‘You have to continue to be you, no matter what happens.’ Sales and marketing insights: from the Queen of startups

Our guest interviewee this month needs no introduction, unless you’ve been on the moon, Lean pals. Alison Edgar, better known as the Entrepreneur’s Godmother, set up and grew her business, winning multiple awards including Entrepreneur of the Year 2015. Recently she published a book ‘Secrets of Successful Sales,’ which is already an Amazon bestseller. She’s hilarious, inspirational and full of awesome advice. So I picked her brain for advice on how we can optimise our sales and marketing too.

 

Tell us a bit about you, about your company and what makes you different.

I’m Alison Edgar, Managing Director of Sales Coaching Solutions and the Entrepreneur’s Godmother. I work with startups, micro businesses and founders to teach them how to sell their services.

I think sales and marketing are complementary, marketing brings in the attention, and that helps sales. But for me, it’s human to human selling that gets money in the till! How am I different? Most people who’ve met me know that there’s only one of me. I’m one of a kind!

 

What common mistakes do you see startups and SME’s making in your field?

People rely too heavily on lazy marketing. They think that by putting up their website or doing a bit of social media, that their phone is going to start to ring and the business will go from there. When you’re creating a brand, it’s highly unlikely that people will ring you up in those first few months.

You have to pick up the phone and make calls. You have to network. Yes, you’ve got to do your marketing. But guys, you’ve GOT to get out there and meet people too.

Have you heard of Gym Shark? Their target market is 16-24 year olds, so most of their sales happen online. Even though they don’t have physical stores, they’re still out networking. Gym Shark have a multi-million pound turnover, so there’s a lesson there. Identify your ideal client, identify where they are, and then go out there and meet people!

 

In a single sentence, tell us about the biggest challenge of your career to date. How did you overcome it, and what did you learn?

For me, one of the hardest things I had to do was write a book. Because as a dyslexic, it’s hard to spend a year writing one thing.

I overcame it by asking for help. That wasn’t easy to do. To start with I had someone help me with the writing, but the words didn’t sound like me. In the end I had to start again, because how I sound is so important to my brand. So I ended up sitting down, dictating what I thought, and getting into the rhythm of writing that way, checking and editing until we eventually had a book.

From this I think I learned a big lesson. Focus on the things you don’t like as much as the things you do. The hardest thing was bringing in business during this process, while I was trying to write a book I still had to bring in sales. I learned I had to discipline myself, create small deadlines and follow a structure. I met my 12 month goal and on 1st January 2017 we had a finished book.

 

Let’s get Lean. What single thing takes up the most time in your business?

Oh that’s easy. For me it’s social media! I get distracted and faff around a lot. Even though what I’m doing is meaningful, I know I spend too much time online. On the other hand, over 50% of our revenue last year came from business generated via LinkedIn. For example, following up with a single profile view, we ended up running a huge event in Kuwait. So, even though I spend a lot of time faffing, it does generate revenue in the long term.

 

How do you market your product or service?

I’m a big believer in ‘Do what you do best, outsource the rest,’ so I actually hired a team member to focus on marketing. That person manages everything we do. Sometimes we switch on Facebook or Google advertising, but it depends on the campaign or the time of year.

But, in my opinion, I think people are the best marketing tool. For your business, you’re the biggest marketing tool. And for my business, the same is true. It’s me going out, speaking at events and talking about what we do that markets the business.

 

What marketing challenges did you face at the start of your business?

At the start of a business it was a huge challenge. I over-thought what I was doing, whether my grammar was perfect. I had to get someone to check everything right from the start. And still today, I get pulled up on spelling. It’s difficult with dyslexia, because people who correct think they’re being helpful, but sometimes it’s rude. So when you’re on social media, commenting on other people’s posts, always try to think about the impact it has on them.

I don’t think you ever stop caring about what other people think. Whether it’s a review, or a comment on social media, or an email, you’re always going to have people critique your work. You have to continue to be you. One day you’ll be in the doldrums, the next day you’re riding high. Whatever happens, just keep being yourself, keep talking about what you do.

 

If there was one marketing piece of advice you could offer, what would it be?
Right, my final advice is this: don’t worry too much. Be true to who you are and keep being yourself. Whatever you’re doing, be authentic, because if you’re not, the façade will slip. You’ll grow a true, loyal audience by being yourself, and that’s my final bit of guidance.

Brilliant! I really enjoyed talking to Alison about how she grew her business, and it’s so true. When you’re marketing your business, be yourself! Be fearless, take risks, and continue to keep pushing the boundaries like Alison does. What’s the worst that could happen?

 

If you’d like to feature on our blog, get in touch, and to find out more about Alison Edgar and her services, head to: https://alisonedgar.com/