Georgia Interviews...Graeme Hall







This month, Georgia Interviews… brand
new author and Founder of sales improvement company Sales Blueprint Ltd, Graeme
Hall, on his first book, why he decided to author a book now, and how he’s
going to be distributing his book to achieve his marketing goals.

You can watch the 17 minute
interview in full in the video above, or read the edited write up below.





Georgia:

Hi
Graeme, thank you so much for joining us today. How are you?


Graeme:

I'm very well, thank you.


Georgia:

Graeme,
could you just start by telling us all a little about yourself and your
business?





Graeme:

Well, the short version is I
have a business called Sales Blueprint, which we've been running for 15 years
now. I describe us as a sales improvement organization. We work specifically
with private equity backed businesses. It's a niche that we came across ten
years ago now and have worked in ever since. We've become the go-to experts
in that field for sales operational improvement.




We have been doing it
successfully. When we do our thing, sales, on average, go up about 25% within
18 months. As a result, people who've invested in a business and would like
it to grow, and all the private equity firms we work with, their investment
case is based upon top line growth, clearly if we can add 25% to that, they're
interested in what we can do and that's really what we do every day.


Georgia:

Wow.
Those are some very impressive results!


Graeme:

Well, yeah, as I say, it's an
average and we're very realistic when we're talking to these people. Whatever
we bring to the party, ultimately the management have to buy into the it...
Effectively, we build the foundations for their company’s success, and
usually work with them for about six, nine, maybe twelve months.




The real success comes after we
have finished. If we've got the management involved, and they understand the
changes that we have made together, then they're able to continue to build on
those changes. That's where the real kicker comes, usually the success is two
or three years after we've first started, typically around the time the
business gets sold, the success is much more than 25%. We were the catalyst;
we aren't the sole reason that's happened.


Georgia:

There
are two important aspects to what you're doing. One is being very clear about
what aspects of sales performance you are there to help with, and the other
is your methodology, which the book really goes into detail on, which is what
people are able to take away and apply.




Could
you just reiterate who is a typical client for you?


Graeme:

It depends. We never forget that
our real client is the business that the private equity firm has invested in.
The private equity firms, if you like, are the introducers, and they're a
kind of client because we work for them pre-deal, when they are paying the
bill. Ultimately, the bulk of our business comes from the businesses they've
invested in. That's who we consider to be our client, normally.


Georgia:

Okay,
that makes sense.


Graeme:

Typically, their organization's
turning over somewhere between 10 and 50 million. We've proved that we're
very sector agnostic. We always believed that to be the case, but in the
early days the first thing people said was, "What have you done in this
sector before?" Certainly, in the first two or three years, the answer
was, "Well, absolutely nothing at all." To which our follow-up
question is, "Why does it matter?" Ultimately, best practice is
best practice. If you're an expert in one particular industry, that's fine,
but it's not transferable. Whereas if you're an expert, as we would claim to
be these days, in best sales management practice, then that's applicable in
any business.




It doesn't matter to us what
sector they're in. The only area we don't work in is retail, where the big
levers to pull in terms of success are not just the interaction with the
sales person. It's a lot more to do with location, stock availability, and
price architecture. We don't deal in any of those areas. Other than that, any
organization that fits that bill has a sales team of somewhere, typically,
between two or three and ninety-three. We can work with any number and have
done so. That includes even sectors that you might think are not very sales
focused, like domiciliary care, for example. You have to take the right
approach for that industry, but even so, good selling is still good selling.
It's a question of the environment that you do it in, when you do it, and who
does it, but the core doesn't change.


Georgia:

What
inspired you to author a book on this and what was the main message that you
really wanted to get across?


Graeme:

The message that I certainly
start the book with is that there really isn't a qualification that you can
get out there in sales or sales management. In sales management there is limited
availability, but unlike most professions, and we'd argue it is a profession,
there isn't something on your CV that tells somebody that you know about this
stuff. We've been fortunate to learn from some very good people along the
way, as well as make the sorts of mistakes that you can learn valuable lessons
from.




Having built that experience, we
wanted to create a repository where you could go for the best practice
knowledge. It was clear to us when we were talking to the sorts of
organizations that the private equity firms invest in, that they're
relatively immature in terms of what the private equity world calls
professionalization. In other words, there's a founder, and they've done a
brilliant job of building a business to a level. The private equity
investment is designed to take it to the next level. That's going to require
a different set of management disciplines.




The question is, if that's true,
where do you get those from? The answer was, "Actually, I'm not
sure." We wrote the book to satisfy that need and say, "Look, when
you move to the next stage, this is the knowledge that you're going to
need." It's taken us a long time to develop some of it, and to learn from
some very good people. We just wanted to say, "Look, let's put all this
in one place." It becomes, hopefully, a reference guide for people in
that situation. That's the primary driver behind writing, and writing it now.


Georgia:

Yeah,
that makes total sense. I think you've also just touched on a point there,
which is to put that information in a book as opposed to a brochure, for
example, nor would it go in a video. To package all of that knowledge and
experience in the right way, in a way that really creates value for people
reading it, and they can really learn something from it, it really needed to
be in a book format, didn't it?


Graeme:

Well, I think the book format is
useful, because despite the world being very digital these days, people still
do read books. It was written primarily for the private equity investors, who
typically get called general partners, and also the operational partners
within those firms who work with their portfolios. Those people still do like
actual, physical books. I also think what we were trying to create was
something that people could read a bit of, according to the situation that
they're in, or the particular challenge they're in, take something useful
that they can actually implement, and then read another bit later, rather
than have to read the whole damn thing.




It was really written as a book
because we felt that was the best way to get the message to the people whom
we wanted to convey it to.


Georgia:

How
do you plan to distribute the book now that it's out there and published?


Graeme:

Well, we did some marketing two
or three weeks ago which was basically two databases, really. We've had quite
a few people come back to us and say, "Yes, I'd like a complimentary
copy," and being clients, we offered that to them free.




Then the private equity world,
we've, again, told them that this is available. We've offered the first 200
people, a complimentary copy, most of which we've now had subscribed. We'll
use it in a variety of ways. We'll either market it to people and they can
buy it, which is great, but we didn't write it to make money out of book
sales.




I'll give you an example. I was
with somebody I've known for a long time who's at a new firm he's just set
up, and I was with him yesterday and I explained where we were with that. He
said that would be a brilliant reminder, to be able to dip in and out of
depending upon the management team we're sat in front of. He said,
"Yeah, send me one, that would be great." I think it's going to be
more of that then, as I say, we don't expect to sell lots of copies at lots
of money. That's not the driver that we had when we wrote it.


Georgia:

That's
not how it's going to help you in the business most.


Graeme:

We wanted to create a relatively
easy to read reference guide within that niche that we operate in. If we've
done that, then that's our aim achieved. If we happen to sell a few as well,
great, but that's not why we did it.


Georgia:

This
is the first and only book, as far as we're aware, in your niche. Is that
correct?


Graeme:

It is. We did some research
which suggests that although there are lots and lots of sales management
books, most of them are generic, and most of them haven't been published or
updated for ten years or so. We wanted to capture the essence of now and also
the particular dynamics that affect the private equity backed business. It's
not the same as a privately owned business, partly because there's usually an
obvious drive for growth, as I've mentioned, but there's a drive for
acquisition, for example, and there's also a desire to realize value for all
the shareholders, not just the ones who initially invest. Therefore, there's
a sense of urgency about growing this business within an agreed plan. That
brings different dynamics to the way the board operates.




For example, one of the reasons
we talk in the book about finding the right talent and bringing them on board
successfully, and I'm sure anybody listening to this will know finding good
salespeople is the perennial problem, partly because not many people know
what good looks like. Good salespeople are still rare. One of the challenges,
and the reason we focused on, part of it was to say, "Look, this is what
happens when you do find good people, and how to make sure that you keep
them."







The book was written
specifically for those people who want to grow, grow rapidly, and do so
within an agreed time frame.


Georgia:

That's
wonderful. You’ve claimed your niche, you've made this information available
to people that didn't know where to access it before. Can you tell people
where they can find more about you and Sales Blueprint, and just reiterate
the title of your book?





Graeme:

Our website is salesblueprint.co.uk. We all use
Facebook, and we use all the other social media channels, so we're not
difficult to find. To contact me directly, my email address is ghall@salesblueprint.co.uk. Even
though we entitled the book “The Secrets to a Successful Sales Operation”, in
reality they're not that secret. Most of what people say to us when we do our
thing is, "Well, this is fairly common sense." We say, "It is,
absolutely, but it's not common practice." The aim of the book was to
help people turn it into common practice, because we know it works.


Georgia:

“The
Secrets to a Successful Sales Operation in a Private Equity Backed Business”
is available to buy on Amazon, and you can search by the title or by Graeme
Hall. Thank you very much, Graeme.


Graeme:

You are very welcome. Thank you.










Contact Sales Blueprint using the details above to learn more about
sales operations and sales improvement – the team would love to hear from you.

To find out more about how you can take ownership of your own niche, and
where authoring a book would sit on your marketing trajectory, say hello to Write Business Results at
info@writebusinessresults.com and a member of the team will get back to you
within 48 hours.










































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