Do you keep your promises? by @UKSalesMentor for #IndieRetail

In a year when we witnessed another Royal Wedding and an exchange of lifetime promises and commitments, it made me stop and think about the promises we make to our customers and clients in business.

Business relationships are build on trust, just like a successful marriage!

Just as a successful marriage will thrive and survive given trust, understanding and the delivery on certain promises made from the outset – so too a business relationship can strengthen or sadly diminish over time.

Just as in any good relationship you must create and deliver products or services your customers want, at the right quality, on time, consistently. And from time to time… throw in a few pleasant surprises the other party wasn’t expecting – that can really work wonders!

Whatever your promise is, deliver on it.

Whilst you are planning your stock or staff volumes, you must ensure you maintain or exceed your customers’ service expectations so that they come back to you as repeat clients. Poor quality of your product or service could easily make your customers seek alternative suppliers – what’s the point in that?

When a restaurant can’t get your order right or takes far too long to get the food to your table, how do you feel? What’s the point of wasting money on marketing when you’ve had this kind of experience?

Your business must master delivery, and that means achieving consistency. As a small business you can often cover a mistake with a smile and a personal apology. But, as you grow, as your staff levels increase, as your customer base increases, what was once a small problem could put you out of business. Be warned! Bad reputations are really easy to spread!

How is your delivery right now? Have you mastered the delivery of consistent quality? Quality that your customers are delighted with?

What you must keep in mind is that there’s no point filing the sink unless you first put the plug in! Don’t spend your time and efforts marketing your business if people can fall straight down the plughole because of poor service delivery.

And Please… will you stop “weeing” all over the place!

We do this and we do that… You need to understand and accept that no one is really interested in you or your products. That’s OK, take a deep breath and let me explain what I mean.

Most human beings are only interested in “what’s in it for me”. Someone once explained this to me by saying that people are tuned into radio WII-FM, that’s: What’s In It For Me. I’ve never forgotten it since, I hope you don’t either.

Train all your staff, review all your sales copy, including your website, in fact, particularly your website, as it’s often one of the most prevalent “we” areas. “We” do this… “We” have been around since… “We” have the greatest…etc. etc. Get over yourselves – people don’t care!

What’s in it for me? So what that you’ve been in business 25 years? What does that mean to me? If there’s no tangible benefit to the customer, don’t mention it – sorry, but they just don’t care, not yet.

And whatever you do… stop “feature bashing” and focus on benefits.

People purchase based on the benefits to them. What will they get from your product or service? How will they feel, what will they save and so on?

You have probably heard this before, but people don’t by features, they buy benefits.

All too often business owners waste time, effort, and money pushing feature after feature of their product or service and…you guessed it, the potential customers just don’t care. They are trying to work out… WIIFM – so tell them!

What do you blame the lack of sales on? Your competition, cheaper pricing, the government, a rise in VAT…? Sorry, they’re all just excuses.

I delivered these fairly hard hitting messages when I was asked to open the annual conference of “retra” the UK’s leading trade association for independent electrical retailers and servicing organizations who represent more than 1,400 members, operating from over 2,300 outlets in the UK today.

To my great relief, I wasn’t pelted with rotten vegetables or asked to leave the stage – instead the audience took on board my messages and many I know… have taken action too.

“Steve opened our annual Industry conference as a key note speaker. He was exactly what we needed given the difficult trading conditions that we are currently experiencing. His presentation was full of positive enthusiasm, energy and useful sales techniques which more than achieved the objective of getting a very successful conference off to a great start. I have received lots of positive feedback on Steve’s contribution and would not hesitate to recommend him for future events”. Stephen Norman, President of Retra

Steve Clarke – Entrepreneur, Salesman, Author, Columnist, Speaker, Trainer & Sales Mentor…

Steve is one of the country’s leading experts on grassroots sales and marketing strategies. Not a theorist or a guru, but a doer.

Steve is also very proud to be a member of an elite team of business mentors chosen by The Entrepreneurs Business Academy which James Caan from BBC TV’s Dragon’s Den spearheads with Founder, Bev James.

He helped grow his last UK business from scratch to £30 million in revenues in just 8 years, becoming one of the “Times Top 100″ fasted growing  profitable SME’s in the country in the process. In 2005 the company was sold and he was able to retire at the age of 45.

Now he spends much of his time working with business owners that want to achieve growth and success through improved sales and marketing.


About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
This entry was posted in Blog-a-day for Indie Retail, Increasing Sales, Independent Retailer Month 2011, Service, The Retail Champion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s