1. Tell me a bit about your business – when it started and what are your main services?
I started my business, Sales Coaching Solutions, in 2011. We provide start-ups, micros, owner managed businesses, and sales teams with the ability to sell their fantastic products and services to make them more money!
2. What was the main driver for starting your own business?
I spent 25 years working in BlueChip sales and realised there was a clear difference in sales technique between the high flyers who were hitting and exceeding target such as myself, and the ones who were struggling to hit target each month. This inspired me to investigate the differences and create my ‘Four Key Pillars of Sales’, an easy to understand sales technique which guarantees results. Working in and around small businesses on a daily basis, I found one of their biggest challenges was to pro-actively sell so I thought “Not on my watch!” and made it my mission to teach them.
3. What gets you up in the morning?
I have a talent to teach people how to sell. I love seeing the lightbulb moments, that moment when people finally realise their missing ingredient, and it’s so different for everyone. I always say “when you don’t sell, you don’t have a business” so these people really need what I do. That’s what gets me up in the morning.
4. If you could change one thing about your first year (or first few years) in business, what would it be?
I would have taken more specialist advise at the start of the journey, because the number of mistakes I made in the first few years around structure, pricing, and recruitment was heartbreaking. Had I known more, and invested more in a business coach at the start, I probably would have avoided the longer term problems and pains.
5. What is your biggest achievement to date?
So many! I think it’s being voted ‘The UK’s #1 Sales and Marketing Adviser’, but I think it’s closely followed by the TV, the national press, winning ‘Entrepreneur of the Year Award’ and attending the Queen’s garden party for my work with enterprise.
6. What has been your biggest challenge?
For me, one of the hardest things I had to do was write a book. Because as a dyslexic, it’s hard to spend a year writing one thing.
I overcame it by asking for help. That wasn’t easy to do. To start with I had someone help me with the writing, but the words didn’t sound like me. In the end I had to start again, because how I sound is so important to my brand. So I ended up sitting down, dictating what I thought, and getting into the rhythm of writing that way, checking and editing until we eventually had a book.
From this I think I learned a big lesson. Focus on the things you don’t like as much as the things you do. The hardest thing was bringing in business during this process, while I was trying to write a book I still had to bring in sales. I learned I had to discipline myself, create small deadlines and follow a structure. I met my 12 month goal and on 1st January 2018 we had a finished book.
7. What would be your number one tip for other entrepreneurs who want to develop their personal brand (related to their industry / specialism)?
Don’t worry too much. Be true to who you are and keep being yourself. Having a catchy name like ‘The Entrepreneur’s Godmother’ so people remember you. They will either love it or hate it, but I guarantee they will remember it. Use social media to your advantage and to raise awareness of your brand. Whatever you’re doing, be authentic, because if you’re not, the façade will slip.
8. What advice would you give to other women thinking of starting their own business?
I would say that women in business are in the minority, and the main reason for this is a lot of women lack confidence, especially after leaving work to have children. You can’t live your life without taking risks, so what is the worst that can happen? Go for it.
9. Lastly, which social media platform has helped you get the most customers to date and why?
Because I am a business to business consultant, a sales trainer, LinkedIn has the golden keys for any business to business selling. It’s important that you learn how to use this effectively if you want to avoid having to cold call. Due to me using this effectively, I have secured work all over the world including The Middle East.
I’ll be joining Alison in her forthcoming London training day on July 11th – check it out.
You may want to check out Alison’s new book Secrets of Successful Sales.
This interview was conducted by Jennifer Corcoran, LinkedIn Consultant & Trainer, Founder and CEO of My Super Connector and Host of LinkedIn Local Croydon. Jennifer regularly writes and speaks on the topics of social media, personal branding, networking and being an introverted entrepreneur. If you need help with any of your profiles mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @SuperConnector.