Posted: Wed 2nd Jun 2021
If the thought of Sales makes you feel uncomfortable, after one conversation with Lynne Kennedy you will be converted. She and her husband Martin Knowles are on a mission to help small businesses fall in love with this essential part of creating a successful business.
Having left their respective corporate jobs as sales directors, they formed Sales Untangled, one of only 500 certified B Corps businesses in the UK. They are increasingly working with businesses that have a strong purpose and commitment to using business as a force for good and helping them build a sustainable sales capability – where the business, their customers and their team are in it together for the long term.
Lynne and Martin have also learned how to be both partners at home and partners in business by recognising their strengths. Here is their story…
You had a successful freelance sales business for 20 years, why did you decide to launch Sales Untangled?
“I never considered productising what I did. It was only 18 months ago, when Martin, my husband and now business partner, left his corporate job to set up his business we realised there was far more overlap between what we do.
“We've both been sales directors, I have a love for learning and development, he is more about the operational process, strategy, and the business logic behind it. We thought, why are we running two businesses?”
Tell us more about Sales Untangled, what makes you different?
“When we spoke with clients and prospects we realised that business owners felt uncomfortable with sales and we wanted to help them embrace it. Many described feeling as though sales was running away with them with leads being dropped or money being wasted or being frightened of recruiting their first salesperson but knowing they couldn’t carry on the way they were.
“There are thousands of people and businesses promoting sales training or support on Google and it’s a real challenge to cut through that noise.
“We knew that with our experience of being sales directors in our corporate roles we could help small business owners make sense of what to do and how to ensure they created sustainable sales in their business…en route helping them to love selling rather than fear it.
“We are also one of the few Certified B Corps in the Thames Valley. We are immensely proud of this and Martin is a B Corp Ambassador.
“Sales isn’t always associated with being transparent and honest, so we talk a lot about building a sustainable sales capability – where you, your customers and your team are in it together for the long term.
“Too many businesses out there offer false hope, suggesting you will make a million by following a few simple steps. In reality, most people we work with realise that this is done by building trust and empathy with potential customers – delivering sustainable sales.
“We think we’re the first B Corp in Enterprise Nation but will be happy to be proved wrong! If anybody out there is thinking of certifying we’d be happy to connect.”
That’s an incredible journey! How has it been working in partnership with your husband?
“It’s been really good. We had some wobbly moments to begin with because, as I said, I had 20 years of doing my own thing, no one to answer to and just got on with it. Then suddenly, there's somebody else in your world with a point of view.
“We quickly worked out that we were both doing everything in the business and didn't have clear roles. It’s moved to, I do most of the client delivery because I've got clients that date back 20 years and Martin does most of the planning, structuring, product design and strategy.
“It works really well because we've got different responsibilities that have emerged over the last 18 months, we didn't deliberately start it that way.”
What are the key strategies for success for small businesses implementing sales?
“Many businesses we work with have typically worked out what their product offering is, how they're going to market or how they're creating leads, but then they don't know how to respond to all of the lead generation."
“They don't have a logical or a repeatable sales process. So, they get partway through and they're reinventing something over and over again. That makes for uncertainty and potentially lost revenue or clients."
"There are three elements to this: Plan; being really clear what you're selling and to whom (i.e your value proposition). People; getting the right people around you - to collaborate with and to represent your business to clients and prospects. Tools; building an effective sales funnel and understanding the ratios and margins within it."
"We help them work their way through that and develop either the business process or if they've got salespeople or a small team, their capability to be consistent, so it's predictable."
"As the owner, the most important thing you can do is to learn to love sales - it's the engine of your business. Having these three elements together gives people the confidence to go out there and really drive it."
How have you coped with the effects of the last year?
"Face-to-face worked stopped overnight - for both client delivery and finding new business. Clients were initially distracted trying to get their own people up and running online and keep them safe and well, and it took a little while for everything to calm down before we could resume our delivery work."
"We responded very quickly last March and moved client delivering online. We cut everything down into shorter sessions and worked really hard to make them uplifting and engaging. We made sure that coming to sessions with us was a highlight of a day rather than something to endure!"
"We also transformed our work into a successful virtual sales coaching service. We now support owners from across the country - from start ups, scale-ups and established businesses. All of whom we meet virtually on a regular basis to help and support them."
"We've also just launched a book Untangle your sales! It's a practical guide to help business owners take the complexity out of sales growth. In the first week of sales, it hit number one on Amazon's list.
Tell us about your Enterprise Nation experience…
"Martin joined five years ago and I came along to a Scale-up event at Twickenham with England's Women's Rugby Team. I liked the passion and a real desire to see and support small businesses."
"Small business owners are disadvantaged versus the large businesses because they don't have access to a lot of the research or oodles of people. But with Enterprise Nation, they have a gang around them, that wants them to succeed."
"It's great to hear from big-name retailers at the Exchange events. To be able to get access to these businesses is a testament to the influence and reach of Enterprise Nation."
"Earlier this year, speaking on a Lunch and Learn session about how to increase sales helped raise my profile as an adviser. I've really enjoyed the calls booked with me after the session."
"One of the ladies I helped sent me a link when she had launched to say we've gone live, we've done it! Just to be a tiny part of that is really lovely. If a half an hour conversation and some questions have helped someone, why wouldn't you?"
Inspired by Lynne's story? If you need help with your sales strategy or process, book a discovery call with Lynne today