Alison Edgar on better sales and building an entrepreneurial spirit at work – MAF222

My guest this week is bestselling sales author, Alison Edgar.

We talk about how to make sales engaging to drive business growth and building an entrepreneurial spirit at work.

Welcome to episode 222 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Alison Edgar on better sales and building an entrepreneurial spirit at work - MAF222

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • Why sales isn’t all about the hard sell
  • The difference between sales and marketing
  • What ‘Intrapreneurial’ means
  • How an entrepreneurial culture can exist in a business
  • How businesses can avoid being victims of their own success
  • The process Alison uses to help her clients

Who is Alison Edgar?

Alison worked in hospitality all over the world, then for BT in the UK. She wrote a book, “Secrets of Successful Sales” in 2018, describing things as ‘going mad’ after the launch. It was the WH Smith top ten and became an Amazon no.1 best seller. 18 months on, it’s got 115 five-star reviews, cementing her position as a sales expert.

She explains that she took on board what the top salespeople did and carried out analysis and research to learn more. She discovered that they did the same things as top performers in other industries.

Summary of our chat

Alison believes that when delivered correctly, sales and customer service are exactly the same thing. This has become the mission statement and how she delivers. People get sales wrong because they haven’t been trained properly. It’s an art, not a trick.

The key is to keep things as simple as possible. In her book, Alison uses the analogy of golf to explain the difference between sales and marketing. Marketing puts the tee in the ground and the ball on top – the set-up. Sales take the ball down the fairway, onto the green and into the hole (and you make money).

Alison created some content as part of a bid to encourage businesses to consider things from different points of view. Asking “What would I do if it was my…” helps to understand the employees’ needs and how to improve team relationships. The difference between an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur is risk.

Alison says a growth mindset is really important. All businesses have someone who says no, but it’s always possible to do something differently. That person needs to change their mindset. Everyone in the business needs a growth mindset, and seeing things from other points of view can help.

A lot of microbusinesses don’t put foundations in when they start. They don’t have policies or a standard operating procedure, which makes growth harder. If they started off with structure, they’d find success easier to manage. Having a clear vision means they can employ the right people at the right time.

Alison encourages her clients to carry out a SWOT analysis right at the beginning. Self-analysing the owner and the business helps them to see where exactly where they want to go. From there, they can set SMART objectives. Too few people take specialist advice at the start to help them grow successfully.

Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Things don’t happen in five minutes. In her own business, Alison uses an outbound strategy to start conversations. Lots of local companies know who she is because she’s been building connections and marketing her brand over a long time.

One thing Alison would like listeners to take away

Alison says that networking has been invaluable for her. Not the early-morning breakfast get-togethers, but by attending the events which will help her grow her business and reach her goals.

If you want to take over the world, you can’t do that from your back bedroom! You need to get out there and meet people. Speaking at events can also be a good way to get known.

It’s not easy to run a business, so you need a good support network. Always be learning, and get your work/life balance right so you’re not working 24/7. Take advice for experts on the parts of the business you’re not as strong on. Nobody knows everything, so learn from others.

An Example of Simple Marketing

Alison says her new favourite campaign is Cadbury’s Dark Milk. They’re really good at diversifying their products with very little effort. The new advert features singer and actor Jason Donovan, and he takes the mickey out of his time on Neighbours.

He talks about how he’s grown up and he’s different now, which matches how the Dark Milk chocolate bar is the adult version of the Dairy Milk bar. It works really well and it’s memorable.

An Example of Marketing Madness

Alison says that the Go Compare adverts drive her bananas. They’re annoying, but it’s good marketing – viewers remember it for the negative connotations! She’s not a fan, though.


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