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USP Present and correct

Why presentation equipment could be a sales goldmine

Heat of the moment

Selling summertime cooling solutions to your clients

Hold on tight

How to keep hold of your existing customers

august 2011 ISSUE 95


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Contents the editor’s letter 04

News Pitch invaders The latest news and products to help you deliver the perfect sales pitch

MARKETPLACE 05 Heat of the moment Making the most out of summertime cooling solutions

06

Present and correct Why presentation equipment could be a sales goldmine

matt jane

10 Forward planning Selling diaries and planners in a digital age

SALES ACADEMY 12 Hold on tight How to keep hold of your existing customers

LIVE IT 14 Spending time Goodies from films to gadgets – spend your break right here

As I write my letter for this month’s column, the sun is baking the London streets outside and the park is filling up with skiving office staff wearing rolled-up sleeves and shielding their eyes from the light. It feels like summer has landed, but we only say this in a whisper for fear of scaring it away. Fortunately, my office is a haven of cool, with the air-conditioning keeping the heat at bay and the water fountain in keen demand. The summer brings many options for office supplies salespeople, a seasonal trend that is worth exploring as companies seek to invest in ways to keep their workers temperatures down and productivity up. We look at some areas for you to consider on page 5. Another seasonal peak will see demand for diaries and planners increase this month, and we take a look at the latest options (p10), as well as investigate how to get the most out of presentation equipment (p.6). We have also got the usual Sales Academy feature on page 12, which this month looks at how to keep hold of existing customers. Hopefully that will keep you informed during these summer days, and if there is still nothing here to take your fancy, you can always use the magazine to fan yourself down in the heat. Enjoy.

M att Ja ne Editor

18 24

on the cover 05 Heat of the moment

Selling summertime cooling solutions to your clients

06 Present and correct

USP editor matt jane | matthew.jane@intelligentmedia.co.uk managing editor julia dennison | julia.dennison@intelligentmedia.co.uk commercial DIRECTOR vicki baloch | vicki.baloch@intelligentmedia.co.uk senior account manager – media solutions matthew moore | matthew.moore@intelligentmedia.co.uk account executive – media solutions Krystle Davis | krystle.davis@intelligentmedia.co.uk

designer sarah chivers | sarah.chivers@intelligentmedia.co.uk production assistant sinead coffey | sinead.coffey@intelligentmedia.co.uk publishing assistant/ circulations manager natalia johnston | natalia.johnston@intelligentmedia.co.uk publisher david collingbourne | david.collingbourne@intelligentmedia.co.uk DIGITAL manager dan price | dan.price@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Why presentation equipment could be a sales goldmine

12 Hold on tight

How to keep hold of your existing customers

USP magazine is published by... Intelligent Media Solutions | Suite 223 | Business Design Centre | 52 Upper Street, London N1 0QH tel: 0207 288 6833 | fax: 0207 288 6834 | email: info@intelligenmedia.co.uk | web: www.uspmagazine.com Follow USP on Twitter at Twitter.com/uspmagazine Printed in the UK by Buxton Press www.buxtonpress.co.uk


04 neWs pitcH inVaDers

All the products and developments you need to deliver the perfect sales pitch

PITCH INVADERS

A WINNING FORMULA AT NEMO NEWS Robert Horne Group had a great result at this year’s Nemo Group conference, taking the award for the best stand and, crucially, Wholesaler of the Year 2011. Paul Farrell, director, reseller division, comments: “It’s great to get this recognition from Nemo. We’ve worked really hard over the last 12 months to build our relationship with the group and this shows that we are going in the right direction. We’re looking to further develop our relationship over the next year and move from our current status of a secondary supplier to Nemo to lead.” For more information call 08457 210 297, email reseller@roberthorne.co.uk or visit www.roberthorne.co.uk.

ALPHA INTERNATIONAL NEWS Alpha International has launched a renewed website and webshop in collaboration with Iceshop. “Since the last update to the website at the end of 2010, there have been so many developments in the field of e-commerce that it was once again time for new and improved website functionalities. In addition, we used Google Analytics to investigate our clients’ search behaviour, and used this as a basis to introduce a number of important improvements,” says Niek von Reth, Alpha International marketing and e-commerce manager. The computer supplies distributor now offers features including order placement by uploading an Excel form, intuitive navigation and an insight into electronic invoices, outstanding orders, and expected delivery dates. www.alpha-international.eu

BIC LAUNCHES NEW PENS PRODUCT Stationery supplier BIC has introduced two new products to its office stationery range. The 4-Colours Grip Pro, and the Atlantis Easy Glide 1.6 continue the BIC tradition of providing quality products at a price for every budget. The new 4-Colours Grip Pro is the latest addition to the iconic 4-Colour family that first came onto the market 40 years ago. The Grip Pro has a premium black and silver barrel with cushioned grip, with a lanyard ring on the barrel for easy transporting. The four colour options mean it is the only pen office workers will need to carry, and with over 1,500m of smooth quick drying writing, it is better for the environment and can be refilled. The new Atlantis Easy Glide 1.6 is the perfect choice for office workers. The innovative easy glide ink system delivers a 35% smoother performance, and the retractable nib comes in black, blue and red, making it ideal for home or office use. The cushioned grip is also perfect for writing minutes or drafting notes. www.bic.co.uk

KATUN

NEWS OEM-compatibles supplier Katun has adopted the cloud computing solution for its dedicated management print services (MPS) program: KATUN Dealer Fleet Management. “There are so many benefits for our dealers with this highly secured cloud computing solution. The access is secured via Internet and they are no additional costs associated in terms of IT management, IT equipment or servers’ renewal and ongoing maintenance fees,” says Christophe Capony, general manager strategic development at Katun. Katun Dealer Fleet Management is a comprehensive solution that enables the remote management of copiers, printers and MFPs from all OEM printing systems and allows dealers to automate and simplify service alerts. www.katun.com

USP

august 2011


marketplace cooling 05

Heat of the moment The summer sunshine gives salespeople a great opportunity to provide some cooling solutions to hot workers. Matt Jane considers the options

As the shirt sleeves get shorter, the lunch breaks get longer and the ice cream van’s jingle becomes the most commonly whistled tune in town, salespeople should be looking to their seasonal offering and the potentially lucrative ways to help British workers survive the summer. While the British summertime is often maligned for its ability to disappoint sunworshipers, the office space can easily become a sweat box of inactivity with just the slightest rise in temperature. While some studies suggest workers are more productive in slightly warmer offices, if the temperature exceeds certain levels it can result in lethargy and mistakes, something that companies will obviously be keen to avoid. HOT TO TROT There is no maximum temperature in a workplace, but the HSE states it should be “reasonable” for workers. One of the biggest areas for office supplies salespeople to consider for this is air-conditioning units, which are commonly used in offices of all sizes and have the added advantage of being useful in both hot and cool weather. It is important to consider that some units are more suited to larger spaces and if the wrong unit is sold to a smaller company, it could result in half the workers being too

warm and the other half sitting in an arctic blast. Smaller companies may prefer desktop, pedestal or ceiling-mounted fans for individual workers or clusters of desks. These allow for movement of air and a more bespoke cooling solution for employees. The environmental impact of large air conditioning units is well-documented and many organisations want more sustainable cooling methods. Simple solutions such as insulating machines and hot pipes will help reduce thermal output, while placing blinds, shading or reflective film around windows that get direct sunlight will similarly help keep heat out. These may be fairly simple solutions for salespeople as they involve fairly little technical knowledge, but depending on the size of the organisation, could be nonetheless profitable.

the office atmosphere and can be a focus for companies throughout the year, rather than just a summer solution. In terms of keeping workers healthy and comfortable, drinks will be a key focus during the summer months. Even the smallest level of dehydration can affect worker effectiveness, with performance dropping by around 10% once a person feels thirsty. There is scope for salespeople to provide drinking water dispensers, with companies being legally obliged to provide adequate supplies of drinking water. With disposable cups, servicing, refills and upgrades to existing systems, water can deliver long-term sales opportunities, certainly making a refreshing addition to sales figures.

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS Heat in an office is affected by a number of factors, one of which is humidity. In higher humidity (anything over 80%), where there is a lot of vapour in the air, sweat cannot be evaporated, causing workers to become uncomfortable. Similarly, if the air is very dry, it can lead to itchy eyes or static shocks. Humidifiers or dehumidifiers will help stabilise

 Men should drink around three litres of water each day, women should have 2.2 litres.

THIRST FOR FACTS

 Productivity drops by 10% once a worker feels thirsty.  Nineteen per cent of the water people need comes from food.

august 2011

USP


06 mARKETPLACE presentations

Present and correct Presentation equipment gives salespeople a great opportunity to offer customers a wide range of innovative solutions. Matt Jane considers some of the options to make presentations more exciting

USP

august 2011


mARKETPLACE presentations 07

Delivering memorable and interesting presentations involves more than just a wellrehearsed speech and some well-timed oneliners. Modern gadgets and accessories ensure that audiences are engaged and informed by presentations, while helping to differentiate companies by providing more interesting experiences. The days of standing in front of a passive crowd while lecturing them about facts and figures on reams of flip-chart paper are a thing of the past and office supplies salespeople should be at the forefront of helping their customers deliver cutting-edge presentations that portray them in a positive light and ensure their message is delivered in style. “Regardless of the presentation content, be it for training, updating, selling, or idea generation, the required outcome will always be productivity and efficiency,” says Neale Williams, business development manager for digital media and cinema products at NEC Display Solutions. “Collaboration is an essential means to achieve productivity and good use of the latest interactive AV equipment will help stimulate and engage with your audience helping to achieve full participation and inclusion.” The technology available ensures presentations now have the potential to be stimulating and engaging events. “Over recent years, there have been many advances in technology that allow presenters to be more creative and interactive with their audience,” suggests Lydia Bonser from Mitsubishi Electronics. The rapidly developing technology in the presentation market provides salespeople with a great opportunity to make this a highly lucrative area. Martine Dodwell-Bennett, sales and marketing director at Steljes, says it allows for interactive collaborative solutions that help bring presentations to ‘life’. “They do not require you to book out the company projector,” she explains. “Often the latter is not working, has to be turned off during the presentation as the lamp is getting too hot, or can’t be found as someone else has taken it without filling out the necessary forms.” One of the key buzzwords in presentation technology is interactivity, with touchscreen technology helping to increase efficiencies and improve audience participation in discussions. “Short-throw projectors combined with whiteboards are another solution, particularly for smaller meeting rooms,” explains Williams.

He also believes there is a growing interest in 3D technology as it is now a more accessible solution for everyday work places. “Up until now, this has priced many people out of the market but there are lower priced products available now that do not require expensive accessories such as screens and glasses. This could be of great interest to users involved in design and architecture.” PRESENTING THE OPTIONS The scope of products in the projector and presentation market means there are more products becoming accessible to a wider customer base. David Hobbs for Vivitech points to the fact that projectors are now available in price ranges from a couple of hundred pounds to thousands. There is also a growing demand for smaller, compact projectors as improved technology makes them a more realistic option for presentations. “The pocket projector is expected to be among the most sought-after projectors in the immediate future, for despite being heralded as the ‘next big thing’ since their introduction in 2008, there has been very little evidence of their penetration into the mainstream market until now,” says Hobbs. “For where, not so long ago, you would fail to find portable projectors with any helpful features or indeed one with enough brightness to actually be watchable, they are now becoming genuinely useful.” Another area of presentations that salespeople could look to sell into is digital dictation as a means to capture or rehearse speeches. “Often the preparation can become a long process, which is where digital dictation has proven to be a vital step,” says Georgina Pavelin, marketing product specialist at Olympus. Notes and presentation plans can be recorded to help speakers prepare. “On the day, it is often important to make a record of the event and information provided as a reference or to provide to those who may not be able to attend, once again a digital voice recorder is ideal to capture the entire event to share via email or a network.” Another area to consider is the hand-outs and presentation packs that often form part of the presentation. While loosely stapled sheets of PowerPoint print-outs may have once been the norm, it is increasingly important to provide the audience with

august 2011

USP


08 marKetpLaCe presentations

Having professionally-bound and laminated hand-out materials will help form a more coherent company message and ensure a business is presented in the best possible light

well-presented, professional documents that enhance the experience. Again, this gives salespeople a good opportunity to discuss another product set, in binding and laminating equipment. Having professionally bound and laminated hand-out materials will help form a more coherent company message and ensure a business is presented in the best possible light. One of the main advantages of selling binding and laminating equipment is that their use is not confined to the presentation arena and will have benefits throughout an organisation and can help professionalise all outgoing correspondence. SELLING THE BENEFITS Another key advantage for salespeople in considering presentation solutions is the opportunities to increase the sales value of deals. For example, when selling dictation conference equipment, Pavelin suggests selling additional microphones to capture “not only the speaker but also any audience participation or input”. There are also accessories such as tie-clip microphones that presenters could find useful. With projectors or interactive equipment, there is great scope for selling additional training or value-adding services, such as integration with existing AV equipment,

USP

august 2011

enhanced warranties, or support packages. “As customers become more sophisticated in their usage of the technology, data and video conferencing could easily be included in the sale,” says Dodwell-Bennett. “Such technologies enable customers to link their offices to each other and allow even more people to ‘attend’ the presentation without the travel and costs involved.” There are also long-term advantages for salespeople, such as the ability to engage customers in ongoing AV and technical solutions. Williams tells salespeople to keep in touch with their clients. “Where equipment is networked, there is a feature that sends an email should an error occur or notifying admin of lamp life remaining.A supplier could programme his own email address and be on hand should any maintenance or new lamps be required.” Sales of projectors can also open doors to discuss other areas of an organisation and also to promote the flexibility of the equipment. “Projectors are conventionally used in meeting rooms and board rooms, however, this is starting to change,” says Bonser. “As the world looks more toward the digital means of communication, it is no surprise to see projectors and LCDs being used for digital signage and advertising.” There is also scope to upgrade customers as the latest accessories are unveiled that will

further enhance the presentation experience. As customers become more familiar with their presentation solutions, they will be looking to continually improve their offering. “This opens the door to selling accessory products such as visualisers and voting systems – all of which can be used to make a presentation more interactive and memorable for the audience,” says Dodwell-Bennett. It is also important to promote the advantages of investing in higher quality products or longer lasting solutions. “Price isn’t everything,” says Williams. “You are likely to get what you pay for, so quality, durability and innovative features will not come at the cheapest end of the market. Similarly, the actual product price does not reflect the total cost of ownership.” He warns that customers should consider issues such as energy consumption, warranty, and length of lamp life. With so much to consider when delivering a quality presentation, from projectors and interactive technology to high-quality bound and laminated hand-outs, salespeople should be able to suggest suitable solutions no matter what their customer’s requirements are. It is up to salespeople to ensure that no business commits the death by PowerPoint sin again, but instead engages its audiences and clients with exciting and professional presentations.


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MOre FOr tHe OFFICe Introducing new laminator models from Fellowes Fellowes is proud of its track record of constant consumer based product development, and this year it launches 15 new laminator models. Fellowes first major innovation was the development of their 100% Jam Free system, giving consumers the confidence to use laminating creatively without the worry of jamming. HOME OR HOME OFFICE The new Lunar A4 and Lunar A3 is ideal for home users and offers the 100% Jam Free* promise, at a very attractive price. The new Cosmic2 machines are the latest version of Fellowes award winning home range. There are a host of great features including HeatGuard, Fellowes revolutionary patented heat protection system that reduced surface temperature. MORE FOR THE OFFICE USERS, LARGE AND SMALL The new Saturn 2 offers all the features of the Saturn, plus push button controls for cold, 75, 100 and 125 micron settings. Used in combination with Fellowes high quality pouches, the Saturn 2 offers stunning results.

There is also a new two roller laminator, the Callisto, available in A4 and A3, which offers the benefits of the Saturn with the added feature of Hotswap, allowing users to swap between 75 to 125 micron in seconds. For more frequent users, the Vega2 A3 and Neptune2 A3 bring a new level of performance in a compact design. The four roller machines offer speed and quality, plus an auto reverse feature that stops creased or misfed laminates from going too far into the machine, ensuring the rollers are not damaged and maintaining Jam Free* performance. MACHINES FOR THE MOST DEMANDING ENVIRONMENTS Fellowes has also launched a range topping model called Proteus A3, designed with large office and copy centres in mind. This six roller model is ultra-tough, ultra flexible, offering a wide range of heat and speed settings. *100% Jam Free when used with Fellowes brand pouches For more information about the new laminators from Fellowes please contact your Account Representative or call 01302 836835


10 mARKETPLACE diaries

Diaries and planners provide salespeople with great opportunities every year. Matt Jane considers why now is the time to take advantage of these products

r a e D s e i r dia

Being organised is an ongoing challenge for many professionals, with the constant inundation of messages, meetings, appointments and personal activities to keep on top of. Fortunately, office supplies salespeople come armed with tried and trusted products to help their customers stay ahead of the game and on top of their busy schedules, in the form of diaries and planners. While most people have adopted electronic devices into their daily lives, with smartphones, PDAs and tablets now commonplace, there is still a definite demand for traditional diaries. Many workers will use their diary or planner as a complimentary product with their PDA as a means of noting down important dates or memos that come through in their daily emails. The ease of use of flicking through a page and quickly adding or erasing an appointment is still a huge driving factor for diary sales. One of the key areas for diary and planner sales is the academic year, with students keen to get ahead of their busy workloads and plan their assignments. There is traditionally a seasonal peak in academic planner sales, with highs in late July and August as students and parents prepare their back to school investments. Customers will be looking for different content from their diaries. Students may look for products that include key dates highlighted, important phone numbers, personal information pages, or more specific information, such as a scientific periodic table for reference. Business people might be keen on a diary that includes information such as international dialling codes or world time differences.

Given the personal nature of a diary or planner, it allows consumers the opportunity for some individuality. While a senior executive of a company may want a plain, simple diary, a young student will most likely be swayed more towards a colourful and vibrant product, and one that reflects their personality or even a planner that they can personalise. Younger pupils may want products that are designed around the latest craze in music or film. Another big area of demand is for products that are related to charitable causes, such as pink diaries to support breast cancer awareness. Unit costs of diaries and planners may be relatively low, but there are some easy cross-selling opportunities for salespeople to consider. Given that organisation is the key to demand in this area, there may be scope to sell divider labels for easy access to pages, or colour coding stickers that can be used to differentiate the various appointment topics, such as client meetings, personal appointments or key dates. Also, ask customers whether they need pens for writing in or colour coding their planners. There is also scope to discuss products such as wall or desktop calendars and planners to complete customers’ organisational demands, and of course, the beauty of all these products is the need for annual renewal, meaning ongoing sales opportunities. There is a huge range of products to consider in the diary and planners market. With demand for academic planners peaking at this time of year, salespeople should consider their offering and their client base, while planning ahead for the end of the calendar year, when demand will be set to surge once more.

Another big area of demand is for products that are related to charitable causes, such as pink diaries to support breast cancer awareness

USP

august 2011


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advertorial

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Reinventing the classic children’s party game ‘Pass The Parcel’ and turning it into a fun and innovative viral game has led to 3M receiving top accolades at the 2011 National Institute of Promotional Marketing Awards. Capturing the excitement of unwrapping gifts, the game, which formed part of the on-going ‘Say it with Scotch’ marketing campaign, was played by more than 450,000 consumers. The game was used to promote Scotch Pop-up Tape by encouraging consumers to unwrap a virtual parcel in the hope of winning a range of prizes, Scotch brand products or money off coupons. Naturally, the parcel was wrapped with Scotch Pop-up Tape and the game featured an animated demonstration of this. Designed for hassle-free gift wrapping Scotch Pop-up Tape comes with an ingenious hand-band dispenser and pre-cut strips to leave both hands free to fold, dispense, stick and wrap.

Uni-ball has officially launched its consumer Back to School campaign with a little help from Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke. The super smooth TV personality was on hand at London’s Holland Park School to tell pupils about a magical new writing competition to promote the uni-ball fanthom. “The idea behind the campaign is to get kids writing over the school holidays by encouraging them to evoke their imagination and tell us how they would spend a day with their favourite storybook character,” said Stuart Barker, uni-ball’s marketing manager. “Alongside Anton, we have received some high profile support for the campaign and will be hitting the headlines over the coming weeks.” “The uni-ball fanthom has a magical feel about it. It’s smooth to write with and makes light work of erasing any mistakes,” commented Du Beke. He continued, “Working in partnership with uni-ball, I want kids to get away from their computer consoles and television sets. Keeping the art of handwriting alive has never been so important. It brings so many benefits to youngsters and when linked to reading can reinforce achievement.”

For more information, visit www.3m.com

For further information visit www.uniball.co.uk, follow @uniball_uk on twitter or like www.facebook.com/uniballfanpage


12 sales academy keeping customers

author bio Dr Bill Nichols is a former chair of service businesses and is senior lecturer in marketing at Buckinghamshire New University.

USP

august 2011


Sales academy keeping customers 13

Hold on tight Retaining customers is essential for developing business. Dr Bill Nichols offers some top tips It is almost four years since the banking crisis and most UK market is still flat or going backwards. The ‘R’ word is everywhere: not recession but retention, the feeling that what we have, we hold. Smart management teams pay it as much attention as acquisition and prospecting. They realise that it’s far from expensive lunches, deep discounts, or over-servicing. I refer to a five-step retention guide, which I call GEMMA. G for Goodwill First, understand your currency. If you just track satisfaction, it’s a bit like driving a car with only a petrol gauge for guidance. The complete dashboard, which emerged from detailed research over several years, is ‘goodwill’. In any considered market, where there is an extended sales cycle, regular contact creates perceptions. These perceptions flow from assessments of how you provide (weakest first) six key factors: general service, product utility, brand value, commitment, fair treatment and enjoyment. If a customer actually enjoys dealing with you, it’s your most powerful retention tactic. Collectively, these perceptions pay into and create your goodwill bank account. Defensively, keep each account nicely wadded with goodwill and you will ride out unanticipated issues like slack service response, delivery delay, quality problem or procurement review. Conversely, run the account down carelessly and one small incident may be terminal. On the upside, escalating deposits encourage desirable customer behaviours from retention and preference to recommendation. E for Engagement None of this adds up to a relationship, which is a serially-abused word. Not all long-cycle

customers are relationally-orientated. But, over time, goodwill factors can generate rapport, the substance of a strong relationship. Real business relationships mimic the complexity of personal ones. The major goodwill contributors are constructed from some very basic components. Hard, practical rapport, for example, is generated by consistent cross-firm process and presentation, effective and proactive reporting and, not least, clear strategic engagement in terms of problem recognition. As in personal life, it’s deceptively simple: your ‘partner’ wants consistency, transparency and to believe that you really understand them. And, as in life, these things don’t just happen. Managing each component requires the discipline you’d bring to traditional acquisition marketing activities, such as a product launch or new season’s promotional campaign. In practice, if you truly want positive engagement, ensure that every touch-point actually engages smoothly and effectively. No amount of social media magic can permanently offset the rude delivery driver or careless technician.

seeker’ (aka midnight caller). Often senior, knowledgeable and demanding, he expects highlevel contact and immediate responsiveness. Yet they may switch emotionally and without notice. Cherish, rather, ‘old reliable’. Senior but older, his commitment is sometimes inertia. He generates at best only average revenue and appears uninterested in firm, service or relationships. But he is a regularly overlooked strong suit and advocate in the client base.

M for Measurement It’s a management cliché but commonly what isn’t measured, isn’t pursued. You can track goodwill attitudinally, in behavioural terms (repeat, frequency) or financially – retained as opposed to new revenue. It can also align to financial modelling via the classic equation that market capitalisation less net assets equals goodwill. The goodwill model also helps you value an existing customer-base by conducting a new form of goodwill-based segmentation. Precise profiles vary but there are common types. Many will recognise the siren voice of the ‘relationship

A is for Advocacy The last step puts all willing customers to work as your auxiliary word-of-mouth or advocacy salesforce. Research suggests up to 50% of next year’s B2B/B2P new business is advocacy-based and that for every existing advocate another will surface if prompted effectively. Advocates like basics they trust: high utilitarian and general service satisfaction. The positioning of the advocacy response at the least-engaged base of the goodwill hierarchy explains the strange phenomenon of the ‘ex-client advocate’. Satisfaction drives advocacy but does not guarantee retention. Think goodwill.

M is also for Motivation For many, motivating target sales behaviour – maximum sales, optimum margin, most valuable segment – is a black art. Compounded across product-line or divisional silo, how do you motivate D-Division’s sales guy to facilitate retention of A-Division’s major customer? Certainly it’s about effective management of cross-hairs or incentive triangulation. But it’s also about evangelising retention. Too often, it’s afterthought. Try making it the hero. Ring the bell louder for the fifth annual contract renewal than for that possibly flaky new conversion.

august 2011

USP


14

live it

The best way to spend your free time and money

Film

BIT OF BANTER

Cowboys and aliens If you say the words “classic Western movie”, you will instantly have the attention of one group of die-hard fans. Equally if you mention an alien film, certain other cinema fans’ ears will prick up. Similarly, if you say the names Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, two very different sets of followers will be alerted. Now if you put this combination together, you will have a veritable crowd of interested parties, all eager to see what sort of gun-slinging, spaceship flying, Indiana Jones, James Bond combo is conjured up. This latest offering from filmmaker Jon Favreau puts all those elements into the blender for this all-action thriller that stars Craig playing the part of a stranger with amnesia who wanders into a desert town of Absolution in 1873. He soon discovers that he is about as welcome as a blocked nose at a cocaine party, with Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford) controlling residents with an iron-fist. Then it all kicks off when Absolution is attacked by an alien force that begins abducting helpless residents one by one. Enter Craig, the once shunned outcast, who suddenly remembers that he knows a thing or two about fighting aliens. He teams up with a merry band of cowboys, outlaws, and Apache warriors and sets about on a fairly epic battle for survival. While the concept of Cowboys and aliens sounds bizarre, this film delivers a great deal of excitement and thrills. Craig delivers the same steely-eyed tenacity that made him such a hit as James Bond, while Ford is always at home in a Stetson. It all makes for great viewing. Out August 19

music

drink

Florian Lunaire

Godminster vodka

As we enjoy the closing stages of summer, you need some laid back beats to play a soundtrack to the last of the long, lazy days. Spring – Summer 2011 is a wonderfully relaxed EP from Florian Lunaire, who admits his songs form natural seasons, hence the shorter nature of his releases. ‘Forever Young’ is an upbeat reflection of easy summer living, in which Lunaire demonstrates his lyrical prowess over chirpy pianos, while the opening track ‘Capture/ release’ is a much more stripped back affair but nonetheless ideal for enjoying one last summer sunset. Out now

If you thought vodka was bland and flavourless, you will soon be converted by the distinctive range of flavoured vodkas from Godminster. By infusing plain English vodka with flavours such as elderflower, cucumber or quince, the good people from Godminster Farm in Somerset certainly succeed in making it a more interesting drink. While the flavours may take a little getting used to (which is no bad thing for an alcoholic drink), they create some excellent cocktails, such as cucumber vodka in place of Pimms or elderflower and ginger ale. Available from www.organiccheese.co.uk

USP

august 2011

Honestly, the t-shirt tan lines are really not that bad

good skinny dipping Skinny dipping in the seas around south Wales takes, to pardon the pun, balls. But for one group of hardened naked swimmers, the chance to be in the Guinness Book of Records was enough persuasion to have a dip in the buff. In total 400 people took part in the skinny dipping event at Rhossili Beach in Wales to set the new record. One swimmer said: “It was great fun – I have never seen so many happy smiling faces.” In that cold water, there probably wasn’t much else to see.

love Being a fan of Scottish band The Proclaimers might be bad enough, but it was even worse for the partner of one fan from China. Ling Hsueh told her boyfriend Liu Peiwen that she would only marry him if he took up the Scottish duo’s challenge to walk 500 miles, then walk 500 more. Proving that he would do anything for love, Peiwen set off on the 1,000 mile trip from Henan province to his fiancé’s hometown in Guangdong province. Hopefully he has something better than The Proclaimers on his iPod for the journey.

bad


d n a t s o t t n Wa in the crowd? out W o n p u n g i s

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August 11