“When we talk about sales stigma, we are referring to the perception that selling is somehow sleazy, and those who sell are untrustworthy, overbearing, misleading and pushy individuals. For the majority of small business owners this is generally their perception, and is definitely NOT how they wish to be perceived by their marketplace.
Here is the thing, sales stigma is not exclusive to the small business owner, in fact it has been around forever and a day, it is everywhere, you only have to google sales stigma and you will see many articles going back 10 years and more addressing this issue. Sales stigma in direct selling, the stigma of commission selling, stigma in pharmaceutical sales, and so on. Sales stigma is firmly entrenched in big business across all sectors from finance through to science and technology.
The reason of course is unprofessional, and unethical selling, which the what and why for is a blog series all of its own!
For a very long time now there has been great efforts to position sales as a quality profession to pursue. From recognised qualifications to be gained, through to professional associations such as Association of Professional Sales and the Institute of Sales Management whose members agree to an ethical code of conduct. Including trying to create a culture of continuous professional development.
So how does this help the small business owner?
Well it doesn’t specifically other than help to see the bigger picture. I do believe however that there is a bit of a sales evolution going on and has been for a quite sometime now, and that it is this evolution that the small business owner can both benefit, and drive. Small businesses especially micro businesses and sole traders, tend to be the ones who make the product or deliver the service personally, we are much closer to our customer base, have strong relationships with them, and we really care, we tend to see what we do more as a service to our customers, we are driven by a desire to help, guide and or teach. This is our WHY, and for me, somebody who has been in sales pretty much all her life, (30 + years and counting!) this is what selling is really all about.
I also know that as buyers we are much more knowledgeable, and technology has provided us with the tools we need to be able to research products and suppliers. It is us as the buyer who drives the sales cycle in the 21st century.
I know it isn’t always as easy or straight forward as just telling you to ‘just do it’, go on crack on and get selling. I know that you all without exception understand that the ability to sell your product or service is the one defining factor that dictates whether your business succeeds or not.
I also know if you are struggling with negative beliefs that are affecting your ability to sell what you make or do, it is something that I can help you resolve quickly and painlessly.
Meanwhile here are four things for you to do that will get you selling:
Think financial advice is not for you?
Here Sarah Travers, Senior Financial Planner at Ajax Wealth Management Limited shares her advice and worrying trends she sees for women in business. You can talk to Sarah in person at many of our Essex events – including Colchester, Braintree and Tendring;
For women in particular it is vital we take charge of our financial security and that is why I am on a mission to get every woman engaged with their financial planning. Read on to find out why and what we can all do to help ourselves.
NB Financial planning is for everyone – not just the rich and famous!
There is a worrying level of financial inequality and this is damaging our financial futures. We are all aware of the gender pay gap, which has been well documented, and this has a knock-on effect into later life. Women tend to live longer and earn less – we are also more likely than men to take career breaks to care for children or older relatives. Put this all together and it does not create a great financial picture.
Women currently aged 55-64 will on average have a pension pot of just half that of a man of the same age. We also tend to have smaller State Pension income and even if we were to retire on the full amount this currently only equates to a little over £700 per month.
Why don’t women engage with financial planning?
Studies have shown that women tend to lack confidence in making financial decisions and in investing, financial jargon is off-putting, we lack time and quite frankly do not know where to go to get good, reliable financial advice. Many of us also put off saving or making financial provision until we have ‘more money’. If we save, we often to stick to the apparent safety of cash which may not be in our best interests over the longer term.
These misconceptions are damaging and limiting our financial security – let me say it again – financial planning is for everyone, not just the rich and famous!
There are steps we can all take to help ourselves and each other.
What can be done? Start by thinking about some important questions:
If you think this won’t happen to you (unless you have a crystal ball) just bear in mind that in 2017 UK protection insurers paid out a record £5billion in claims.
When do you want to retire and what do you want your retirement to look like? Most of us do not envisage retirement scrimping and saving living on the poverty line.
What if you need care in later life? It is estimated that 1 in 2 women will need some form of care in later life – this will not be funded by the NHS unless there is a severe medical need, and with local authority budgets being squeezed to breaking point they are only able to help those with the highest level of need and who do not have capital above £23,250.
Next look at your budget – sit down and write out your expenditure across the year – include everything from essential expenditure like food and utilities to luxury spends like holidays. Don’t forget about annual costs and little things, like getting the chimney swept or the car MOT. Once you have your household expenditure detailed you can see how much surplus income you have on average.
If you do not have a surplus you may want to consider whether all your expenditure is needed – could it be reduced? Freeing up even small amounts per month could help to pay for important life assurance, for example, or help you to start saving into a pension. Take stock of any financial arrangements you already have in place – make a list and consider whether they are still appropriate for your needs and are providing good value.
Make sure you keep track of pensions – there is an estimated 1.6 million lost pension pots valued at some £20million that could remain unclaimed. The Pensions Tracing Service may help you to find lost pensions.
Tackle your needs in order of priority – for everyone this will be different. Speaking to a qualified financial adviser can really help you to think about what is important for you and to explain your options clearly. Many financial advisers (including me of course) offer an initial meeting at no cost to discuss your circumstances and how we may be able to help. This is a fantastic opportunity to get some free guidance and I would encourage everyone to do it.
Make sure you are using your tax allowances and claiming any benefits you may be entitled to – not all are means tested. If you run your own business – which many of you reading this will do – consider appointing an accountant if you don’t already have one – they can make sure you comply with HMRC regulations and operate tax efficiently.
Finally, don’t forget about the importance of having a will and powers of attorney in place – that way you can ensure your assets are dealt with how you wish on death, and if you cannot make decisions for yourself during your lifetime (which could, for example, result from an accident or sudden illness) you will have appointed people you trust to make those decisions for you. Remember that family members do not have an automatic right to make decisions if you lack capacity and on death there are strict rules as to who will inherit if you do not leave a will.
Conclusion Financial planning is a vast topic and that in itself can seem daunting, however, it is vital that we do not leave our financial security to chance. Taking small steps can help reap great rewards in the long term.
Take action now – the sooner you act the more chance you will have of a secure financial future – and that is something I think we all aspire to.
Do get in touch if you would like to discuss how I can help.
Sarah Travers LL.B. (Hons) DipPFS
Tel (office): 01206 805901
Mobile: 07484 231768
Suite 1, Unit 4 Lanswood Park Business Centre, Broomfield Road, Elmstead Market, Colchester CO7 7FD
Office for National Statistics pension wealth, February 2018 (sheet 6.5) bit.ly/2JLAHAF
Based on full entitlement to the new state pension in 2018/19
Source: Association of British Insurers iv Source: Association of British Insurers v https://www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details Sarah