin usually results in hitting the phones. Calling someone to pitch is a vital part of the process, but with what message, when and to whom all make a huge difference. And also how many times do you try and when do you give up?. Here are statistics which might make you think it out a bit.

  1. Some startling stats about selling Source: Based on the Slideshare by James Akwood, 20 Shocking Sales Stats
  2. The best time to make cold calls is 4:00-5:00pm. The worst times are 11:00am and 2:00pm Source: and Kellogg School of Business Opinion This data is from volume calling and certainly has substance. The best approach is to mix it up. Carry on calling the same number at 11 every day and don’t be surprised at the result. 
  3. Thursday is the best day to prospect. Wednesday is the second best. Tuesday the worst. Source: Opinion Almost any day is a calling day as long as you’re mixing it up when you’re trying to call a particular contact. Just don’t try Monday mornings. 
  4. Top sellers use LinkedIn 6 hours a week Source:Jill Konrath Opinion In house databases, bought in lists are all very well but LinkedIn is the most current. And a great way of contacting buyers.
  5. In 2007it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8. Source: TelNet and Ovation Sales Group Opinion Desk-based buyers are rarer. People are mobile based. People are home based. You need multiple routes – email, phone, LinkedIn. We recently got a lead from a stranger in the bar. 
  6. Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment Source: Leap Job Opinion You need more than cold calls to reach buyers. Or at least the RIGHT ones. Use emails, LinkedIn, events, calls and inbound techniques.
  7. In a typical firm of 100- 1500 employees an average of 7 people are involved in buying decisions. Source: Gartner Group Opinion Use at least 2 target roles in a campaign, preferably more if you can afford it. The 7 people represent 7 potential ‘ins’ for a campaign so try and target as many as the spend permits. Once you have 1, the good field salesperson looks for the others...
  8. The average salesperson makes 8 dials an hour and prospects for 6.25 hours to set one appointment. Source: Ovation Sales Group Opinion Use specialist phone based sales people to make the volume of calls needed to get a proposition across should that be the appropriate route. 
  9. 50% of sales go to the first salesperson to contact the prospect Source: Opinion Sitting there waiting for inbound leads is all very well but you need to proactively go find potential customers or you will often lose. Warm a call before hand with inbound techniques but people buy people and the first way you meet is usually via a phone call.
  10. Email Marketing has a 2x higher ROI than cold calling, networking or trade shows. Source: MarketingSherpa Opinion The ROI isn’t surprising because it is cheap, much cheaper than calling. And people will read your email if it has a relevant subject and relevant content. Start with an email. 
  11. Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads Source: The Annuitas Group Opinion We know that nurturing after a campaign will double its output. We recommend for 12 months. 
  12. You'll lose 14% of your customers each year. Source: Our Opinion Never. Stop. Prospecting.

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