Coaching from an experienced practitioner
In the deep end
I wanted to be rock star but at 18 I couldn't resist the flattering offer of a job as a print salesman with a company car and regular money in my pocket. After a week in the printing works I was ‘on the road' with zero sales training.
Learning the ropes
Two years later I emigrated for six years and received my first formal sales training at ‘Kalamazoo’. I then ran with another print company, almost doubling sales figures in the first year and being promoted to Sales Manager. This spurred me to develop the first in a long series of sales training programmes of my own.
More challenging clients
Returning to the UK I spent five years working in a large sales team in the City of London. One of the most successful at closing new business I particularly stood out as the No1 new business 'appointment-generator'.
My clients included senior PLC board members, corporate bankers, lawyers and accountants, - all of whom had different expectations and disciplines to work to. Learning to interact successfully at this level was key to developing future techniques of communicating with heads of business via the phone.
Another change of direction
After a period with a London advertising agency a prominent London businessman invited me to join his growing office cleaning business as Sales Director of his London operation. The task was to increase sales and inject a degree of respectability into an industry from which it was conspicuously absent.
The cultural step from the ‘City’ to the world of office cleaning was immense, but the experience was invaluable.
Having identified and opened a series of new business opportunities, I soon joined the main board as Group Sales & Marketing Director responsible for a team of over 40 people.
Training proved vital to ensure the frontline sales team used the phone tactfully and skilfully to gain ‘qualified’ new business appointments. I also identified that our Customer Support team needed to handle ‘inbound’ calls with greater courtesy, empathy and efficiency. Apart from giving them the skills to ‘upsell’, past experience had shown that even a ‘complaint’ call could provide an opportunity to build stronger customer relationships and aid in developing brand.
I therefore structured and delivered specialist training programmes that ensured we adopted best practice in both the ‘Outbound’ and ‘Inbound’ arenas.
Going it alone
In the mid-eighties I set up my own facilities management company. Working alone from a small office, and using the telephone as my principal means of appointment generation, I built an annual turnover in excess of £1/4million within nine months, supporting a team of eight employees.
In 1992 I moved to Somerset and, in response to an increasing demand from clients, business friends and associates, I became a fulltime, ‘high-end’ Outbound Calling resource. The 'PhoneSmith' training programs grew out of this and now embrace coaching in all call-handling skills, whether ‘Inbound’ and ‘Outbound’.
The advent of the mobile phone and the constant development of the ‘Smartphone’ means that skillful use of this essential business tool is more important than ever. Yet, even after over 30 years of honing my phone-skills, I still learn something new every time I pick up a handset, or coach a new group of candidates.
I remain absolutely convinced that, as the most personal means of communication outside of face-to-face meetings, the phone will remain the most powerful and easily accessible tool for business growth and brand development in the world.