Alison Edgar Trains Small Businesses How To Sell Proactively
Alison Edgar, The Entrepreneur’s Godmother, works with start-ups and small businesses, teaching them the skills they need to increase sales and grow a successful business. Alison started her business in 2011 following 20 years in corporate sales, she has since received a number of accolades for her work with enterprises; including being named One of the UK’s Top 10 Business Advisors, Richtopia’s 100 Influencial Entrepreneurs in the UK, winner of GB Entrepreneur of the Year Special Merit for Service in 2015 and was invited to afternoon tea with the queen. She has become well known in the UK’s entrepreneurial community and regularly featured in the press, including BBC Breakfast, Radio 4, The Telegraph and the Sunday Times. Alison is passionate about entrepreneurship and ensuring start-ups have the skills to develop a thriving businesses. She teaches entrepreneurs and business-owners worldwide, waving her wand and sprinkling her magic.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Working in corporate sales for over 20 years, I saw small businesses come and go. It was during the recession that I witnessed hundreds of businesses fold because they didn’t know how to proactively sell. If the phone didn’t ring, they didn’t know how to find customers and bring in money. Not only that, but working in a sales role alongside a pool of other sales people, I would see those that have the natural ability to sell and those that could never hit their targets. As one of the tops sales people in the company, I couldn’t understand why I found it so easy to continually hit targets, yet others would hit one, miss one and so on.
It was combination of those two reasons that motivated me to start my own business, Sales Coaching Solutions. I could see that there were businesses out there that needed the skills I had and after observing others on my team, I knew the skills and knowledge needed to make a great sales person. So I thought, why not share it with the world!
Tell us about your business.
The business has changed quite a bit since I started it in 2011. The business was initially called, Sales Coaching Solutions and worked with sales teams in SME’s teaching them the soft skills they need to increase sales and hit targets. I worked with a lot of businesses through the Growth Voucher program. This was a government funded scheme that provided match funding to small business, enabling them to access specialist support and advice.
In 2015 the UK Government withdrew the program, making it difficult for small businesses to access training. As a micro business myself, I knew how difficult it could be to find room in the budget for training and development. Sales is the lifeblood of any company, if you don’t sell you don’t have a business. Knowing this I launched my new brand, The Entrepreneur’s Godmother a year ago. The Entrepreneur’s Godmother focuses on start-ups, micros and owner-managed businesses. I created my Easy Peasy Sales workshop as an affordable and accessible route to specialist sales training. Since launching, over 250 businesses have been on the workshop – for many it is a lifeline, giving them the skills they need to survive and grow.
The Entrepreneur’s Godmother has grown at an accelerated rate, from the initial workshop. We now offer two online courses, three online coaching packages and a whole host of free resources. We work closely with business support hubs across the UK to support enterprises. The new brand has given us the ability to grow internationally, working with businesses worldwide and speaking at events across the Middle East.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
There are always lots of free resources available on our website, alisonedgar.com, but I have decided to put on a special offer exclusively for the readers of LadyBossBlogger. I want to give you lovely readers 25% off our online sales course, Easy Peasy Sales. All you have to do is enter the code ladyboss25 at the checkout.
- Voted one of the UK’s Top 10 Business Advisors by Enterprise Nation
- Member of Chartered Institute of Marketing
- Leading 20 small business to 10 Downing Street to consult with the Prime Minister’s advisers
- Named in Small Business Saturdays’s Small Biz 100
- Taking on the role of Small Business Saturday Champion to promote and support UK small businesses
- Becoming regional champion for Enterprise Nation and helping organize events such as Startup 16, Startup 17 and Festival of Female Entrepreneurs
- Working with some of the UK’s most promising young entrepreneurs; Jordan Daykin, Ben Towers, and Simon Crowther
- Featured in Richtopia’s Top 100 Influencial Entrepreneurs in the UK
- Attending the Queen’s Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace for her dedication to enterprise
- Being appointed small business advisor for the Cabinet Office
- Working with Entrepreneurial Spark as a mentor
- Won GB Entrepreneur of the Year Special Merit for Service 2015
- Volunteering as a mentor for the Aspire Foundation to boost the confidence of women in corporate and charity organizations
- Featured on Radio 4’s Money Box discussing entrepreneurship
- Volunteer mentor for Young Enterprise and Tedx Bristol
- Spoke at Kuwait’s first ever event of its kind in the Middle East
- Speaking at QuickBooks Connect, sharing the line up with Lord Alan Sugar and Mary Portas
- Featured on TV program, BBC Breakfast talking about small business and entrepreneurship
- Featured in the press including, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times and The Daily Mail
Where is your business based?
The business is based in Wiltshire, England.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first thing I did was a market research, admittedly I probably didn’t do as much as I should have, but I researched my target audience and whether there was a demand for what I could offer. I also did a lot of research into pricing, it’s always hard to determine price when you’re starting out, so looking at competitors pricing is always a good place to start. I also took a course about ‘how to start a business’ which I found incredibly useful in the early stages. It was this course that confirmed I did have a viable business and gave me the push to really go for it. I think it’s quite funny that when I first started; I went on a course about starting a business, as I now have my own online course for entrepreneurs called ‘Guide to Starting a Business’. I think this is a great indication of how far the business has come over 5 years.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
I have always had a very clear sales strategy for raising brand awareness and generating customers. Networking is key for both, I started networking locally at breakfast and lunch meetings to build a reputation and generate customers. From this I started to networking on a national basis, entering awards enabled me to attend events with big names. This is how I started working with Enterprise Nations, Small Business Saturday and Start-up Saturday. Associating myself and my business with well know business support hubs and getting involved with local and national government meant I got invited to larger networking events in London. While I was there, a friend told me they were using some new cloud video technology for security, I found this fascinating because technology is always important to keep up with if you want to succeed in business.
As well as networking, PR is key. Local PR is a great place to start, national press was always a goal and TV is like gold dust. I started writing my own press releases and sending them to local newspapers and magazines, I then worked with a PR company to help me land my first piece of national press. I also attended a Meet the Journalist trip with Enterprise Nation to meet and build relationships with all the national journalists. I now have a team in-house that does my PR and because I know the journalist, I can contact them personally. In the last month I got my first feature on TV, a national program, BBC Breakfast. I have already been asked to appear for a second time which has also led to further appearances on national radio. National exposure should be the ultimate goal for any small business looking to become a household name.
Social media has also been key. I use LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with the key influencers in my industry and build relationships. Social media has also been great for building brand awareness and building my own personal community on Facebook for entrepreneurs. A top tip for readers would be to use #JournoRequest on Twitter, this will help you connect with bloggers and journalists.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The biggest challenge for us was the closure of the growth voucher program, as it meant our current and potential clients would struggle to afford the services we had to offer at the time.
How did you overcome these challenges?
As we mentioned previously, we overcame this challenge by developing the new brand, The Entrepreneur’s Godmother. This enables us to create a new range of products and services, because they are volume products, we can sell them at a lower rate. Enabling businesses with a smaller budgets to access the training they need. I also found it useful to ask for help if I needed it. Especially being a small start up business, it was important to find the right professionals who could help me take my business to the success I knew it could become. The same also goes for people who are looking to start businesses abroad. Sites such as e-sandhurst.com would be useful to look into if you are planning on setting up a business in a different country. It is not as easy as you may think, so ensuring you have all the relevant information and knowledge before you do so will be beneficial. Another thing that people my not think about is how important the use of technology is for your business. Thanks to the internet, you can do pretty much anything. With a little research into something like the best business management software from Evosus, you will be able to find effective tools to help you manage your business in the right way. It doesn’t take long to do a quick search, but the results you could potentially see once you implement these tools can make all the difference. No matter what industry you plan on going into, there are always people and relevant software programs out there to give you a helping hand.
However, launching a new brand is no easy task, it came with it’s own challenges. Coming up with a name was just the beginning.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
When my team and I are having a bad day the first thing we do is take a break, put on some music and sing. Sia is a team favorite. Then we regroup and focus on the bigger picture. We are very lucky in that we can count the number of bad days we have had on two hands.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I’m The Entrepreneur’s Godmother. There is no one quite like me, my physical brand is very pink and stands out from the crowd. Another key differentiator is my target audience,the majority of sales trainers work in corporate because they think that’s where the money is, I focus on entrepreneurs and SME’s – this is where the potential is, but more importantly, where the fun is.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
As a business owner the best advice ever given to me was by my friend, Emma Jones the founder of Enterprise Nation. She told me in the early stages “do what you do best and outsource the rest”.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
“Your world revolves around your business and your business revolves around sales.” – Me (Alison Edgar)
So many entrepreneurs and business owners shy away from sales because they don’t want to come across as pushy or think they can rely on marketing. The reality is, that’s not going to work. I have said it once and I’ll say it again; sales is the lifeblood of you company, if you don’t sell – you don’t have a business. Invest time in learning to sell, once you know how it really isn’t that scary. I always say, you can’t sell to everyone one, but once you know how, you can sell to a lot more.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
Trello is a must. I have been using it since day one, it has always kept my business and my team organized.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I am dyslexic and have always found it difficult to focus when reading books. I do enjoy reading blogs and articles though. I recently read an article published by every women titled ‘Four Lessons Business Leaders Can Learn From Younger People’. I liked it because millennials and the younger generation get a lot of slack for being lazy, however having a young team myself, this has never been my experience. It was great to read an article shedding positive light on the hard work ethic millennials really have.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
We are currently learning about integrating Facebook ads into our marketing campaign, to do this we are visiting the Facebook HQ in Dublin.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
- To focus on export to grow our brand internationally, we are working closely with the DIT (Department of International Trade).
- To build awareness of our upcoming book launch, we are doing this by generating national press across newspapers, radio and TV.
- To help more small business survive and grow by offering a wider range of products, we are currently working with our joint venture partner to develop more online courses.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Facebook Group Entrepreneurs Can Clan