Professional Sales Impact Podcast

Nick Bramley, CEO of IMPACTUS Group shares his ideas and practical tips on all things connecting your personal branding to your professional sales impact in the second of a two-part podcast looking at Personal Brand, Professional Sales Impact.

Have a listen – hopefully it will inspire some ideas, or that of your team.

Feedback as always, most welcome……  Enjoy!

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Personal Branding Podcast

The Next 100 Days Podcast

Nick Bramley, CEO of IMPACTUS Group shares his ideas and practical tips on all things personal branding related in the first of a two-part podcast looking at Personal Brand, Professional Sales Impact.

Have a listen – hopefully it will inspire some ideas, or that of your team.

Feedback as always, most welcome……  Enjoy!

Click Here

Top Tips For Networking Success

A set of practical tips from Nick Bramley, Director of Impact (CEO) at IMPACTUS Group

The following represent top tips for networking success.  They are tried, tested and proven to deliver significant results and confidence improvement at all levels and in all sorts of business environments…..

Which ones would improve your performance?

 Networking is NOT selling………

Don’t go to sell, go to see who you might build an initial relationship with?  Networking is about identifying people who MAY have a common interest and the event should simply be the catalyst to setting up a meeting over a coffee at a later date…….

Before attending any networking event or meeting, make sure you are prepared…..

Ask yourself, do you know the format or structure of the event, who else is attending, what is expected of you, what will I have to do, if anything in the event in terms of speaking, meeting, presenting etc?  All events have some structure or format and forewarned is forearmed………

Most people are on some level, less than comfortable – This is good!

90% of people are not comfortable networking and meeting strangers, including, quite likely, you!  The good news if you approach someone with a line like “do you mind if I join you” is that there is likely no chance of anything other than a positive response….

Fear of not breaking into groups or being left on your own is natural but unrealistic.  Be positive and make the first move…….

Put other people at ease….

Don’t dive straight into business.  Ask about how they found the venue, parking, have they been here before, what brings them here, do they know many people etc.

When you have done some small talk about the venue, parking etc, ask them what they do and then get to a more business focus of the conversation, when both are relaxed…….

Don’t get pre-judged by your “opening”…..

People make assumptions based on things like job titles – “I am a Solicitor, Accountant, Project Manager etc”.  If you introduce yourself by a job title, this can be the danger as they will already have an idea of what you are or do and you may be tarred with a brush that is not accurate.

Try introducing yourself by what you actually do for clients, rather than what your job title is – try, “I help my clients to make more money and be more successful”, “I try to keep the rail network running and help to get people to work on time”, “I am helping my clients to make the most of their assets in the current economic climate”, etc.

Much more interesting and guaranteed to generate a response such as “how do you do that”?  A great conversation starter…….

Use open questions to build a conversation…..

When engaging in conversation, take care to use open questions.  Who, what, where, when, how, why all build conversation and cannot be answered with a clipped or simple yes or no.

Closed questions make for awkward silences and difficult engagement……

Write it down – With permission!

When you have a business card from the other person (get it early when you are discussing the geography of where they work), keep hold of it in visible sight.

Putting it away in your pocket is dismissive and rude.  Also, a business card can be a conversation extender when you see the address, other offices, brand positioning, mission statements etc.

If you have the card and someone makes a relevant or interesting comment, use the card to make a note of it, but only after asking permission.  If you write on the card without permission, this is rude too!

Know the broader business agenda – Have an opinion…..

Don’t be caught out not knowing what the wider business agenda is.  Be well read so you can have an opinion on the current agenda.  Check out for news headlines from across the region and don’t be afraid to express an opinion.

Opinions are memorable and thought provoking…….

Don’t get lumbered – Have a plan for moving around the room…..

 Make sure you have a target for meeting people.  Make sure that you meet this target by always being aware of the time you have spent with a person or group.

Networking conversations should be 10 minutes maximum before deciding to move on.  Don’t leave someone on their own for you to go networking elsewhere, it is rude.

Ask them if they wish to join you – they may decline, but that would be their choice and therefore not rude.

If networking over a formal lunch or dinner – take control

It is easy to talk only to those on either side of you.  If you are sitting around a table, ask those around you if “this is one of those events where we all introduce ourselves”?

Get some momentum for that idea and then engage with the rest of the table to do just that.

When people do their introductions etc, if they are short, using name, rank, serial number only, ask a few questions so that when it is your turn, you can give it a decent shot without making the others look bad.

Better still, volunteer to go first as this will set a decent standard for others to follow and they will appreciate this.  Make sure you come across as self deprecating “I don’t mind, I have done a couple of these before and at least I will get it over with” rather than an aggressive little volunteer.

Wait for the clutter of drinks service, vegetarian service etc to be over before starting!

Where and when to network?

There are literally dozens of places to network.  Check out the ones that meet your requirements.

Who goes, what seniority, what are they likely to be interested in, will I meet the right people?

Don’t go unless you know it will be of value and even then, go twice to check out if this is a typical structure, before committing to anything.

The game plan……..

Have a game plan for your overall networking strategy, including;

  • Arrive Early
  • Plan to Stay a Little Later
  • Be Prepared – Seating Plan / Delegate List
  • Have a Focus
  • Engage Help – The Event Organiser – They Will Introduce You…..
  • Take Your Diary
  • Switch Off Phone
  • Better – Leave it in Car!
  • Be Yourself
  • Go For It……


Go networking with an attitude of “how can I help” and business will come back many times over.  If you go with the attitude of “what can I sell”, you will be seen as shallow and hard……

Good Luck!


Top Tips For Outbound Calling Success

A set of practical tips from Nick Bramley, Director of Impact (CEO) at IMPACTUS Group

The following represent top tips for telephone success.  They are tried, tested and proven to deliver significant results and confidence improvement at all levels and in all sorts of business environments…..

Which ones would improve your performance?

 Plan your call activity in “sessions”……

Spur of the moment calls will always be less productive as you are less

Prepared and have no momentum.  Even confident and experienced callers start slowly, so if you only ever conduct a few calls at a time, you will never make any calls when in top form…..

Planning activity also means it will happen!

Create a “do not disturb” mentality…..

Get your colleagues to take inbound calls, ignore the emails and switch off your mobile.  2 hours is all you need to generate 25 – 30 outbound calls and a number of real opportunities.

Letting your colleagues know not to disturb will really help to generate  results!

Remove the temptation to stop…..

Have your drink to hand, have your snack ready, be prepared with pen, notepaper, data, PC etc and go to the loo…..   If you have a bad start to your session, it is easy to look for reasons to leave the desk and the session is effectively over.

Don’t leave the desk on a low!

Separate your call types…..

Success comes from momentum and confidence.  Splitting your call types into first calls, follow up calls, existing customer calls, new research calls, etc and doing them in blocks get you in the right “zone” for each call type and generates better results.

Don’t blow your cover…..

If ringing for research (finding a name, checking an email etc), never engage the prospect in a sales conversation at this time even if put directly through.

You are ill-prepared with your key messages, mentally not ready, likely to mumble and bumble and you will not be as successful as in a first call session.  You will also burn the data for future use.

If you have sent a pre-approach, never mention it!

Never lead with “I recently sent you some information”……

In the game that is telemarketing, they can easily get you off the phone with the response “I did not receive it – can you please send it again”?  This creates work for you, delays the conversation and gives them the upper hand.  If they mention the pre-approach, okay, but you should never do so first…..

Know your strike rate…..

If you know how many calls you need to make to get a result (appointment, sale, piece of information etc), you can work on improving all the time, but also not panic if the session is not going your way.

Confidence comes from how good you know you are or can be and accepting the fact that sometimes a session is just not going well, but that it is not down to your lack of skill!

Lead with a short list of hooks and benefits….

You have 15 seconds or less to grab the attention.  It is what you can do for them, not what you actually do that is important.

Name dropping of like minded customers or references to cost saving, making a job easier, performance improvement etc always work well.

Listen and “drive” the conversation…..

Two ears, one mouth – that is the right proportion.  When needing to drive a conversation, use plenty of open questions and simply listen.

People talk more if you let them….

Welcome objections but cluster them…. 

It is not a game of tennis.  Ask “what are the reasons why we may not be doing business or having that appointment” and once you have checked that you have them all, agree to tackle them all together and knock them over as a group.

Much more powerful and successful and they cannot come back with any further ones if you have already asked for them all and handled them…..

Leaving a message expecting a return call is naïve….

98% of voicemail messages are of no use to you but you must listen all the way through just in case.

Never leave a message (they will not ring you back and they have the upper hand).  Ring back and ask a colleague to confirm the whereabouts of the prospect or that they are the one you need.  Never leave a message with the colleague either…..

Good call notes equal business today, tomorrow and in the future

 Never write “not in” if you know why.  Never write “asked me to call back in January” without a reason why today was no good. 

A strong call note today proves in January that you had the earlier call and you can always exaggerate when they realise this with “you promised me an appointment if I rang back in January”.

You cannot do this if they don’t believe you called initially….. 

There are only 4 reasons for the call…….

To speak to the person you have as a target

To find out where that target is (on holiday, in a meeting, away from desk etc).

To establish a time when the target will be available if they are not?

To re-confirm that the target is the one responsible for decisions on your area of interest (even if a research call confirmed this earlier in the process). You only need to re-confirm once…..

Good Luck & Remain Positive!

Top Tips For Client Meeting Success


A set of practical tips from Nick Bramley, Director of Impact (CEO) at IMPACTUS Group

The following represent top tips for meeting success.  They are tried, tested and proven to deliver significant results and confidence improvement at all levels and in all sorts of business environments…..

Which ones would improve your performance?

  •  Before attending any meeting, make sure you are prepared….. 

Have you gone through a checklist of everything you will need in the meeting and done some research on the people and the business you are meeting with?

It is always difficult to rescue a meeting if your lack of preparation is evident.  Winging it only works occasionally and should not become the standard for meeting preparation.

  • If travelling to the meeting, have on some rousing music to increase your enthusiasm and alertness…..

Whatever your musical tastes, loud and rousing is better than mellow ballads……  If meeting at your office, put on some music as you prepare….

  • Don’t provide the other participants with any initial negative impressions….

Make sure you arrive on time (preferably a little early) and don’t come armed with a lot of clutter – the key is to look as if you are there for a functional purpose, not as if you are set to stay all day.

  • If you are going to use a laptop, have it powered and ready in “hibernate” or “standby” mode…..

Watching a laptop warm up can be excruciatingly slow and many people focus on this, rather than on their hosts or guests, to the detriment of initial relationship building.

  • Have an idea of what a successful outcome would be from your meeting?

It may be obtaining a purchase order, but it may equally be getting to the next stage in the process, a request for a proposal, being added to a preferred supplier list or just not being shown the door.

This is your target, and without one, you have little to gauge success (or failure) against.

  • However long or short the meeting, you must take initial control….

You should “signpost” what you expect from the meeting such as its structure, anticipated timings, what outcomes you are seeking and then, most importantly, consult with the other participants to check they agree with the proposed format.

By “signposting” you will not have people unsure of what happens next, where they are in the meeting structure, or looking at their watches instead of listening and participating actively.

  • Never assume that your agenda or even the reason for the meeting is the same for both parties…..

Ask open questions after setting the format as they help clarify the position as all participants see it.  Be prepared to change your initial plan to react to anything that the other party or parties contribute.

Despite some pre-research and possible call notes to accompany the appointment, when face to face, the agenda may well differ from expectations so a flexible approach needs to be adopted.

  • The format of the meeting should ALWAYS be…..

 1 – The other participants go first, answering your open questions and outlining their position

2 – You now present your offering, focusing your presentation on the issues raised in their initial session

3 – Discuss your offering against their position

4 – Handle any objections (see later tip)

5 – Seek agreement

6 – Ask for an output, whether that is a sale or a call to action.  (Many people fail to ask at this crucial time for fear of “spoiling” a good meeting)

7 – Agree next steps, responsibilities and timescales

  • If there are any objections to your proposals or presentation, acknowledge them, but agree to handle them all in a block at the end of your presentation…..

Then think about incorporating some content into your presentation that covers the objections and removes the sting from them.  Objections are to be welcomed, but should not be handled like a tennis match.

  • Never offer a proposal or a report as a standard follow up…..

This will always receive a positive response but will create extra work in cases where there is no need or intent on the other side of the table.

Always ask ‘What happens next’?

If the other participants need or want a proposal or report, that is very different from you simply offering one.  Always agree a realistic timescale for the provision of such reports.

Good Luck!


Top Tips to Maximise Inbound Calls

A set of practical tips from Nick Bramley, Director of Impact (CEO) at IMPACTUS Group

The following represents the process for the effective management and handling of inbound telephone calls.  This process is tried, tested and proven to deliver significant results and confidence improvement at all levels, whilst improving customer service and sales opportunities into the bargain!….

What would improve your performance?

Any incoming call could be a sales enquiry or opportunity.  The problem is you don’t know which may be sales opportunities and which are more general inbound calls?

Also, unlike if you are making the call, when receiving them, you are never at your best in terms of preparedness……

This is often reflected in a poor qualification of the real opportunity and a less than satisfactory handling of the enquiry into the right area of the business to deal with it.

Result – a lost opportunity!

When dealing with inbound sales or enquiry calls that could lead to sales, there are a few general principles to follow;

  • Despite a lack of preparedness, readiness or willingness to take the actual call, stop what else you are doing and concentrate on listening to the caller.
  • Let the caller outline the nature of their call – no interruptions.
  • When they have finished, ensure that as a result of listening and making any notes, you are fully aware of their requirements.
  • Start from a position of agreeing with them and not starting off as dismissive or defensive, whatever they have said….. Assuming that they are not right for your business through receipt of a short burst of information, or from their telephone manner is dangerous.

Result – a lost opportunity!

  • They may have a number of requirements, a headline – “I want someone to come and meet me to discuss….” and a subplot – “I have a number of things I would like to discuss with someone” or “I may be interested in…”
  • Deal with the headline first in a positive manner with phrases such as “I am sure that we can sort that out for you”, “I would be happy to arrange that for you”, etc, etc….
  • The purpose of this is to put the caller at ease on the assumption that they will be getting what they want. Clearly this is not always, or even anywhere near always the case, but remember, non-defensive and non-dismissive at this early stage.

Now is the time to establish what happens next?

  • Now, with the caller at ease you need to establish of their request is valid or whether they are not for you or the business. You do this by stating “in order to establish who would be best to deal with your requirements (meeting request, points of interest, enquiry, whatever), I need to ask you a few short questions and then we can arrange (whatever their headline or sub-plot is).
  • Even if you think they are a time waster by their tone, manner, nature of their call etc, you cannot assume so unless you have asked the questions. To do so would potentially lose a valuable opportunity just because the caller had an unusual manner or approach.


These are non-standard depending on the nature of the call, but could and should cover some of the following (not necessarily in this order);

  • Can I ask why you thought of (our company) for this particular enquiry?
  • Can I ask if you have spoken to anyone else at (our company) previously?
  • What are you looking for from us today (apart from the meeting request)?

Then, and only then will you be best placed to respond to the caller’s headliner and sub-plot either by;

“Thanks for the information – on the basis of what you have said, my colleague, Mr A or Miss B will be best placed to deal with this.  I will just put you through to them”.

Here, you MUST precise the call and the nature of the enquiry to your colleague to avoid the caller having to repeat themselves……

You may even make a recommendation to the colleague regarding the headline request for a meeting etc if appropriate.

The alternative is a kind and polite……

“Thanks for ringing (name of company) with this opportunity, however on the balance of what you have told me, I regret that this is not one for us”.

There is little or no need to have to justify your decision (especially to a time waster) but if you have to it is likely to be on the nature of what you provide or do against the nature of their actual requirements and not having a meeting of the two…..

Remember – It is not combat. 

Agree with their request at the outset, however strange it may seem.

It is easy to say no later on, but always from a position of knowledge not assumption.

Stop and listen and be ready to make notes!

Good Luck & Remain Positive!

Top Tips for Creating an Employee Social Media Policy


A long, but valuable article by Victoria Tomlinson of Northern Lights PR (now Next-Up)

How are your employees using social media?  And do your employee policies advise them what you do or don’t find acceptable business behaviour?

If your first instinct is that your business does not need to worry about social media – have you checked who is on LinkedIn? What if colleagues mention a client on Facebook when they go home in the evening?  And is your recruitment policy clear about whether a YouTube clip of a candidate drunk should affect the decision to hire them?

Here are our tips for developing an employee social media policy that will both protect and add value to your business.

Please note:  these are guidelines only.  Any social media policy should be checked and approved by your HR and legal advisers.

Consult with your staff on what their needs and uses are

Your policy should reflect your business culture and values and help your employees understand what they can and can’t do.  Few managers will be able to imagine the whole range of ways that your employees are using social media and how it is impacting on their jobs.  And it is changing by the month.

Bring together a steering group of employees to say how social media affects their jobs, where the cross-overs are between work and personal life and what they think the policy should include.  They can also advise on tricky areas where there is no clear cut answer.

These employees can become your ambassadors to explain the policy once agreed and get buy-in from colleagues.

The steering group should meet once or twice a year to review developments in social media and revise the policy as needed.

Ensure social media is a part of your core business activities

Social media is still seen by many business leaders as something for ‘teenagers’.  And consequently social media activities are delegated to interns, the youngest recruit or a junior member of the marketing team because ‘they have a Facebook account’.

Social media needs to be understood and managed by the senior management team – it has high risks as well as considerable opportunities.  Rarely will a young employee have the skills needed to ensure it is used strategically.

You need social media to be a part of your core business activities – not an afterthought added on.  It should be included in strategic marketing and internal communications plans.  And these will guide what you need to include in your employee social media policy.

Define the dividing line between employees’ work and private life

This is rapidly becoming one of the most challenging issues for an organisation to decide.

On the one hand most of us instinctively say that a person’s private life is just that, private.  On the other when you are confronted on Google with evidence of your employee saying something shocking about your most important customer – most bosses would say that was unacceptable.  Even if the post had been made in the privacy of their home.

A good example of why this is so important was when the new head of MI5 was exposed for a major breach of security.  It was not he, but his wife who put details of their holiday on Facebook, without any privacy settings.

What would you do if an employee posted on Facebook in the evening ‘Had a s..t day at work.  Had enough’

  • If they mention the company name?
  • If they don’t mention the company name?

There is a Facebook group called ‘You’re Fired’ for employees who have been sacked for what they wrote on Facebook in their evenings.  It would be a good exercise to look at these stories and decide, in principle, what you would have done in these circumstances – this will help you shape your social media policy.

How far do you want to control employee social media profiles?

Most of the corporates we have worked with have decided that if an employee creates any social media profile which mentions they are an employee of their company, then this means they must follow corporate rules.

As an example, if they are on LinkedIn with their corporate job title

  • they can only join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to the company or their job role – not ones, say, for classic car enthusiasts, if this is just a personal passion
  • they can only post comments on their profile that are professional and business relevant
  • they cannot tick the box that says they are looking for a job and are happy to accept job approaches

It could be argued that some of these are starting to infringe a person’s private life.  The Human Rights Act 1998 suggests that employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace.  It also gives a ‘right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence’.

And it could be said that linking up with classic car enthusiasts is just another form of networking and might bring in new business.

All of this is for you to decide.

What counts for recruitment purposes?

The Independent newspaper reported “At Cambridge, at least one don has admitted ‘discreetly’ scanning applicants’ pages – a practice now widespread in job recruitment.  A survey released by Viadeo said that 62% of British employers now check the Facebook, My Space or Bebo pages of some applicants and that a quarter had rejected candidates as a result.  Reasons given….included concerns about excess alcohol abuse, ethics and job ‘disrespect’.”

This could potentially be regarded as a misuse of personal data, contravening the Data Protection Act 1998.

You need to agree clear guidelines for anyone recruiting to your organisation.  Questions to consider

  • Is what someone does while a student relevant to their working life?
  • Is it reasonable to look at whatever appears on a simple Google search?
  • If you find a lot of photos at drunken parties – should that count?
  • Do you have different rules for different levels of seniority and roles?

Who should manage your social media accounts?

Generally, corporate social media accounts are managed by the communications team who understand the protocol of social media and how to use it to build relationships with customers, suppliers and targets.

A few companies encourage all employees to use social media – particularly creative ones.  A number of chief executives who are good communicators are starting to use Twitter to engage with employees and customers (though it has to be said some ceos are not as good communicators nor as strategic as they think they are!).

Whatever you decide, your social media policy needs to state who can have accounts and what they can and can’t say.

You need to specify that whoever creates and manages any corporate social media accounts, must use a corporate password and registration details; keep a record of the password and ensure their manager and colleagues know what this is – to enable access over holiday periods and in emergencies.

There also needs to be a process for when employees leave a company that they hand over all site passwords and that these are changed.

Disciplinary procedures

You need to link your employee social media policy to other relevant policies, particularly your disciplinary procedures.

You will need to give clear examples of what will be regarded as gross misconduct, such as posting derogatory or offensive comments on the internet about your company or a work colleague. Acas research suggests that employers should weigh up the possible consequences of an employee’s actions – for example, is an employee merely letting off steam or do their comments actually harm the organisation’s reputation?

 Define who owns the content and contacts

Most businesses will accept that LinkedIn contacts are personal to an individual and can be taken with them when they leave.

However, Hays recruitment firm argued in court that an employee’s contacts were built through his job – and the court ordered the employee to hand them all over.  What is your position?

 Consider the impact of regulation in your social media

The most obvious issue here is for quoted companies.  Say, an employee unwittingly announces information that could affect share prices.  You can see how a junior manager might post on their LinkedIn account “Really excited, major breakthrough today in version 3 of our product.  Should be on the shelves within six months.  You’re going to love it”.

You need to work through particularly sensitive regulatory issues for your business and identify potential threats.  These should be specified and explained in your social media policy.

  1. Reflect your business culture

This is really important.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to social media policies.  They need to support your business plan and your values.

Social media can escalate issues – a customer complaint for instance.  You need to give your employees very clear advice about what they can and cannot say and how to handle various scenarios.

Time and again, badly handled crises have gone viral.  Look at the case of Ryanair and the comments their IT employees posted online.  This is now a case study in just about any handbook or blog on how (not) to handle crisis management.

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