Expert Sales Advice: What To Do When The Market Begins To Pick Up Again


In this episode of our ‘Expert Sales Advice’ series, we ask the question ‘what should I be doing when the market begins to pick up again?’. Find out the answer in this video featuring our Managing Director, Owen Richards, and and sister company Forrest Marketing Group’s Managing Director, Richard Forrest.





Expert Sales Advice: The Importance Of Keeping Sales Going During This Time


In this episode of our ‘Expert Sales Advice’ series, we ask the question ‘how important is it to keep sales going during this time?’. Find out the answer in this video featuring our Managing Director, Owen Richards, and and sister company Forrest Marketing Group’s Managing Director, Richard Forrest.







The importance of health and wellbeing in a sales team

A car cannot be expected to run on the wrong fuel, drive endless miles without rest, never have an MOT and expect it to keep performing to the best of its ability – our bodies and minds are exactly the same. The unhealthy feelings of pressure, anxiety and stress wear us down and can cause us to become demotivated. Simply put – when we’re not feeling our best, we don’t perform at our best, and this is heightened during times of difficulty and uncertainty.

For sales professionals, while they may be known on the front line for their big personalities, confidence and ambition, more often than not there are underlying challenges that they face on a daily basis that are impacting their health and wellbeing.

What makes the challenges of sales professionals unique?

There are many of challenging jobs in the world – doctors, healthcare professionals, teachers, lawyers, the forces, the list goes on… but there’s something unique about the role of a sales professional. Outside of the careers of those saving lives, the sheer quantity of challenges that sales professionals are up against everyday is second to none.

  • High expectations: Sales professionals are no stranger to targets. Not only does this impact their performance and therefore financial reward (commission), but also their company’s bottom line. There’s no doubt in that they’re expected to be consistent in bringing in X amount of revenue every quarter. As the saying goes, you’re only ever as good as your last month or quarter.
  • Lack of routine: For a lot of sales professionals, in order to meet expectations, the 9-5, Monday to Friday routine is non-existent. Acting as a brand ambassador, being available for events and networking opportunities and being flexible to prospects doesn’t always allow for ‘office hours’.
  • Managing potential rejection: It’s inevitable. Even the greatest sales leaders experience knockdowns and knockbacks from prospects who may not be ready to purchase just yet, or the product/service simply isn’t right for them.
  • Finding qualified leads: To avoid the possibility of rejection and potentially wasted time, it’s important to ensure that leads are qualified within the sales team (sales qualified leads – SQLs) or marketing team (marketing qualified leads – MQLs). But finding these takes time and effort so it’s a careful balancing act of spending time on this vs acting speaking to prospects.
  • Long sales cycle: It’s unusual for things to ‘just happen’ overnight. Building relationships and trust as well as the case for why the client should be interested  takes time, consistency and commitment. Remaining empathic and patient when under pressure is a tricky skill to master.
  • Unpredictable markets: It’s difficult to predict when a market is going to be impacted, whether that’s from an economic downturn or a global pandemic like COVID-19 (Coronavirus). While this drives uncertainty through the supply chain, it’s important for sales professionals to remain calm and support prospects through what is likely to be an even longer than usual sales cycle.
  • Competitors: Standing apart from competition is a challenge for many sales professionals, especially when they’re competing against low cost providers. Having a strong relationship to make a ‘needs’ based sale rather than a ‘costs’ based sale is important here.
  • Maintaining a relationship with marketing: Ultimately working towards the same goal, it’s vital to set aside time to work with the marketing department to maximise opportunities and make sure that you’re singing from the same hymn book.
  • Building a personal brand: We’ve reached 2020 and there’s now more pressure than ever to be active and building your personal brand and network on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. This is key to becoming a trusted advisor.

Why is this important for businesses?

In the workplace, health and wellbeing allows for sustainability of top-level performance. It’s important for sales professionals to keep motivated and believe in themselves. At the end of the day, your sales team generate revenue, and without revenue, there is no business. Should businesses be effectively making a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of their sales team, they’re likely to see a decrease in absenteeism and costs, as well as an increase in motivation, performance and employee retention.

As an increasing number of sales professionals are beginning to prioritise their health and wellbeing, there’s no better time for businesses to take a step back and review wellbeing policies. When looking for their next employer, will sales professionals be on the look-out for organisational cultures that champion employee health and wellbeing? We think so!

How can you help?

Conversation: In an office environment you would usually see visual cues or hear audio cues of people seeming unhappy or a bit low, and that might come across in the work that they’re doing and the sales conversations they’re having. Outside of the usual office environment, if sales professionals are working from home, you still have a number of cues  and it’s just as important to still be looking for them. If you think someone’s not looking too good, just ask. If your team communicates together socially, then they will start to pick up on this  as well. If you don’t have that conversation, then it’s more difficult to tell if people are struggling.

Normalisation: Good health and wellbeing is proactive. Leaders should be starting the conversation and driving it through the organisation to create a culture where talking about physical and mental wellbeing, how you feel and what’s going on in your mind is normal.

Trust: Management should lead by example and build trust by opening up about how they’re feeling and what they’re doing to keep their body and mind healthy. A lot of people will be having good days, but there will also be a lot of people who are having down days too. Be honest about how and why this is impacting your motivation. Showing vulnerability as a leader and being honest with your sales team will allow them to open up.

Initiatives: Support conversation, normalisation and trust by implementing initiatives to keep sales teams engaged and motivated. Help sales professionals build a routine whereby they’re able to get away and switch off. Do a team Joe Wicks workout or yoga class. Bring out the natural competitiveness of your sales team with a step or running challenge. Organise access to a 24/7 mental health support line. You would even go so far as to remove sales targets which are seen as unrealistic for the greater good of your sales team.

Tools to succeed: Drill back down to the basics and review whether your sales team have all of the tools that they truly need to succeed and hit their targets – regular training and skill sharing activities, a strong sales process, effective scripts, clear KPI’s and a way of repeatedly filling their pipeline with qualified leads. If lead generation is something that your team don’t have time for, we recommend outsourcing. Find out more about outsourcing lead generation with Air Marketing here. For marketing qualified leads (MQLs) we recommend our sister company, demand generation experts – Roots to Market.

Sales leaders and management – if you’re not investing in your sales team’s health and wellbeing, you’re missing an opportunity. With so many knockdowns and knock backs in the sales environment, being supported emotionally, physically and being resilient is incredibly important. It’s down to you to nurture this. Don’t just drive your team on numbers and targets but support them to be in the best shape possible so they can perform at their best for you.

If you’d like to hear more about how we at Air Marketing prioritise a culture of health and wellbeing for our sales team, get in touch today or call us on 0345 241 3038.

The Leaders Council Podcast

Owen Richards from Air Marketing Group appears in Leaders Council podcast alongside Geoff Hurst.

The Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is currently in the process of talking to leadership figures from across the nation in an attempt to understand this universal trait and what it means in Britain and Northern Ireland today.

Our Managing Director, Owen Richards, was invited onto an episode of the podcast, which also included an interview with Geoff Hurst. Host Matthew O’Neill asked both guests a series of questions about leadership and the role it has played in their careers to date.

Matthew O’Neill commented, ‘Hosting a show like this, where you speak to genuine leaders who have been there and done it, either on a national stage or within a crucial industry sector, is an absolute honour.’

Lord Blunkett, chairman of The Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland said, ‘I think the most informative element of each episode is the first part, where Matthew O’Neill is able to sit down with someone who really gets how their industry works and knows how to make their organisation tick. Someone who’s there day in day out working hard and inspiring others. That’s what leadership is all about.’

Listen to the full podcast below.




What to consider when looking to outsource your marketing for the first time

This is an interesting question that came up recently whilst we were speaking with a prospect. Having never worked with a marketing agency before, it’s understandable that you don’t know, what you don’t know. If you’ve only ever had internal marketing resource before it can be difficult to know how that translates into an agency relationship, and how to outsource your marketing effectively? If you are not a marketeer yourself but you are responsible for marketing (we’re thinking of some roles such as MD’s, Commercial Directors, Sales Directors, Revenue Directors) being able to truly test and measure any marketing resource can become more challenging. Questions that have come up in these conversations before having been the likes of: 

What makes you the right agency?

How will it work having an agency working with our internal marketing team? 

What should my internal team work on, and what should I outsource?  

Having discussed this in detail with prospects on many different occasions, we thought it would be really helpful to share this with you all. Now for us, sales and marketing are hand-in-hand functions. Ultimately, they are the revenue engine for your business and therefore they have to work together, not separately, for optimal effectiveness. For this reason, we find it is important to begin with your business aspirations and direction. 

Do you know your direction? 

The level of detail in answer to this question varies hugely amongst different businesses. The automatic response for many is, growth. A direction, but for us not a very clear one. What we’re looking to understand from your direction is: 

  • What is your overall business looking to achieve? An increase in 20% revenue on last year? An increase in 30% profits on last year? Sustained 10% yearonyear growth? These are all examples, but by providing us something much more tangible to understand your level of business growth, gives us important insight into the mindset of your business.
  • Next up is sales. What are your sales team looking to achieve? What are their targets and how is this split up? What percentage is from retaining revenue, new business and customer upsell/cross sell strategies? This is more important information for a marketer. The sales targets will link back to that overall business target, and in the same way your marketing targets and activity should support your sales targets. If we know that more than half of your targets are focused on client upsell/cross sell strategies, then we need to work with your sales team to target this market. In that example, we may focus in on CRM focused email marketing, providing Account Managers with the sales collateral required to help upsell/cross sell conversations, and look at web traffic behaviour utilising practices such as re-marketing to your current customer base.
  • This all then comes down to understanding your direction with your marketing. As mentioned above, your marketing targets and activity should clearly align to sales, thus the overall business. But you need to clearly set out what marketing should be working towards. How many new business leads do your sales team needSo, what are the channels to be utilised to obtain these leads? Can you clearly see a conversion rate from previous activity of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to SQLs (sales qualified leads) to then proposal and purchase? If so, what is that typical conversion rate? This will inform us of how many MQLs are needed to feed your sales team. If past data tells you that traffic to your website converts at x% depending on the channel, how much more traffic do you need to attract to the website to meet the targets your sales team have? If you have personas for your target audience and you know that one is lower value but required continually to help run rate and one is high value but longer term pipeline – you need to create unique strategies to be reaching both of these concurrently to maximise effect. 

We’d recommend being prepared with understanding your direction before detailed conversations with an agency, as this will help the agency to really understand what you need from them. You can then move on to understanding ways of working with agencies.  

Ways of working with agencies  

Every agency will be slightly different when it comes to this, but we’re going to give you the example from us at Roots to Market 

We have clients who utilise us typically in 3 different capacities: 

  1. They look to us to create their marketing strategy and then to deliver it for them. This maybe the case if they have no marketers in-house and don’t wish to hire in-house, or if they have junior marketers who would really benefit from the support of an agency to work alongside.
  2. They already have a marketing strategy defined by their Marketing Director or Commercial Director and they are looking for an outsourced team to deliver against it as they don’t have any other marketers in-house and don’t wish to hire in-house.
  3. They have an internal marketing team who have defined and are delivering against the marketing strategy, but they have an element of the activity that they don’t have resource for or don’t have the specific skills in-house to execute themselves. In these cases, we slot into their marketing team to deliver an aspect of their marketing alongside the rest of the team. 

Each of these examples will pull on different members of our team and their skill sets and will require different approaches. But from our experience we’ve found it vital to be as flexible as possible and cater for different client needs.  

We’d recommend exploring what an agency can offer you in terms of ways of working from the outset to ensure that it will work with your current business set up and what you had in mind.   

A final thing to then consider is… 

Understanding how to measure the success of the relationship  

Marketing is an investment after all, so although you may not get to the numbers within this conversation being able to understand the ‘how’ of the measurement is required.  

We often find that within this part of the conversation we discuss KPI’s/targets that can be set before activity begins between us and the client, reporting methods and frequency, examples of other successes, ‘what good looks like’, how detailed and integrated the reporting can be, etc.  

It may take time to agree and sign off on all this detail to your relationship but starting the conversation so that both parties understand where each other are coming from allows you to go away and further build on this.  

We’d recommend being honest and transparent from the beginning on this measurement of success. It can really damage a relationship, if goal posts are drastically moved during activity because they were simply incorrect from the outset. There will be aspects of marketing which are still more difficult to measure such as offline advertising, but this should be discussed before the activity begins to ensure everyone is on the same page.  

Get in touch 

We hope that if you’re wondering what to consider when looking to outsource your marketing for the first time, then this has been helpful.  

At Roots to Market, we offer tailored, blended services of inbound and direct marketing, automation and complete tactical campaigns, dependent on clients’ needs. If you’d like to talk more about how we can help you with your outsourced marketing activity, get in touch today on 01392 796702. You can also read more about our results here.

Turning Virtual – How to change your sales process from face to face to virtual meetings?

Let’s face it, most businesses are now operating in a national, if not global, arena. This often means that part, or in some cases all, of the sales process is already carried out via virtual meetings rather than face to face. There are so many reasons why businesses do this including practicality and cost. For some business models, such as those selling SaaS products, keeping all communication virtual works effectively and seamlessly. There is no product to physically see, all benefits can be communicated virtually and typically your investment is likely to be a monthly subscription, so far less risky than other models.  

But what if your business is providing a service, like us. We find it very effective to utilise virtual meetings at the beginning of the sales process, but as our conversations deepen, we find that prospects often look for a face to face meeting and a visit to our offices to put their mind at ease around our setup. Usually this works very well for us, as we are always happy to show people around our office, introduce them to members of our team, have lunch with them and discuss everything face to face.  

Until now.  

Having transferred our sales process to only utilise virtual meetings, because face to face meetings are not an option at present, we wanted to share this experience with you alongside some of our tips, to help you along the way.  

Manage and prepare  

Just because the call is virtual not face to face, doesn’t mean you should skip the preparation. If anything, preparation becomes even more important.  

Ensure the meeting is in the diary with the correct virtual meeting information. Test this if you are at all unsure or if you’re using a new piece of software. There’s nothing worse than falling at the first hurdle and not being able to connect together.  

Then think about background noise and background appearance. Important both in the office and when working at home. You need to be able to have a clear conversation without being distracted by extremely loud noise or something peculiar lurking in the background. This can’t always be avoided – if you’re currently isolated at home with your family people understand a little background noise, but if you can prepare to be furthest possible away from this or pre-warn at the beginning of the call, then this is likely to be easier to manage if any background noise is heard.  

Avoid distractions  

We’ve all done it in virtual meetings – you’re completely focused on what your prospect or client is saying but then an email flashes up or you receive an instant message from a member of your team, and suddenly you’re distracted. You didn’t mean to be, but it was that easy. You’ve then missed what your prospect or client has said, you need to stay composed as you’re on camera, but you need to ensure that you are up to date with the conversation. It’s easily done but can cost you a lot, in some cases even the sale if you’ve missed something vital.  

Help yourself to avoid distractions in the first place. Turn off your email notifications, shut down your team instant messenger and only leave open what is required for the call so that you minimise the chances of this happening to you. 

Accept the differences to your sales process  

If you need to make changes to your sales process to shift to only virtual meetings instead of a mixture of virtual and face to face, accept it. This will change the sales process. For some it may change it for the better – you may see people making decisions quicker, as you can get multiple stakeholders on to virtual calls quicker, travel doesn’t have to be arranged and therefore your process becomes shorter. For others being unable to accommodate face to face meetings right now may extend your pipeline if your prospect simply isn’t happy to commit until they’ve physically met you or viewed your operations.  

Either way it is about adapting to make the most of your sales opportunities. Is there the option for the prospect to virtually meet your team rather than physically? Does that get over a barrier? Do you have a video of your office or a virtual walk through that you could provide in the meantime to give them the taster of the operations that they request? It’s about adapting to how you can make the most out of virtual meetings, email communication and telephone calls so the prospect is fully informed, comfortable with the options available to them and heading towards the next steps.  

If you’d like to hear more about virtual sales success get in touch today or call us on 0345 241 3038. Or hear more from our existing customers here.     

How To Keep A Sales Team Motivated Vlog #7


In the seventh instalment of our series we ask the question ‘how do you keep a sales team motivated?’ Find out the answer in this vlog hosted by our MD, Owen Richards featuring Air’s Sales Directors Simon Scott-Nelson and Marco Alfano-Rogers.