My Why – Fred Copestake
My name is Fred Copestake founder of Brindis a sales training consultancy. I work with people in complex B2B sales to help develop a more modern collaborative approach.
Over the last 22 years, I’ve travelled around the world 14 times, I’ve visited 36 countries and I’ve worked with over 10,000 salespeople.
Their sales tended to have a higher level of value and complexity. It was whilst working with these salespeople that I was able to capture the essence of what really makes this type of approach successful which I have written into my book, Selling Through Partnering Skills. Working in this way salespeople can increase sales by aligning better to customers; becoming more intimate with them and delivering what they actually want; benefiting all parties.
What I found working with so many salespeople is that there are actually many problems that they’ve got in common. Broadly we can boil these down to three areas. The areas are Busy, Busy, Busy, Olde Worlde and Muddled Mindset. Let’s think about these separately.
Busy, Busy, Busy is about being ineffective. This is where salespeople waste opportunities. It’s a very stressful and tiring way of operating and people engage in the wrong activity to deliver results. People are rushing around doing things, but with no real purpose.
Another way in which we see salespeople challenged is that they have this Olde Worlde mindset. Now this is about being old fashioned in the fact they become so self-centred and talk about themselves, their company, their organization, their products, they miss the fact that it’s actually the customer that should be front and centre. They often become too technical. They talk about what their products do, what their service offers and forget the customer is looking for outputs. Or they’re just using plain old fashioned bad tactics. They’re doing things from a bygone era that just don’t work and have no place in a modern way of operating.
The Muddled Mindset we see at different levels. It can come from the organization level, which passes through into management, which then passes through into the individual. This is about misalignment. When people don’t really know what it is, they’re actually trying to do people get confused. Again, it’s equally stressful and people get frustrated because they’re not achieving what they want.
How do we do something about this?
How do we approach these challenges to help salespeople become happier and more productive?
With Busy, Busy, Busy it’s about effectiveness. Where salespeople were previously wasteful, if they prepare better, understand the customer, what they’re trying to achieve, what a good opportunity looks like and how to operate with that, then they can have better outcomes.
We can take away a lot of the stress, a lot of the tiring elements of sales by planning better, using time more effectively, doing things that have a bigger impact for what is being done.
By taking away the unfocused element of Busy, Busy, Busy by giving people better process by giving people structures and frameworks to operate to, this helps people come far more effective in what they do.
Olde Worlde, this is countered by becoming more up to date, self-centred salespeople need to flip their attention. They need to think about the customer, the customer’s goals, the customer’s objectives, what they’re trying to achieve, their business, and really put their focus there. If they become too technical, which is often a comfort zone by talking about one’s own product within service. This is about them following the process. It’s about understanding what the best way to operate is to understand the customer then present their solution relative to that. Poor practice is eliminated by focusing on modern sales techniques. It’s thinking about how we uncover value. It’s about understanding how to do things that people find acceptable in today’s selling environment
If for Olde Worlde, we need to modernize the whole sales approach and for Muddled Mindset we need to get better alignment.
The organization should be clear about what it is they’re trying to do, how they’re trying to do it. This gives management a fair chance to be able to enable salespeople and to coach them in the best ways in which they can then deliver results. Individuals can confirm that what they’re doing is the right thing at the right time, in the right place. This is how we can help sales organizations really deliver on what they’re trying to do.
Why do I do this?
I’ve always been involved in sales. My first job was in sales. We had a family business and when I was eight years old, I was allowed to go to ‘help’ at the Boxing Day Sale. There I was, eight years old, kitted out in a great big orange polo shirt and a big old fashioned brown warehouse coat. I went to this Victorian Mill as that’s where the operation was. I was in the tile store, freezing cold because it was literally made of stone, so I was stone cold, but I was having a great laugh. I was talking to people; I was helping them choose the tiles that they wanted for whatever project they were getting involved with. It was a brilliant laugh and I thought if this is selling; then this is for me.
I’ve always been involved in some kind of commercial element, whether it’s studying at university or all the jobs I’ve had, have had some kind of business development or sales element to it. So, now I do what I love and that’s to focus on sharing great information, so that people can be more effective in how they work.
I love learning. I love sharing. I love sales. I have a growth mindset and I believe that others do too. By helping people to grow, helping them to expand, helping them to get better we can start to help sales be viewed as the worthy profession that it is because of what we do and how we do it.
Selling is about problem solving, about co-creating, about generating value out of nothing. I believe that we need to improve how sales is viewed and that it really does give us skills for life. This is one of the reasons why I give my time to students at universities to help them understand what sales is all about. Not because it might be a career for them, but because the things that salespeople do, are the skills of life.
My mission is to make selling better. It’s to share that best practice; something that I believe that partnering skills (PQ) brings. It is an approach that can help anyone involved in this commercial environment do their job in a way that’s more conducive to happier customers, happier salespeople, happier colleagues.
I want to talk to people who are already good at selling. People who think that they can move forward and take it to the next level. It does require a level of existing competence to be able to sell effectively by using partnering skills, but it’s worthwhile because in the long term we’re able to build better, more collaborative relationships with customers that become more productive.
How do we get there?
We get there by using a very simple mantra of ‘Think, Learn, Do’. That’s what I apply in the way that I run accelerators and I run sales training.
The thinking is about having the right content, the content that I’ve captured included in my book Selling Through Partnering Skills. And I know how to get the message across because Brindis has 20 plus years of helping people to learn.
However, most importantly, in any way of people developing is the doing. In the world of sales doing is selling. Therefore, all training is aligned to real life activity. We apply the outputs of the learning into a sales enablement platform that helps people pursue real life opportunities; essentially the training pays for itself. People get better at selling, but they’re also helping the customers whilst they’re learning.
The training is based around the VALUE Framework. This explores how salespeople should validate the right kind of opportunities. How they should align what it is they want to do by understanding the customer, thinking what value might look like to them and doing the homework basically. How they can leverage this information in good quality conversations, to be able to discover where they can add value, how they can work together, how partnerships and good relationships can be made. These are underpinned with good proposals, with implementation and mutual action plans. Therefore, all in all the relationship will start to evolve, it will start to grow, as it’s a longer-term type of sell.
It’s all about having a steep learning curve. Now, steep learning curves are a good thing, because a steep learning curve means that we’re getting higher performance over time. It’s often thought of as a bad thing, but I love a steep learning curve. It means that things are happening quicker. We try to smooth that out and make it faster in the way that people develop.
Do you qualify for this approach?
It isn’t really, for everyone, as the saying goes, it takes two to tango because that’s what collaboration is all about. Some people won’t be able to adapt to this way of selling because their mindset, their values won’t be aligned. However, if they are, then my suggestion is – stop, listen, and collaborate.
This is what good salespeople do anyway, they stop, they listen to customers; they try to collaborate. But in this case, I want you to stop and listen to what your heart is saying. It’s saying to you, this is the way that you sell. If that’s so, then collaborate with me and let’s raise the bar in professional selling.
What can you do to make that happen?
What can you do next?
Read the book, the book’s available on Amazon, in all outlets and on Kindle. Download that, buy that, read that.
Listen to the Selling Through Partnering Skills podcast, I regularly talk to people about how they apply this way of selling. There’s some fantastic information that’s being shared on there. Think about having to listen to that and taking some of the good material that’s already available.
Take the PQ self-audit; go online, it’s free to take and work out what your scores are around these elements of partnering skills. Think about are you already using this sales ethos, this way of working? Is this something that you can develop even further? Even if you’re strong in this, it’s an area that we can all do better in.
You can go and download the Rocky AI app. Rocky is an artificial intelligence driven chat bot. Rocky can help you with morning and evening reflections by coaching you around a number of different areas. These could include wellness, resilience, productivity, discipline. Rocky can also talk to you about sales. Rocky understands collaborative selling. By taking the content from the book, he’s able to form questions that are pertinent to you, depending on how you answer and what you’ve been asked before. It is a really good way of keeping focused, whether it’s on the selling part or whether it’s on one of the other parts, which are equally as important for a professional salesperson today.
Connect with me on social media, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook. I’ve got a unique name. I’m able to my name on every platform @fredcopestake. You can find me and you can connect to me.
Talk to me direct, email me firstname.lastname@example.org
I am here, I’m wanting to talk to you about this. It’s where I really want to help people to make a difference because that’s what I want to be known as. I want to be known as a guy that brought PQ to the world of selling. I want to be that person that helps people to really develop an approach that works not just for them, but for their customers and their organizations. That’s what I want to do.
I want people to be proud in what they do. Proud about how they sell. Selling is a noble profession and by addressing what and how we sell, we can be proud, and that is something that I want to share.
Fred Copestake is founder of Brindis, a sales training consultancy.
Over the last 22 years he has travelled round the world 14 times visiting 36 countries to work with over 10,000 salespeople.
His book ‘Selling Through Partnering Skills’ looks at the evolving world of sales and sets out what salespeople need to do to refine their approach. It explores how to take things to the next level through understanding partnering intelligence and using the innovative VALUE Framework.