Commissioned Article DEBATE Journal – www.debatejournal.co.za – SA Autumn 2013
“Bill, we are impressed with your down-to-earth presentation style, your humour and the amazing amount of content that has real breadth and depth! But, we don’t want another European or North American speaker/consultant who speaks at our conferences, inspires and excites us, takes the money, visits a game farm and then goes home…never to be seen again. We want someone who will commit to the country and help us build and improve our businesses.”
Contextually that was the message that South African business executives gave Canadian business speaker, Bill Gibson, after his presentations in the mid 90’s at business seminars sponsored by Radio 702 (In the Stan Katz and Rivak Bunce days) and at conferences sponsored by Peter Aspinall of Strategic Business Services and The Institute Of Marketing Management.
Bill Gibson, Chairperson, Knowledge Brokers International (KBI) on his approach to delivering results for South African Businesses.
Bill, how did you respond to their request?
I immediately “time blocked” 6 to 8 week visits to SA and by late 1997 I was so busy I didn’t return to Canada. The rest is history!
Something major must have happened to influence your decision? What was it?
A major bank set up Knowledge Brokers International (now owned by Bill Gibson) and approached me to enter into a partnership to build generic sales, sales management and personal marketing and customer service systems and programs that could be marketed worldwide and be utilised by internal managers and trainers within corporations long after myself or my people leave. They were looking for something that would add longevity and sustainability to a company’s investment in training.
So what did you build?
Over the next few years I built the 25 Module – The Complete Sales Action System, the 8 Module – Managing Complex Business Relationships System, the 43 Module – The Professional Sales Representative Career Program, the Turning Entrepreneurial Spirit Into Business Opportunities Program and a number of other sales and morale building programs.
Who are some of your clients?
Clients who have utilised my systems or me personally include Nedbank, ABSA, Sanlam, Zurich Insurance, Santam, Siemens, MTN Business, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom Business, Adcock Ingram, United Stations, Kaya FM, Media 24, The Aurecon Group, and even The Communications Directorate Of The Presidency of South Africa.
Is there a secret to your approach?
Because of the results I achieved in radio and television advertising sales in Canada years ago, I got invited by The Radio Bureau of Canada to tour Canada showing other radio advertising sales representatives “how to market radio advertising (marketing needs analysis approach) instead of just selling radio advertising.”
I wouldn’t call it a secret unless doing a proper needs analysis is a secret. For example an international insurance company in Dubai recently was referred to me by their sister business in South Africa. I have a trip to Dubai and 7 days already invested in interviews with executives and frontline people and I still haven’t written the proposal. It’s vital that we find out what’s really going on in a company before giving our diagnosis and suggested solutions.
Are you not gambling on wasting your time?
No, the more information I have the better chance I have of hitting the target with real business solutions that meets the client’s needs and desires. Naturally we will only take this approach with clients where we know there is a fit and they have the budget to invest in our solutions. Because of this approach we seldom participate in open tenders where you have to respond to a prepared Expression Of Interest (EOI) or Request For Proposal (RFP).
Why is that?
Most of the time they won’t give you permission to go into the company and scope the project properly. You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is. Besides most of the time what they say they need is really not what they need.
It’s their business. Surely the executives know what they need. Don’t they?
There is a saying “the customer is always right.” If that were true there would be no need for salespeople…order-takers could fulfil the request. The customer is not always right. My philosophy is “the customer always should be thoroughly listened to and always respected.” The average executive is so busy with running their division or company that often they really don’t have the time to truly investigate what is needed. For example an executive may assume that his or her team knows how to target the right clients. Then under close investigation we find they haven’t categorised all their present and potential clients under categories such as AAA, AA, A, B and C and haven’t decided on whether the strategy should be Retain, Develop, Regain or Gain. My estimate would be that 90% of the salespeople and even key account managers throughout the world are too quick to put in a quote or proposal. Salespeople are not in the “quote” and “proposal” business…they are in the business of providing real solutions in turn landing the right profitable business for their companies.
From a sales perspective can you simplify your philosophy and processes?
Yes I can. Focus on the right clients, right prospects and the right influencers within organisations with the right frequency of contact, with the right data base (frequency) selling methods and tools, with the right personnel from your company, with the right skills, at the right time and with the right attitude. It is about the right focus with the right activities! It is about investing your time, energy, ability, money and reputation instead of spending these assets.
Do you have one final message?
Recently I got a request from a client for sales training. My question to their executive team was, “are you looking for sales training or are you looking for sales results?” Their answer was “sales results.” Sales results comes from a combination of tried and proven processes and methodologies mixed with a buy-in strategy, skills improvement, measurement, the right technologies, the right work habits, personal motivation, changing mind-sets and implementation, operationalization and sustainability tools and methods. It is a holistic approach. We take a partnership approach with our clients because we believe relationships are important although clients are not just looking for friends they are looking for partners who are strong and knowledgeable that will do what it takes to deliver both qualitative and quantitative results. By the way we also utilise these principles throughout organisations, not just in sales. We can even work with government and educational institutions.
We are out of writing space. How do we learn more about you and your solutions?
Have a look at the articles on my blog www.bill-gibson.com especially under the headings of sales, marketing and sales and key account management. You can follow me on Twitter @billgibson1, visit our website www.kbitraining.com or contact me personally +27 11 784 1720.
“Bill Gibson’s material is built on first-hand experience…not theory based on theory. Not only does his life of selling and sales management shine through, his unique way of delivery can hold sales teams literally for days. He is gifted with the ability to act as a change agent and gain quick but long term buy-in. In every organisation that I have applied his processes and methodologies we have experienced real measurable sales results.”
– William Surmon, National Head of Sales & Distribution
Zurich Insurance Company South Africa Ltd
“Many trainers try to do what Bill Gibson does. The difference is that he gets involved with your company. His system has been refined over many years and it really works.”
– Tyrone Sharnock, sales manager at Kaya FM
“The most inspiring, amazing and comprehensive Sales, Business Development and Marketing Programs on the planet. Wow!”
– Dr. John Demartini, Bestselling Author of “How to Make One Hell of A Profit and Still Get to Heaven”, “The Riches Within”, “The Breakthrough Experience” and contributing author to “The Secret”
“Controlled Group of 113 Financial Advisers – “Group 1 over Group 3 = 600% up”
– Jannie Rossouw, Sanlam / Nexus – (Now Sanlam Cobalt)
“We can now measure both Qualitative and Quantitative Results for the first time.”
– Joachim Pfautsch, Business Development Manager, Middle East and South Africa, Siemens Building Technologies and Security Division, Switzerland.