Is your company ‘killing the sale’?

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Is your company killing the sale for your sales people and account managers?

Attention to detail. Is that important to your clients?
I’ll take your answer as a “Yes”
You make it extremely difficult for your sales people if, for example, your company website has errors on it.
And how can you expect your sales people to convince prospective clients that the job will be done exactly as they want it, that the attention to detail on the work you’re doing for them will be spot on, when you can’t get the detail on your own website right?
59% of people are LESS LIKELY TO BUY when they see an errors on a website. Is your website or some other aspect of your business killing the sale?


By | Sales | No Comments

Would you buy from someone you didn’t trust? I wouldn’t.

That makes the trustworthiness of your sales people very, very important right? And here’s the thing – a prospect won’t tell your salesperson that it is lack of trust in them that has cost them the sale.
Instead they’ll give them another reason for not buying – ‘price’ is the easy one.
What help, what training do you provide your team so they can avoid making simple mistakes that are costing them sales?
Selling is a skill    #SIAS

How Do Your Sales People Say “No” ?

By | Management | No Comments

Do your sales people know how to tell a prospect (who wants to do business with your company) that they don’t want the prospect’s business?

My experience is that 99% of those in charge of sales teams never have that conversation with their team.
And yet….when I realised (because nobody told me) that I could say “No” to a prospect, my self esteem and confidence took a big and important step in the right direction.
Selling is a skill

1-Day, Essential Sales Skills Workshop

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Want to enhance your sales skills? I’m running my 1-Day Essential Sales Skills Workshop in:

  • In Lincoln on Thursday, Sept 20th
  • In Hull on Tuesday, Sept 25th
  • Max of 12 delegates on each workshop

(These are my last 1-day workshops in 2018.)

Content will include:
  • Universal principles of persuasion / influence and how to use them
  • ‘People buy people’ – easy to say, but what can we do to enhance the chances of people ‘buying’ us?
  • The structure of an effective sales process
  • What exactly is a ‘feature’ and what is a ‘benefit’? Why is it important to know? What about ‘attractions’ – how do you use those?
  • How to clarify whether your prospect has a need for your product / service
  • How to build the perception of the need (for your product / service) in the mind of your prospect
  • How to sell ‘value’
  • How to reduce objections – including ‘price’
  • Closing the sale
The delegate fee is £295+VAT
Please contact me to book yourself a seat or give me a ring on 07783030223 if you want more info


Are you overlooking a key value?

By | Management | No Comments
Testimonials? In my view you’re missing a really important use for them if you think they’re only for showing to new prospects and or putting on your website.

Most of the time we hear “No” in sales so having a positive attitude is essential. That’s easy to say but how do you maintain it when you’re having a challenging time?

One of the things that I’d encourage you to do is to keep copies of your best testimonials to hand, pin ‘em up where you can see them in your office, carry them on your phone etc and READ them.
They WILL make you feel better about you and that which you’re selling. How valuable is that!?!


When I say it, it’s bragging; when others say it, it’s proof

Don’t take my word for it…

Go wild!

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Quick show of hands – how many of you will be aiming for an increase in sales volumes next year? I reckon that’s the vast majority of you.

Quick show of hands (the last one, I promise) – how many of you are investing in sales training next year and (here’s the kicker) already have the sales training sessions booked? Gosh that’s a much lower number of you. Fancy that.  :-)

So let me get this right…..  You’re aiming for an increase in sales volumes next year.  (Tick) But you haven’t yet booked any sales training – because you’re still thinking about that right? But you’re not still thinking about whether you want more sales or not? Can you not see the flaw in that thinking? Mmm, must be me. I can see you’ve thought this through AND made a decision, wow – you’ve decided you definitely want more sales next year. Well done you. Good decision. It’s becoming clearer by the second why you’re running a sales team.

So if you do go wild and actually invest in some sales training, (steady, maybe you should lie down) you’ll get it booked as early as possible in the new year right? Why? Well just to give your team a better chance than that of the proverbial ‘snowball’s chance in hell’ of increasing the sales volumes from that which they’ve achieved this year. After all….selling is a skill

Closing techniques? Gosh you’re so 1980’s

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Back in the 80’s and even the 90’s, your ‘skill’ as a salesperson was measured in how many closing techniques you knew. But that was then – when selling was different for all kinds of reasons e.g. information was available to the seller, not the customer and so it gave the seller power. That power has shifted.
‘Closing’ today should be no more complex than the barista in Starbucks asking “Small or large?”  When you answer that question, you’re placing an order – you know it and the barista knows it.
But if your product or service is more complex than a cup of coffee, you have to earn the right to ask for the sale. That’s where the skill in selling is today and that is how you should measure your ability. How good are you at putting yourself in the position where you can ask a simple question such as “So when do you want to take delivery of the XYZ?” or “When do you want us to start working on that for you?” and the answer means, you’ve got the order?


1-Day, Open, Essential Sales Skills Workshop on Thursday, October 19th, 2017

By | Sales, sales strategy | No Comments
The workshop will be a for a maximum of 12 people and will cover:
  • Recognising and using universal principles of persuasion
  • Nobody likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to buy.  How can we ensure we’re not ‘salesy’ and instead, get people to buy?
  • Your ‘natural’ persuasion style – what is your style and when is it likely to be effective and ineffective?
  • How to build the need (in your client’s mind) for your service or product
  • How to stop losing sales on ‘price’
  • How to differentiate your product / service from your competitor – even if they’re selling the same thing!
  • How using ‘features and benefits’ can prevent people from buying
  • Closing (of course!) aka getting the contract / signing the deal etc 
  • And more!!
I’ll be sharing ideas and methodologies that will help increase sales by selling both professionally and ethically. These are ideas that work.
Check out the testimonials on our website and or at 
What if the training doesn’t do what we claim? What if it sucks? We’re in the business of adding value. If we don’t do that, we have no right nor any desire to retain the delegate fee.
So the workshop comes with a guarantee – if, by the end of the workshop any delegate doesn’t feel any better equipped to increase their sales, we guarantee to refund the delegate fee. No quibble, no debate, just email us the following day with nothing more than the relevant bank details and we’ll transfer the money directly to your bank a/c. (You don’t even have to speak to us.)
The workshop will be held at the Double Tree Hilton Brayford Wharf, in Lincoln, LN1 1YW 
The fee per delegate is £295 +VAT which includes refreshments and lunch. 
Ring 01507 328557 or email austen@sellingisaskill for more details or to book a place


By | Management | No Comments

On a scale of 1-10, how important is it to be confident when we’re selling?

If you scored anything less than 7 (but you should have given it 10), get out of sales / sales management and go and work in accounts where they don’t let you talk to people because until you understand why confidence is important, we’ve go to keep you away from prospects and clients. :-)

Let me give you a clue as to why confidence is so important; 2 sales people call on you selling pretty much the same product at the same price. One is confident (not arrogant) in themselves, their product and their company. The other is less so. Which one are you more likely to buy from?

OK, so if you are running a sales team, it’s part of your responsibility to help keep confidence high among your people. What can you DO?




Nothing coming? Come on, get creative – we’re in sales!

Here’s something you can DO. Get on the phone – now. Not tomorrow, not when you’ve finished looking for your pen – get on the phone now and ring some of your company’s best clients. Have an informal “….courtesy call, just to see how our service and Jane (your sales person) is helping you / your business..” Don’t forget, these are your A and A+ clients so the feedback should be good. If it’s not, call me, you need my help    :-) :-)

When you have their feedback, thank them and then ask a question on the lines of “Could I ask you for your help? Could you write a testimonial and share your opinion as to the service Jane has provided / is providing and the difference it has made to your business?” Then you give that testimonial to Jane. She’ll be thrilled that after 3 years of working for you you’ve finally given her some help instead of shouting “Make more calls!”

And tell Jane to keep the testimonial with her and to read it next time she’s feeling low or has had a meeting with a rude, prospect. Reading positive stuff (especially from a client) about the great job we’re doing has a confidence boosting effect on us. Why would it not? And the more the merrier. If over time, Jane has 5, 6, 7 of these testimonials in her car / folder / pinned up by her telephone, (anywhere so they are within easy reach), she’ll be able to mange those dips in confidence far better and be more resilient when those tough times come around next time.

Selling is a skill

Losing sales on ‘price’?

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Question: How can you win new contracts / orders when your competitors are trying to win on ‘price’ – because ‘price’ is where they’re strong and you’re not?

Answer: You / your people have to be better at selling ‘value’ than your competition is at selling on price.


The bad news?

Selling on price is simple (if you’re cheaper than your competitor). Selling ‘value’ requires skill.


Bottom line?

You will have to pay for one of the following:

1. For the loss of sales to your competition (thereby helping your competition grow)


2. For the sales skills training to enable your people to learn how to sell value and in so doing cancel all the negative consequences above


The good news?

You choose which price you want to pay


Selling is a skill

“People Buy People”

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“People buy people”. No doubt you’ve heard that expression. And many people believe that that means, get someone to like you and they’ll buy from you. Well it’s true that if someone doesn’t like you they almost certainly WON’T buy from you. But you see how I originally heard it was “People buy people first and whatever else, 2nd” When someone ‘buys’ you, all that does it earn you an opportunity to continue along the sales process.

To Sales Directors

By | Management | No Comments

What do you consider is the best thing you can do for your sales team? Set targets? Kick ass? Shout and scream when targets aren’t hit? Give them great incentives and rewards? Well, according to research, none of those things will help your team as much as finding ways to develop their sales skills. Developing the sales skills of your team is surely one of the most important and valuable things you can do – not only for them but for your company too. And one way to do that is provide them with sales training. Call us on 01507 328557

It’s not what you know ….

By | Management | No Comments

….it’s what you DO with what you know that will bring in new business.  “People buy people” is an expression that most interpret as meaning people need to like us before they’ll buy from us. And that’s true, unless we’re spending a small amount of money. For example, it’s not important whether we trust the person or not when we’re buying a can of soup.

But now put yourself in the position of the ‘customer’ when spending a significant amount of money; you don’t just need to like the person who is selling to you, you need to trust them too. But ‘knowing’ that won’t help you sell. It’s what you DO with that knowledge that will make a difference. Have a think about what you can DO to help build trust. Here’s a simple example but it is one that so many people fail to achieve – do what you say you’re going to do. When you do what you say you’re going to do, you help give your customer reason to begin to trust you. But the opposite is equally true – by not doing what you say you’re going to do, you give your customer reason NOT to trust you.

Happy selling!

“People buy people first”. So what?

By | Management | No Comments

I guess almost everyone in sales knows the expression “People buy people first” right? But it’s not what we know that’s important; it’s what we DO with what we know that will bring in sales.

Let’s take “People buy people first” as an easy example. Do you agree with that expression? No really – do YOU agree that “People buy people first”? Can’t change your mind from this point. I’m going to assume you said “Yes”. If the expression is true, (I believe it is), are you, like me, puzzled as to why do so many people in selling, (including those with titles such as Sales or Business Development Director, Sales or Business Development Manager, National Sales Manager, Regional Business Development Director) who will happily tell you that “People buy people first” have a personal profile on a business networking site (e.g. LinkedIn) but have chosen not to display a photo of themselves? Surely that’s the equivalent of going to a networking meeting / business expo / with a bag on their head isn’t it?

“If it ‘don’t’ get measured, it ‘don’t’ get done

By | Management | No Comments

If you’re running a sales team, measuring their results (e.g. number and value of sales made) is something you’ll no doubt do. But that if that’s all you measure, you’re missing the most valuable information that you need if you’re going to improve your team’ skills, results and your company’s bottom line.

To do that, you need to be measuring your team’s ‘activity’ e.g. how many prospects did they meet with, how many did they present / demo to, how may did they submit a proposal to?

With that sort of information you can now start to get an idea as to who has the skills, who is ‘burning’ prospects. and who needs help. For example: you may have 2 sales people (Janet and Peter) who each made 10 sales, each with a total value of £25,000. But if  Janet met with 20 prospects and Peter met with 50 to generate those sales, it would seem that Janet is doing something Peter isn’t and or she has more skill. It’s only because you’ve measured their activity that you can now investigate and find out what it is that Janet is doing (or that Peter isn’t). Once you know that, you’re on the road to being able to help Peter work less and sell more.

GP or Specialist?

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If you’re selling a product which (on paper) can be sold to a huge range of prospects e.g. financial services, trying to sell to them all makes you the equivalent of a GP (doctor). If you’ve got a medical need, who would you rather get advice from, a GP or a Specialist? I’ll assume you said Specialist. Your prospects are probably just like you. Try to become an expert in dealing with just one section of your huge market. Doing so doesn’t mean you can’t sell to people outside of your specialist area if they get referred to you or fall in to your lap in some way, but when proactively seeking new clients, become more focused.

Open, 1-day, Essential Sales Skills Workshop – March 9th, 2017

By | Management | No Comments

The Essential Sales Skill Workshop will be held at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Lincoln and will run from 9.30 – 17.30. Maximum of 12 delegates.

Delegates will be taken through the different stages of selling from BEFORE speaking to a prospect, through to making them a client and then retaining them.

Any delegate who wakes up the following day and feels no better equipped to sell than before they attended the workshop is guaranteed their money back. Delegate rate is £295+VAT

Not sure? Read the testimonials here on our website or on Austen Hempstead’s profile on LinkedIn.

Please contact us if you’d like more info 01507 328557 or

Has your team failed to hit target – again?

By | Management, Sales, sales strategy | No Comments

75% increase!!!!

That’s the impact that a sales process has on sales volumes when you compare sales teams that don’t have a sales process with those that do.

We can hear the “Yes buts…” already!

You can “Yes but..” all you like but if your sales people are frequently failing to hit target, the chances are it’s because the company is failing them by not providing them with professional sales training.

Sales person or sales professional?

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There are far too many people in sales jobs who are sales people; they’re not sales professionals. How can you tell the difference? There are lots of ways but one of them is in how somebody who works in sales, treats someone else in sales when they are the customer and are being sold to. Disappointingly, in those circumstances, the customer will very often treat the seller with the same lack of respect they themselves experience when they are selling. So which one are you – sales person or sales professional?

July 7th!! 1-Day Essential Sales Skills Workshop in Lincoln

By | Sales, sales strategy | No Comments

Want to improve your “conversion” rate and thereby increase your sales volumes and profitability? If your company has less than 6 people, book them on to this workshop (which will have a maximum of 12 delegates) which will be on Thursday, July 7th at the Double Tree Hilton, Lincoln, Lincolnshire.

The workshop will cover (as the title suggests) most of the key challenges we all face when trying to convert potential customers in to paying ones such as:
  • What should your ‘sales process’ look like?
  • How do you identify the client’s real need?
  • How do you build the value of your solution (in your client’s mind)? 
  • How do you create urgency (to buy) in the client?
  • How do you increase the financial value of your average ‘sale’
  • Becoming more effective at cross-selling and up-selling
  • Understanding how to use the ‘features and benefits’ 
  • Closing (of course!) aka getting the contract / signing the deal etc 

The delegate fee is £250 (+VAT) and it comes with a guarantee – if you don’t feel you’ve learned something that will help you increase sales, email us the next day and we’ll give you your money back. No quibble, no debate.

Email us now at or ring us on 01507 328557 or 07783030223 to book or for answers to any questions you have about the workshop.

Selling face-to-face in the age of the internet

By | Management, Sales, sales strategy | No Comments

It seems there’s a new number being bandied around – 57%. In B2B sales, 57% of the sale has already taken place apparently by the time the prospect meets the seller. The reason? Self diagnosing. To some extent we all do it don’t we by using the internet? Some of us even self diagnose our health problems right? (And how often do people come to a wrong decision and think they’re far more ill than they actually are?)

And what if your prospect has self-diagnosed wrongly and is in danger of making a poor buying decision but it is one that means that you will make a sale? Would you allow them to buy? Surely not. But how do you manage that situation without antagonising the prospect and without them thinking that you’re just trying to make a bigger sale, especially if the correct buying decision means the customer should be spending more than their self diagnosis has led them to believe? Doing that requires a skill that most salespeople don’t have. If your sales people wouldn’t know how to manage that situation, talk to us on 07783030223

1- Day Essential Sales Skills Workshop – Double Tree Hilton, Lincoln March 17th

By | Sales, sales strategy | No Comments

Want to improve your “conversion” rate and thereby increase your sales volumes and profitability? If your company has less than 6 people, book them on to this workshop. Email us at or ring us on 01507 328557 or 07783030223 to book or for answers to any questions you have about the workshop.

For a maximum of 12 delegates the workshop will cover (as the title suggests) most of the key challenges we all face when trying to convert potential customers in to paying ones such as:
  • What should your ‘sales process’ look like?
  • How do you identify the client’s real need?
  • How do you build the value of your solution (in your client’s mind)? 
  • How do you create urgency (to buy) in the client?
  • How do you increase the financial value of your average ‘sale’
  • Becoming more effective at cross-selling and up-selling
  • Understanding how to use the ‘features and benefits’ 
  • Closing (of course!) aka getting the contract / signing the deal etc 

The delegate fee is £250 (+VAT) and it comes with a guarantee – if you don’t feel you’ve learned something that will help you increase sales, email us the next day and we’ll give you your money back. No quibble, no debate.

Email us now at or ring us on 01507 328557 or 07783030223 to book or for answers to any questions you have about the workshop.

Skill or effort?

By | Management | No Comments

How do you know how effective your sales team is if you don’t measure what they do as well as their results? If you only measure the results (i.e. sales) you might know that Bob usually sells twice as much as Janet. But what if you measured what they did as well as their results and discovered that Bob (your ‘top’ salesperson)  was seeing 40 prospects per month to generate his normal tally of 4 sales and Janet was seeing just 10 prospects each month to generate 3 sales? Whilst Bob might be working harder, it would appear that Janet has much more sales ability. Not only that, Bob (as a result of lack of sales skills) may be ‘burning’ good prospects.

What you need to do is break your sales process down and measure the activity of your sales people i.e. what they DO in order to start to be able to assess their effectiveness. As a result you will have a far better understanding as to which parts of the sales process any sales training would need to focus on


By | Management | No Comments

We’re doing  some research with buyers (B2B) in which one of the many questions we ask is “Why did you buy from one company over and above the other companies that you met with?” and one word that keeps coming out is “reassurance”. One buyer said “They were just very good at ‘holding our hand’ and reassuring us during each stage of the process that we were doing the right thing.”

To you sales directors out there I’m hoping that will (at the very least) be thought-provoking. Reassurance. It’s not features, not benefits, nor product, price or delivery. Reassurance.


Is it the price?

By | Management | No Comments

In my experience as a customer it’s not usually me who raises the issue of ‘price’, it’s almost always the person selling to me who does that. Some recent research conducted with customers and sellers came lots of interesting info but for all you salespeople who think you’d sell more if only the price of what you’re selling was lower – almost twice as many salespeople as buyers saw ‘price’ as the key issue.

Want some help?

By | Management | No Comments

If you want people to help you (recommend you, endorse you, write a testimonial for you) then you need to create the habit of helping others in business. What if you haven’t seen examples of their work and don’t know them well enough to be able to do any of the above? Then make a point of getting to know them better so you can help them.

Want more referrals?

By | Management | No Comments

When someone gives you a referral, they’re trying to help you. Whilst you might thank them, that’s not enough. When someone gives you a referral, they’ll want to know if their help has been helpful. So let them know how you get on. And even if it doesn’t lead directly to business, if possible, give the referrer positive feedback such as “They didn’t become a client but I really enjoyed meeting them. Thanks so much for the introduction.” By doing so you’ll be motivating them to give you referrals again.

In case you haven’t read the testimonials, here’s one….

Essential Sales Skills Workshop, November 24th, Lincoln, England

By | Sales | No Comments

Want to enhance your sales skills? How about improving your:

  • Ability to build the value of your product / service in the mind of your potential client?
  • Understanding as to how to use ‘features’ properly?
  • Skill in reducing the number of ‘objections’ you get?
  • Understanding as to how to use your sales style to best effect?
  • Appreciation as to what your sales process should look like?
  • Knowledge as to where the ‘triggers’ are in the sales process so that you know when you should be ‘selling’ your solution?
  • Ability to ‘close’?

These are just some of the skills that will be covered in our Essential Sales Skills Workshop that we’re running at the award winning Washingborough Hall Hotel in Lincoln in November. £250+VAT will get you a seat.

For more information or to reserve a seat, email us at or tel us on 01507 328557


By | Management | No Comments

We’re hosting a #Mysterybreaking Sales Skills open workshop this week at the fabulous Washingborough Hotel in Lincoln. Don’t get in touch because we’ve no places left!

If you want to put your name on the list for the next one, we’d love to hear from you. Email

Just a thought…

By | Management | No Comments

There’s only one thing that brings money in to your business – SALES!!!

SALES pay for the salaries, the cars, the various insurances, the company website, the marketing in fact everything. How much have you invested in the last 12 months in training your people to sell?

Jose Mourinho, Debbie Jevans, Roger Federer, Heather Watson

By | Management | No Comments

You could be forgiven for thinking you’ve clicked on the wrong link and ended up on a sports website, but in fact you’re OK, we’re still talking about selling. The people (above) work at the very top level of their game partly because they are constantly seeking improvement. They recognise that there is no such thing as ‘job done’ when it comes to making progress. They know that improvement is a never-ending quest. As a MD, Sales Director or someone charged with the task of converting potential clients in to paying ones, that’s part of your responsibility too isn’t it; to look for ways of improving that which you or your team do? So what have you DONE to enhance the skills of you / your team in the last 3 months? Same stuff you were doing in the previous 12 months? Bet the names at the top of this post wouldn’t say that. So what are you going to DO to enhance your skills or the skills of your team?

How old is this advice? But clearly still necessary.

By | Sales | No Comments

I was intending buying a log burning stove so I did what most of us do today – I went on the net (for no more than 15 mins) to get an idea of price and to learn a little about the different options and extras so I could get just a basic understanding as to what I was looking for. That 15 mins resulted in my knowing more about log burning stoves than the first 2 retailers I visited! How can that be? As a result I didn’t have the confidence to buy from either of them. I bought from the 3rd retailer I called on simply because they could at least answer simple questions about their own product. Want to make sales? Know your product.

2-Question Quiz

By | Sales, Stratergy | No Comments

Q1: Would you like more people to be aware of the fantastic testimonials you/ your company receives?

Q2: Would you consider a good way to publicise glowing testimonials would be to put them on the back of your business card?

Making Yourself More ‘Referrable’

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Alan Curtis says that there are just four rules to follow to make anyone more ‘referrable’ to new clients:

1. Turn up on time
2. Say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’
3. Do what you say (you’re going to do)
4. Finish what you start

Alan is based in Louth, Lincolnshire and is a Partner with True Potential Wealth Management. He has been in financial services for over 20 years and has a client base with average invested wealth of £250,000.

Gift of the gab?

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“Most people think that ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking’ but the most effective salespeople know that ‘listening’ is the most important part of their job”

Roy Bartell

Staying in the game

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Next time a prospect is saying “No” to your suggestion that you meet, try asking this “Are you saying that because you can’t ever imagine wanting to buy (your product / service) or is it just bad timing on my part?” If the prospect says they’ll never want to buy, you can delete them from your list but if they say it’s bad timing  then simply say “No problem. When would you suggest would be a good time for you for me to contact you again?”

Austen Hempstead

Who, you?

By | Sales | No Comments

Yes you. The truth is that some people won’t buy from you because they don’t like you. I know it’s hard to believe that there are some prospects out there who won’t warm to your charm, wit and charisma but that’s the way it is. So why not pair-up with someone (in or outside of your company) who sells the same type of product or service as you, and on a regular basis, swap the names of those prospects who you know should buy, but (for some reason they’re unwilling to share), are no closer to becoming clients than when you first met them.