How six strangers became a team

Teamwork works!

By David Tovey

Cowes_weekI was fortunate to be able to spend five days last year sailing on the Solent during Cowes week.

During the week, as we sailed during the day and at night, it reminded me yet again about how much can be learned about teamwork and leadership on board a small sailing boat – and how similar sailing is to running a business team.

The Solent during Cowes week is an extremely busy stretch of water.  Hundreds of racing yachts and leisure craft come together for seven days of racing and nautical fun. It’s a fun environment that needs serious attention to the safety of your own boat and that of others. The sea can be a very dangerous place to be if a boat isn’t skippered and crewed well.

The crew I was part of on my most recent nautical challenge had never met before. It consisted of a South African, an Italian, a German and three Brits. A crew of six that had come together to achieve one main objective – to get a 42ft sailing boat to operate safely in one of the busiest stretches of water. (Continue Reading…)

Service with a smile!

Service excellence is a key differentiator 

By David Tovey

customer serviceAt 7am on a cold, rainy day in London a couple of weeks ago I called in at my favourite coffee shop – Pret A Manger near Marble Arch. My day had started at 04.30am – the drive into town had been long and miserable, I was feeling a bit ‘average’ to say the least.

That all changed within moments. The buzz and genuine smile from the counter staff was uplifting and made me feel that I wanted to smile back and make sure my “thank you” was equally bright and genuine. Of course I really appreciate their product too – high quality fresh produce made on the premises; but it’s their warm welcome that helped to kick off my day feeling good.

I got the same warm feeling when I had an early flight out of Heathrow recently. Checking in at 04.30am I headed for what I expected to be the usual service with a frown from a ‘chain’ coffee vendor but instead I found the ‘Leon Fair Trade and Organic Coffee’ outlet at terminal two. A total delight to be served fresh food with another genuine smile and warm welcome. (Continue Reading…)

Five reasons you won’t win business

What to do when buyers are not saying ‘yes’

By David Tovey

Success_FailureThe famous Zig Ziglar once wrote that there are five obstacles to gaining a sale, no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.

Many organisations at that time went about developing training courses to overcome ‘objections’ under each of the obstacles headings as they sought to find short cuts to closing a deal. In my own sales career I was even provided with an encapsulated A4 sheet of ‘smart’ responses to reel out anytime a customers indicated they had no need, no money, no hurry, no desire or no trust. Each time I look at that sheet I’m embarrassed by how manipulative and sometimes less than truthful some of the techniques were.

The five reasons you won’t win business still apply, how you deal with them in the 21st Century needs to be different.

A 21st Century response required

In the 21st Century when a seller pushes a product or service or uses any sales technique then todays buyers automatic response is to resist. Today’s buyer is just too sophisticated and aware to be taken in by persuasive sales or marketing techniques. (Continue Reading…)

Cross Selling

The toughest nut to crack?

By David Tovey


I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked if I could help ‘fix’ a firms cross-selling problems. Most firms have loyal clients buying services from competitors that they themselves could provide and senior managers often see this as lucrative business they should chase.

Many firm instigate cross-selling initiatives, encouraging their people to ‘get out there and refer your colleagues’ or ‘get out there and sell’ – only to find that nothing much changes.

 Grasp the nettle

In fact most cross selling initiatives fail because firms fail to grasp the nettle of business development, cultural and leadership changes that are needed to significantly affect fee income.

The worst kept secret is that every professional advisory firm is trying to win more business. Clients know partners and managers have business development responsibilities. If fee earners don’t want to be seen as mere pedlars of professional services the first thing they need to ensure is that the client’s best interests are at the heart of any cross-selling activity. (Continue Reading…)

Kill the initiative – live the philosophy

Avoiding initiative fatigue

By David Tovey

Great_workI’m really fortunate. I get to work with some great people in great organisations. I frequently get to facilitate off site strategy meetings with senior managers at fabulous locations in the UK and internationally.

Strategic planning meetings are really important. They give the senior team time away from the business to focus on the future away from the pressures and detail of day to day issues. As we consultants are fond of saying, “it gives senior managers and business owners time to work on the business instead of in the business”.

As the economy strengthens there is inevitably more competition for customers, clients and employees across all sectors. It’s usually not long before the senior team is talking about the need to be a more customer focused business and the need to attract and retain the best people.

There is undoubtedly a connection between recruiting and retaining great people and business success. I’m firmly in the people first, customer’s second camp. Look after your people and they will look after your business and your customers. (Continue Reading…)

Magic coaching questions for sales leaders

Achieving the outcomes you want depends on the questions you ask

Sales_coachI’ve been helping sales leaders to coach their teams to better performance for over 25 years and sales coaching has often been seen as an art rather than a science by the sales managers, directors and partners I have worked with.

‘It’s about gut instinct’ a senior director in a commercial property firms told me recently ‘I just know what they need to put right to start delivering on target – I’ve been there”

Certainly neuroscience wouldn’t agree with those comments – but how do you work with the science and improve how you coach for better sales performance?

The power of questions

All top salespeople and rainmakers understand that asking the right questions is far more powerful than ‘pitching’ a solution when it comes to building a customers motivation to buy. They will know the ‘magic’ questions to ask that will build credibility, they will know what questions to ask to gain real insight to their clients world. (Continue Reading…)

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