Author: Joint CEO Simon Leslie 

“By making a company successful, you can provide more employment and, if you treat your staff well, then your business itself becomes a charity.”   - Guo Guangchang

Ask me, 'how many good people left?'

Recruitment had always been a challenge for my business. Early in 2006, I sat at Kellogg’s Business School in Chicago in an executive education course. The professor, Andy Zoltners, asked the class what attrition was like in our businesses and most of the answers were single digit responses.

He came to me and when I said 87% he spat his coffee across the classroom. He asked how I felt about that? I said, “It’s not high enough yet.” The room filled with laughter and I was gifted a Kellogg Polo shirt at the end of the course.

I am sure he still uses my story today.

I explained that I felt he had asked the wrong question. I said, “Ask me how many of my good people left?” It was in fact zero. He surmised that we had interviewing issues.

I listened and spent a lot of time and effort improving all my teams’ skills at interviewing. We had training, we did more profiling, we learned to read handwriting - which I think is one of the best skills I have ever learned. No longer could anyone just fib their way through an interview with me.

The more we give back

Today, we have much lower attrition, people enjoy what we do and we do some crazy stuff. Incentives to the best places on the planet, private jet trips, Michelin-starred restaurants and shopping trips across the globe.

Every time I go somewhere that I love, I make sure I arrange a staff incentive for that place. I want everyone to enjoy the destinations that I enjoy. The more we give back to the team, the harder they work for our clients.

Solving problems

People buy from people they like and trust? Not true. People buy if they think you will solve a problem for them. I have bought lots of things from people I disliked enormously. Conversely, my print salesman was one of the nicest men I have ever met - he took me racing, he bought me cigars and fancy lunches. However, when he couldn’t match the price of his competitors, our relationship sadly ended. He regrets it to this day and we remain friends.

Don’t fool yourself, there are many reasons people buy and don’t buy and remember most sales calls end up with a NO. If you get disappointed by this, you should not be in sales.

It’s so much better to get a ‘no’ than a maybe. Maybe is the worst outcome. People are too polite to say no, so they keep you with a false sense that the deal might still happen.

Push for ‘no’

Don’t get down when you don’t sell and don’t get too excited when you do. Just keep improving your knowledge and enhancing your skills, read plenty and learn everything there is to know about the industry you are selling in. Read the journals, go to every event, read the trade press, and speak to every company from A-Z, and no matter how many times you hear ‘no’, keep going back.

I am very proud of my new book No F in Sales, particularly as all profits go to two very worthwhile charities: @centrepointuk and @YoungMindsUK. I believe strongly in giving back.

I hope you enjoy my book - available on Amazon now.