The UK has faced numerous government changes of late, and with the country officially in recession, there’ll be plenty more to come. Recently, chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced his
With plenty of anxiety and uncertainty on people’s minds, clear communication provides team members with much needed clarity. What’s more, a leader’s communication with their team could heavily influence their motivation levels going forward.
If they’re on the same page as their people, working together in tough times becomes simpler. Not only does this increase their chances of meeting goals and targets, it also means that when problems arise, they’re easier to tackle and overcome.
Nonetheless, good leaders must go beyond communicating their agenda effectively, and ensure that they’re listening to what their teams have to say. This is particularly important, as people’s anxiety is often heightened when the country is in recession. It’s a good idea to increase the level of ‘listening time’ you spend with your team.
Transcending the lines of clear communication, leaders must demonstrate that what they’re saying is both honest and reliable. Those who already excel in their position will have worked on creating trusting relationships with their team. But during periods of uncertainty, stress and anxiety can make individuals difficult to galvanise.
For businesses to overcome this, amongst other challenges, leaders must demonstrate that they can be trusted and offer transparency when possible. People prefer to hear the honest situation rather than the optimistic one.
Resilience in business has been a popular topic for the past three years, and will continue to be a skill that’s required from leaders in the near future.
Whilst leaders should already possess a certain level of resilience, they must go further, and help the organisation to arm itself against upcoming challenges. Part of this is a leader's ability to anticipate and adapt to change.
When managers and leaders are able to embrace change, and make alterations if necessary, they place the company in a stronger position to overcome difficulties.
Another skill that business leaders are no stranger to is flexibility – but now they must be ready to talk the talk, and walk the walk. Good leaders should be flexible in numerous ways, whether that’s adapting to their employees’ or customers’ evolving needs, or to economic changes that they didn’t see coming.
After all, flexibility often feeds success. Not only does this translate well for employee balance and drive motivation amongst teams, it’s key to navigating certain changes, like consumer demands and the economy, whilst adapting to other global situations.
As time and resources undoubtedly become more precious for a lot of companies, effective delegation is really going to matter. Why? Well, by handing over tasks to others who are more skilled to carry them out, or who have more free time, leaders can make their teams more efficient, and further develop their skills, too.
Initially, delegating can be difficult to master. But in the long run, those who have been delegated to will become adept at these tasks, giving leaders the freedom to take on other responsibilities. Plus, it’s a great way to exercise and establish trust within a team, as leaders demonstrate that they can rely on others to support them.
During turbulent times, investing strategically in your workforce can make all the difference. BMS Progress has years of experience upskilling and training leaders and managers across a wealth of sectors.
In recent months, the UK government has demonstrated the negative ripple effect of poor communication within a team. Outlining their September mini-budget, the then prime minister
Without transparency, the mini-budget was doomed to fail. So, how can your managers and leaders avoid similar mistakes? Read on to find out.
Communicating effectively is a manager or leader's first step to building relationships and achieving goals. To maximise your team's output and reach targets, you should map plans out clearly so that every member appreciates the vision behind them. Everyone will then understand the direction, the destination and, most importantly, the steps to get there.
Providing visual guides is an excellent way to communicate your strategy. Slideshows and videos can be especially useful for engaging those that prefer to learn by seeing, and can help to cement information in their minds.
As you’re communicating these expectations and responsibilities, practise brevity: don’t use ten words when one will do, and only stick to the relevant details. Quick team calls with screen sharing and firing off a bulleted list are simple but effective ways to reduce confusion and save time.
What’s more, a good leader should understand how to communicate with each individual on their team. Some team members may require more information than others or prefer to read written instructions. Conversely, others may prefer face-to-face directions.
Communication is a two-way street. Actively listening to feedback is equally as important as getting your message across, and will often result in a positive change. After all, when it’s constructive, it’s a vital way to measure success – managers shouldn’t be afraid to change the course if they believe a better route is available.
That being said, you don’t want to make a habit of changing direction or you might lose trust – just as the Truss government’s u-turns did them no favours. Everyone, from fellow politicians to voters, called them out on their inconsistency. To keep your own team’s confidence, you should gather and take feedback on board before actioning new policies.
Our Level 5 Leadership Apprenticeship has been designed to impart the core skills and knowledge to propel managers further. Participants master vital leadership skills, such as building relationships and improving communication in management roles. By having more effective conversations, both leaders and their teams can achieve more.
Learn how BMS Progress has shaped careers, and the other courses we have available, by getting in touch with our team today.
Becoming a leader takes a blend of abilities and experience that propel an individual to the next stage of their career. From having the confidence to make challenging decisions, t
First, it’s crucial that your team members understand the difference between leadership and management, and the impact of both on a team. From here, they can then pinpoint leadership styles that resonate with your company’s vision, whilst at the same time understanding that variations in culture will play a vital role in this aspect of management. It’s also key that leaders have an in-depth understanding of workplace diversity and inclusion, and how to implement relevant practices accordingly.
Further aspects that are considered within people management include managing performance and coaching techniques. Both will ensure that teams are achieving their targets, but also getting the most out of their work too. Managers are responsible for figuring out an individual's strengths and weaknesses and leveraging them effectively, so getting this right will support various other managerial duties.
Managers need to be able to voice opinions to their team in a constructive and clear manner. Yet it’s also crucial that they’re able to receive feedback too. This goes hand in hand with the ability to withstand and broach challenging conversations with either customers or stakeholders; incorporating customer and stakeholder management skills allows your future leaders to finesse their communicative ability and bring it to a whole other level.
In addition, managers should have the capability to facilitate cross-team working and open up the lines of communication between silos on collaborative projects. When required, they should also be able to chair productive and efficient meetings.
There are various tools that support project management, and becoming adept at utilising them will help to strengthen managerial qualities in aspiring leaders as well as streamline your organisation’s processes. This will also help make sure teams stay on track, particularly when deadlines are involved. To progress to managers, team members also need to become adept at understanding the entire life cycle of a project, efficiently manage resources, and identify (and help resolve) any risks or issues that arise.
On top of this, managers should be intimately familiar with not just your organisation's governance and compliance procedures, but your finances too. They should know how to monitor budgets, ensuring cost control and efficiency across the board. Furthermore – and a key task at hand – leaders must be able to deliver value for money using only allocated funds.
Do you have any members of your team looking to progress to a managerial position? All the skills and knowledge highlighted in this article can be developed with our Level 5 Leadership Apprenticeship.
BMS Progress is committed to providing management, sales, and leadership professionals with the opportunity to access and capitalise on industry-leading qualifications. To learn more about this management development programme, or any of our other forms of training, speak to our team today.
We’ve written about the economic challenges before. Given all the other issues at present – the great resignation, the cost-of-living crisis, the pandemic aftermath – a recession w
You’ll already have heard about the skills shortage. The latest statistics from The Open University’s (OU) Business Barometer 2022 report revealed the severity, with 86% of large organisations, and 68% of small businesses, feeling it’s a challenge to find staff with the right skillset.
For 78% of companies, it’s resulting in lower output, profitability and growth. And for 72%, it’s leading to a rise in their employees’ workload, which is also affecting their wellbeing. What’s more, 28% have either had to turn down or not been able to bid for work, as they don’t have the staff in place.
Thankfully, many businesses have seen the light in terms of what they need to do – 52% of large organisations will increase their investment in training over the next 12 months.
Employers have learnt their lesson when it comes to training, specifically apprenticeships. According to the OU’s findings from their build the future apprenticeship survey, two-thirds of companies who utilised their apprenticeship levy during the pandemic say this sped up their recovery.
This survey also found that 77% said productivity rose in their business, and just shy of 75% saw boosted staff retention rates. Plus, half of the businesses not currently utilising their apprenticeship levy are planning to this year. And so, it’s apparent that apprenticeship qualifications have two bows to them: they can help to solve the current problem of the great resignation, and allow for a more successful post-pandemic recovery.
There’s a variety of apprenticeships out there, including those in sales, team leadership and management. With the rise of technology, obviously data skills will become more important – and this may require upskilling your existing staff so they can meet the business’ needs and move with the times. Having said this, soft skills are just as crucial as hard ones. Studies reveal that soft skills training can result in as much as a 256% return on investment!
We’d argue that soft skills are now more important than ever, especially for the younger generation. For those who weren’t in an office environment pre-pandemic, they might be lacking traditional skills they otherwise would have gained. Remote working may not have enabled them to develop skills such as verbal and vocal communication, collaboration, creativity and self-confidence – all of which are critical for forming strong relationships internally and externally.
Times are challenging right now, but the last thing you should do is take your eye off the development of your people. Whilst the pandemic had a major impact, the reason so many businesses got through it was because their teams were agile and resilient. Don’t rest on your laurels though. Make sure you continue to upskill and reskill your people, so they – and your business – can survive whatever lies ahead. Your people really are your biggest asset.
If you’re looking for a provider of apprenticeships, or training, don’t look any further than BMS Progress. We tailor our courses to align with your business’, and the individual’s, needs. You can equip your team with the right skills, and successfully manage what the future holds.
I’m sure you’ll have heard all about the great resignation. Recent statistics show that for the first time ever, the number of vacancies actually outweigh the number of unemployed
It’s a very uncertain market, so in this piece, I look at what leaders can do to tackle these challenges, specifically for sales and sales leadership roles.
Training isn’t just an investment in your people now; it’s an investment in retaining your people, too. It’s so crucial to have a sales team in place who have the right set of skills, especially when the market’s tough. Whilst the last couple of years have promoted a short-distance planning phase, don’t forget the longer term. You need to have the right shape, size and structure for your sales team. Carry out long-distance planning too, regardless of how uncertain things may be.
A recent Westminster hall debate discussed the importance of B2B selling. It’s critical to our economy, supporting 10 million jobs and at a value of £1.7 trillion. I’m certainly a strong advocate for B2B selling, but there’s a significant need for upskilling and training. This leads me to my next piece of guidance.
Apprenticeships weren’t traditionally seen as an effective way of training workers in sales roles. But the last few years have really flipped this view on its head. Now, people realise the appeal and value of a formal, recognised qualification, particularly in sales.
Using this levy is a good idea, though you need to have a plan in place. Ideally, the training will be customised, and much more aligned with your business and the individual’s requirements. I suggest having a development plan – and this goes for wherever your employees are located.
Generally, I believe it’s better to onboard new hires in person, and then develop them remotely. Once they’re familiar with the company, it’s okay to let their hand loose with training. That being said, some would argue that you can recruit and bring people up to speed 100% remotely – and there’s no right or wrong answer.
There are businesses that might agree with me, but with hybrid working so popular, they think it’s easier to hire those with experience than risk having to train and develop. However, people need to remember ‘will over skill’. Employees should align with your values – this is better than experience in my opinion. Otherwise, they won’t be a culture fit, and you likely won’t retain them, which isn’t ideal in the current climate.
We’re experiencing unusual times, but I strongly believe that long-term investment in your employees is the way forward, especially through bespoke training and apprenticeships.
This is something we offer at BMS Progress. We make sure our qualifications meet the business’ and the individual’s needs, so they get the most out of it. If you’d like to find out more about what we could do for you, speak to our friendly team today.
Anxiety and depression impact productivity, reducing cognitive performance 35% of the time. This is a statistic we feel needs to be more widely known this mental health awareness w
With KPIs to hit and a competitive team environment, working in sales can be stressful at times. Once the month is over, salespeople have to start again to meet their goals, which can lead them to suffer burnout and other mental patterns of self-doubt.
Managers need to be able to recognise the signs of team members struggling emotionally. This can be difficult, particularly when employees aren’t very open. But don’t be afraid to ask someone if they’re okay; present a safe space where they feel like they can talk.
I can’t emphasise enough the importance of encompassing everyone when it comes to supporting wellbeing. There’s a real age range on our apprenticeship schemes – some have been BDMs for 20 years and have kids at home, and an apprenticeship can be a real juggling act. There’s a generational gap when it comes to being open, so be an advocate for it.
I think it’s key to not be afraid to talk to people, yet so many won’t go to their manager about things that could improve their wellbeing. For this, I recommend creating an environment where employees know they’ll be listened to. Make it clear that they can share what contributes to them being at peak performance, and what will boost their development.
Likewise, managers shouldn’t feel scared to be open about their own vulnerabilities. Senior staff can often be seen as superheroes, but many struggle with imposter syndrome just like salespeople, or have experienced their own career difficulties like redundancy. By having those at the top open up, this will help to break down barriers and encourage team members to do the same. They can learn from your experiences and discover their own coping mechanisms in the process.
If you’re not having much success with opening up verbally, you or any team members can try writing down thoughts or feelings. It’s very cathartic, and something I’ve found really beneficial myself.
I think we’ve heard all there is to know about mindsets, so I’ll talk briefly about three different ones I think you should know about. A ‘growth mindset’ is about challenging yourself and listening to others. This requires a lot of motivation and openness – after all, your colleagues might have a different approach. When it comes to wellbeing and personal development, you need to understand what kind of person you are and what works best for you.
A ‘sales mindset’ is more about pushing yourself whilst being open to learning – acknowledging that, to be successful, you need to be in a good place within yourself. People used to wear stress as a badge and were seen as the best salespeople, but now it’s those who can adapt and grow. They listen to the customer’s preferences and adjust accordingly.
There’s also the idea of a ‘positive mindset’ – however, I don’t see this as the best route. It implies you must always be optimistic. But there will be days where things didn’t go to plan. When this happens, you should challenge yourself around the reasons why it didn’t, and work from there.
If you’re in charge of a sales team, don’t wait until an employee comes to you with an issue or the company asks you to improve staff mental health. Instead, look into it of your own accord.
Put basic practices in place – this includes a bedtime routine (e.g. reading or meditating before going to sleep) and a healthy breakfast.
Make time for hobbies – don’t let work dominate life. Find hobbies you generally enjoy and be willing to try different things to see what suits you.
"Eat the frog" – this is something our apprentices find really helpful. It uses the metaphor of having a frog that you need to eat (aka a difficult task you need to do) that day, and getting it out the way first rather than delaying it. Some of our apprentices now have images of frogs in their workspace!
Pomodoro technique – this is where you set a timer for breaks. For instance, you could have 25 minutes for focused work, then 5 minutes for a break.
Listen to people around you – whether it’s loved ones or people at work, if someone says something to you about your mental health, listen to what they’re saying. From there, you can then take action.
If you’d like to know more about how wellbeing forms part of our coaching or how we support our apprentices, speak to us today.
Just like holding up a mirror in a sales meeting, buyers reflect whatever confidence the salesperson shows them. If the salesperson demonstrates good confidence, buyers will reflec
Confidence when selling ultimately comes from three different areas: confidence in the individual, confidence in the company and confidence in how you can help. All three areas need to be strong in order to create a confident and compelling sales message. In this blog, we share three ways to build these areas of confidence amongst your sales team.
Return on investment is crucial to consider before purchasing sales training. And because of this, e-learning is taking the sales training world by storm. Used as part of a blended approach it is a sure-fire way to effectively train your team, and ensure the learning sticks. In this blog, we share 5 ways that using a blended approach (classroom and e-learning combined), will boost team performance, and how you can use it to heighten your team’s productivity.
The first step is to develop confidence in each individual. Your team members need to have complete certainty in their self-worth, their authority, their presence and their ability to deal with any situation when it comes up. This is not something that can happen overnight and is completely unique to every individual, therefore ongoing development and coaching support is imperative.
Each of your team members should have a personal development plan unique to themselves. When creating their plan, ask them about their current level of confidence. Are they assertive enough? Are they over-confident? Help them, set measurable goals to specifically focus on developing their confidence, status, authority and expert power.
Once they have their goals, take time to shadow and coach them. Help them reach their goals by sharing with them useful resources, advice and assertiveness tips. Invest in their ongoing development through skills training. Finally, once they have developed their confidence, ask them to share their success and lessons learnt at a team meeting. This empowers them by helping others and solidifies their learning and success.
The second step is to enhance your team’s confidence in the company. If your sales team has even the slightest doubt or negative opinion about the company they work for then this will seep through and blacken even the most polished sales pitch. Just like your prospect is a mirror of your salespeople; your team is a mirror of you. It is your responsibility to filter the information your team hears and deliver confident, positive messages about the company.
To enhance their confidence, help your team to better understand the company, the products and the different departments. Get them to conduct a SWOT analysis against competitors to really solidify the USP that you hold. Organise opportunities for your team to meet other departments in your company, especially with those where there may be friction. And make it your mission to get them talking positively about the company and how great it is to work there.
The third step is to create confidence in how you can help your customer. Your team need to be overflowing with examples of how you have helped other companies in similar industries. Create a culture of sharing successes where every big win is publicised throughout the team. Be creative and use technology such as WhatsApp groups to quickly share success stories, or Vimeo to upload case studies and testimonials that your team can quickly access when out on the road.
In your next team meeting ask each individual to come along with their biggest success story, laid out in this simple format: challenge, solution, result. Ask each individual to prepare to share their success story with others. Save these concise summaries into a team folder that you can easily access to find proof sources when pitching to customers.
What was the problem before you got involved? “Recently we worked with ABC co. whose sales team were hitting on average 80% of target"
How did you solve it? “We put into place a 13-week training and coaching solution that focused specifically on prioritising revenue generating activities”
What was the measurable result of this? “In just 13 weeks we saw an increase in the average output against target to over 105%, increasing revenues in the company by £500,000”
Clear, quantifiable examples will help your team create confidence in their offer and demonstrate value to their prospect. The more of these examples they have prepared and are ready to use, the more confidence they will have in how they can help.
To summarise, in order to create confidence, your team need to build certainty around three key areas. Firstly, confidence in themselves. Secondly, confidence around the company they represent. And finally, confidence in how they can help. Use long-term personal development programmes to support them with this, share success stories and keep developing that contagious confidence that will reflect in your buyer’s decision to say, “Yes”.
Louise arrives in the carpark two minutes before her sales meeting, hurries to the door and presses the intercom. “Hi, it’s Louise to see…. (long pause as she checks her diary) Dan
A huge challenge as a manager is that most salespeople are over-confident in their ability to “wing it”. Ask them what preparation they do before a sales meeting and they list a caffeine fix and a quick ‘google’ of the company before they go in. When asked why they don’t prepare, they blame their lack of time, or they say, “I don’t need to prepare”. However, regardless of the experience they have, this fact will always remain true:
The ten minutes that it takes to prepare thoroughly for a high-value meeting can be worth tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Here are four questions you can use when coaching your sales team before you go into a meeting to see how well they have prepared. Then, use the examples to help them prepare more effectively for the highest chance of success.
A link is something that your salesperson has in common with their customer. Before your salesperson meets their customer, encourage them to research to find people, clients, places, hobbies or things that they have in common. Once they find a link, they should be curious and ask their customer questions to spark a connection.
For example: Louise finds out, through LinkedIn, that Dan went to the same university as her. During the walk to the meeting room, Louise plans to ask Dan, “Did you go to uni in Sheffield?” to open up a conversation about their university days.
Starting the meeting with “tell me about your business” is a cop-out in a professional sales meeting. Although better than, “let me tell you about my business” (which just turns the conversation into a sales pitch), it gives the impression the salesperson knows nothing about the person with whom they are meeting.
In order to have credibility and professionalism, encourage your team to prepare their opening. The customer wants to quickly know why the salesperson is there and what they can do to help. A good opening has these three parts:
Why did you decide to meet? What is the reason you are there?
What do you plan to do in the meeting? What are the objectives? How can you help them?
What are their objectives for the meeting?
Louise writes the following sentences in her notebook before she leaves the office.
“Thanks, Dan, for meeting with me today.
The reason I am here is that I spoke with you last week on the phone about how you are looking to up-skill the new recruits in your sales team.
Today, my main objective is to fully understand where the gaps are in their sales skills so I can put together a programme to get them up to speed and on target as quickly as possible. I’d also like to discuss any further opportunities in europe where I may be able to help.
What specifically are your objectives for the meeting today?”
This last question encourages the customer to say exactly how the salesperson can help them, and normally opens up a discussion about their biggest pain points.
So many times, salespeople come out of sales meetings and say, “Oh! I forgot to ask that!” avoid the risk of leaving with mediocre information by encouraging your team to write key questions to ask their customer.
Louise writes down key questions to ask Dan:
What are the biggest gaps in your team’s sales skills? What impact is this having on the business? What return on investment are you looking for? What would be the cost of not training these new recruits? You have offices around europe: are there opportunities elsewhere? Who are the network of decision makers I should be speaking to?What next steps will you get them to commit to?
Finally, ask your salesperson to prepare the next steps they would like the customer to take at the end of the meeting. This ensures they stay in control of the sales process and move opportunities quickly through the pipeline.
Louise writes down the next steps she wants the customer to commit to:
Get a date and time in the diary to review the proposal (with all decision makers) get a date and time pencilled in the diary for the training needs analysis. Ask Dan to subscribe to the company mailing list. Invite Dan to attend the next networking event Louise is going to.
In summary, encouraging your team to do ten minutes of preparation before they go in to a sales meeting can be the difference between tens, if not thousands of pounds. Remind them that making notes and bringing them in to the meeting does not make them look like an amateur. It demonstrates that they are a professional, and gives them the greatest chance of a successful outcome.
There is an age-old question when it comes to sales training: how do we ensure that salespeople fully apply their new skills and knowledge, after they have left the training room?
In this blog, we share 5 ways that using a blended approach (classroom and e-learning combined), will boost team performance, and how you can use it to heighten your team’s productivity.
One of the key downfalls of purely classroom led training is how quickly learners forget the information they are given. Ebbinghaus’ ‘forgetting curve’ suggests that on average, 50% of what people learn is forgotten within days of leaving the classroom. This is because micro-learning, where a lot of information is crammed in at one time, can lead to cognitive overload and memory loss.
E-learning, however, is broken down into short, manageable chunks which can be drip fed over a long period of time. Rolled out after classroom training, e-learning recaps the core concepts and embeds the learning.
For example, in the classroom, a salesperson could be trained on how to close a deal. Over the course of the next 6 weeks, through e-learning, they are drip fed recaps on the key theories, as well as tasks or challenges to complete before the next chunk of training.
This allows the salesperson to immediately put ideas into action, embedding their learning, and allowing for long-term increased performance.
Over the last 10 years, the number of remote workers has increased by 115%, according to a new report from global workplace analytics and flexjobs. More and more employees are now managed virtually, with teams spread across not just countries, but continents. This shows the ever-increasing need for training that can be quickly accessed from anywhere, at any time.
E-learning is easily accessible over the internet on multiple devices in any location, giving team members instant access to training.
This means that anyone in the sales team, whether they are in France or Finland, can have instant access to a wealth of resources to help them find answers and develop their sales skills.
An important step in establishing return on investment is to ensure every participant is fully engaged in the learning process from the start.
Recent reports suggest that blended learning (using a mix of classroom based learning, interactive e-learning and ‘gamification’ of learning) is the best way to create engagement and boost the brain’s memory power.
Salespeople tend to be high energy, interactive individuals, so a blended approach to learning suits them. They enjoy face-to-face training and leave the classroom inspired and motivated to succeed.
Then, using various types of multi-media such as images, audio, animations, videos, games, and interactive questioning, e-learning provides a continued, hands-on programme that allows each team member to put their learning into action and get results.
Traditional training courses often rely on hard-copy manuals which are created, printed and distributed to team members. After the training course, the manual is often the participant’s only source of reference. Soon the manual becomes out of date, or worse; lost, thrown away or never looked at again.
Using a bundled solution, e-learning keeps participants updated with new information. As e-learning is stored on a central server, any changes are instantly accessible to the whole team. If the team needs a quick refresher on a certain module, the latest up-to-date information is easily accessible, at the click of a button.
A bundled solution, compared to solely face-to-face training, has huge cost and time saving implications for organisations. This is because an online programme can reach a large-scale audience without the hefty price tag of continued classroom based training, excess travel time, expenses and time away from the office.
And it’s not just savings that e-learning brings. Research has shown that companies who provide e-learning opportunities actually generate more revenue; on average around 26% more revenue per employee than those who select more traditional methods.
In summary, using a bundled solution is the best way to ensure a solid return when investing in sales training. Starting the journey with inspiring classroom based training, then re-enforcing key concepts with long term, bite sized e-learning, the bundled approach ensures that sales teams are motivated to learn, and the learning is embedded into their daily routines. By using this process, a bundled solution ensures teams have all the resources they need to boost their performance… and to keep it there.