Category Archives: Events

The soft sell

I went to a direct selling evening that was hosted by one of the parents from my children’s school.

It was an interesting evening and we were lucky to have an expert sales woman presenting the evening. My intention was to stick to a budget and I was surprised that I ended up more than doubling this figure. I don’t want to go into the details of the business but I’d like to explore a number of the techniques that were very successfully demonstrated through out the evening.

Even before the evening had begun there was a sense of how nice it was to have been invited to this event.

All guest were offered wine and a simple meal was prepared, cooked and shared. Giving people a small gift often comes with the feeling of being slightly indebted, inspiring the need to reciprocate. Often if you give people a small gift and then ask them to do something they feel obliged to say yes.

Personal recommendations

Most of the people in the group were encouraged to talk about items that they’d bought previously and how successful they were. This form of personal recommendation is very powerful; when people recommend a product it validates the product and encourages other people to ‘like’ the products. We also like to be consistent, if you’ve said you believe in a product, chances are you’ll want to be consistent with your belief and continue to interact with the business or product.

Our consultant had a great sense of humour and through out the evening she had us in fits of giggles. Laughter is a fantastic way of getting people to trust you, like you and ideally want to buy from you.

Story telling
Our rep told stories from her experience. This worked successfully in a couple of ways. Firstly telling stories can be a great way of engaging people and getting people to listen. She talked about her experiences, highlighted the similarities between herself and her audience. By aligning herself to her audience she encouraged us to trust her and identify with her.

Story telling can be a great selling tool; People are more likely to listen, engage and take on board what is being said when stories are used to sell the benefits of a product.

Celebrity endorsement
There was also a good smattering of celebrity endorsement, ‘so and so also has this item’ and a little of ‘Did you see x on her TV show, she used these through out’.

Good cause
The company supports a well-known charity and agreed to dedicate a percentage of its profits from that month to this charity. This had the added benefit of making customers feel even better about their purchase.

Hard sell
Most people move away from hard selling techniques as we’re more seduced by the soft sell. Hard selling moments through out the evening were rare. However our consultant didn’t miss an opportunity to push home a sale and there were a couple of moments in the evening when she seized the opportunity and casually asked, ‘Shall I add one of those to your order’?

All in all it was a brilliant evening, very entertaining and engaging and it was fascinating to witness first hand some great selling techniques.

Council the public and health

Socitm and NHM Choices Event 21st March, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester.

One of the key themes from today’s event was exploring the relationship between Health and Councils.
According to Socitm – a quarter of residents think that Councils provide services such as hospitals, dentists and healthcare. A significant number of residents come to Council websites looking for information on health. This is estimated at 3% out of those 3% – 50% don’t find what they’re looking for. Local authority healthcare reforms are likely to add to the confusion and drive increases in unavoidable contact.

Each year councils receive over 72,000 calls relating to Health. Resulting in unhappy customers who are not finding the information they need, and impacting costs to councils.

The top 5 health related searches
• Contact information
• Jobs and training
• Adult social services
• Carers and care packages
• Disability [support and advice]

The top 3 recommendations were pretty common sense.

• Eliminate jargon – ensure that plain language is used throughout the site.
• Create well designed, accessible forms.
• Use all opportunities to promote online – the example given was library cards – having the web address.

Hampshire Council was put forward as an example of good practice

NHS Choices offer a range of packages available for syndication, including
Find Services, Carers Direct, Behind the headlines, Live Well, Health a-z conditions, Planners, Comments and Interactive tools.

NHS Choices syndication

Dr Alan Goodman – Met office – correlation between weather and Health – again met office offer a range of widgets

Better Connected – Martin Greenwood – SOCITM

Three main strands

• Think customer
• Be obsessed with top tasks
• Go Mobile

Two other points that were touched upon were the use of Social media and Hugh Flouch’s research on

Online Neighbourhood Networks

    Interesting observation from the morning

Liverpool have reduced their site from 4500 pages to 400 pages and strongly argue that devolved content management doesn’t work. That have actively removed all content from the site that isn’t relevant to their customers.

Social Media Networks ICS event Sheffield 5th October

The day was structured around three themes, Possibilities, Problems and Monitoring.

The conversation is out there.
Social Media Networks are important

1) Significant amounts of people are online and signed up to them. They aren’t going away.
2) There is a whole conversation occurring which we need to be aware of.
3) Marketing – people respond better to other people’s opinions than to large faceless corporations.

When things go wrong : Nestles and Palm oil
Nestles Stuart Jones and Lesley Lee discussed the Nestles blunders with SM.

Nestles social media platforms were swarmed by protesters campaigning against the use of Palm oil in its products.
Nestles response was initially defensive which cause the further outrage and the issue when global. Fans of the Kitkat Facebook page grew from 8000 to 96,000 fans in a few days.
The fall out was extreme with the company receiving over 100,000 email complaints and phone lines being jammed.
Resulting in success for the campaigner and Palm oil being dropped from the ingredients but the damage to the brand, and sales has been significant.

Nestles learning’s
1. Monitor popular channels for key words
2. Contact handling staff aware of SM platform
3. Being defensive gets you no ware
4. Have someone that owns social media
5. Joined up approach Nestles is a global organization reaction was at a national level, yet the conversations were global
6. Social media isn’t a fad

Monitoring and listening
Virgin use social media very successful. They deal with 100 customer requests daily. They have a specialised team dealing monitoring and listening to their customers comments.
It has made a significant impact to their Net Promoter Score. They have done this by listening and picking up on people talking about problems and then getting in touch to try and solve them.

Useful products for doing this are: Netvibes, – easy and quick to use to assess what’s being said about your brand.

Five steps to creating successful Social Media Networks
1. Keep it human it is about the conversation
2. People respond to interesting confident people. People look for status in their community.
3. Know your community, find your audience
4. Engage in their community and learn the rules
5. Build a reputation

· Communications team actively engage with twitter and other Social Media Networks.
· We start to generate an awareness of the Social Media Networks within the Contact Centre.
· Key Council individuals who are already active users feed into the Council system.

Women in Business

Make it Your Business – Bella Mehta and Lucy Martin
Great presentation from two inspiring business women.

Common sense no nonsense approach to setting up your own business, outlining some of the essentials to running and setting up a new business. Strong business plan, know where you’re going. What is your USP, what’s your elevator pitch. Take the business seriously and price with confidence. Think about key strategic alliances and think laterally about getting them.

Great quote – ‘There are more Davids in the House of Commons than there are women’

The Women in Business event was organised by Finsbury Park Business Forum and held at the impressive Arsenal Emirates Stadium.