How Not To Sell – As Seen On BBC’s The Apprentice

Is everyone loving BBC’s The Apprentice as much as we are here at Simply Sales Jobs? We’re only 2 episodes in and already there’s been some excellent examples of how not to sell a product. Here are some of our favourite lessons learned so far…

Sell Intelligently

In the first episode of the series, Project Manager Sarah had an in-depth selling strategy to share with her all-female team. It basically consisted of wearing short skirts, high heels, and a lot of lipstick. Now ladies, there is nothing wrong with using a little feminine charm. However, it should not be the basis of your strategy, as lets be honest, you are better than that! I personally found it a very sexist comment, suggesting that the best sales tactics are based on your appearance alone. I know many telesales professionals who would disagree for a start! Make your customer feel valued, impress them with your product knowledge, and knowledge of their business, and they won’t care how short your skirt is.

The Apprentice

Image copyright BBC

Manage Your Time

On the boy’s team in episode 1, their largest mistake was poor planning. With a haphazard approach, they did not have time to return to the T-shirt printers in time to sell their ‘added value’ products. So, their added value turned into added loss – having spent money adding a design only to not even attempt to sell a single one. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap, and be strict with your time management. Allow plenty of time to arrive at meetings, and if you need to leave at a particular time to attend another appointment, make sure you do! Your customer will be happy to arrange a second day to go through anything you didn’t have time for, and will understand your need not to keep your next client waiting.

Believe In Your Product

Any salesperson needs to be completely on their product or service’s side. If you wouldn’t buy it, why would anyone else? This was superbly demonstrated by Daniel (the self-proclaimed “selling machine”) who in his wearable technology pitch stated that he wouldn’t wear the garment in a public place. While he backtracked on this repeatedly , nothing he could say would help the situation, and the pitch resulted in no orders. His fellow team mates were also far from impressed, describing him as the weakest element of their efforts. So whenever you are pitching, make sure you sing your product’s praises, and be ready with a counter argument for any negatives your prospect may bring up.

Answer What You Are Asked

This next example comes from the boardroom at the end of episode 2. Project Manager Scott was asked who he was bringing back into the boardroom, but instead of replying with two names, he chattered on about his own performance and skillset. The ever-direct Karren Brady had to interrupt to ask for the names a second time. Talking about what you want to discuss, and not what the customer has asked, is not a way to close a sale! So, make sure you have all the information you need before approaching your customer, and if they ask about something you are unsure of, it is far better to apologise and get back to them with the details. Don’t just change the subject to an area you would rather talk about!

What have your favourite moments of the series been so far?

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