Atomic Bomb With Flawed Over 50’s Plan in Week 4 of Young Apprentice

Atomic Bomb With Flawed Over 50’s Plan in week 4 of Young Apprentice

It has to be said that the kids in Young Apprentice are learning. Unfortunately, just as some of the candidates learn one lesson, their character flaws became exposed in this week’s task. Week 4 of Young Apprentice gave us some clear insights into most of the candidates and, maybe, some indications as to who can win it.

The task this week was to identify 2 products (from 8 ) to sell to the over 50’s market (worth over £250 bn per year) at an exhibition at Olympia. Lord Sugar mixed up the teams again; Atomic consisted of Haya, Hayley, Lewis and (mister popular) Harry M. Just to reinforce how unpopular Harry M is no-one supported his bid for PM, and Haya got the job.

Kinetic had Gbemi, Zara, James, Lizzie and Harry H, and James was given near-unanimous support to be PM.

Lord Sugar gave his now customary hint about how to succeed – “You’ll be judged on sales volume, so you need to get your pricing and products right”. Simple as that, so get a good product at a reasonable price and you have the formula for success.

Immediately we saw the different styles of leadership on show; James adopted a more consultative approach but showed real leadership by reminding his team to get the cheapest price, but be confident and enthusiastic about each product, even if you don’t like it! Oh, how we’ve seen teams come a cropper before by not following this simple advice. James went on to demonstrate this perfectly across the task, even revealing that he blatantly lied about liking the pie maker. It proved to be a sound tactic, but I hope his future girl/boy friends and customers weren’t watching, as no-one will believe anything he says ever again!

Haya, no doubt buoyed by having trounced Harry M to become PM, was very direct in her style, making it clear who was in charge. Listening was not to be her strong point, and she partnered with Lewis, who seemed happy just to be away from Harry.

As usual, the task hinged on a couple of decisions. The first involved a colourful shopping trolley that both teams had their eye on, but James’ (now trade-marked) charm and good haggling skills secured it for Kinetic. Atomic went with Harry M’s enthusiasm for the camera-bird-box, which for most of the task was to prove to be a bit of an albatross. Haya reinforced her no nonsense style of leadership (read: not listening to Harry) by opting for the pie maker over his preferred cushion.

At the exhibition, Haya took on the role of sales leader, with Lewis happy to demonstrate “who makes all the pies”; whilst Harry and Hayley battled gamely to sell box-camera, with no success. Haya had obviously been listening to Lord Sugar last week as she attempted to sell the pie-maker ABOVE the manufacturer’s recommended price, and quickly dropped the price when she realised it wasn’t selling, eventually dropping to the reserve price of £14.99. By the end of the day, the pie maker had sold steadily and the high ticket item bird-camera-box (£125-£150) had sold preceisely NONE until Harry took the initiative and sold 5 to one of the the other exhibitors for £80 a go. Hayley finally sold one before the close of the exhibition.

For Kinetic the much desired trolly was not moving many items, but their other choice, a hand held vacuum cleaner, failed to cleanup sales as Harry H and Zara had ignored James’ advice and not haggled a discounted price to sell it. Eventually, necessity is the mother of invention and they started demonstrating the cleaner and sales started to come in. This task was proving hard to read in terms of the likely outcome, but a few things had become obvious:

For Atomic – Harry had pulled one out of the bag again at the end of the day; Haya was a single-minded leader; Lewis is a liability who prefers to follow; and Hayley did… what?

For Kinetic – James was a revelation as a leader, equally adept at playing the game to manipulate his team as he is at manipulating customers / clients; Harry H failed to negotiate prices with clients. but has the personality to sell; Zara was also at fault for the poor negotiations, but lacks any personality; we saw very little of Gbemi, Lizzie, so they’ll probably go on to win it.

In the boardroom it became apparent that even Harry M’s last minute sale of the camera-box-bird thing couldn’t save Atomic as they were trounced by Kinetic. With only 4 in the team, it was more a case of who wouldn’t come back with Haya, and, once again, she demonstrated that she had been listening last week. Wisely, Haya chose not to bring Harry M back and instead brought in the weaker performers of Hayley and perennial side-kick Lewis. The only question was whether Haya’s poor leadership outweighed the lack of contribution from Lewis and Hayley. In the end, Lewis was fired, probably for being the regular fall guy and always owning up to his mistakes (bless). Hayley knows that she has to be more assertive to survive beyond next week.

So this week the unpopular boys James and Harry M looked good. They are single minded, ruthless, but able to adapt to different situations. Hayley, Zara and Haya look weaker and Gbemi & Lizzie could be the stalking horses.

Selling ideas to Dragons

Selling ideas to Dragons

The latest 5 point guide from Dragon’s Den to succeeding in getting a product to market was presented on BBC last night. Here’s what they say, with a few thoughts of my own added in.

1. Keep your ideas coming

Put simply, the more you ideas come up with, the more chances you have to succeed. Basically, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Alternatively, if you are not prolific, it helps to be creative.

In the programme, the example given was Mark Chapkins; the stereotypical mad inventor. Mark presented lots of ideas at his Dragon’s Den pitch. Only Peter Jones was interested and with his help Mark has now achieved a turnover of £250 in 3 years. He now writes books on celebrity inventors and is employed by the Science Museum “inventor in residence”.

Of course, to  have a “good” idea, you need to be able to identify s problem and come up with the steps to solve it. See point 5 below.

2. Don’t forget to dream

Be optimistic. Brainstorm all of the positives about your idea before you pull it apart. A good technique to do this is to use  “second position” to see how realistic your idea is. That is, look at it from the perspective of end users or potential investors.

3. Do the paperwork

Protect your idea. Register the patent, if possible, but remember “patent pending” is not yet a patent. Can you get copyright on your idea? Deborah Meaden is particularly keen on this, and has pulled apart many a good idea because the paperwork is not right. Next week they are looking at Business Planning, so more on this topic then.

4. Think outside the box

Frame the problem you are trying to solve in a different way to come up with a unique way to solve it. Again, use “second person” perspective to aid this. The programme gave the example of “mad inventor”  Rupert Sweet-Escott. He invented a wind turbine chimney pot. This has proved successful in Japan, achieving £270K turnover.

However, Duncan Bannatyne disagrees – he prefers a more pragmatic, realistic approach saying  improving on an existing idea is a safer option for those not gifted with original thinking. The example given was the Magic Whiteboard Series, which improved on flip charts as a portable self adhesive alternative, achieving  £2M turnover in last 3 years.

5. Be your own worst critic

Your product needs to solve a problem (this is the opportunity) worth solving (this converts it to a need) See my FREE e-book for more information.

Your idea needs to work and there needs to be  a market for it.  Bad examples presented to the Dragons included; edible greetings cards for dogs, anti-wrinkle cap, and Derek Cousins Flow Signals – traffic signal safety light. Each of these were either difficult concepts to understand, and were not taken up by the Dragons. The Flow Signals were described as  “the worst invention to be brought to Dragon’s Den”.

So, there we have it a 5 point plan to get your ideas to product and to market.

The best example of meeting all of the above criteria (missed by the Dragons) was Tangle Teeze (to fix Tangled, Knotted , Hair). Poor presentation ( especially the demonstration) combined with a lack of market research scared the Dragons off. . The inventor took their advice and was approached by many distributors following the programme. The product has now sold over 1.6 M items, wirth £2.3M turnover with international sales. Now that is success to be modelled.

Sales – the oldest profession

We have all been told what the oldest profession is, but of course, it is actually sales. Think about it, before someone can pay for your services they have to be sold!

When I was a wet-behind-the-ears young salesman (long, long ago), I was introduced to a simple concept that had an amazing effect on my sales success. Here’s how it goes…

The world is full of problems and one way of looking at selling is as a form of problem solving. As sales people we aim to use our products or services to overcome problems the customer may be having.

However, obviously we can’t fix every problem. A problem that our product can fix is called an opportunity in sales and marketing terms. Now, many inexperienced sales people are good at recognising opportunities, and they go straight for the jugular with a feature-benefit volley. But they don’t get the sale. Why not?

Well, successful sales people know that it’s meeting a customer need that persuades the customer to buy. A need is a problem that your product can fix and the customer wants fixing.

So, next time you are in front of your customer and you recognise an opportunity, take a breath and just confirm with the customer that it is actually a need. A simple question like, “and is having that important to you?”, answered in the affirmative tells you all you need to know and now is the time to let rip with the features and benefits. Of course, if the customer says “no” then you will have to find a new angle to explore.

If you are struggling with getting sales, try this approach and you’ll be amazed at the results. If you are still not convinced, why not contact me for some one-to-one coaching or attend my next Sales and Marketing Master Class.

Happy selling!

Influential communication – does body language matter?

The fundamental purpose of influential communication is to persuade others to behave the way you want them to. This has numerous applications in sales, marketing, leadership and management. A key question in trying to do this is “does body language matter?” The simple answer is “yes it does!”

The Social Styles model was developed over 40 years ago and has been refined and expanded since that time. Social Styles can be used to influence the behaviour of others, and at the heart of this model is the reading and adaptation of behaviour; first our own, then that of other people. But where does the evidence come from that adapting body language is important?

Back in the 1970s, a researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles identified the importance of body language to verbal communication. Now, the work of Professor Albert Mehrabian has often been misquoted and used to explain / justify much beyond his original work, but the gist of what he found is as follows: getting our message across to other people is about much more than just choosing the right words.

In fact, Mehrabian showed that words only contribute about 7% to the effectiveness of communication, with tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%) being much more important. In particular, it seems that we need more than just the words to decide whether we believe the speaker (or even to decide if they believe what they are saying ).

That is not to say that the words are unimportant. Change the words and you change the meaning. However, the words are not enough on their own.

Still not convinced? Well, just think about how the intent behind the words becomes more ambiguous as we move from face-to- face communication, to telephone, to e-mail and txt!

Notice that according to Mehrabian, over half of the message we take from verbal communication comes from reading body language. Now, most of this is going on at a subconscious level, but it does make sense. For instance, we are able to discern possible danger to ourselves by interpreting body language, and this has been a vital survival mechanism throughout human evolution. You disagree? Well, next time you see someone coming towards you with a bloody knife and a deranged expression on their face what will you do; take precautions, or wait to confirm your worst fears with a simple verbal, “do you intend me some harm?”

So, body language does matter and Social Styles allows us to maximise the 93% of communication that Mehrabian says is vital to understanding and influencing other people. Clearly this is key to successful sales, marketing, leadership and management.

Learn more about Albert Mehrabian