The first in our series of EO Executives events was held on 15th March at the Ageas Bowl, the home of Hampshire cricket.
In this idyllic setting, we brought together key decision makers from across the southern region to network, share knowledge, as well as glass or two of champagne, and enjoy listening to and interacting with two inspirational speakers.
The event, held in collaboration with the Peter Cooper Motor Group, was attended by over 60 leading executives as well as the EO team.
As the sun set on one of the country’s most modern cricket stadiums, attendees were treated to a eye-opening presentation from Benjamin Dennehy, ‘The Most Hated Sales Trainer’ and an expert in how to educate businesses in maximising the potential of their sales team.
Jenny Radcliffe, best known as ‘The People Hacker’ then took to the stage to reveal the secrets behind a career that has seen her emerge as one of UK’s leading figures in tackling issues around security. Radcliffe has worked with some of the world’s largest corporations and left delegates in no doubt that the dangers faced by some of those companies are exactly the same as those encountered by SMEs up and down the country on a daily basis.
The feedback from delegates was overwhelming positive.
“It’s always good to come to events like this and get a fresh perspective,” said one. “Sometimes you just need to step away and listen to people whose enthusiasm and knowledge forces you to go about things in a different way.”
“Sales is basically Tinder for ugly people,” said Ben Dennehy, the self-styled ‘hairy antipodean’ and a man who doesn’t readily take no for an answer.
It was a description that drew more than a few laughs from delegates.
Joking aside, it also served to illustrate the challenges that sales people across all organisations face when it comes to changing pre-conceptions over their role. Dennehy, sporting loud red braces and a fog-horn voice that could stop on-coming traffic on the M27, claims to be ‘the most hated sales trainer in the UK’.
That may or may not be true but what’s indisputable is that he gets people to think, question and analyse not just the way that their sales team functions but also how top executives go about their everyday business. Which is also the primary ambition of Jenny Radcliffe, a larger than life Liverpudlian, who has put her early daliance with breaking and entry on Merseyside to the best possible use.
Like Dennehy, Radcliffe’s thought-provoking presentation sought to encourage delegates to question the things they take for granted. Stop for a minute and count the number of post-it notes on your desk or the number of times you’ve entered your smart phone password while someone hovered over your shoulder. They’re things that we do all sub-consciously but, after 45 minutes with Radcliffe, are things that those present on the night are unlikely to do without serious consideration in future. In fact, EO would wager that more than a few passwords have been changed since the event.
Radcliffe also goes by the moniker ‘The People Hacker’, using social engineering to infiltrate places she has no right to be in. Think the Tower of London or Canada Square in Canary Wharf. Fortunately, she’s not there to carry out dastardly deeds, she’s there to show companies – big and small – where they’re going wrong and what they can do to protect themselves from people who would wreck a business without a second thought.
“Almost without exception you have something that can be sold or traded,” Radcliffe told delegates. “But businesses are still seeing this kind of security awareness as being fries on the side of their security spend.”
Radcliffe has worked with some of the world’s biggest companies and is widely-viewed as one of the foremost experts in her field. So when she speaks, people listen. Which was certainly the case last night. The same could be said of Dennehy, whose inventiveness and determination to turn the sales norm on its head is one of the reasons why so many top companies look to him to unlock the potential of their sales team.
“Prospects have a tendency not to tell the truth when they first meet you,” he said. “One of the big problems is that buyers consistently lie to sales people.” That, of course, turns the ingrained notion of sales completely on its head. But he’s right – and a two-columned table sketched on a flip chart proved his point.
So, what do top executives need to do to change the way they operate? Meet with Dennehy and arrange some time with him is the answer, of course. This, after all, is not a man to give out free consultancy. “Outside of university, sales people are the biggest source of free education in the world,” he said. Again, it led to some laughs in the room but his face was entirely straight.
Those not chuckling along were the ones suddenly considering just how much money and time they had wasted on proposals sent to clients who ended up seeking solutions elsewhere.
“It’s always good to come to events like this because they challenge the way you think,” said one delegate. “Anything that makes you do that has to be good for your business and the way you operate.”
Making the most of the talent at your disposal and ensuring that you attract and retain that talent is one of the major challenges facing the modern business.
And taking ownership of your processes – which was essentially the same message but delivered in two very different ways by our speakers – is just one way of ensuring that happens.
What were your thoughts on the event? We would be keen to hear your thoughts, so please share them in the comments below. Alternatively, we have produced a short survey to understand this what you enjoyed/ could be better next time - click here to let us know: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K2NZXPD
Connect with Benjamin, here.
Connect with Jenny, here.