In Events, Opinion, Sales, Startup Management, Training

Last year when I was reviewing what I had done to continue to build my professional skills, I realised it was a long time since I had done anything on sales.

Sales is an important part of my job.  I sell my own work for Salient Point, and I sell for the companies I work for.  I sell the companies to investors and funders, and products to customers.  I support others in selling too –with preparation, debrief and sales process.

A lot of the sales I work on are unproven products from unknown newcomer companies so I hear a lot of “No” in amongst the wins, and it’s important I know when these are because I didn’t do the right things to make the sale and when it’s just because I don’t have the product and target market right yet.

I’ve known Matthew Quinn, founder of Edinburgh based Future Sales Factory, for a number of years now.  He’s helped me out in the past, using his network to identify buyers in a market I didn’t know, and offering advice.  He’s built his business around a flagship course “Real Sales Skills” which has a great reputation, so I booked on to the Edinburgh course in February.  I wanted to brush up my sales skills, and give my sales confidence a bit of a boost…

The whole course was excellent.  Matthew is a compelling speaker and doesn’t lean on PowerPoint as so many trainers do (and I have myself on occasion).  The course focuses on having successful sales meetings – not on management, process or admin.  It is straightforward, jargon free, and accessible to anyone whether sales is their primary role or not.  Most importantly it is NOT about tricks, ploys or deception.  It offers no magic one liners, silver bullets or guaranteed cures.  Instead it illuminates the sales process, and gives simple practical advice on how to sell effectively.

I’ve had a fair bit of sales training over the years.  In my big-consultancy days I went on week-long courses such as “Solution Selling to Existing Clients” and “Developing New Business”, but most significantly I did the MBA Sales module at Babson College when I was there on the Saltire Fellowship.

Although many of the concepts in Real Sales Skills were familiar these were so well presented that they made for an excellent refresher.  More importantly, some of Future Sales Factory’s own content was new to me, and is really useful – there was some stuff in the course about buying motivations has changed the way I think about aspects of sales (and marketing too) and I think is profoundly useful.

I don’t hesitate to recommend this course to ANYONE who spends time in front of customers in a role even remotely connected to sales – I think that all the attendees got a lot out of it, from seasoned sales-warriors to relative newbies.

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