By Tim Taylor
IT is one of the UK’s best kept business secrets that the British Isles boast award winning and renowned sales gurus in Bryn Thompson and Steve Lowndes. Between them, they have assessed and trained over 20,000 members of sales and sales management teams in over 50 countries across every continent.
There is an ironic paradox in this. They’re paid to shout about everybody except themselves, yet a variety of industries, from FTSE 100 companies to tech start-ups, hire the expertise of their Cheshire based business, New World Selling. Steve is also head of sales training for the Manchester based agency This Is Prime.
You could argue they have taken a gamble in making so many of their secrets available by becoming co-authors of a newly published book you can buy for £14.99 in paperback and as little as £7.99 for the ebook version.
Called Transformational Selling, the book has attracted praise on a global scale from their peers in the world of sales and these authors are big league. It is receiving five-star reviews on Amazon.
Bryn and Steve work with international businesses such as Kroll, the American corporate investigation and risk consulting firm with a $1.8 billion turnover and VPS (offices in Rotterdam, Houston, Singapore and the Middle East) a global leader in fuel and oil testing who operate in the marine, power and renewables sectors.
The book launches were held on successive evenings in Mayfair and Suburban Green in Wilmslow, and the authors were back in London a couple of weeks later fitting in a short video plugging the book while creating a work related training film at The Shard.
It would be difficult to create such a recipe for success without a passionate and generous crusading spirit. Yet when I was given a review copy of the book by a friend of one of the authors, I approached it more from the hard-nosed attitude of a journalist of mature years reading a book on sales for the first time, just for a change.
Right from the start it attracted my attention by explaining why a Transformational Seller would have little difficulty in persuading me to buy a Kindle had I had walked into a store in search of a power drill.
More about that later, but you will find the explanation logical.
The overall appeal of the book is that it contains more answers than questions. For instance, how would you persuade a purchasing manager buying earth moving equipment that air conditioning is a necessity rather than a luxury?
The solution runs along similar lines as the answer to two other questions posed later on in the book.
Firstly, you discover a suggestion as to how to go about it should you ever find yourself having to sell a new type of ski surface to the secretary of the British Ski Association . . . having got off to the worst possible start by not knowing who he was.
Then when one of the authors, having set out to buy a new car intent on choosing between German manufacturers, ends up with a Volvo. In different ways, safety was the determining factor on each of all three occasions.
Or step back in time to just after the Brexit vote in 2016 and pitch up in Paris, where their task was to win a major sales training contract from a French company and beat off French opposition in a country where Brexit was an unpopular decision. How on earth did they manage to emerge victorious?
The authors once worked with a large logistics business and the UK CEO introduced them to the whole of his sales team with the following statement: “Most of our clients don’t give a s**t about our products or services.” What happened next?
Why did an inexperienced candidate for a government defence role clinch a job as National Sales Manager because he had been a world top ten squash player? (He was an outstanding success in the job.).
This book could just as easily have been called Thinking Outside The Box . . . especially when one of the authors found themselves up against two market leaders in trying to sell sunbeds to local authority leisure centres, at a time when there were safety issues connected with over use of sun beds.
How did they finish first on that occasion? Create a Centre of Excellence for Safer Tanning!
A running theme is that the Transformational Seller needs to be the catalyst for change in the way the customer engages with them, how they make decisions and the way in which they operate.
The conversation between seller and customer goes beyond simply exploring the customer’s operational issues and moves to a higher level, to understand what success looks like for the customer and what they are trying to achieve. In short, what the business outcomes will be.
For a seller to fully put themselves in their customer’s shoes, the conversation needs to explore relatively abstract traits which frequently tend to be overlooked, such as reliability, adaptability, flexibility, trustworthiness and demonstrating value.
So let’s learn a bit more about these two first time authors and more about what they do.
Both keen on a variety of sports, with a mutual love of cricket and rugby union, they combine 70 years’ worth of sales experience and act as sales and leadership consultants to help businesses improve sales process, strategy and the soft skills development of their sales teams and sales leaders.
They are frequently brought in by private equity companies who wish to maximise their portfolio investments through increased sales. They have delivered programs in the USA, Canada, and many European countries, including Malta, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and extensively across the UK.
In terms of awards, their Oscars are the “Besmas”, the British Excellence in Sales and Marketing Awards.
Bryn Thompson, who lives in Prestbury, is a former UK Sales Leader of the Year and was instrumental in significantly expanding Pareto’s sales training business for 12 years. During that time the company grew from £8m to over £30m organically. Pareto is now wholly owned by Randstad, the largest recruitment company in the world.
Said Bryn: “Fostering collaboration with clients is essential. Treat your client as an equal, don’t adopt a servant master relationship. Get them at each stage of the sales process to agree to certain actions to move the deal forward.
“You can’t help them to achieve their outcomes if they won’t agree to this, so if they want an ‘arm’s length’ relationship then it may be time to move on.”
Steve Lowndes, who lives in Wilmslow, was a finalist in the UK Sales Trainer of the Year, has a BSc in chemistry, an MBA and a post graduate diploma in learning and development.
He said: “Clients know what outcomes they need, but not always the best way to achieve them. You are the expert, working with many companies helping to solve similar issues.
“What are the problems they face? How do we help to solve them and how does this help them to achieve success? This builds credibility and trust.”
Bryn and Steve first hit upon the idea of writing a book when they shared a couple of beers during a training assignment in Dallas, and Texas is the home of one of the book’s American admirers, Jesseke Rathke.
A coach and trainer for language services, Jesseke says: “Transformational Selling is a great read with many helpful quotes to share with my niche industry.”
Jem Duducu, from West London, is a highly experienced Sales Trainer who also writes history books, and is a Director of Secret Codex Ltd.
He said: “Transformational Selling is the best book I’ve ever read about sales. I’ve known both Bryn and Steve for years and they are the real deal. I would thoroughly recommend you grab a copy.”
The foreword to the book was written by the Liverpool based Andy Bounds, a global sales expert, award winning consultant and best-selling author. Andy said: “’I love this book. New ideas. Beautifully written. Want to sell more? Read this!’”
To finish this article by returning to what seems an unlikely change of mind from wanting a power drill to buying a Kindle, the start of the book invites the reader to imagine the following scenario . . .
A man goes into a store and says: “I’m after a power drill.”
“What sort of drill are you looking for?” asks the storeowner.
“One that’s reasonably powerful – I need to be able to drill through solid brick walls.”
“OK,” responds the storeowner. “So why are you looking to drill through solid brick walls?”
“I need to put up some shelves in my living room,” the man explains.
“So, you’re a bit of a DIY enthusiast, are you?”
“Goodness, no, I hate DIY. I’d much rather be reading a good book.
”Are you an avid reader then?”
“I read whenever I can: at home, on the bus to work, during my lunch hour or on my way home.”
“What sort of books do you read?”
“Everything: crime, thrillers, comedy, biographies. I love them all. That’s the reason why I need the shelves. My bookcase is already full and I need somewhere to store more books.”
“And you always carry a book around with you?”
“Sometimes more than one – I always want to make sure that if I finish one, I have another ready to start.”
“You don’t ever like to be without a book to read then, wherever you are, and you don’t have enough room to store them. What will happen when these shelves are full?”
“I guess I’ll have to put more up,” the man ponders.
“So, more DIY? It sounds like you don’t really want a drill at all. What you need is a more convenient way of storing books whilst also having a way of accessing any of your books wherever you are.”
“That would be perfect!” the man exclaimed.
“I have just the thing. . .”
Tim Taylor is a former Daily Mail and Daily Express staff journalist who is now a copywriter, publicist, media relations adviser and podcaster with a one-man business, Tim Taylor Publicity.
The book, Kindle and Audiobook are all available at:
Listen to Bryn Thompson and Steve Lowndes talking about their book and their amazing careers on this People of Performance podcast with Tim Taylor: