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The Power of Silence

- By Andrew B Morris

Children used to be told they should be seen and not heard. Bear that in mind next time you’re in a meeting with a client or potential customer.

The most verbose person in a meeting isn’t necessarily the most senior or the most smart, they just like the sound of their own voice. They crave air time. Sometimes, the most senior (and smart) person will say virtually nothing, then ask the killer question just as the meeting is coming to a close. This makes a huge impact.

So it’s quite a good habit never to speak first.

Wait until we’ve assessed the situation.

Work out the power dynamics in the room. Continue reading →

Are you Vulnerable Enough with your Customers?

- By Larry Reynolds

People buy from people. So the relationship you have with your customers is just as important as your product or service – more so in many cases. But are you taking the right approach to building relationships with your customers? In particular, are you being vulnerable enough?

Being vulnerable means sharing personal details – even if they don’t show you in the best possible light. Being vulnerable means admitting mistakes rather than trying to justify them. And being vulnerable means saying ‘I don’t know’ rather than bluffing your way through. Continue reading →

Why Did I Lose that Piece of Business?

- By Phil Shipperlee

This is always a good question to ask, as is why/how did I win that piece of business? but that is a question for another day. We should all strive to understand the dynamics of the customer decision making processes so that we can adapt the way we bid to make it more likely customers will say yes to us. Although each customer will have some individual characteristics, by analysing the results, a pattern will emerge that you can use to tune your future bidding process to increase the likelihood of winning.

One important thing to consider is whether a particular deal that you feel you should have won has been lost. Extending this; is this a one off or a growing trend? To answer this question you need to have good sound data about the type of deals you win and lose against which you can compare individual cases. If you do not have such data then it is never too late to start collecting it. Continue reading →

Case Study: Building Trust

Warren Rosenberg is a co- founder of Watford-based luxury property developer, Fusion Residential and its sister company developing student accommodation, Fusion Students. Both he and co-founder Nigel Henry are Academy Group Seven members. He describes his business philosophy as “doing the right thing and not just finding the quickest route,” something that lies at the core of the company’s approach to client management.

Choose your clients carefully

“For us the big thing is to work with clients you want to work with – some people feel obligated to deal with whoever they come across. We are great believers in focussing on the relationships with people who matter.”  Continue reading →

10 Speaker Gems for March

  1. Don’t stand up to your competitors, stand out from them! (Phil Jesson)
  2. Customers buy outcomes – 100 facts will not pull as well as one major benefit (Robert Clay)
  3. Remember the first rule of business – look after your most important customers before someone else does (Phil Jesson)
  4. We like people who are like us and we like people who like us (Philip Hesketh)
  5. Get the balance in life right – be a hero in your own home first (Ian Berry)
  6. Feedback isn’t the absolute truth – it is only the truth for the person delivering it (Sue Knight)
  7. The brain is like a parachute – both work best when open (Nigel Risner)
  8. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson (Philip Hesketh)
  9. Wherever you go, there you are! (Joanna Jesson)
  10. The quality of service we give the customer is influenced by the quality of service we give each other (Bankie Williams)

Client Management. It’s Child’s Play…

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How to be Pitch Perfect

- By Andrew Morris 

Whether we are presenting our company to a potential partner, a bank, a customer or whoever, getting it right makes the difference between winning and losing. Here’s a handy check-list:


Who’s on our Team? Agree roles and a team leader

Know their Team. Who is the ultimate decision maker?

Is the brief and criteria for selection clear? If not, try to renegotiate it. If they resist, consider withdrawing.

Where, when and how long? Get the logistics right. Documentation, material and format. What information will we leave behind?

Who else is pitching? Know the enemy. What’s the running order?

Dress Code. Respect theirs but stay true to your own style and image.

  Continue reading →

Top Tips from the Pitch Doctor

The word ‘pitching’ is entering everyday business vocabulary, thanks to TV programmes like Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice. But where does pitching fit into the world of real businesses? In short, we can define a pitch as any professional interaction where you present your business, your products or your services to someone and ask them to make an investment or a buying decision as a result.

You’ll already find many valuable resources available through the Academy for Chief Executives to help you drive your business, but without good pitching skills you won’t have a business to run because you won’t have any clients. And while you may not see yourself as a salesperson, and you may want to let your products speak for themselves, most people will admit to losing customers simply because a competitor did a better job of selling their business. Continue reading →

Pitching to win – do you have the right proposition?

- By Phil Shipperlee

It’s all very well honing how you’re going to pitch your proposition to prospective customers, but have you stopped to think whether you’re putting the cart before the horse? What about the proposition itself? Is it the best you can do with your resources and capabilities? Is it what the market and your customers actually want?

We all know how fast markets are changing and how customer expectations and buying behaviour has been transformed by the internet over the past decade. So how does your proposition reflect that? Do you need new products, do you need to re-brand, do you need to innovate or try to disrupt the market?

For any business to succeed, it needs firm foundations. The right market, right products and proposition, right routes to market and the right competitive strategy. But how do you know if you’ve got these in place? Here are a couple of tools you can use to help you find out before you’re put on the spot in a pitch situation. Continue reading →